Bombaywaali by SheThePeople with Tisca Chopra and me

One of the more exciting new assignments I’ve taken up recently is Ideas Editor with SheThePeople, and anchoring the Bombaywaali series of conversations. The first edition I anchored was held on Thursday April 27th, at Title Waves in Bandra, Mumbai to a packed house, and my guest was the very warm, witty and eloquent Tisca Chopra.

Here’s what Tisca spoke about:

Making it big in Bollywood doesn’t come easy. At SheThePeople.TV’s Bombaywaali event, actress Tisca Chopra spoke about her journey into filmdom and shared several anecdotes, some shocking and some hilarious.

Growing up in Noida, Delhi, moving to Bombay was a culture shock for her. Right from finding a place to live to navigating the streets of the city, Bombay was an entirely new experience for her.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FSheThePeoplePage%2Fvideos%2F1640137539350785%2F&show_text=0&width=400

On her first break:

The story of how she got her first film is also tied to her experience of finding a place to live in the city. Her first landlady was very bizarre, she says. She and the other landladies were all connected and would get together and gossip about their tenants. Tisca hadn’t told her that she was auditioning to be an actress. It so happened that she went to audition for a director who was the son of someone the landlady knew. When Tisca came back from the audition, she found the door locked. She could see the landlady’s feet through the door chain, but she didn’t answer. That night, Tisca slept on the steps outside the house. The landlady had found out about the audition and was upset. She and Tisca had a face-off for many days, till the landlady fell sick. Her son didn’t care and she had nobody to take care of her, so Tisca stepped in. After she recovered, the landlady got the director (her friend’s son) to the apartment, and that’s how Tisca signed her first film.

Read more about the event here

And here are some pictures from the evening.

The Married Feminist this week: Stop asking “Why didn’t she leave?”

The wife of a Silicon Valley CEO reported long term domestic violence and abuse. Her husband, a software engineer who had emigrated to California in 2005 from India,  and currently the CEO of Cuberon, got just two weeks in jail for the long term domestic violence he subjected his wife to.

Read The Full Story About This Abusive Husband

The couple had had an arranged marriage, a concept both of them were comfortable with, given their roots in India. The trouble in their marriage cropped up a few months into their marriage and in 2013, he was arrested for assaulting her outside their home.  She stayed on in the marriage. The violence in their marriage was so horrific, he has been recorded saying he would like to stab her 45 times, to see her murdered. He hit her multiple times, on her face, arms, stomach, pulled her by the hair, abused her with the filthiest abuses. Their daughter speaks on camera stating she is terrified of her father. He brainwashed her into believing she was a disgrace to the family and that she should commit suicide. It took years of video documentation of evidence of abuse before she gathered the courage to file a complaint against him. And then, did she get the justice she deserved?

Kiran Manral The Married Feminist SheThePeople

There are the other voices that keep asking, with the nonchalance of those not in the same situation, “Why did she wait so long.?” Their implication, that the delay in complaining against the perpetrator puts the blame back on her, the victim. After the sentencing, she told the court, “I cannot articulate my despair at this treatment of his crimes. It’s as if we are giving him a slap on his wrist because he got caught,” she told the court, “I believe you have the power to restore some faith in my heart that I wasn’t completely made a fool of, by this criminal and the judicial system.” Her helplessness and despair is what many victims of domestic violence have to combat.

Abhishek-Gattani

A hashtag on Twitter #WhyIStayed is a revelation about why many women feel unable to escape a domestic violence situation, even though they may be educated and financially independent. There are blocks to them leaving which aren’t always physical, which isn’t to discount the very physical threat to their well being and often their lives that domestic violence victims have to constantly battle.

Read the entire article here

My TEDx Talk at IIT Roorkee on Surrendering to the Muse

Published on Apr 20, 2017

The muse is fickle, capricious and very demanding. But for a creative person, the Muse is someone he or she needs to woo and charm. What does the Muse demand? And why must a creative person surrender to the Muse in order to create? What are the things a creative person need to do in order to have the Muse stick around? The answers might surprise you.

