A boat ride through the floating gardens of Dal Lake, surrounded by beautiful houseboats and magnificent mountains was a pleasing experience. The evening was complete with a sudden drizzle of rain to enhance the surrounding serenity. The huge rainbow across the lake was a cherry on top, thus making the entire experience mesmerizing! No wonder why Kashmir is referred to be the Paradise on Earth!
“Why are you still lounging around like a couch potato?? We are getting late for the wedding. Go, dress up now!”, my mom grumbled, as she put on her bangles. I continued to pretend ignoring her words, while aimlessly browsing through the channels on television. Though my fingers were busy clicking buttons on the remote control with my eyes staring at the screen, my mind started slightly waning away from my idea of a perfect evening.
“How long will you sluggishly switch channels on this idiot box and ultimately end up dozing off? Why not do something productive?”, my mind echoed.
What? Productive?? Is that even a thing to do? My mind has been suffering with some serious issues lately, in regards to my definition of happiness. Nothing gives me more joy than snuggling into my couch, with no damn thing to worry about! But why is it turning into my antagonist?
“I can never be wrong! There is something beyond the couch that gives you immense happiness. FOOD!!!!”, reiterated my master mind.
Oh yes!! How could I overthink food? And wait! The wedding! Weddings mean only one thing to me- Food!! And lots and lots of it! Yes!! A big, fat wedding feast is all I need!
I hesitantly bid goodbye to the greatest pleasure of my survival- my cozy, comfy couch, without which, my life wouldn’t have been the same! As I stood up stretching to prepare myself for dressing up, I noticed my mom all bright and shiny, ready to head out for the wedding. “I’m coming with you. Wait for me”, I notified her. “Hurry up!”, she replied. I was least interested in playing dress up as my priority was nothing close to looking nice and pretty.
Finally, we reached the wedding venue, which appeared more like a food destination, rather than a place of celebration. My mother found her ‘known faces’ and went ahead mingling in a crowd full of dazzling, flashy ensembles. I went on my own way to find a perfect corner with least number of people, expecting minimum or zero drama. Luck worked in my favor and I found the perfect place, though no way close to my cozy couch that I abandoned.
As I waited restlessly for my mom to find me, I noticed a queue of people waiting as restlessly as me to congratulate the couple and head towards the dinner. In the process, I happened to get a glimpse of the bride and groom and wondered, Who are these people? Do I even know them? Are they friends/ relatives? Or may be, I should have at least read their names at the entrance. But, well! Who cares?!! I know what I’m here for, why bother about the unknown?
My mom finally found me and asked me to join the bandwagon to congratulate the newly wed. “I can’t pose for pictures with strangers. You have fun! And be quick, I’m starving!”, I quirked. I realized that the crowd in the wedding hall slowly started diminishing. Except for the ‘best wishes’ line, there were hardly any people around. I was pretty sure, everyone has headed for the feast. Well, I’m not alone then! That’s the reason most of us attend weddings anyway. If a movie was to be made on wedding ceremonies, the newly weds shouldn’t be considered as the lead cast. They just play a supporting role to the main lead- Food!!
Thankfully my mom was back and we were finally a part of the feast I was waiting for! With a colorful and varying number of appetizers, salads and main course, my appetite only kept scaling up beyond my control! And hey, this repeats for every cuisine! They have Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Italian. Whoa! This is an addendum for all my efforts of getting away from my warm couch. Not to forget the innumerable varieties of desserts, ice creams and fruit salads! But where do I start? Should I stick to a single cuisine? Or try them all? But what if I’m full midway? Or should I have more appetizers and stick to one cuisine for main course? Uff, this is tough! Screw it, I’m gonna savor as much as I can!
I started off my expedition for food, with a confused mind, but a hungry tummy. Hunger always wins and made me end up with a full plate of appetizers irrespective of cuisines, though my mind yelled to stop! I hogged on to try some of my favorites and then experiment with others. As I was nearing completion of the stuff on my plate, I realized I was full. So full, that a glimpse at the main course was no longer appetizing. The salads no longer appeared alluring. Screw the desserts, I don’t even wish to have a look at them!
My intention to satisfy my food cravings was left halfway. The sole purpose of my mission to attend this ceremony failed miserably. My stomach was full, but my mind was dissatisfied. Disappointed with my below average capability of doing justice to a feast, I headed home with a heavy heart and belly.
