Friday, November 18, 2011

Gender Perspective on Urban Development and Planning

The Indian constitution guarantees equal rights to women. In addition, India is a signatory to the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (
CEDAW) thus underlining its commitment to the elimination of Discrimination against women. But it cannot be denied that gender inequality exists and in varying forms. In the urban space, women constitute a diverse group but with specific gender interests which are because of some common sets of roles and responsibilities. Cities in general have more number of women headed households, single women living by themselves, working women with travel needs, etc. In addition, urban life poses greater risks with regard to safety and security of women. According to a women’s safety audit study undertaken by UNHABITAT in 2007, feelings of insecurity and fear of crime and violence are highest in large cities.  The report says that though urban design and planning do not generate violence but they do create and environment that offers greater or lesser opportunities for violence. Thus, by virtue of bad design, isolation, inadequate and poor maintenance, women can be at more risk and insecure in public spaces. Thus any kind of urban development planning must address the needs of these diverse groups. In addition, the empowerment of women is imperative in addressing issues like poverty.

It is assumed that urban development is gender neutral and provides equal access to men and women. Infrastructure planning in India has been the forte of men. Women are generally under represented in the fields of governance and planning process. One of the main reasons is the absence of active involvement of women in the political sphere and local governments. Even this can be traced to the lack of freedom of women to move about safely and without violence (Bealle, 1996). Thus women have little say in the distribution of city resources and to make them work to their advantage. The various services and infrastructure projects that seem to respond to varied requirements for men and women have different impacts on them. For example roads that are designed without taking in to account the safety needs of women (without streetlights) increases crime against women and are not ‘gender neutral’. It is important to provide gender specific interventions which are implemented and monitored in order to benefit women. For example, if public transport is designed with a view to addressing the special requirements of women, then access points and schedules will ensure that women utilize the service well. Unequal access to education, health care, housing, etc. not only serves to dis-empower women and weaken their voices in planning, but it also impacts urban growth. (Khosla,2009).

This has already been published on

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Random Ramblings

Sometimes there is this inherent feeling of loneliness, even while you seem to be totally engaged with the people around you. The sort of a hollowness. In spite of this, we smile, cheer, hug and talk and do all things that are expected of us by our acquaintances, friends, family etc. But deep within is that sense of disenchantment and shock with the way we are able to wear these different masks as and when required. Is it necessary this facade? This which makes us be what we are not.

All around me I see this superficial display of affections, fake words and overwhelming intolerance and nonacceptance of a human being as a human being. This also results in mutual distrust and suspicion. People talk about values, feelings, absolute right and wrong... forgetting that these are subjective and cannot be standardised for all. As a human being, I have my strengths and weaknesses, flaws,my own values and principles. I am similar to all but at the same time am unique. You may not respond to something the same way as I do. Thus, equal and same inputs for all more often than not, doesn't lead to equal and similar output from all.One would assume that the kind of institution that I am in right now, there would be individuals who would be mature enough to agree to disagree, wise enough not to interfere, and tolerant. But I understand now, that people do not change, that basic traits remain the same, whichever the institution, state or city... the majority rules, even if it may be wrong, promoting mediocrity, penalising the performers, etc etc. The pains people go through to make themselves look, sound and feel the way they are 'supposed' to while all the while their actions unwittingly show that they are not what they want you to think they are!! Confusing ain't it... but life is not simple. I am still unable to understand the motivations behind many actions and words of people... But surely, sharing it with you through this blog has definitely made my mind more peaceful.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Some thoughts on caste...

