Jun 29, 2010

What Women Want - A guy's perspective

(This Blog is an entry to the BlogAdda contest ‘What Women Want’ sponsored by Pringoo)

Mystic girl

Mystic girl
Mystery girl

If there is a question that even the creator of mankind would be baffled, it is probably this very one, ‘What Women Want!’ This is probably going to be the toughest thought process that I’ve ever undergone and would probably undergo in a while. The output has not been quite as expected, since a friend of mine, a woman, herself told, women themselves are not sure of what they actually want.

And, I am going to be taking extreme caution in wording this post, because I definitely do not want to earn of the wrath of the fairer sex, for this expression of my thought! But, with the explicit frankness in my way of expression, I’ve ended up in awkward situations quite often, and I can expect it to happen now as well.

I have made good friends with a few women/girls that I’ve interacted with in my life and of course my mother and sister are an integral part of my life, and hence have personally noted a few key points. Professionally as well, since my PhD advisor is a woman, I have been able to observe carefully what Women want in professional life too. However, it is indeed going to be hard for me (or for any guy) to really answer this question. I’d treat this subject from various points of view, as in ‘What Women Want’ from different aspects in life, and ‘What Women Really Want’.

What a Woman wants from her career is independence and self-esteem. Clichéd it may sound, since this is true in the case of a man too, but it is indeed true that a Woman who is a working professional certainly on the path towards independence, especially in a gender-biased society (not anymore!) like ours. In trying to prove her merit to her peers and superiors, she probably wants to prove she is as good as any man who would do the job. What can be a little disturbing in these cases at times, is that, there might not be any competition from the opposite sex; but still there is a competitive spirit and a ‘feel of being important’ that exists within a woman just for her to show her worth.

What a Woman wants from her family and siblings is unconditional love and support. Again, in the gender-dominated Indian society, girl child was not preferred a few decades ago. The reason for this being, the belief in parents that the son is going to care for the parents in old age and the high costs associated with marrying a daughter off. These beliefs have been broken and are no longer valid in today’s scenario. All that a girl needs these days is supportive backing in the form of basic education and moral support while she evolves to be an educated woman. There have been instances, where so-called dependable sons have disowned parents, and many a time, a daughter has come to the rescue of the parents. This unconditional love and support has quite often helped a Woman realize her career goals.

And, as a mother, the contribution of a Woman to the lives of her children is immense. Writing about the role of a woman as a mother, might fill up this entire blog. I briefly mention it, even though I understand that motherhood is an important phase in a Woman’s life. What a Woman wants from motherhood is a worthy contribution to mankind, a daughter or a son who will make her proud in the years to come, and her living a fruitful one.

The toughest part is to answer what a Woman wants from her personal life, or more specifically her partner. This is probably a question, the answer for which is not known to most women themselves. In trying to reach out to extra-terrestrial men, whose species are not found on earth any more, Women end up leaving out or rather ignoring the worthy mortals who might be able to make their lives together an memorable one. The amount of expectation that a Woman has from a man, to even consider him as a friend, let alone a significant other is quite complex. (I will not deny that men have comparable amount of expectations, though!) A Woman probably looking at a secure future would want a partner who is well settled in life, and probably placed in a respectable position. With this, what they also expect is good looks, hospital manners, and someone who respects their views and thoughts. A good combination this might actually sound, is probably only attributed to Rama of Ayodhya, who existed centuries ago. Hence affected by the harsh reality in the nature of guys, a girl may settle down for a compromise either in looks or in profession, the former being more common and with a hope of transforming a Mr. Okay to a Mr. Right. Also, a Woman doesn’t want to be viewed as an object of lust or attraction. However, they do want to be noted as a beautiful Woman. This would probably be possible, if a Woman is dignified and graceful in looks and attire, as opposed to the contrary these days.

In a lighter vein, Women do not want the ‘safe’ guy as a boy friend, but as a husband yes! If a guy is to qualify a boy friend, the guy must not be boring and a Woman will be willing to accept a lot of compromises in profession, looks or views, as long as the guy knows how to keep her happy.