Kiran Manral worked as a journalist with The Times of India and The Asian Age and was among the top bloggers in India. She currently writes a column on sexuality at DNA and on feminism at shethepeople.tv
She was part of the core founding team of Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month and Violence Against Women Awareness Month. She is a a mentor with Sheroes, Qween and Back 2 The Front, and is an advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Kiran Manral worked as a journalist with The Times of India and The Asian Age and was among the top bloggers in India. Her books include
She currently writes a column on sexuality at DNA, on feminism at shethepeople.tv and has previously been a columnist-blogger on gender issues with Tehelka.
She was part of the core founding team of Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month and Violence Against Women Awareness Month, two social media initiatives that ran for four years. She also initiated India Helps, a volunteer network to help disaster victims which worked on the rehabilitation of 26/11 attack victims.
She is also on the planning board of the Kumaon Literary Festival, Chair of the Women Unlimited Series of the Taj Colloquium, a mentor with Sheroes, Qween and Back 2 The Front, and is an advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R5W3VatZY0&feature=youtu.be

Fighting the Monster of Procrastination

Like all deadlines, project deadlines are always the victim of the Monster of Procrastination. It grabs a project deadline, locks it up into a cupboard and puts it away from one’s mind until the very last minute. And I mean that literally, the night before submission. You could bet your last rupee that when the offspring saunters up to me on a Sunday night, a day of hedonistic playing behind him, what he has remembered is that he has a project due the next morning.

The other day he came up to me with a face crumpled into a question mark. “I gotto make a PPT.” I immediately went into panic mode. I’ve fought enough pitched battles with PPT to hate it with a vengeance. “Okay,” I said, rubbing the sleep from my eyes, “let’s find the info and pictures and make it quick.”

“Don’t worry mom,” he said, “I will do it apne aap.”

And he did. In half an hour of dedicated netsurfing and effort, he’d managed to download all the information he needed which he slapped onto his presentation deck and then spent the next couple of hours adding animation and sound effects, which were to him, the more important part of the deal. I helped him spit polish it and we were set.

I have never been so grateful for his affinity towards technology than I was at that moment.  The computer and the internet have been lifesavers to him on many an occasion. Given that he has a deep and abiding loathing of books, any reading that he does is primarily of his textbooks and that too, when the parental whip is cracked and cracked hard. Therefore to get him to understand concepts and theories, the best thing that works for me as a parent is to get him to watch a video on the topic.

Thankfully, much to the relief of many parents like me with children who are more of visual learners, there are some wonderful videos out on multiple topics which carefully explain every aspect of a topic for a child. For a generation that has grown up interacting with technology and which is wired differently from the previous generation, it seems natural for them to absorb information from digital sources.

Given that most educators feel that between 60 to 80 percent of children are visual learners, technology driven learning resources with interactive visual content makes it fun and interesting for a child to go through a topic. More importantly, they don’t even realise they are ‘learning’ because they view the information as something that is entertainment rather than educative. Interactive lessons with pictures, graphics and animation make learning interesting and in sync with this generation which has grown up with computers and relates to computer related learning much better than they do with traditional classroom learning.

My tried and tested hack whenever I want him to get interested in a topic enough to explore it, is to sit him down and show him an interesting YouTube video on it. As YouTube always does, one video leads to another and then it ends up with him watching an entire bunch of videos on the topic without realising he’d basically covered information contained in his textbook, and perhaps gone beyond that as well.

With technology at his disposal, he no longer needs me around to help him research information for his projects or his school assignments. He collates the information he needs and takes the printouts of whatever he requires. Another great advantage that technology brings is the plethora of video walkthroughs of various places of historical importance from his curriculum, as well as geographical locations being covered in his geography syllabus. Being able to see these in real time, rather than just grainy black and white pictures in the text book makes it much more real and immediate for him. As far as the sciences go, there are so many fabulous videos on every subject—the concept of the atom, something he found difficult to grasp—was something that he finally understood when he watched a short video on it. With some of the grammar struggles he has and the comprehension of certain topics, what has helped a lot are the interactive quizzes available online. The entire exercise is fun and they do the trick unconsciously. His Shakespeare text, too becomes easy and accessible with a wonderful website which translates para by para, the entire play from Shakespearean English to regular everyday English, helping him understand the detailed plot. Computers, a subject I can teach him nothing about, using the device as a modified typewriter myself being from a generation that never had it as part of the syllabus, is one of his favourite subjects, and he understands it all by himself.