Just back after watching Aarakshan... I have been wanting to see this movie for a long time and also wanting to take a break from the usual humdrum of college and frustrated from roaming around the campus for a long time. Finally convinced myself and a friend to go catch this movie even though the tickets are quite expensive in the weekend! I thought I would share the thoughts that crossed my mind while watching this movie.
Personally, I have been blissfully ignorant of caste and its politico-socio- economic impacts for most part of my life. This is partly because of being brought up in a very protective and sheltered life and partly because my parents have not conditioned me in such a manner during my childhood. Caste was something I learnt for my social studies in tenth. It was when I actually started looking to gain admission for my graduation in various universities that I actually critically started thinking about reservation. My thoughts were also influenced by the general rhetoric that most of my peers made about issues of merit vs. reservations. In addition the thought that someone with the similar economical and ‘similar’ social background (according to my understanding at that time) i.e. basically having the same opportunities in terms of educational facilities, but who I thought wasn’t as ‘good’ (according to the marks/ grades given by our skewed assessment system!!!) as me could get into a top educational institute just because of reservations, made me more critical.
When I actually started to realise the impact of caste around me, through various readings, experiences, I became confused about this issue. As we say that reality is never black and white, I started seeing the grey areas here and there. There are still issues that need to be addressed before we talk about merit being the sole criterion in education, jobs etc. Issues of caste are about the generations of systematic deprivation, marginalization, exclusion, subjugation etc which has resulted in inequality and inequity.
I would like to mention some of the statements that I have heard around me. It is a common argument that the ‘younger’ generation are above issues of caste, tribe etc. Well, that in itself is a wrong assumption. I am sometimes aghast at the attitudes of people around me to who they consider the ‘other’. Caste, community, etc still strongly define the identity of most youngsters I know and interact with. While this in itself isn’t a bad thing but when it boils down to actually putting the ‘other’ down, it is a reflection of how deeply is caste ingrained in our minds. Whatever be the credentials, ability or achievements of an individual, his caste is still an important aspect of his status in the society. Most aspects of day to day life, culture, societal norms are defined more by caste, community than anything else. Most of us have heard this common refrain, “Oh! He/ she must have been in through quota. Look at his/her attitude now!” or something similar. Another statement that people make is about the economic status of ‘many’ of the candidates who are eligible for reservation. But have we analyzed what per cent of these communities are actually from a better economic status. I myself have not much clue about this, but I do not think they would be a majority among these communities. Finally, just a look at the statistics on caste related atrocities gives us a picture that the discrimination on the basis of caste is not a dead issue but should be addressed in a better manner than just focusing on reservation.
Another issue here is the issue of inter-caste marriage. It is rare that an inter caste marriage is an ‘arranged’ marriage and more often they are causes of disturbance and despair to the families involved. Even when there is not much difference in the kind of backgrounds and economic status of the families, there are issues of acceptance here. It is still a taboo among the general public including youth. It is too idealistic to assume that there would be a time where inter caste marriage would be a norm, but I feel that until the time that they are considered a taboo, the issue of caste discrimination would be very relevant. In fact this could be considered as one of the indicators in measuring the hold of caste system in Indian society.
Coming back to the movie, it was a good entertainer with bits of idealism and melodrama mixed into it. Although it was rhetorical at times, it did make us think about the various issues like discrimination based on caste, relevance of reservation, merit vs. reservation debate,  commercialization of education, etc.

No Rhyme No Reason

No rhyme no reason
Why I
Am with you

The pain I feel
Drives me closer to you
I realise that now
The days pass by
The fights, abuses and all
But I come back
How long,
Will go on this ?

No rhyme no reason
Why I
Am with you

The feelings the same
But something’s changed
The joy’s gone,
More of a hollow within
I loathe looking at you
But I can’t leave you
How long
Will go on this?

No rhyme no reason
Why I
Am with you

Yes, I love you still
But something’s changed
More of make believe
The thought of your touch
I shudder with fear
How long
Will go on this

No rhyme no reason
Why I
Am with you

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Troubles, Turmoil, Change and Me...

Yes!  I know this isn't the first time that I have neglected my blog. Its been more than two months since I wrote anything... Ideas have been there flying right, left and centre but its the same lame old excuse that I am going to give that there was just no time to sit down and write them down.

Too much of change and turmoil has been going on in life. Getting back to student life again after 2 and half years is not a joke as I recently found out. Now I can truly appreciate my classmates from Bharathidasan Institute of Management, Bangalore campus... Kiccha you rock man!!! :) My third innings at education is working out fine as of now. Moving from a pure management science perspective to a more social and political perspective is obviously taking time, but since I do not intend to choose sides, I can consciously evaluate the pros and cons of each.

