Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Someone asked if it was OK for some countries to impose the veil on women. I also used to think that the veil is maybe forced on women but I guess I was lucky to get a closer look and discover that the veil is often a happy choice for some women. I married into a traditional muslim family from a gregaroius Punjabi one ! My mom in law comes from a very conservative, devoutly religious family based in Lucknow. She was married at 16 years to a modern forward thinking muslim husband who made her drop her veil and snipped off her long braided hair as she was sleeping one afternoon and made her wear cotton saris and get an education. She has a Ph.D. in Psychology today, thanks to her marriage but she grudgingly gave up the veil in the beginning but as soon as she could assert herself she improvised the veil into a loose jacket and a scarf to cover her head over her saris. Except for social situations, she still goes out wearing the same armor till this date and when her children question it she says she feels secure behind the clothes of her choice. They provide her an identity and she would feel awkward if she dropped that attire. Obviously, there seems to be very little religion attached to her choice though she wouldn't admit it.

I went visiting extended family in the UAE after getting married and found it very exciting that the women would lounge around at home in shorts and skirts and as soon as you need to go out, they'd wrap an 'Abaya' and a scarf and bingo you are dressed ! I also got myself the Abaya and romped around my new found avatar for a bit of fun, it was cool stuff. I mean all the pity that you feel for those scared looked creatures behind the burqqa is entirely wasted, trust me. The babes have a lot of fun with the veil ! In a Dubai Mall there is special staff to keep an eye on the 'veiled' customers since they are expert shoplifters ! Also, the veil helps one move around incognito so you wouldn't know if that was yr wife who just cruised by that dude ! I think I am digressing ?! Coming back to the question of branding vs no branding, me thinks it will be a rather boring planet to live without some interesting idiosyncrasies even if they are of the religious kind.

I read a news snippet which said that a veiled teacher was banned from covering her face while teaching since it hampered communication with the children since they could only see her eyes. All my life I have had friends tell me that they couldn't differentiate one bearded turbaned sardar to the other ! Thats also kind of 'covering' yr face isn't it so I guess bad for communication in certain countries ! And what if Tom Ford launches a fall winter veiled collection the next London fashion week ! That may help British kids communicate better with veiled teachers !

On a different note, my sikh father proudly wears his 'pug' as a definite part of his identity. When my brother cut his hair, my dad was more distressed of the fact that he would not now wear a pagri and look so common place since my dad thinks the pagri adds grandeur to a man's personality ! Its like wearing the Kirk O'Bane T shirt in 'About a Boy' !

Religion is a cult and let me be the rock-star !! ..... PLEASE ( I saw Don yesterday ! )

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Hutch Half Marathon 2006

Yup ! ran. And I finished 71st among women in some not too impressive timing. It was killing and I know I should have bought new shoes. I think I have destroyed my feet for good.
Wordmasters Challenge !

October1, 2006 : I am never lucky ! I mean if I have never won a lottery, never been selected out of a group if the choice was random etc etc....but i am also a die hard optimist. So when a few days ago I heard that Google was going to have a writing competetion and only the first 300 who apply could participate I jumped off the bed, logged on and BINGO ! I was selected to participate and this morning I went and sat through the essay writing competetion at Gandhi memorial hall at ITO. As usual I was running late and I knew that Ruhi and the folks were on their way back home from Faridabad. They had all been gone for 3 days and it was like heaven. slow, peaceful and very nice.

However I missed Ruhi but I also knew that if she landed up just when I was leaving I could forget making it to the place at all. And predictably enough, she landed up just as I was stepping out and that oh so familiar chaos descended.

Ruhi threw a tantrum right on the road and I had no option but to quickly pack her off to a friend's house with Ruby the maid. I had no idea who this friend was but Ruhi looked appropriately distracted and Ruby ran away eagerly with Ruhi perched in front of her chest with her legs akimbo.

Simultaneously, I also started screaming at W standing in the middle of the road with atleast 4 drivers as audience. I dont know why I was angry but I know it started when he commented that I was dressed like a tramp and I started yelling incoherent stuff and asking him and his family to take a collective ride ( no clue what that meant ) but it sounded angry enough. The driver got completely psyched and I felt very bad at my behaviour, but I could justify it so I shed a few tears of helplessness and even before I was composed we had arrived at the Wordmasters Venue.

There was a huge crowd and it certainly looked like much more than 300 people! They were of all kinds -oldies, important looking ladies, south Indians, housewives ( they looked it ), students, tramps ( me? ) name it.

I was told that my code was 189 and as is so usual with me, I got to sit on the second last seat of the very last row in the hall. After which a woman who spoke strange English explained the competetion and invited a white guy to do some sales talk about google. It all looked like a very large scale recruitment drive and the white man went on to make a presentation on google. God bless google. The test was a choice of 2 sets of random words out of which one had to write a hopefuly coherent essay ! I think I did fine ! The results will be out end of the month and I think I am going to win !!!! ha