I HAVE Lipstick Under my Burkha.

I HAVE #Lipstick Under my Burkha.

Yes I do.

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I am not fake, I am not cold, I am just me, under many layers that exist because I care. Yes, I care about what people think about me, I care about being judged, I care about the choices I make, I care about being cool enough, I care about being liked enough.

 

But the whole point is…

Why can’t I just live with the fact that people don’t like me? Why do I have to be likable? Why do I need to fit into a definition of “successful”, why do “I” need to be defined?’Why do I need to bother about what answer I will give to someone somewhere 20 years later about my relationship status – it’s existence or lack of it? Why do I need to explain what I do, what I feel and why I feel it? Why do I need to justify my emotions, for that matter, my existence?

And #Lipstick Under My Burkha is that mirror.

lipstick-under-my-burkha_article-image

Through 4 women – different ages, different situations, and different personalities – we see a reality that we would casually chose to look away from, always.

Be it Rihana entering her room and dancing to beats of her anger, or Shrin’s expectant eyes when she is seeking appreciation for her work, or Leela’s desperate attempt with pout filled selfies to chose a lesser life with more ‘chance’ or Buaji’s simultaneous acceptance and rejection of social judgements on choice of her interest in ‘literature’ …they are all small details that will linger with you after the movie, and make you wonder what’s right and what’s not … and even as you answer the questions in your head, you will be surprised at how entwined in patriarchy we are and how dominant the male perspective has been, before, now and forever known.

The very fact that the movie makes NO STATEMENT whatsoever is its greatest strength!

It doesn’t say women should wear lipstick or dress bold, or work or stay hlipstick-under-my-burkha-plays-iome, it doesn’t fight for right to education, it doesn’t fight for ANYTHING and in doing just that, it wins.

I am amazed at Alankrita Srivastav’s craft in simplicity and detail, a narrative with such depth – that speaks less but says more; it manipulates you too. Yes it does! It leads you to think, question and figure out things that you would never bother about, and while you figure it out, you slowly unveil ‘feminism’ in your head, which is nothing but, a quest for equality.

What a genius! What a gift.

Majority of us, do have a burkha. And the realization in itself is empowering, it has hope in the knowledge that it’s still in your hand to lift up the veil.

Will the women in the story, do that? Will they survive it? One can’t be sure. But #LipstickUnderMyBurkha is a reality check which draws our attention to the subtle inequalities, that we could all work towards bridging.

P.s. with all the talk about the movie being too feminist, I became the censor board myself, wondering whether men  can watch it at all. But watching the film made me realize what an elegant piece it is. Yes its sexual. Yes, a little explicit too. But haven’t we seen tonnes of that already? Only the tone of the storytelling is from a female point of view this time. And when we haven’t been offended for so long, why be now?

p.p.s. I think I will take my male friends to watch this one 😉 will be an interesting experience. #WhyNot #LipstickSide #MustWatch

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The Lok Sabha Elections 2014 – An experience for the Indian Citizen  

And so it has me, just like the entire country.

A Message from half A Cup of Tea - all you need is an ID Proof and 2 Photos to Vote ! Do that.
A Message from half A Cup of Tea – all you need is an ID Proof and 2 Photos to Vote ! Do that.

It’s sunday morning, and I am just back from a long walk in the morning. The city is filled with hoardings and posters and various brands are endorsing “Voting” in the elections.

There are of course the party hoardings of Congress and BJP and there are various corporate endorsing the act of ‘voting for your government’ via hoardings, creatives, initiatives, offering discounts and much more.

 

I contemplate as I pick up my cup of tea.

Over the last one month, Politics has absorbed me, too. I have read articles, journals, history, watched interviews, gotten into arguments and debates and analyzed events like never before. And anyone can easily say, that THIS is a movement.

 

After a decade of scams and shams, the country now wants to look forward to a better tomorrow.

And that is where the danger lies.

 

I remember that time, when the corruption had reached its hilt and the ‘Anna Hazzare’ movement had ensued. The first time it happened, I went to too (I mean, I went only once, just to extend my support by watching. I generally keep a low profile from participating in anything that I am not completely aware of.) I think many of us youth had initially supported it. But then, the ‘dharna’ happened a second time. Then a third time and then a fourth and after that, I gave up. I watched as the country was walking aimlessly and blindly in support of that ray of hope,that promises to bring a better tomorrow. How many of the youth had read the Jan Lok Pal Bill? How many knew what they were standing for? Everyone walked blindly because they found a leader and they trusted him.

I was scared. I had such great fear that I was living in a country where so many people would just get wooed so easily. I felt paranoid to think no one had strong opinions. All they knew was “they are against corruption”.

