50 Shades of Brown

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Have you ever wondered how would it be to be that girl from the fairness commercial ads, who doesn’t get her desired job, just because she isn’t fair? Have you ever thought about rejecting a prospective “bahu”, just because she isn’t fair, and that it isn’t fair enough a  reason to allow the entire family lineage to be dark?! Have you ever given up on a sport you loved, or going out in the sun, just so that you could maintain the colour of skin to that exact shade of brown, and at least not make it a darker shade, if any way you cannot really make it lighter?
If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, wow! Pat your own backs – a little harder this time! Actually, really harder!
Just when we had started talking about how prejudiced these fairness creams ads were- which, by the way, gave me some hope- bam! We come out with fairness creams for men as well! Oh, forget desirable men being tall, dark and handsome, now the symptoms of ailment has become a disease! No, I am not talking about “kaala rang” as a disease, but the non-acceptance of it!
I was in my bubble when I thought that maybe we women obsess over it more, and colourism is not really prevalent – especially when it comes to decisions like job offers, etc! But then my bubble burst. When was the last time you saw a dark-skinned air hostess in an Indian airline?
From the time of RigVeda, people have desired fair skin! There are umpteen recipes for long hair, whitening teeth, and most importantly, fair skin! So, I assume that this fair skin syndrome has been taking the rounds for as long as we can fathom! And now we may or may not read these shlokas otherwise, we sure do use them in our advertising of fairness products! Yeah, right!
Kaala rang is actually the kala kalank on our mentality, and you know what’s worse? We aren’t ashamed of flashing it, or even think there is anything wrong with it! I don’t know when did dark-skin become synonymous with ugly? I mean one can be dark and drop-dead gorgeous at the same time! And no matter how many examples I give here, I don’t think “fair skin” in the matrimonial ads is on its way out!
We are never satisfied with what we have. All around the globe, girls with wavy hair are going ahead and straightening them, and straight haired girls love those curls that they got for that special wedding! Companies will continue selling their tanning creams in the west, while cashing in on the fair skin complex in the east.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if girls of an impressionable age are taught to look at their abusers in the eye and go- ‘Yes I am kaali, but you have a regressive mind-set and ain’t no one got a cream for that.’?
Verdict: “Fair and lovely” is really an unfair and ugly truth.
P.S.  – In the meanwhile, if you girls don’t wish to get married soon, all you have to do is go out in the sun! Hurray – summer is here! #ProTip

Santa Claus(e)

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So what did you get for Christmas?

I think the whole charm of Christmas in India is about the thought of getting something for free! Christmas is synonymous to Santa Claus here.
Though Santa may take a while to locate your residence in the increasing pollution in our city, but you know, he will figure out. Anyway, he isn’t used to the heat in our country, but such dedication! Always manages to put a few candies in that old stretched stocking on your bed! Aww our parents! First they spoil us and then complain we aren’t prepared for life! Such cuteness.

But in this festive season, we see them everywhere – probably more here in India than the west! Walking on streets, at Christmas parties, hotels, malls – they are at all places where people can afford a Santa Claus! Some of them could look like they could do well with some goodies themselves, but nevertheless, putting smile on faces of little brats.

It is a mass gift exchange season, with secret Santa played in every office- the epitome of which was a social media secret Santa, which essentially thrived on the idea of you gifting something to one person, and receiving 36 in return! Whoa, that is some enthusiasm in receiving gifts!

Some people do not believe in a Santa Claus, but believe in being a Santa Claus! There are people who go to orphanages, or school for disabled and spend time with them. While some others donate blood. Everyone finds their way of expression, their own way of being a Santa for someone else.

But even that essentially is a part of feeling great about oneself, if you know what I mean. Its great people are doing all sorts of things for others, but has no meaning if they expect a return favour some other day! Selflessness has just become another word in the dictionary, which is more fiction than fact.

Having said this, I have some experience in the rural sector, and know that getting something for free has done more harm than good! People get so used to receiving something, that they stop working, and wait for things to come to them! This, in the long run, is quite damaging to our society, and is not how a healthy society works! We know value of things, only if we earn it, and not if we get it. This year’s hot Christmas proves how since nature is free and abundant we hardly care. Look at what we have done to our climate!

Something that is true beyond all age groups, races, communities, and countries is:

Everyone wants a fantastic job, but no one wants to suffer 60 hours/week.
Everyone wants a happy marriage, but no one wants to sacrifice.
Everyone wants an amazing physique, but no one wants to sweat it out.
Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.

But you know, as the story goes, even Santa gifts the child who has been good all year. No wonder they say,
“Nothing comes easy in life, even Santa comes with a clause.”

Culture of Politics or Politics of Culture?

Now that Gandhi Jayanti is over, we can all get back to bribing that traffic hawaldar, lying at the drop of a hat, and spitting on that newly painted wall! Not that yesterday we did not indulge (cheers to all those who managed to have a drink), but at least there was a national sentiment as such!

For all those who were high- of course because of Friday holiday- I will remind you that yesterday marked the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 111th birth anniversary of Lal bahadur Shastri, and the 1st anniversary of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. It was basically a day of trending Gandhiji on twitter, leaving for Goa for the long weekend, and using Gandhian messages for political good!

I feel this is one topic on which a lot is written, a lot is filmed, a lot is said and quoted, and a little is acted upon! Actually, in retrospect, I will take my words back. I feel we are doing our best to act on all Gandhian principals! No, seriously! For example, Gandhi’s philosophy was based on principal of Swadeshi, and we firmly believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). All it takes is to know how and when to put two and two together!

Gandhian thinking is essentially about a sustainable way of life, an economic system based on trusteeship and a society in which everyone gains rather than the few become rich at the expense of the many. It is a complex, inter-related system of thought. We are so on the right path –which is made by our government. Hence, the delay!

These days Gandhiji is in our books, on our roads, on our walls, in our pocket and in the political campaign speeches! But not in our heart or behavior. We as a country suffer from selective learning. We have so much knowledge about every subject at our mercy, but we tend to twist and manipulate it in our stride – and use the knowledge only to save our face! Some people happened to read, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and thought, bingo! That is exactly we want to do. They are all leading our country at the moment, and just for the record, we are blind!

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I firmly believe that Gandhian philosophy is relevant today, more than ever! This century has seen a tremendous rise in globalization, privatization, violence, inequity, poverty, et al. We direly need a Gandhi to save our face in this highly consumptive world! His ideals hold a moral and social mirror to our society! But sadly, while one of Gandhiji’s most famous quote is “Be the change you want to see”, we tend to boo the change we are seeing.

Although Gandhiji has been made an icon of “Clean India”- I think we are taking it too literally. Of course, cleanliness is very important, but all his teachings give more importance to an India cleaned of corruption, violence, hatred, inequality, injustice and the like.

I dream of a Gandhian Swachch Bharat!