Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Maha-men in our Epics. Part I

Watching TV was not something that was openly encouraged in my family. In moderation though, this activity was deemed mandatory. 'Moderation' being defined as watching the 7pm news & 'Mahabharat' on Sunday mornings. I am, ofcourse, talking about the pre-Cable , pre- Satellite TV era..when all homes had only 1 channel... our good old Doordharshan.. DD for short.

If I & my sister behaved like nice kids the entire week i.e. did home-work without being forced to, ran errands without sulking, had quieter/shorter arm wrestles & scratch-others-eyes-out-fights, did not put up a fight when woken up for school in morning etc..etc.. we could get to watch chitrahaar on friday night. For 7 whole days of imposed & monitored saintliness, our much awaited reward was seeing the skimpy (chiffon saree in rain!! skirts with flares which rise up to show a stockinged leg when they twirl... OMG!!) dressed hindi film heroines & chocolate heroes (baggy blue jeans, sportshoes, t-shirt with graphic print in front worn with unbuttoned xxxxxl shirt tied into a knot at waist) gyrating their pelvis and dancing amongst earthen pots/flowers/250 dancers.

Watching Mahabharat on a lazy Sunday morning (mostly while downing your breakfast) was something we were supposed to do..but dint mind doing. This programme was made compulsory because
1. We are Hindus by birth..and should know what/how Krishna was.
2. Mom thought that girls should know about culture/mythology so that we dont get 'too-westernized'
3. We would hear something other than 'Dhak..dhak karne lagaa..' & some of that non-dhak-dhak variety of knowledge would find its way into our cranium.
4. Parents did not want us to embarrass them if someone asks me/my sis 'who are the trimurti?' and we would answer confidently ''I think it is really shahrukh, amir & salman..though the movie starred shahrukh,anil kapoor & jackie.''

Now, Mahabharat can be interpreted many many ways...and each of it is right. Some pundits say that this epic holds the key to many of life's questions. And each person in the epic embodies a certain character-trait which should be emulated.. even the villians.. (for ex: Dhuryodhana's loyalty..Kaikeyi's servitude to husband etc. etc.).

For me, instead of solving my questions, this show & the story had infact raised many. Instead of getting awe-inspired by the unshakeable strength  of character that each of the protagonists had, i got more dejected & repulsed with certain events in the storyline. The most common explanations i hear for this 'perceived' flaw in any of the Gods is that 'Even Gods are not perfect..and they do not intend man to be'.. Or 'These incarnations were created in the form of Man & some flaws had to inculcated in them to be more mortal-like'.

I dont buy these arguments... I believe that Gods should be imitation-worthy. They should embody all that we want to achieve & to be. Some fatal lack of strength tarnishes His image in my mind forever.

For ex: Draupati's Saree(?) Act.

Now, to start with, i hated Kunthi for saying 'Share it..whatever it is' to her 5 sons (the Pandavas ) when they came home with the prize(the bride) after Arjun won Draupati's swayamvara competition. This was purportedly done to keep the 5 brothers united. A wife for each = 5 wives in the family.. surely which mother-in-law would like to be outnumbered? With not one but 5 husbands to handle, poor Draupati would have no time to pick up saas-bahu tiffs.. clever, no?

To get around the 'i was here first', 'i am the eldest'., 'but, i won her!' hassles & tug-o-war among the siblings, it was agreed that each one gets a year with his wife..and during that time, none of the other husbands may enjoy her company or even see her. This worked well enough & the five year cycle continued.

Though the Draupati babe had not much of a say on the count of her husbands, there are events which reveal that she had a sense of identity, had her own strong opinions & sense of humour.

Coming to the 'Act'..
The eldest big-bro of Pandavas, Yudhistr, was a gamble-freak. So his cousin-gang Kauravas comprising of Duryodhana & 100 more such (remember: it was time  before 'hum do, hamare ek/do!') hatch a plan to make Yudhi gamble & lose his inheritance ( kingdom, wealth,..blah..blah). Yudhi falls for the trap, gambles on & proceed to lose his wealth, his throne, himself & his brothers. When left with nothing to gamble more, Yudhi did what any self-respecting gambler would do.. gamble on his wife. No brownies for guessing what happened.. he lost..again..

Rendered to the status of a slave due to her husband's deeds, Draupati is hastily summoned to the court..where she is verbally abused (She is called a whore for having 5 husbands).. made passes at (Karna asks her to sit on his lap)..& Dusshasana (another Kaurav sibling) think it would be jolly good fun to strip her naked in the court and proceeds to do so.

Like any 8 yr old fed on a steady diet of Hindi films would ask.. what were her 5 husbands doing all this while.. Isnt the 'man' of the family the protector/provider/avenger ?.. Oh well, in this one..they just sit back & watch.. At times, they hang their heads in shame. At one point of time when Arjun gets up in rage, Yudhi blocks him saying 'Whoaa..nelly.. hang on.. remember ..we too are slaves!!. So jus sit your ass back'.