Soon after I reached home, I jumped onto my couch that I deserted. In a while, I opened a pack of chips and started snacking away. Well, if this is all that I can do, why do I need a feast?! “Lesson learned!!”, I warned my brain.
The majestic president figures sculpted on the magnificent Black Hills are spectacular at Mount Rushmore! The view when I looked up the hill was definitely a treat to the eyes. These photographs were captured during my recent visit to South Dakota.
When altitude evokes a mystical attitude with a view like this-
When was the last time you ever sent or received a hand written letter? Never? (Too bad!) Has it been years? Like once upon a time? (So you are aware how they look like!) Do you still receive or happen to send out letters/ postcards adorned with your very own handwriting? (Lucky soul!!!)
If I could single-handedly prevent something that is about to disappear from falling into oblivion, it has to be handwritten letters! I’ve been fortunate to get a number of opportunities to write letters. Though they were mostly official/ formal request letters for the banks or leave letters to the Principal in college, I wrote them (no typing!). My lethargy to type and take a print out, in spite of having the resources, might be counted as one of my excuses to hand write. Whatever may be the reason, I’m glad I chose to write over type. Informal letters to loved ones have lost significance anyway, so why not grab the opportunity to write while seeking permissions and authorizations?
Technology has taken over every sphere and one such instance gave rise to ‘writing’ being replaced by ‘typing’. The last time I received a handwritten letter was more than a decade ago, when my family and I moved to a different place during my 9th grade of schooling. After relocating, things weren’t great, life wasn’t smooth, though not the worst. I was unsure if I was slowly getting accustomed to the newness the new place had to offer or was feeling lonely deep inside for missing my old life. Could not make many friends in the new place due to language and cultural barriers. So obviously, I either spent most of the time at school feeling the voidness, or at home quarreling with my brother over Pokemon and Tazos!
One fine day, as I reached home from school, my mother handed over a letter that I received. Never did I receive a post on my name until then. Hence, my curiosity knew no bounds. The handwriting on the cover made me elated, as I was more than familiar with it! A letter from my dear friend back home, came to my rescue after months of loneliness. How better can it get, when I receive one during Friendship Day week?!
I could feel her attempt to communicate through her words on the paper I was reading, through her handwriting that I can never forget after having exchanged notes for years. Her handwriting was always very different from many others I knew. It was crisp with vivid curves and broad, clear alphabets. She was way too generous with spacing between words, thus quickly running out of pages in her notebooks! All these ran in my mind while I was not only admiring her writing, but also reading her letter with a smiley face.
As usual, she used up all the paper of the inland letter without utilizing it to its full potential. I could feel her emotions and felt so close to her through her writing. It had her personal essence that I could not find in the new place. The letter and my moment of reading it was priceless and I wished to cherish it for a lifetime!
Mobile phones weren’t revolutionary yet. They were a thing of the wealthy and definitely not an obvious need in every household. STD call was the most used way to communicate with people living in other states. We communicated often over phone, but the feeling that came with the letter was beyond everything. I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience that feeling. I was always astonished and amazed at the way my grandmother exchanged letters with her sister until very recently. But now, the mobile bug has not spared them either and they communicate via cell phones.
Ever since the popularity of emails and SMS emerged, handwritten letters started losing significance. Now, they are a thing of the past. We live in a world, where proposals are done over Skype and break ups over text messages. I wonder if the current generation kids are even aware of a handwritten letter’s existence!
No matter how emotional the text message is, with innumerable emoticons, how detailed the email is, with more than necessary GIFs and images, they can never match the personal connection felt from a handwritten letter! The handwriting of a person connects at a deeper level, as it is a part of their personality that they share on a piece of paper. But a typed text is the same irrespective of the person typing, thus lacking a personal touch.
Try to write a letter and send it to your loved one. I’m sure they would cherish it for a lifetime in a world full of texting and typing. And who knows? A dispute over a text might lead to a break up, but an explanation via a handwritten letter might lead to a happily ever after!
Disclaimer: This post was written with an intention to highlight the impact/affects of the association of the word ‘beauty’ on women, particularly in Indian society. Any other implications drawn after reading are purely unintentional.