Another learning out the experiences here is that it is not possible to keep everyone happy and I have realized that people love to complicate things rather than talk and simplify or resolve issues. And it is not necessary to be able to actually like or make them like you.  Its not important... and its best to maintain distance from people who are never going to matter in your life.Thus engage with them in a detached and unsentimental manner. Its best to chose carefully the people whom you give the power to be able to affect you whether negatively or positively... this is a selfish world and its best to learn that at the earliest than be sorry about it later!!

For the uninitiated and uninformed, I joined Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai for my second post graduation in Habitat Policy and Practice in June. Its been a whirlwind since then, new friends, adjusting to student life (the most painful part is money management!!!), adjusting to living within limited resources, roommates, hostel food, assignments.....aaaaahhhhhh!!! I am not sure if I have totally settled down even now but atleast the initial tempest has calmed now and I think I have found my footing...

Hopefully I would be able to write more often, because I genuinely miss sharing my thoughts and more than that the comments that you write to encourage, criticize...
So that is all for now....

Have fun...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Real Beauty: Perceptions Differ

One of the definitions of the word Beauty (as given by Merriam- Webster) is the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit. Thus it is related to our senses,our mind and our spirit. This means that real beauty would be different for different people. This is quite obvious when we observe physical concepts of beauty differ in different cultures, races, countries etc. These concepts change with time. Another aspect of this definition of beauty is that these are qualities, which are not necessarily the visual qualities.So anything can be beautiful ;  music, fragrance, the inherent or developed qualities of a human being.

Let me restrict myself to human beings. In the present scenario, everyone wants to 'look' beautiful! A lot of importance is being given to superficial and external beauty. Scientists are coming out with the measurements/ratios of 'perfect' or 'real' beauty. Plastic surgeons are using these measurements to make people look beautiful. In addition we have the various creams, serums which are supposed to make us look beautiful and then the gyms and fitness clubs. The cosmetics and fashion industry is thriving on the aspirations of millions to match the concepts of beauty that is being 'sold' to them through various media. Thus a lot of economic activity is being driven by the 'want' to look beautiful. Mine and your want..

But what about 'feeling' beautiful? That feeling which does not necessarily come out of how we look. This sense of feeling beautiful depends on our emotional well being, our happiness and human qualities of kindness, empathy and the like. The kind of lifestyle we lead nowadays with all its tensions, pressures is not exactly helping us feel good about ourselves. We lament about the lack of everything but do nothing about improving our situation. We want to look good and beautiful to others, hide our real self beneath this veneer of 'Beauty'. But how long would this last... thus we have rising problems of depression, burnouts etc. The pressure on us to match up to the ideals of beauty, success, happiness is too much to handle and makes us forget ourselves, our true happiness and true beauty. The external image that we present to others is but a distortion of what we truly are... In the glam and glitter of the world around us, we lose sense of real beauty... and join the rat race of looking beautiful rather than being beautiful. 

For me real beauty is within each of us. To discover that beauty within us and within others is truly a gift. Of course, a good dress, or haircut, or a bright nail-polish does make me happy but it can only do so much to add to my self confidence and self image. What I am, how beautiful I truly am depends on my actions, my thoughts which are again relative and need not be the same for you. Basically there is nothing real... its all an illusion... and my illusion differs from yours!! I believe everybody is beautiful in their own unique way.So why don't you sit down and think about what does being beautiful mean to you?

P.S the thought of writing this blog from IndiBlogger's What does Real Beauty mean to you. IndiBlogger is a good website for avid bloggers and readers. Do check it out! :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Immpressions: Mumbai!

Mumbai - The city of dreams... the city that never sleeps... etc etc.

Well I had once said I would never prefer to live in Mumbai... But now I cannot wait to get there! There is a mix of apprehension and curiosity about how it will be to live and learn in such a big metro city!

So I have got selected into my dream institution - Tata Institute of Social Sciences and I had to go to complete my admission formalities.

The first thing I noticed and got scared about is the traffic and how dangerously close and fast the vehicles ply!! In the days I was there itself, there was a report of a gruesome accident as a result of over speeding and recklessness!

Then I had the luck to experience the Mumbai Local... and thankfully the first few experiences were wonderful... nothing to complain about.