Finally, what a Woman wants of herself is a question which a woman herself might have trouble answering. However, it might seem that a woman would definitely appreciate the following: a caring family that is supportive, a loving guy to spend the rest of her life with, a respectable career position that does a justice to her potential, and above all a life that when looked back at, should not be a cause of any repentance.

Jun 21, 2010

Appa – To my Father

When I wrote the post ‘Amma – to my Mother,’ I knew that this post was soon coming up, just for my father. And BlogAdda came up with this contest to mark Father’s Day, thus helping me get rid of my laziness and get this post out faster.

(Image Courtesy: Kannathil Muthamittal - A Tamil movie by Mani Ratnam, one of the few recent movies to explore a father-child relationship)

To a father, who made a lot of sacrifices professionally and personally, the only thing I could do was to help him realize his dreams, in the form of my success. I might not have been able to succeed a full hundred percent, but he still is happy with the few little things in life that bring joy to him, in the form of this daughter and son’s achievements.

Being a person who was forced to study borrowing books from the library, give up an M.Tech seat in the prestigious IIT-Madras (now Chennai), or give up on an fully-funded PhD offer from University of Florida upon landing up with a government job, my father made sure that his children do not have to undergo any of these and get better facilities in life. I am sure any father of this generation does this, and it is indeed heartening to see a lot of us trying to fulfill our parents’ dreams.

Just because I said I needed company while preparing for my class 10 exams, my father pursued an MBA course (via correspondence), and ended up working harder than me at the age of 43. When I was in class 12, whether it was an early 5:30 am tuition that I needed to be dropped off at, or picking me up from there after a long day at work, he did it all without a showing any sign of tiredness no matter how hectic his work would get. It was indeed a moment of pride for him and a sense of unattainable happiness for me, when my father went to pick up the academic achievement award from my engineering college (since I was in the US). I then thought I have at least been able to do to this bit for the sacrifices you made for my sake. And to add to this, my sister topped her class in Class 12 exams, the same year, and there was my proud father, picking up another award, on my sister's behalf! This is probably a moment that he might have not anticipated, but surely wished, when he picked my sister or me from the doctor's hands when we were just born.

With multiple books being prescribed for a single course in class 11, 12 and in engineering, I was told by my father, 'I so wanted to read all these books back then, but couldn't. I want you read them all, so I'm going to get them all for you!' I would stand at the bookstore every time, me standing short of words, and thinking of this: 'you never buy clothes for you at all, and say you have enough new clothes, while the last one you bought was a good six Diwalis ago!'

For my graduate studies, I chose to come to the US with my father's (and mother's) encouragement. Being in my final year of engineering, I got busy with the project, seminar and coursework. Getting to the US on an F1 visa demands a lot of paper work in terms of financial documents and other paperwork. For a VISA interview in June, my father had to literally run around starting March to get all the paper-work including bank statements and chartered accountants (CA) statements ready. I am sure, most of us have an idea of how effective the banks or CAs can be, and he showed no sign of taking a break till it was all done. All that I had to do was, to sit with him in the hotel room in Chennai on the day before my VISA interview, and he went over the documents explaining them one-by-one. I was really surprised and probably even shocked at the amount of effort he had put in to get each of the documents, and the amount of detail that he provided. Especially after seeing many of my friends running around all by themselves to get these documents, or even worse with parents asking them to take a job after engineering, I felt really lucky to have a father like him.

I have always had this respect for my father for the reason that, he made sure my mother got back to studies after she got married to him while in the first year of college. It was probably under forced familial circumstances that he had to marry her, but ensured that my mother's future was not going to be in the kitchen and in the backyard of our house. She went on to get three professional degrees and become a well-qualified teacher.