Draupati realized that her husbands do not have the collective vertebrae to help her & turns to her friend Krishna for help...who does help her & keeps her modesty intact. This dis-robing ordeal over, Pandavas are asked to leave the kingdom & they promptly do so..with Draupati in tow..
("WTF!! why did she go with them?? Does she have short term memory loss....why cant she just file for a divorce & do Ctrl+C 4 times. Or better, why cant she marry Krishna..he got enough wives already, surely one more wont hurt.")

Or perhaps this is a interesting experiment in the group psychology. If an event is witnessed by many people, the probability of reaction decreases with the number of witness. Which is to say, if Draupati had one husband instead of 5..he would have, maybe..just maybe, stood up for her dignity. Here, each thought that anyone of the other four would have the pluck to react.

Anywhich way, embodiment of righteousness or not, what Big B Yudhi did..was just not right.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Menopause in your 20's

I, probably, would be the last person on earth to write on any biological phenomenon or bodily functions. My tryst with biology was severly severed (giggle..severly severed.. Frightfully frightened.. Readily ready giggle..giggle) after my Class X board exams. I used to mug up the terms & the various functions of different ventricle, enzymes & such ..and just write it out with the sole purpose of passing the exam. It is true that i have good marks in Botany & Zoology.. But thats because of my ability to do a faithful reproduction of the content in my textbook.

The only remote link i then had with the subject was the pictures in lab-record books i used to draw for my 'science-group but artistically non-inclined' friends. Even then these pictures fell short of academic expectations.. My lizards smiled, or the female Schistosomes haematobium coyly batted eyelids (?) at its male counterpart (or were they unisex?), human heart had a small compartment called 'Antonia Banderas'… Needless to say, my friends got in varying degrees of trouble.

But i digress.. This menopause, as i promised earlier, is nothing to do with blood & hormonal changes.. & even men can have it. Do you? Let's take the quiz.

1. You get out of bed in morning & the thought of going to office makes you want to curl back into the inviting warmth/coziness of your plush mattress.
2. You catch yourself wishing for a national holiday / strike / hartal / president's death so that you dont have to spend another day in that dreadful place.
3. You feel that the weekends are too far & too short in between & goes off even before it starts.

.. Did you say 'No' to all.. Hmmph.. Let us try again..

4. You have your CV/Resume updated…'just-in-case'.. Or worse, it is already uploaded in some job-hunting site or been sent to a friend to be 'referred' into his/her company.
5. You keep doing the 'what -if' situation in your head ( What if i had not been an engineer/manager/… What if i had chosen another college/job/company.. What if i take a loooong break..What if i sit in the toilet & dont come out till everybody is gone.. What if i break the keyboard on my boss's head…)
6. When you open your inbox, you wish that none of your friends/foes/classmates send you a 'Guess what.. I got a Promotion /New Job/ Onsite-Chance / VC Funding' mail.

Still 'No'?.. Man.. You are a tough cookie.. Or entreprenuer / artist / free-lancer / unemployed…aint ya?.. Ok.. Still one more qn: to go..

7. You wish you could do something 'more meaningful' with life.

Ha.. Gotcha.. Now grab a coffee, sit-down & let it out. It's ok. You are not alone. It is just the Career menopause. You feel you are completely clueless. In college one thinks that once one passes out, gets a job, gets some rave performance feedbacks.. It would all magically fall into place & your raison d'etre would somehow appear infront of you. It didn't happen. You took a post-grad / changed company and then thought 'aha..'.. But then, it is not quite completely there. Is it?

You know what you gotta do to get that promotion.. Or to get that onsite opportunity.. To get that increment.. But is it really what you want. How do you explain that little nagging feeling of confusion.. Of anxiety & maybe a bit of trepidition that you face? You keep thinking that your next milestone would hold the answer to all these questions. The next milestone could be a new job, a promotion, a role change, new location, or better financial security to just follow your heart's silly song.

So how do you get outta this rut? How do you ascertain if the grass is indeed greener on the otherside..or not? Well, like the typical consultant that i am, i would only hear your problems, look at your watch & tell you the time it shows…& maybe throw in some matrices as well. So here goes my matrix..

Well.. i am truly sorry that apart from putting in a stupid matrix, i cant really do more about this menopausal hitting of wall syndrome & symptoms some ,or rather, most of us show... Perhaps we could take comfort in the fact that it affects the best, mediocre & the worst amongst us.. misery does love company, doesnt it?

So the next time when you hear a friend or a colleague talking about his/her promotion or job-enlargement.. or wistfully about their childhood dream job.. you know what it is plagueing them..Just whisper to yourself CMP CMP CMP..and all would be fine for the day. And no, hitting your boss with the keyboard or hiding in the bathroom is not the answer...(although the hitting could help in releasing pent-up emotions!)...