When this picture of Femina’s Miss India 2019 uniformly beautiful contestants, with their light skin tone and straight hair faced public outrage, I cheered. Like most of my peers, I came of age in India in the era of Fair and Lovely, facing the biases of a patriarchal society that puts a premium on the complexion of a girl. In this hard-hitting article in Medium.com, Neha Dixit, takes us through her own story as she tries to explain this national obsession. Hats off, Neha. More power to you.
I was unable to provide a simple answer to this existential question voiced by my young daughter until the day she accompanied me to the doctor’s office for a routine MRI.
About fifteen years ago, when I returned to India after spending a large chunk of my young adulthood in the USA, I was surprised to find that many things had changed but certain deep-rooted biases and prejudices still remained. Chief among them was the preference for male offspring. It wasn’t just my imagination that my daughter’s class had more boys than girls, but the 2001 census numbers confirmed my observations. I wrote about this in an essay, that didn’t see the light of day.
Much has been written about the recent news about abortion laws in the states of Alabama and Louisiana in the US, and it reminded me about my essay written all those years ago. I tweaked it to reflect my current thoughts and submitted it to Singapore Unbound, an online literary magazine. Read the full essay here: Pink or Blue, Any One Will Do.
What are your thoughts about abortion laws? Are there social issues close to your heart that make you angry, that make you write?
It seems like it was just yesterday that my chubby toddler walked under the inverted V formed by my body as I practiced down-dog. She plonked herself on my back, diaper and all, as I tried to maintain the curve in cobra. I couldn’t help but stop and smile at her cute antics.
Yoga came into my life right after she did. I was still learning the ropes at my first job when she was born. I returned to work six weeks later, trying to do my best on the work and home fronts. Six months later, I was an exhausted wreck dozing off at my desk, a fact that my observant boss noticed.
He handed me a flyer for a lunchtime yoga class at our office. I took the hint. My initiation to yoga began as the most conveniently located exercise option. I did not know then that it would help my body recover its pre-pregnancy shape, improve my energy levels and serve as an anchor during turbulent times.
Two decades later, my daughter looks nothing like her gap-toothed chubby-cheeked toddler-self; she is a certified yoga teacher.
When I attended her class as a paying student at our neighborhood yoga studio, I felt a wave of nostalgic engulf me. The next moment I felt a gentle stretch, as she helped me get deeper into a forward fold.
She wasn’t always as flexible as she is now but perhaps she has always been yoga ready.
As the world prepares for International Yoga Day on 21 June 2019, tell us about your practice.
Story Artisan Press has been featured in Khabar, an Atlanta-based Indian American magazine. As a monthly print and digital magazine that provides listings of interest to the Indian community in the US, Khabar features articles by and about Indians engaged in a variety of enterprises. It was our pleasure to be approached by Poornima Apte, a reputed journalist, for the Talk Time segment of the June 2019 issue of Khabar. More details here.
A recent article by David Brooks titled “There should be more rituals” in the New York Times, got me thinking.
Like many Indians, I am no stranger to rituals – from the lighting of lamps to touching the feet of grandparents, my parents demonstrated small actions each day which anchored my growing years. Every so often we had ceremonies – baby showers for women and sacred thread ceremonies to mark the coming of age for boys. And rarely, we had celebrations – weddings or the 60th or 80th birthday of elders. While each of these provided an opportunity to dress up and meet extended family and devour decadent feasts, rituals involving death provided a cause for meeting and introspection. Winning a prize at school, graduating from college, securing a job or a promotion, were considered small wins that went largely unnoticed.
Not every life event requires a party but getting together with larger family for milestone events, or going for a solitary walk to breathe and reflect, can turn into rituals for those significant moments that demand attention and acknowledgment. Such private and personal rituals help weave together the frayed fabric of our increasingly disparate lives.
What rituals do you follow?