Another interesting visit was to this  'hep' side of Mumbai - a mall called Palladium. It was as if I was in another part of the world... it did also kind of remind me of Delhi but not so much. It was different. And yeah lots of legs (well toned) and bellies (flat)!! All of this kind of made me conscious of my own not so perfect appearance!! So much so that I did not feel like shopping even!! :O

Yeah and how can I miss the TISS campus... I do not know whether to classify it as chilled out, helpful, endearing, etc etc... But it was awesome and I so look forward to the learning experience of two more years.

I know I haven't even seen one percent of this great city which is truly the commercial capital of India. But definitely it is the hard work of the people here and the endless pursuit of their dreams (small or big) that keeps the city ticking and moving onwards even in the face of adversities and disasters. So fingers crossed and lot of excitement!!

I wait.....

Friday, April 1, 2011

Urumi: A good movie experience

I do not write reviews normally. I wouldn't call this a review either. Just another experience which I want to share with all of you!  Let me also clarify that Prithviraj is not my favorite actor neither do I have a crush on him! 

I had been following the making of Urumi through various links and photos posted by a friend of mine and it aroused my curiosity. In addition to this was the fact that over 20 crores was spent in the making of Urumi. I am always a bit skeptical about the big budget movies.

For about a few hours Urumi made me forget about my problems and worries and took me along back to those times of thamburaans and thamburaatis, folk lores and chivalry! The simplicity of the common folk, the treachery of the power hungry which ultimately leads to the greater destruction! Factually the events might not be true but the story is powerful and is like a ballad.. If nothing else it made me do some online research about the history of Kerala. It also made me realize that what history we  know is from the point of view of those who colonized us and what they wanted us to know! The folklores and songs which speak of our own history and culture is something we have ignored and forgotten!

The script and dialogues are wonderfully done by Shanker Ramakrishnan without  unnecessary melodrama or bravado.I do not think I need to praise the cinematography of Santosh Sivan! Every frame, every angle speaks for itself and adds to the magic of the story.The brave Chirakkal Kothuwal (Arya), the valiant and chivalrous Chirrakal Kelu Naynar (Prithviraj), the strong and sensuous Aysha (Genelia), the lovable and faithful Vavvali(Prabhu Deva), the scheming and cunning Chenicheri Kurup(Jagathy) ... each and every one of the characters donned by the different actors have been directed and captured very well bringing out the best of them..I did find the presence of Tabu unnecessary (But then ek item number toh banta hai na!!) and Vidya Balan's character was not properly developed. In the end I was also confused between the exact relationship of the present day character of Genelia (forgot the name, sorry!)  with that of Krishna Das (also donned by Prithvi Raj). Barring these two things I found the movie intriguing and engaging...

All said and done, Urumi is a good movie experience and is definitely a must watch!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The morning swim!!

I got up early that day.The last day of my blissful holiday! It was over too quickly... two beautiful days...passed by as if in a few moments! My friends were still sleeping and didn't seem to keen to leave the world of their dreams either! I decided that a few moments of solitude would do me good!

Walking by the beach just as the warm rays of the sun touched the sands... and the sea silently receded after a night of fun. Heavenly was the only word to describe it! The air as fresh as it gets nowadays and the serenity of the place makes one free from all worries and calms down the nerves... 'Om Shanti!' The tourists here also are the calm and peaceful lots... greetings and smiles all around! The fresh morning breeze and the scintillating waves beckoned me into the sea!

As the water touched me, engulfed my body in a cool embrace... all the laziness drained off! I wanted more of the sea as she seduced me out of my sleep into her fresh arms...Swimming in the deep blue sea with the light blue sky above and the warmth of the sun on my skin, only one thought pervaded my thoughts...I wish I could be here like this forever, no worries, nothing just living each day as it comes...