 

That was 2011 – 2012.

Do you remember the movement like I do?

At that point – if anyone suspected the intentions of all the involved individuals, they would say,

“ Oh! So you are not anti – corruption is it? You are FOR corruption! go to hell”

And I literally had to cry, that it’s only my skepticism and MORE to just encourage more educated fan following. I had to assert that I am against corruption too!!!! But it’s just that, I am a little skeptical when people can ‘use away’ so much of their time just stalling work.  wouldn’t’ all that affect the growth of this country?

 

That was 2011 – 2012.

You must also note: That while the whole ‘anti corruption’ movement ensued, the corruption levels around us went down. On a daily life basis, traffic police started to issue proper receipts, rickshaw drivers started to charge by meter and everyone talked about how it would be good to walk on the paths of ethics and doing what is right.

Some benefits did come out of the movement.

But by then, the politics of this country, took a backseat in my life – like for many others. I stopped reading so much and I let things happen (well, they did even without my participation :p but still!)

The Party was formed, AAP came into existence, and they formed the government in Delhi. and then Arvind Kejriwal resigned.

“WHAT!!” I exclaimed watching the news. “He’s crazy!!” I thought and turned off the television. This was Feb, 2014.

But by then, the world around me, had changed.

History was about to repeat itself.

The same blind following and the same extreme “Mera Bharat” chauvinism had returned.

But this time, it wasn’t AAP. It was BJP.

 

Let me take you back to what I just said. Back in 2011 – 2012 if you sighted skepticism about Arvind Kejriwal, you were deemed “CORRUPT” and in 2014, if you sight even ‘questions’ on the core values of the BJP, you are deemed “PRO CONGRESS” or even worse, “YOU ARE NOT INDIAN ENOUGH” , “you don’t want development for India”. And I have also got the worst-est-est of the kind “Hindus have suffered for so long. It’s time things change”

This time, the patriotism is for Narendra Modi. This time, you can’t say a word against him because if you do- you will be ostracized.

And honestly speaking, I have experienced SO MANY PERSONAL attacks for just raising a few questions, that I totally refrain from talking about my political inclinations.

Last evening at work, I mentioned to a colleague, “We have to go for the Human Chain Initiative tomorrow, to encourage voting!” and he said “Are you going to vote for Narendra Modi?”

I said, “How does that relate to my plans to join the movement?”

He said “Well, if you are not voting for him, don’t bother coming.”

Yes, this is the city where Narendra Modi stands from. Yes, Vadodara is all this alive mostly in support of him. But, why is this ‘choice’ putting us all against each other?

The events of the past few weeks have finally pushed me to the brink, to speak up.

The first thing is, to NOT judge colleagues and friends based on who they are voting for. It is our right to make a choice. We all want the same things – development, peace, prosperity, harmony and success.

The Second thing, I see the same blind movement that happened in 2011. I see the blind following for Bharat Janta Party just because we’re all tired of the corruption around us and we’re tired of seeing a failed government with Congress.

But is it fair to make the same mistake again? To walk blindly in support and not make a well – read choice?

And let me reinforce here, that reading does not mean reading only the posts shared by your friends on facebook. Reading means, researching and finding your own answers.

It is fair if you have read – if not everything, but attempted to learn about your party. It is important, to make an educated vote.

Educate yourself first and then vote.

Read. Ask questions. Find your answers and then vote.

And if you are going to vote only because it’s “your right” or only because it’s such a big deal to vote this time around, then the fact and the truth of the matter is – that your vote is equally biased as anyone who casts a fake vote. Your vote is a fake vote.

 

Now coming to the third part of my discussion. I have an issue with the way the elections are being promoted and the way the parties are branding themselves. With campaigns that run into a good thousands of crores, where does this money actually come from?

Billboards, radio and TV ads shout slogans so much more than actual people. But while we see so much of it around us, it feels like there’s a wave. I quite suspect it now; to be more of what is projected and purchased, than a real moment that garners support and strength with each passing moment. That, I suspect is happening.

The other day I had some official work at Nyay Mandir (The Court in Vadodara) and I made the visit in the rickshaw. We heard some promotional vehicles moving around and that tempts the rickshaw driver to say, “Aa waqte toh madam, apda Modi kaka aj avana che” (This time our Modi uncle is only going to win.)

I ask him in broken gujarati, “Hmmm. Su game che tamne Modi kaka ma?” (What do you like about Modi Uncle)

He says, “Su bole che Modi kaka!! Hasi hasi ne pet dukhi jaye che. Jo jo ne, Delhi ma pan Modi Kaka aj avse.” (Look at how (Narendra) Modi talks! He makes us laugh so much that our stomach hurts. Watch as he is only going to form the government in Delhi.)

