Sunday, March 29, 2015

Is it Selfishness in the garb of Feminism? #mychoice

At the onset, let me get this out of the way. I know we women have had it tough. We still do. Female infanticide is still being practiced. Men rape women for pure lust, revenge or simply because they can. Women are paid less for the same job. And expected to leave their flourishing careers to raise babies. Yes gender discrimination exists. In some countries and cultures more than others.

However I find today's 'modern' women are increasingly hiding under the veil of feminism.

If a women decides to quit her job to look after children, it's considered normal, noble even. Catch a man do that, and eye brows are raised and quick assumptions are reached "He probably lost his job. Poor guy has no choice. Why else would he swap diapers for dollars?"

A woman coming home at midnight after an office party is exercising her choice. A man doing so is being a prick for ignoring his family.

After a long stressful day a work when a woman has to wash the dishes post dinner, we pity her. But then what about the housewife's or stay at home mums who insist that their husbands have to participate, equally if I may add, to all the household and children chores, despite being the breadwinners who put in 12 hour days at work? 

When a man painstakingly cooks dinner for his wife (even if it's Maggi 2-minute noodles) it's considered romantic. But when a women does the same she is judged as being a doormat.

Ladies kitty parties and 'tai tai' high teas are an acceptable lifestyle. And a man needs to cajole his wife and buy her presents to get a boys night out pass. 

Where is the equality in any of this? Feminism is not about putting men down. It's about being equal. So same rules apply. What's wrong for the gander is wrong for the goose too. 

If we women want the privilege of having a choice to do as we please, we have to bear the responsibility of those choices. 

I opted for a three day work week when my son was born. I was passed over for promotion. Twice. This is NOT discrimination. It's fair. Fair on the man who got the promotion as he was working his ass off, while I organized play dates. Yes it was my choice, but it came at a price that I am to some extent still paying for. My choice. My price. 

Wearing shorts  and singlets is as much my right as wearing a sari. Strangely in world we live in today I will be ridiculed for the latter and applauded for the former. 

A mother plays the baby card and is exempted from working weekend, while men pick up the slack. 

Women who choose to not have a baby are judged more by other women than by men. A 'career women' is berated for her choice. As is a stay at home mum. By women. Us women judge. One way or the other.

Stop. Take a breath. Menfolk are not against you. You are fighting you own inner battle. You want to make your choices emphatically, but don't want the burden of the consequences. 

I find many women conflicted nowadays. Simply because we have way too many choices. Ask yourself "What do I want?". And then make a plan to make it happen. Accept the good and the bad of the choice. Stand up and take responsibility for that choice. And remember your choices affect the ones around you. Making choices unequivocally is not asserting your feminism. It's purely being selfish. 

I would like to clarify that women referred to here are the educated, high social economic class, urban women. Women who have a tons of choices. The biggest one is being true to who they are inside. So if you want to quit your job to pursue your passion, talk to your husband, plan your finances and do it! And if you want to put your child in day care to focus on your career, don't play martyr-mum. And if you are lucky to be footloose and fancy free and capable of paying your own bills, then go ahead and do whatever the hell you wish. Because when you decide to share your life with someone, they become a part of your choices. Trick is finding someone who will stand by your choices. As you will stand by his (or hers).

Monday, March 23, 2015

An outsider looking in- An Expat’s tribute for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Growing up in India in the 80s, Singapore to me was a shopping paradise. My cousin used to visit often and came back with the loveliest clothes, the prettiest accessories and an occasional TV. I constantly heard about the fabulous Orchard Road and the electronic haven that was High Street. I set foot in Singapore very many years later in 1998. My first time away from family and I was homesick. And how!

  • I used to live in an HDB. And I hated it! I hated common corridors, the unfathomable concept of elevators not stopping on every floor and the large kitchen-small bathroom layout. This was till I realized that Singapore had the least number of homeless people in the world. Almost every Singaporean had a roof over his head thanks to this public housing system
  • At that time I traveled from Yishun to CBD in the efficient and comfortable MRT and yet I lamented about the length of the commute. I thought Singapore should have ‘fast’ trains like the Mumbai local which helped cut down travel time by half compared to the normal train. Later someone explained to me that Singapore was an egalitarian society. Thus no area should receive priority over the other and hence the same train graces every station
  • I used to sorely missed my idli-dosa and was amazed that Little India housed some fantastic options
  • I was there when the beautiful red brick National Library building was torn down to make way for SMU. It was a place where I spent my early years in Singapore lost in my world of literature and books. I cried when it no longer existed. Until I related to Singapore’s vision of developing into an education hub
  • In my first work place, there were 15 people, with 12 different nationalities. Very few nations can boast of such a cosmopolitan culture
  • My first friends were Singaporeans- Chinese, Malay and a Eurasian. Plus a Brit expat. Perfect reflection of the Singaporean population :) They are still my dearest friends more than a decade later.

Over the years I have moved from a HDB to a condo. From heartland to expat playground and I have seen Singapore prosper and grow. Taking me along with it. I saw Marina Bay Sands being built in front of my eyes in a record time of less than five years. I attended an international soccer match at the Sports Hub last Oct when a few years ago it was merely rubble. I witnessed the construction of both these marvels from my balcony and the speed of development never ceased to amaze me.

My son adores Bombay, but only considers Singapore home. As a single mum, I appreciate the conveniences, safety and security that Singapore offers even more than most people.

Over the last 16 years I have seen the Singapore skyline evolve. I am now connected to even more places thanks to the Circle Line and am awaiting the completion of the Downtown line eagerly. I observed the birth of Terminal 3 and kept track of the accolades that Changi airport received year after year. It is undoubtedly world's best! I have seen changes, growth and progress at a pace that would make one’s head spin. 

I watched myself flourish professionally thanks to the opportunities this island state offered.  And advance financially due to its sound policies. Where I am today and what I have achieved, I owe a great deal to Singapore and hence to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

I have you to thank Mr Lee Kuan Yew for having the vision and building a country like none other. I owe you my independence Sir. My gratitude is beyond words. I wish from your resting place you see Singapore continue to thrive and succeed. The way I have seen it for last 16 years.

RIP. Your job here is done and now it’s up to mere mortals like us to keep up your good work and your unfailing spirit. 

Thank you Sir.