That is when I saw another sight, which I believe is a rare one.... A big wave was coming my way and I could clearly see an orange fish swim along with the wave till it broke about a few feet away from me! Amazed for the few seconds I stood there in a reverie till another wave pushed me down and brought me back to reality!
It was time to go wake up my friends and get ready to leave this beautiful place which gave me memories to remember for a lifetime!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Safety of women and self defense

We are all living in this illusion of safety. That a woman can be attacked and assaulted in the ladies compartment of a train is totally appalling. It shows us the lack of security and safety in our cities. Delhi, even though it is the capital of India, is somewhere I would not want to live in and neither would my parents encourage. Just the  incidents that actually get reported would discourage any woman to go live on her own in the city. But this is closer to home!On 28th January 2011, there was this report in the newspaper claiming that Kochi is safe for women. I sarcastically had retorted that this is because women here do not step out after 7 pm! 

If anything this recent tragedy that cut short the life of Soumya only points to the glaring issues that need to be addressed regarding the safety and security of women. The fact that this happened in the Ladies compartment of a train, is ironic and makes us question the kind of security provided.  This struck me as my parents always asked me to avoid sitting in the ladies compartment unless there are a good number of co - passengers. According to them the ladies compartment in the most dangerous one!

Lot of hue and cry is being raised over this incident now. Citizens are agitated and indignant. The politicians are making statements and counter statements.A lot of promises are being made. The media is also giving a lot of hype. But what will change actually remains to be seen. Once this story becomes 'stale', will the issue of the freedom of a woman to travel, to even get out of the house at any time of the day remain an important issue? Will the women in Kerala stand up and raise their voice against any kind of exploitation or harassment  faced by them almost on a daily basis? Or will they accuse each other of being the instigating these attacks? I now remember the public signature campaign that our college students' council against the harassment faced by women while travelling in buses and otherwise. It had generated a mass response from both the local media and the public and a lot of changes were definitely brought about. But even those were short lived and not consistent.

Who is to blame for these kind of attacks on the dignity and safety of women?
The lax attitude of the government?
The society in which such perverted characters are molded?

How can such attacks be prevented? How can we make our cities safer for women? Multiple responsibilities fall on multiple people. 

Let us first talk about ourselves before anyone else

So how do we ensure our safety, security and keep our dignity? The easiest and most obvious is not to travel alone after a certain time.  But that would only encourage these hoodlums to attack the women who have no other choice but to travel by night. And what if you are attacked when at home or some where else?
I have written down some thoughts which came to my mind 

  • Learn some self defense techniques! It will also boost your confidence.
  • Be alert and aware of people and your surroundings (this is applicable whether it is day or night)
  • Stay with the crowd. Especially at night do not move around deserted areas.
    • Avoid speaking on the mobile phone or do anything which can make u seem distracted.
  • Use a barrier or distance to make an attack difficult. Thus lock your doors!
  • Always carry something which is easily and quickly accessible to use as a weapon. An umbrella ( especially the kalan kuda)! A Pen, a safety pin and don't hesitate to use it if required!
  • Do not hesitate to scream, shout in case you are being targeted whether overtly or covertly i.e attract attention.
  • If attacked, act quickly and decisively. How to escape or how to fight and incapacitate the attacker needs to be decided keeping in mind the surroundings and the situation.
  • Use your strongest weapons against the weakest targets of the attacker. The eyes, throat,  and groin are the primary targets while the abdomen and face are the secondary targets. Your strong weapons are the bottom of your feet, elbows, hammer fists and palm heels.
  • Stand up for any other woman being harassed or attacked. You also could be in a similar situation!
  • Please do approach the authorities. Do not hesitate to file a complaint. The perverted offenders should not be allowed to move around scot-free.
  • Share your experiences and tips on how to prevent such attacks with other women. Educate them. 
 These are not in any way an exhaustive list on how to prevent attacks and how to defend/protect yourself. But I hope it has given you some information and insight. If we act meek and submissive the chances of being targeted will only increase and at the same time reckless and reactive action is also not advised. Common sense, confidence and alertness are key to preventing attacks/ harassment and defending yourself.

What the government and railway authorities will or won't do, we cannot be sure of. But that should not stop us from protecting ourselves or our loved ones.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Making it Happen!

       We all wish for that something more in our life. Be it money, love, a more satisfying career... anything. There is more often than not something which remains elusive in our lives. The one thing that would make our life a dream come true. 

    What stops us from going forward and pursuing our dreams and eccentricities?