Why is the beauty of women given so much importance? Men don’t need to look attractive to feel confident. So why are women forced to?
A quote from one of the oldest ever feminist philosophy works, ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’, published in the year 1792, states: “Taught from infancy that beauty is woman’s scepter, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.”- Mary Wollstonecraft, who was an 18th century British feminist philosopher and an advocate of female rights.
It is indeed an irony that a societal flaw recognized way back in the 18th century, still holds true after centuries of advancements in every possible field and aspect of the world! In spite of increasing emphasis on female rights and women empowerment, there still exist certain obvious factors impacting women directly or indirectly.
One such factor is the association of the word beauty with a woman. While this word association can be flattering most of the times, the pressure women face to give it a priority can be traumatic at some point in their lives. Beauty here may not necessarily imply physical attractiveness, but the need of being reminded that women are beautiful in every way possible, hasn’t lost its impetus.
Women have come a long way in terms of education, independence and fight for equality, yet they haven’t been able to shake off the label beautiful often bestowed on them. Yes, being a woman might be termed beautiful due to their motherly capabilities and emotional strength compared to men. But what is the need to be reminded, when they are naturally bestowed qualities, similar to many such traits of a man?
While the ascribing of beauty is considered inevitable and has been taken for granted all over the world, in a country like India, the impact is much higher.
The matrimonial advertisement of a groom seeking a bride hasn’t really changed much over the last two decades. The groom still seeks a tall, fair, slim girl with an addendum of the words, ‘educated’, ‘postgraduate’ or a ‘working professional’. This is irrespective of the groom’s complexion, height or weight. (Should it really matter?)
Well now, it’s the 21st century! Women are going places, making wonders as easily as making babies (!), they are at par and occasionally higher placed than their male counterparts. Yet, they are often forced to keep looking beautiful or groomed! A dark-skinned girl is still not considered equal to a fair-skinned one, irrespective of how accomplished she is. No matter how independent a woman becomes, she is reminded either by her mother or the neighborly auntyji to either maintain her looks or act lady like, only to attract alliances.
Let me put it this way! There are a plenty of women who prefer gadgets to jewelry and books over makeup. But there comes some point in life, where she will be asked to feel or appear beautiful, irrespective of her lack of interest. If not for the family or the so-called well-wishers, there will always be various forms of print and media or videos that go viral, that remind her to feel beautiful, no matter what! Wonder why there aren’t any videos/ slogans saying, “You are handsome, no matter what!”
What is the need for associating self esteem with feeling beautiful? When men don’t need looks or do not need to be reminded of appearing attractive and pleasant to feel confident, why are women forced to? When self assurance and morale are not gender based, why should the approach towards making people feel confident differ?
A mother of an independent, well educated, dusky daughter is worried even today about her child’s marriage, fearing rejection due to complexion. Yet, the same mother seeks an attractive daughter-in-law for her average looking son. The problem is deep rooted and needs a shift in the mindset of parents to eradicate the association of beauty with women.
Women are taught from infancy in various ways about the emphasis of beauty in their lives (as the quote above says). Beauty should be a matter of choice rather than a necessity. A man is never forced or reminded to look groomed and physically attractive, as long as he is well settled. Nor does he need motivational videos and campaigns depicting, ‘Find your beautiful‘ or ‘What is real beauty’.
But a woman, no matter how well read she is, she is considered to lack the basic trait of femininity, if she isn’t groomed or ladylike. Thus promotional campaigns keep prompting to her that in spite of her flaws, she is still beautiful. Why should a woman look or feel beautiful in the first place? Embracing beauty may be one way of boosting self esteem, but it isn’t the only way. The kind of stress and drama revolving around looks can lead to emotional break down in many women.
It is high time for a change in the way a girl child is taught to be confident. Instilling faith in their children, that the need for beauty has no place, irrespective of gender, is something parents need to inculcate from early stages.
A daughter needs to be reminded that she is what she is and can be confident for the kind of person she is and not by the need of feeling or looking beautiful.
A son needs to be educated that women are so much more beyond looking pretty and are similar to men in every aspect.
Unless the change begins within us, in our minds, in our homes, through our children, the word ‘beauty’ can never get out from a woman’s dictionary!
P.S: This was my first published article outside of WordPress