It might have taken me time to learn how to use the computer effectively, but my son and their generation, they’ve figured it out. And more importantly, it doesn’t awe them as it did us. It just is. Part of their everyday. Comfortable, familiar and something they can always turn to if they need help.

So yes, I stand to fight the Monster of Procrastination for my son with #DellAarambh and urge parents to contribute too, to their child’s education.

Here is where you begin: http://bit.ly/2lp9SqI

At The Hindu Business Line Women Achievers Conference

Interesting discussion, powerful women, informed opinions. Was delighted to be part of this wonderful conference on March 16th.

L-R: Tanu Mehta, legal council, mediator and conciliator high court of Mumbai, Nidhi Lauria , business head Assam and North East, Vodafone India, Namita Vikas,Group President and Managing Director, Climate strategy and Responsible Banking, YES bank LTD, Gauri Vij, editor, The Hindu, Bollywood actress Dia Mirza, Rupa Naik, Director World Trade Centre, Anna-Carin Mansson, Country HR manager for India, IKEA Business, and Kiran Manral, Author and columnist, during the conference on Women Achievers at World Trade Centre on Thursday. Photo: Fariha Farooqui

Storm in a C-Cup today: Of Alcohol and nooky

I can only come when I’m a few drinks down,” confessed a friend. “Otherwise, no go.” She isn’t alone. A lot of us women, and most men, think that a couple of drinks are the gateway to a woman’s unleashed libido. I grew up on Hindi movies that had women who imbibed the forbidden spirit morphing instantly into bacchanalians. But does alcohol really lead to those toe-curling, full body seismic wave-inducing orgasms we all hanker after? Or does it just, gently, catch hold of all the inhibitions that we hold ourselves back with and fling them out of the window until the high wears off and the hangover begins.

Alcohol, as you might know, is biphasic. It stimulates while it begins increasing its levels in the bloodstream and when levels begin falling, it is a depressant. For me, any alcohol consumed above two measures comes with standing instructions that I am not responsible for what I say or do, and should not be held against me in a court of law.

Read the entire article here

Karmic Kids in The Scroll.in

And this really made my Women’s Day. By the wonderful Devapriya Roy in The Scroll.

How to mother

Karmic Kids: The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You, Kiran Manral

Writer and major social media influencer, Kiran Manral, after quitting her full-time journalist’s job when her son (henceforth referred to as “The Brat”) was born, cut her teeth on the internet as a mommy blogger, with a remarkably original voice. To me, her books, her presence on Twitter and Instagram, all her other accomplishments put together cannot hold a candle to what that voice meant in the early days of the blog, marking a paradigm shift in the way we talked about the general anxieties of having-not-having-having-not-having it All in the context of feminist and post-feminist mothers.

Karmic Kids, a wonderful and entirely honest parenting manual, pays homage to that time and the sisterhood that gathered around Manral’s blog (many of the other mommy bloggers went on to write books too) by including snippets of advice from other mothers that provides alternative perspectives to Manral’s own quest in the maddening drama of motherhood. Divided into ten chapters, one for each year of the brat’s first decade on Planet Earth, Karmic Kids is as funny as it is wise, and one hopes that the parenting style advocated by the “Mom with a Nutella habit” is going to become more prevalent.

Read the entire article here:

Mommy by choice

I got married when I was barely 24. The right age to get married, as everyone told me. I was good and ready. I had been dating the to be spouse for six years, I had seen him at his best and his worst as he had seen me. I was financially independent, with a hot shot career as a feature writer with a publishing house. And it was time, I told myself, to plight my troth forever and ever.