       The life that we all want is not beyond our reach... Its just that we need to extend our hand a bit further and stretch our limits to the maximum. The reason for hesitation may differ for each of us. But that our devil... and we need to fight it if we want to achieve something in life which we are proud of. Whatever it may be!

       I have so many different things in my mind which I want to do in this life. And each experience  would make me a better person. But something pulls me back always... I realized that somewhere in the back of my mind I am afraid of taking risks now and I want to take the safe track in life! That is my Devil! And its hard to fight it. 

       So whenever someone questions me about the path that I want to take or have taken. I get confused about my decisions, question it! And then only doubts prevail rendering me incapable of real action. But when it comes to decision making in my professional and other capacities, I am sure about myself. But for any decision concerning my life, career or studies I tend to look for external support.And we all know what happens if u get too much advice and suggestions! I have been restricting myself, tying my own wings and suppressing my desires behind the wall of doubt and confusion.Well its high time that this wall is broken! 

       The first step to overcome weakness is to understand it. Only then you can alert yourself when the weakness starts raising its hood. Thus now I am more cautious about going into the over cautious mode! What if I make a mistake sometimes is the question that hounds me...But then mistakes are made by people who do not try anything new. As James Joyce once said," “A man's errors are his portals of discovery.”

    Its time to fly now...and follow my happiness! :)

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Death.. Unknown but Certain

    The thought of death has been coming to my mind a lot lately. The moment we are conceived, the one thing that is certain is death.Whether we are rich, poor, noble or evil... death will conquer us all. It erases all traces of individuality and our life. It is like a never ending battle as Death strikes at Life... But Life is renewed and rejuvenated at each fall. Death is as mysterious as it is certain. Thus we have Religion and Spirituality to seek answers from. The Truth though will come only when it strikes and the experience nobody never get to share with anyone.

    Death,definite from birth
    Nothing else is so..
    You and Me
    This moment we may seize
    Next moment we may cease
    Life is so...
    Only Death is so...

    Virgins? Angels?
    The Lord?
    You and Me
    The promise of alluring
    The free Life of afterlife
    Who knows, not I!
    Life is so...
    Only Death is so...

    Poor , Rich
    Good, Evil
    You and Me
    Just Dust and Bones..
    The soul?
    Is it there or where?
    Life is so... uncertain
    Only Death is so...certain

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Heaven of Freedom

    Today 26th January 2011, I would like to quote the words of Rabindranath Tagore about his vision of India...But I think his words are also relevant to the whole world.

    "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
    Where knowledge is free;
    Where the world has not been broken up
    into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
    Where words come out from the depth of truth;
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
    Where the clear stream of reason
    has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
    Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    The Simplest things in life

    Thinking of the Vodafone Delights advertisement, I just thought about the fact that its the little things or deed of happiness that makes life enjoyable and people more lovable...

    Whats the first thing you do when you reach home? The first thing I do it cuddle with my Blacky.  It is so nice to see her welcome me home with a smile and the wag of her tail. Today I want to write about the little things in life that we may take for granted in the rush of our lives. The morning tea that your mom/wife/dad/husband  brings you,  the newspaper in the front room, that special kiss the first thing in the morning, the correct amount of sugar or spice, clean bathrooms, ironed clothes, the 'just what you wanted' gifts, the daily calls to get up on time ( my dad usually wakes me up!)...etc etc. The few important people in your life who know all yours whats, whys, wheres and hows, they take the efforts to make you comfortable and happy through the simple but loving gestures which you more often than not tend to consider as normal and expected.

    Its easy to expect these things to happen always and not appreciate them. Its easy to forget to reciprocate the small deeds of affection and love. But its easier to take that effort and make the other person feel as special as they are for you. A bud of rose, a bed tea now and then or a breakfast in bed on your day off, or even just a hand made card. Making a loved one feel special makes you feel special when you see the twinkle of happiness in their eyes and the smile that brightens up their face... Be it your mom, dad, wife, husband, brother or sister or anyone else... make that small gesture which would brighten up and see how you glow from within in their happiness...

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Before marriage till marriage!