01tamashaAnd I wonder. Is that what this election has become about?

Almost feels like an Indian Idol contest where the most entertaining candidate wins.

Maybe I am just being too critical, but the fanaticism is evident.

 

 

I may not get there, but there are a few links I would like to share form my expedition to find my answers. These have helped me form opinions or look for answers.

 

1. CNN IBN Sagarika Ghosh on Special series “Open Mike” from Sabarmati river front, Ahemedabad.

http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/465845/open-mike-is-the-young-professionalbusiness-class-modis-prime-support-base.html?classic

 

2. Headlines Today, Rahul Kanwal on “Election Express” from Vadodara the city where BJP PM Candidate Narendra Modi Stands http://headlinestoday.intoday.in/programme/election-express-reaches-modi-bastion-vadodara/1/355929.html

3. Arvind Kejriwal in an interview “google hangout” with Rajdeep Sardesai.

(Thought i wonder if any other party has the guts to make suche statements. Also, they don’t seem to have any media presence.)

 

4. The events of the day when Arvind Kejriwal Resigned as CM.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Arvind-Kejriwal-resigns/liveblog/30380149.cms

Reading this – from below to top, will sort – of – explain why he resigned.

 

My interpretation of what Kejriwal is trying to communicate is: BJP and congress unanimously supported the prevalent corruption. And so, while Kejriwal was in the formed government, it was impossible to get across, he stepped out of the “seat” to be heard as a “common man”. As a CM – he could be overruled, as a common man, he could stand his ground. I think the whole mess up makes sense to me now! Check the first video in the post

 

And then the media did it’s job of calling him “Bhagoda”, a person who runs away; but going by the things I have read now, make me feel otherwise.

 

Also,

 

5. Have you heard how the parties have been canvassing this time? Somewhere down the line “personal agendas” are mixed with – wining the seat for the party – agenda. And also, “personal attacks” are rampant. The BJP will abuse Congress and the Congress will Retaliate. Then someone will make a joke and some news channel will debate about it. It’s endless.

 

The Contenders
The Contenders

 

But amongst all this, we have AAP. Yes, Kejriwal might be making statements about Ambanis and congress and BJP and black money and everything. But have you seen the social media pages? have you seen the content they share? No abuse. They are speaking the right things.

He makes statements like “We will remove people who have a criminal record form our party (if they have hidden facts and joined us) and cancel their tickets”. He makes statements like “We’re willing to grow”,  he makes statements about “Not being corrupt” and being a “common man” and somehow I tilt towards believing they have their heart in the right place. They just made a few mistakes, simply coz they aren’t really politicians (my school of thought!) I know they won’t win this time, but I do hope that a party like that survives and grows through time!

 

Check all their official pages here:

social-media-elections-001https://www.facebook.com/BJP4India

https://www.facebook.com/IndianNationalCongress

https://www.facebook.com/AamAadmiParty

 

And finally, a debate – discussion can’t end without mentioning this man.

“if you don’t oppose what’s wrong, you’re actually backing it. “ he says.I can’t remember which Arnab Goswami News Hour it was where he made this statement. Here’s one interview which discusses Togadia.

“Do not divide this nation while you try to justify (BJP) Ms. Negi” he says and makes a point.

 

And those are my fears.

With the way Rahul Gandhi has failed to talk any sense on the TV interview, “Secular” and “Woman empowerment” have become abused words. He dodged questions, he was stupid, he was unconfident and he was not well prepared. … Is that our fault? Secularism and Security for women are concerns that need to be taken up with greatest reverence.

One of my greatest fears is divide based on religion and moral policing for women.
One of my greatest fears is education, security for underprivileged and social development will take a back seat.

One of my greatest fear is, what are the children of the country going to grow up learning? Extremist views and propaganda? That’s not what I learnt as a kid and I feel so strongly for it, because that’s what my pride was, as a child. The secular and free spirit that my country gave me; I pride it and always will. I hope we never trade that off.

 

In the words of a friend, a rare kind, non-fanatic BJP supporter said “At least with Narendra Modi up there, and BJP in power, India will be India again. Look at the scams, the corruption, I am tired! At least, they will talk of India as a superpower again, the way they used to a decade ago.”

 

I want to believe that thought.

So yes, what I am going to say now, is Bring it on! I am ready to see Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. Let’s see him bring the development. “How soon he will do it and at what cost, is what we need to see.” said a friend on a facebook status this morning.  “And if things go wrong, we can expect the media and our own energies to be invested in re-defining the government yet again” if the need be, we shall do that too!