Along with marriage, came a complete change of lifestyle for me. There was the adjusting to the rules and regulations of the home I’d married into, and then learning to juggle the demands of a full time job with the house, and very often dropping a ball or two. Life was a constant rush, work, home, deadlines, catching the ladies special local, making sure I swiped in on time at work, late night deadlines and page making. And then, grocery shopping, dealing with the last minute maid crisis that inevitably would happen on a busy day at work and more. There was also the freedom to pack up a duffel bag and drive off for a weekend whenever we chose, which was great fun. The years flew by. The polite enquiries began from family and friends. “Not trying for issue yet?”

The issue in question was taking his own time to happen, and to be quite honest I was quite happy that the stork had not come calling. I was busy, there was a hot shot career as a journalist that demanded long hours I was firmly entrenched it. There was always the next tempting job opportunity looming on the horizon. I had my baby a good eight years after I was married .By the time I was 30, I’d realised that it was now time to give in to the calls of the hormones going berserk within and have a baby. To cut a long story short, there was a very kind doctor who helped Mr Sperm meet Miss Egg and nine months later, I had one nos squalling brat in my arms.

The bottomline to this entire rambling spiel? I had my baby when I was good and ready to have one. I had done everything I had wanted to—jumped jobs, driven through the country with only a duffel bag for luggage, partied till the milkman came home in the morning with the milk bottles, found a career that made sense to me, something I could do with pleasure even if I wasn’t getting paid for it as long as I was having fun. I wanted to have a baby. I would have never imagined how strongly the hormones blindside you when they’re good and ready to procreate. Everywhere I looked there were babies. Everything I saw turned me into a puddle of mush. I was getting fake uterine contractions playing with friend’s babies.

I had my baby. And I became a mother.

I adored my baby to bits. I still do. I would throw myself in front of a speeding car, navigate a mountain pass barefoot, and do trigonometry voluntarily if needed for him. But I’m far from the ‘perfect’ mom. I’ve been known to be the worst cook in the universe and am crowned queen of the worst tiffin boxes ever. I travel a lot. I’m not always home when his examinations are on. I miss a lot of his PTMs. I mess up on project submission dates.

But my son knows, as I did about my mom, that there is a life that is very important to me, as important as he is to me. And that is my own. That when I work I am working and must only be called when blood is spilt. And that mom is not always around and he must fend for himself when she isn’t. I learnt it early, I was a latchkey kid. My mother worked, it was of economic compulsion after my father passed away. I learnt to be independent. I learnt that though she might not be around when I returned home from school, she did love me. And she had different ways of showing it. Cooking special things for me when she had a day off. Buying trinkets for me from the local train. Painstakingly combing and plaiting my hair into two plaits every morning.

I learnt from my mother to do what was important to me, along with my parenting. Parenting was part of my job definition, it still is. But it isn’t everything about me. My son recognises and understands this and I am glad he does.

Which is why this Titan Raga commercial resonated. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfYyAnJRkh0

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Storm in a C-Cup today: Of the Madonna Whore Complex

I wrote about the Madonna Whore dichotomy that women are viewed through in today’s Storm in a C-Cup.

“The founding father of psychoanalysis, Freud, called it the Madonna-Whore complex. Like the name suggests, it is a complex where a man can see a woman only in dichotomies, the virgin or the slut. It is when a man can have sexual congress, to use the delightful terminology of yore, only with women he perceives as ‘degraded’ (Whore) and cannot sexually desire a woman he considers ‘respectable’ (Madonna). Identified under the rubric of psychic impotence, Freud wrote: “Where such men love, they have no desire; and where they desire, they cannot love.”

Read the entire article here

 

Storm in a C-Cup this week: Are we ready for open marriages

It was the stuff of urban myth, discussed in whispers at kitty lunches. Swinging, it was called. There were more Chinese whispers about the couples’ getaways, where the holidays were more exchange parties than actual holidaying. Then there were the stories about couples, with one or both of them with relationships apart from their spouses, and accepting about it.

Today, swinging is called open marriage. Often defined as a marriage or relationship in which both partners agree that each may have sexual relations with others. There’s another kind, polyamory. There’s a tad but important difference between swinging and polyamory. While swinging is primarily about getting it off with someone other than your betrothed and not caring if you saw the other ever again, polyamory is more about emotions, and accepting that one could have feelings for more than one person.

Read the rest of the column here