    Man is a social being. This is something which we have all studied at some point of time. Thus one of the most cruel and effective form of punishment/ torture meted out to criminals, terrorists, etc is solitary confinement. The need to communicate and interact is something of the utmost importance to human beings in order to retain their human nature. Self expression, exchange of ideas and organisation are somethings which we are experts at utilizing for our benefits. Thus we have groups beginning from the family to nations. We have created complex social structures which compete and cooperate with each other. On the basis of social interactions among human beings spread over time and continents, we have established a wide variety values, norms and rituals which are the foundations of the human society.

    The society keeps changing, earlier this change was at a much slower pace. Somethings which were unacceptable, unpardonable and frowned upon, are now part and parcel of our society and nobody gives a second thought to them. Similarly, some accepted aspects of society are now considered a blight on society. Thus change is also an important aspect of human civilization.

    This change has also affected the dynamics of men and women. May be some people have enjoyed or suffered these changes more than the other! There are of course extreme situations of women still living in the same age old conditions and bound in tradition or poverty,but in this particular discussion I would not elaborate on that. Feminism, Liberalism, Capitalism and many other 'isms' have contributed in parts to this change. So a woman doesn't look at a good marriage/alliance or domestic life as the only criterion which makes her life a success. It is definitely still one of the most important things to majority of women but education, career, self dependence, financial independence, an interesting social life are also being counted somewhere on the list.

    A fairly well educated woman in her twenties wants almost everything from a good job, a handsome and loving husband, friends,a fun social life, decent salary etc etc etc. She doesn't want to have the life of her mother, she wants it to be better and bigger! Any mention that her gender makes her vulnerable is almost blasphemous. Her semi-liberalism and semi-feminism along with her ego would be a force to reckon with. She is assertive, confident and has her own opinion on everything ranging from fashion to politics. At work she may be ruthless.Efficient, competitive and aggressive she want that corner office to be hers. She looks for true love and romance but at the same time is practical when it comes to decision making...She is becoming more and more demanding it seems... ah and confused too. What is the most important? What is the priority?

    Until few years ago, the man was the sole breadwinner of the family. He took on the burden of providing a good life and a better future for his children, at least in financial aspect.A well settled (government) job, a 'good' wife along with a sizable dowry would probably make him seem more successful back then.Now look at a twenty or thirty something man, he is equally confused. The father was feared and revered. His appreciation and love, one could only see the glimpses of. He sees his mother, always loving , most probably a housewife. She was the stable rock of his family when his father was busy working or on tours. She is the quintessence of womanhood and selflessness for him. The women his age confuse him. They are his classmates, friends, colleagues/superiors. Equally aggressive and competitive as men, and given undue advantage at times due to their gender. And yet they crib about inequality! Life is becoming tough for him. A simple joke and they get offended!

    He is in a reasonably good job and enjoys the weekend parties and stuff.Parents want him to marry, but is he ready for marriage? And demands from the parents of the prospective brides are also high. In addition, the question of whether or not to accept dowry. His ex gf thought he was an MCP with double standards. Yes,it is imperative for him to earn more than his wife, what will his friends and family say otherwise! He wants a working woman, but not a career woman.He wants to definitely have a better life than his father, who he thinks had it all easy. The option of changing jobs is open, but with the recession and all, the growth in salary is not worth it. At the same time staying in a company for more than three years may mean stagnation. May be he should go for further studies?Or is it better to get married and 'settled' now?

           And it is in between all this confusion that suddenly a their families find a good match in each other's families, backgrounds, etc. Its in a daze that meet each other, ask each other some questions, forgetting the important ones, which  they always wanted to. 
    'Do you like her/him?'  

    'Yeah she/he is okay. I would like to spend more time though.'

    'Oh sure! You will have all the time after the engagement. We need to fix a date for that though.'

    After that its a whirlwind... Time passes so quickly .. then engagement, the thousands of calls and SMS's, each of them trying to impress the other, share as much as possible about themselves, the apprehensions and doubts,etc etc. Then the wedding shopping, planning... 

    And Voila! The D day is here. The usual confusion and mayhem prevails during the wedding also... and soon its all over or should I say its all beginning of everything!

    Let me not say more now... Just 

    Wishing them a happy and blissful married life!