of thoughts in ebb and flow

Archive for February, 2015

The mind is not without fear

Yesterday we finally gave up pretending we lived in a home that had internet connectivity. A couple of calls got us a Beetel franchisee promising to send over an engineer with a new modem to replace our ageing one.

The engineer arrived. Promised it was a quick, `do minute ka kaam‘. Struggled with the two minute job..for ten minutes,, …fifteen minutes. Failed. Called back-office for help. Found none forthcoming. Fiddled around. Commandeered my fifteen year old hovering around to do useful stuff like connecting the cable, entering the password when told to. Wore a patronising air until it became clear that the job at hand was not as easy as it seemed. Talked nineteen to the dozen. Finally everything fell into place. We were once again connected to the universe. What had done the trick remained a puzzle. To all of us.

So what’s new you say? Nothing. Except…. rewind ….

So yesterday, when a Beetel franchisee sent over someone to install a new modem at home, I said..hello.. absentmindedly. I heard a Hello! in return. And I looked up..just to make sure I hadn’t imagined the chirpy, very very female voice. I saw that the voice was indeed coming from a girl cheerfully shrugging off a huge haversack.

Have you ever had a woman engineer come to your home for a service/maintenance call? In all these years of running a home with multiple gadgets that at some point or the other need attention I haven’t.

I was pleasantly surprised. Happy .. for her.. and for woman-kind in general. Here she was – educated, confident, articulate, as competent as the next guy, independent, in a job that is overwhelmingly male-territory. I was fresh from reading Infidel and cringing at the world Ayaan Hirsi Ali described. Of repressive, narrow-minded, violent beliefs and practices. And here was this girl. Her name indicated that she was Muslim. I basked in a warm feeling that our country, our society was not like that. That our society had made ..her, this confident, independent Muslim girl… possible.

Gulping down a glass of water while leaving, she said… I am in a hurry. I have another call to do today.. And it is going to take me an hour to get there in this traffic.

..And I thought of her.. going to that next call..late evening.. in an unknown neighbourhood.. ringing the doorbell .. the door being opened by a stranger.. the door closing behind her as she walked deeper into the house to where the computer was.  What if there was no one else in the house? What if there were many people in the house but .. What if …

A cold finger of dread clutched at my heart. The warmth of a moment before vanished. Was she courageous or being foolhardy in doing a job like this? Dis she know how to defend herself? Did she have a pepper spray? Was it right for her organisation to put her in such situations? Does that mean some roles should always be closed for women? Is that fair?

I am mired in conflicting thoughts. What do you think?

Second chances are for men

“I had no intention of remarrying. However, my father is old and suffers from diabetes and asthma” And so he re-married six months after losing his first wife in a landslide. He is 31 years old.

The newspaper article is titled `Surviving landslide, two men of Malin give life a second chance’.

This man, who married because his old father needed care, is a senior teacher with the Zilla Parishad.

” He (father) shifted to Pune to stay with my sister and her husband. I was feeling guilty about it. Besides, both my father and my sister’s husband felt that I should give life a second chance. I agreed.”

He re-married because he needed someone to look after his father. He sought counsel from his father and brother-in-law. Clearly the views of the girl he has now married are not of consequence. Including his sister in the decision-making was probably not top-of-mind either.

Wonder what she might have said if she had been asked. Would she have asked her brother to marry ..but for the right reasons? Would she have thought that in the first place? Or would she too have been happy that her brother was `giving life a second chance’ by finding a caretaker for his ageing father.

And to think he is a teacher, a senior one who is in charge of impressionable minds.

And to think educated journalists have written up a piece in this manner without a thought to what the sub-text says, without a thought to the powerful role they can play in influencing opinion.

And to think a respected newspaper in this country runs this piece without seeing the irony of it all.

Best of luck my dear country. Best of luck `Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’.

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