Also, a father's role is quite important in the upbringing of his children. I discussed this point with director Onir (of My Brother Nikhil fame) in a conversation on the micro-blogging site Twitter. He agreed with the fact that, if a father helps in the household chores at home and spends a lot of time with his children, it helps in the better upbringing of the children. The children will make sure that they help their spouse in managing the house later on their life and probably bring up their children that way too, thus creating a good example for the generations to come. By believing in division of labor, my father usually helps my mother, (a working woman) in many household chores, thus setting a good example to us. There are a few guys even in this so-called modern age, who delegate their wives to just household chores, without giving them a chance and forget that the wife needs to have a life too! He values her independence too, and helps her take a break from the routine chores by making/getting breakfast and cleaning up the house on most days. From a very young age, my sister and I have helped our parents together in managing the house, and I am quite proud of this fact because, this helped me be a lot more independent when I got to the US for my graduate studies.

He surely respects my sister's independence and mine too. As with many parents, with a set of restrictions (which I feel is mandatory while growing up), we have evolved to be young responsible adults. Depending on what was considered a necessity and what was a luxury, my father helped us by marking a good line between the two of them, and this aspect has helped me a lot in the recent days. By being open about every aspect my life, I seek advice from him, because I believe that he is my best role model. I truly value his words of advice that have come at the right instance.

I surely cannot take after this wonderful gentleman, who has been instrumental about every success in my life, stood by my failures, adequately handled my ignorance, put up with my childish pranks to this day and more; men like him are not made often. The only thing I can say to him is – Appa, I am really blessed to have a father like you.


I wished for

Jun 6, 2010

Raajneeti – My View

Having seen the trailer of Raajneeti earlier in January this year, the movie with the usually non-performing Katrina Kaif in a lead role seemed to instantly capture my attention. Prakash Jha, the director of the movie has had great reviews on Gangajal (which I am yet to watch), and this definitely made me look forward to the movie more. The star cast of the movie – Ajay Devgn, Arjun Rampal, Katrina Kaif, Manoj Bajpai, Nana Patekar, Naseeruddin Shah, and Ranbir Kapoor seemed to a different blend of performing stars and eye candy stars, and was another thing that made me curious of how the star cast was going to be used.

Having seen it now, I surely am not disappointed by the movie. It deals with the current state of Indian politics, with corruption, dynasty-based politics, sex, exploitation of backward castes, and more importantly the opportunistic politicians. The story line of Raajneeti seems to be a routine one, liberally borrowing from Mahabharatha and Godfather, and the movies inspired by these, such as Dalapathi, Nayagan, Sarkar, Sarkar Raj and the like. Definitely a long watch at 3 hours (with no interval here), the movie seemed to have some good writing, cinematography, music and above all performances.

Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpai, and Nana Patekar are all seasoned actors, and a great performance is always expected out of them. And they do not disppoint. Manoj with great political aspirations exactly portrays what a neglected son of a politician would do. Ajay Devgn as Sooraj, the leader of the Dalits gives a realistic performance, but surely looks worn out in a few scenes. Nana Patekar as the party mentor, play crucial role in the movie proceeding and gives an underplayed but splendid performance. Naseeruddin Shah comes in a cameo is wasted in the role; just wish we got to see a little more of him.

Ranbir Kapoor as the silent mastermind behind all of the happenings, emerges as the new find in Raajneeti. He was surely good as the boy-next-door in Wake Up Sid, but this movie definitely brings out another dimension in this immensely talented actor.

Arjun Rampal, without his usual wooden expressions, gives a great performance as Prithvi. This is surely one of his best roles, along with Rock On! His characterization was quite interesting, as he oscillated between being a person with gray shades to a really good person. His outfits in the movie were too cool and definitely benefited his characterization.

Katrina Kaif doesn’t really have much to do in the proceedings of the movie initially, but surely has come a long way from the non-performing eye candy she used to be. Also, without her British accent, she definitely made a mark as the Indian political dynasty’s bahu (daughter in law). She had some really good ethnic outfits in the movie too!

The others stars contributed well to the movie as well, and definitely made a mark in their roles.