 

And on that note, I am going to leave with just one point:

Please do not divide this society/friendships and people based on opinions and choices they make. Please don’t be fanatic. Please don’t attack someone just because they have a different school of thought. BJP will win. Modi will come to power. Let everyone reap and enjoy the benefits when they happen and let everyone stand together if things go wrong. Let’s just vow – that when we go out and vote – we will pledge not to point fingers and not to divide over differences. Amen.

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi – A Real Hero?

So I am having my morning tea with Mom and Sis and there’s this news that I have been uncomfortable about. I am more disturbed because every two days we start celebrating someone as a hero just because he does something against the ill “corruption” and I am just not in favor of it.

Yes, on Half A Cup of Tea, I seldom show very strong opinions, but today is one of those days when I do.

I look at the news once again, and decide to do the check.

Have you ever wondered why R. K Laxman and UNNY have not been jailed? It’s not like they haven’t made cartoons against corruption. Here are some examples:

R.K. Lakshman’s Work  and UNNY”s work (Respectively shown below)

And the said “hero” Aseem Trivedi was jailed.

But how many of us, have taken the trouble to see the said cartoons. And okay, you saw it but did you rationalize? Did you judge whether or not it is acceptable? Here are the images for your reference:

Cartoon 1:

What it depicts: The Indian parliament as the “National Toilet” and the constitution being urinated on.

Are we okay with the world looking at this Image of Our country? Is this how we represent ourself? Is THIS our triumph?

Cartoon 2:

What it depicts: The ashoka chakra – the dharma chakra with “Sataya Mev Jayte” inscribed is re-designed with wolves and the emblem as a skull.

When cartoons are about the “corrupt” and about the “human” corrupt – we can pass it off as opinion. [Like the ever popular cartoons about the various, specific, government officials]

But this – this is representation of the country. Someone is mocking our country and we’re supporting this representation.

Have you ever wondered that the shoulders we’re leaning on (and every 6 months we run after a new hero) and the triumphs that we are celebrating might just as well be another way to get victimized?

I don’t really see this whole attempt as a celebration. I don’t view these pictures as something called “Freedom of Expression”. I think they very well condemn our dignity.

When asked to comment he says: “When wads of currency are waved inside Parliament, scams worth crores of rupees are carried out, when parliamentarians watch blue films in the House and then you decide who is insulting the national symbols. Why are you asking me?”

And that reinstates my apprehension.

While some loot the country with the deep rooted culture of corruption, we have others who abuse our dignity in the name of “creative expression”. And sad part is, THIS abuse is so widely accepted and applauded.

As for these images – they enrage me.

Where are his cartoons taking us? – Besides the instigation

They’re right when they say the “negative” gets publicity.

I am now provoked enough to take a step. But I look around and see – THERE is no step to take. There is absolutely no direction. We’ll shout, abuse the government a little more and then carry on with our “every day” sins.

Yes – SINS that we are so used to living with that we don’t even consider them as crime enough to create a hue and cry.

Your cartoons are super effective, right Mr. Azeem Trivedi? Then why not make cartoons that make us morally better people?

For instance – the Guwahati criminals out on bail. It kills me to see that our country is okay with that.

It kills me when I read blogs where women confide to dialy molestation and people watching and laughing. It kills me to see movies that use “rape” as entertainment. What are we doing in daily life?

In daily life – we’re reading cartoons that “rape” the country in visual representation; that BRAND INDIA in the eyes of the world in such manner and we applaud it saying we’re against corruption.

And still –men will not protect the women, still the children will be forced to child labor, still the poor will be exploited, still idle will mock the country. And we will applaud. Why not make cartoons that can change the world?

 Why not use “freedom of expression” to do something productive? But no. That won’t become just as popular as this because the positive and productive will never get so much attention. The “Freedom of expression” only seems to instigate and not inspire.

It’s like teaching a child to speak but the child only keeps swearing. The child soon forgets dignity, respect, the lines that honor the freedom of expression and the child just grows up to become one – of – those – people. I fear that happening to my country.

 We just enjoy grumbling, making excuses and BLAMING someone or the other.  We just enjoy blaming and celebrate the one who is the “most creative” in playing the “blame game”.

We need to think beyond.

We need to be wary of abuse,

We need to be protected from being used,

We need to muster courage and vision

When need to think beyond,

We need to begin.

We all want to same things – peace, prosperity, honest functioning, freedom from corruption, freedom from crime, freedom of expression – but in the bid, let’s just be careful, we aren’t trading ourselves off.

 

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