Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ladies' Driving Agency

A number of my posts here focus on women, and what empowers/disempowers them. As I was driving to do some chores yesterday, I realized that driving, or being able to drive, is such an important source of power. It gives you the ability to do things, go places, get stuff done, without relying on anybody else! I love driving in the US, with Hindi songs blaring in my car, as I sing along loudly (and often get strange glares). It gives me a feeling of empowerment, ability, control!

It is almost essential to drive in the US, as public transport is often not very time efficient. Sometimes, it does not even exist, and a car is the only option. However, this is fast becoming the case in India as well. Driving yourself gives you so much power to do things on your own, you don't have to wait for unreliable drivers to show up, or get groceries or even go meet friends. Even though one can always take a rickshaw/auto, it is often safer to have one's own transportation.

Yes, driving gives us all Agency, men and women alike. Agency, that one thing that most Indian women have to fight for, or live without. So all of you out there who drive- what are your stories? I was chaperoned by my mother, who would sit in the back seat for all my driving lessons. After all, I could not be allowed alone with a strange man, even if all he wanted to do was finish his driving lesson quickly and go to his next paying customer.

Isn't that true? For every triumph that Indian women make- be it as small as learning to drive, or going swimming (yes, I was chaperoned for that too), there is a small fight, a small victory or a small surrender. That is what life is as an Indian girl/woman, a series of victories and surrenders, against a society and a culture that does not believe in women's agency.

For all that, I'm grateful I learned to drive. And learned to swim. Because I don't need somebody to drive me everytime I need to go get some groceries. Or get some clothes, get a pedicure, get a life. I can drive and get it on my own!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Masala Mundanity

As a housewife, there are a number of soul-sucking endless repetitive chores that one has to do, and do and then do again. Like cleaning, and cooking and sorting the clothes and making the bed, and then redoing them all over again the next day, or the next week. However, in my experience as a housewife, I have found some chores that are more mindnumbingly tedious than others (though they all are). And the winner is: (drumroll here)- refilling the Masaledaani.

That small little round box, which has those even smaller compartments in which you fill your namak, lal mirch, haldi, jeera and whatever other spices you use. First fill it with the masalas you use daily, and then replenish time and again as and when they get depleted. Mine usually takes about a week or ten days, depending on how much I've cooked in that time. Pick up the larger spice receptacles and restore the masaledaani to its former glory.

Every few days that I do this, I feel like this has to be the most mundane of all tasks that fall into the oeuvre of household tasks. And yet, I remind myself that no food can be cooked without spices. This boring little task is what adds taste to everything I cook. However and whatever I cook will be incomplete without spices and salt.

That is the lesson that I need to apply to my life as well. It is the boring and mundane tasks of everyday life that work together to create something complete and appetizing, that add taste and spice to everything I do. Things that are bright and brilliant are but a flash in the pan. They are not sustainable, it is perseverance and persistence that yields the best results. Yes, I need to realize the importance of the mundane.