The movie as I said, reflects the state of Indian politics very well, and some scenes in the movie can be related to what we see in the TV news daily, especially during election times, when the dealings between political parties is in a denomination no less than tens of crores of rupees. The opportunistic attitude of the Indian politicians, and the state of how the wives of the Indian politicians retire to their fate and play a fiddle to their exploits, is quite well depicted too.

I loved the song Mora Piya, sung by Kavita Seth (of Iktara fame), and a few others running in the background. There were no full-fledged routine songs, which usually act as filler to a loose script. The script in this movie was quite tight and never was there a boring moment. The cinematography employed two schemes - a fresh theme for the outdoors, and a sober kinda nostlagic theme for the indoor scenes, and I loved it.

Raajneeti, despite it’s three hour length is a good watch for the performances and more!

(Image Courtesy: IndiaGlitz.com)

Jun 1, 2010

The Better Images from my Third Eye

Having done a lot of travel in the past couple years in India and abroad, I got some great opportunities to visit some extra-ordinary locales. I carried a camera to most of the trips, as any other traveler who considers it to be a key accessory. For that particular moment, our eyes are the best cameras and capture the images of the scene better than any other camera, especially with the imagination of the human mind. With a camera, one takes pictures to almost recreate the scene along with the imagination that one had, so that they can be viewed even after many years. The camera can definitely be called our third eye too!

I am not a professional photographer and all of the pictures here were shot with a point and shoot camera. With the perception and imagination at the moment of shooting, I would call these pictures as a few good pictures that I might have taken. This blog entry is a part of Travel Photos contest organized by Blog Adda. I am sure there are better pictures and posts accompanying the pictures, but as always I am happy to be a part of this contest.

This first picture was shot at the Great Horseshoe Bend in Page in Arizona (US), when I went on a road trip with a few friends in July 2009. This is a place where the mountain is shaped like a horseshoe magnet, and the river’s trail follows the path of a horseshoe as well. The water flow from above looks to be really smooth and serene, but upon close observation you definitely see the water currents and turbulences. I’d liken this to the human mind, which has a lot of activity going on within. But the person’s face at the first glance, doesn’t give a clue of the happenings in his mind (unless he is overtly expressive).

This second picture was shot at the Paddington Underground Railway Station in Great Britain in Dec 2008, when I was in London for a day during transit. The thing that captured my attention in this picture was the fact that this train station reminded me of the Indian train stations during monsoon, with the rain water around. The Britishers surely inspired a lot of things in India including the train system. Another generic observation in this picture is that the people are awaiting the next train with some concern over the time of arrival, and are all set for yet another working day.

This third picture was shot during the London transit as well, and I saw an advertisement hoarding on a bus, and it encouraged recycling. Though, all countries are now encouraging recycling, I have not seen many effective signs either in the US or in India that probably reaches out to the high school/college students in a casual way. Instead of having movie posters or consumer product advertisement hoarding on buses, we’d rather have a hoarding that’s dedicated towards a cause.

This fourth picture was shot at one of the natural wonders, Grand Canyon in Arizona (US). The Canyon itself is a great wonder, and an entire lifetime is not sufficient to visit the Canyon and explore all parts of the Canyon. This is one of the scenic points in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, called the Angel’s Window.  A natural window like formation, that it is, stands out from the rest of the Canyon. This is formed over a millions of years due to the wind and probably water forces. The texture of the material that made up the formation is what captivates me the most, with the layers of limestone and other material withstanding all the heat and the cold, and sculpted into such a formation. How I wish, the human mind also took both positive and negative forces and made itself into an admirable entity.

The last one, probably being the most clichéd picture, is that of a sunrise as seen of the Bay of Bengal in Visakhapatnam, shot in December 2008. With the waves from the sea, hitting the rocks on the sea shore and the sun rising with it’s own grace forming a wonderful and colorful texture in the sky, a day cannot begin better than this. It is also an indication of the nature’s fact that, there is always a chance to begin everything afresh and proceed in the right direction, irrespective of the what happened prior to it.

I will soon be getting an SLR, and it will probably provide a new dimension to my creativity with my third eye!