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Fairly speaking…

March 29, 2015

This post was published before the Deepika Padukone video was out. Now can’t resist adding a link to the sensational ‘VogueEmpower’ message from Deepika.

Excuse me i am not a feminist, I am a mother first, mother of a young man. So that changes so many things for me. Can’t say I can agree with all that Deepika says.., she is free to aver whatever she feels like, bcoz as yet she has seemingly made no commitment in life… I would reserve my judgement until and after our heroine becomes a mom – mom of a teeanger. It is when she has the guts to make the same kind of statements she does like now at that station in her life we may qualify her.

I think men and women can co-exist peacefully in the world, Frankly how many of us women can live without a man in our lives? I can’t sorry! Life is merely a formula of compromise where ego has to take a backseat. Its the woman who still gets pregnant, not the man. And even in New York, a man can stroll topless whereas women do not I guess. I don’t think men and women are equal – we are made different for different reasons. We are equal in certain ways but different in others and we have to respect it.

Women need equality in justice over anything in my opinion.  So that must cover everything from our right to education and employment to 50-50 partnership in marital life with our spouses. We ladies can do without gender discrimination. First and foremost, what irks me as a woman is, being viewed as a sex object.

Everything about a woman comes under scrutiny: from her figure to skin colour to her clothes. Men aren’t the only species to judge women – sadly some of us women do it too. Sometimes I wonder, by what age I shall be free of such an assessment. It started by the time I turned 12-13 I guess…

My peeve against women is, we are 2 extremes mostly. Either the so-called feminists who are female-chauvinists or on the other hand very vain & weak dwelling in a miserable world of apathy and ignorance. I hate to be judged by my clothes, my hair, my skin, my bag and my shoes. I think I am much more than all that.

But it amuses me to see the reaction of our men to the video: the men who championed feminists, who were ranting and raving against the ban of the BBC documentary ‘India’s daughter’, who were up in their arms against moral policing, now cannot get over one phrase used by Deepika: ‘sex outside marriage’ hahaha! What a threat to our guys! Almost all men seem to go bonkers over that one single word!!! Why?!

Indian men’s psyche is like this: they would like to have affair before marriage, after marriage, they don’t like moral policing, they like looking at ‘free’ and ‘attitude’ girls, they like to flirt and freak out with any third person female – but when it comes to their own biwi and beti, they would make sure their precious queen & princess remain tucked safe and secure in their ivory towers, away from prying eyes of other dirty men! Wah, wah, wah – what a life philosophy. All women’s lib is fine so long as it stops with the front entrance door of their own cozy homes.

Twitter could crash shortly with our men’s outrage over Deepika remark! Our men seem to have missed all other valuable points the girl has made. Only one thing matters to them now – that Indian women DARE! Only one word counts: ADULTERY!

Wanted to reserve this link to one more post I am composing. But couldn’t wait taking a jab at our men!


An interesting article here:

Although I confess I never had to wax my arms or legs, or trim my eyebrows ever in life. Oh what a bother. God made me free of body hair the natural way, but I know what some of my friends are going through… Its a lifelong affair: going to the parlour and plucking out the excess growth. We never count our blessings do we. Up until now, I never thought much about the tedious business of waxing, but the article opened my eyes to reality.

Err I do not quite understand the connection between the urge to feel clean and waxing. Or may be I am missing something vital here?

To the girl in question I have this to say: Miss, you need not have to go through with waxing. Stay hairy, stay natural! Find someone who likes you the way you are…


There was this north Indian boy residing in the city for 2 years. Only 22. Already old for marriage given the prevailing conditions of his homestate. He said he liked Chennai very much. It was so different, he wanted to settle down here permanently. ‘Everybody looks after his or her own job in Tamil Nad, in my place if 2 neighbours are arguing our whole street or even entire area would take sides and make it a big issue!’ said he, ‘and a small spat would be blown upto a major fight sometimes with blood spilling!’  I said in that case, he must get married in Madras and make the city his home.

He said, “I can’t because you Madarasis are so black and ugly! Sorry sis, but thats how I find the girls here that I am turned off!”

I was really amused by this reply not at all angered. I told him in even tone, not even in his dreams he could hope to bag a sensible dark-skinned Madarasi girl unless he had the stuff. That he could have been hoping for too much.

March 7th marked 22 years of being together for us – I and my husband. The bride-seeing day is almost like our Wedding Day (in June). The turning point of our lives. (This post was originally dated March 08th).

How I met my son’s father lolz

the humiliating experience of ‘bride seeing’ – inevitable part of arranged marriages:

When I married as an orphan my qualifications spoke for me over my skin colour. My husband married me because when we were talking in private during the bride-seeing he liked my mind. He did not see my house or dress. Even before we got his family alliance, my uncle received a few more proposals for me. Not many were bothered about my background but they asked even what I majored in in my bachelor’s degree. It was important for them I was an educated girl. It did also matter to them that I cooked! Only 1-2 were bothered I had no parents’ home to go to. My uncle processed atleast 40-50 prospective matches for me hahaha! Even if I was in a very precarious condition, my family did not want to compromise on my marriage. Order of preference: Doctors, Engineers, Chartered Accounts. Minimum salary requirement (by 1993 standards) 4,000 bucks lolz. I was making 2,700 bucks myself!! My husband was earning same salary as me but he told us he was soon switching over to a better paid job for 4,000 rupees/month.

Marriages are made in heaven, are they?!

There is an element of self-respect even in Arranged Marriages. They aren’t as bad as they are made out to be…

The first boy to come home was a mechanical engineer who had already purchased his own flat on housing loan. For my family, he seemed a god-sent match for me. He had the qualifications, background, own house everything. Our horoscopes perfectly tallied. So what a lucky girl I was! But then the stern-faced guy refused to talk to me in private (!) when he came to ‘see me’  so I rejected him. I said without talking to someone I couldn’t marry him. Even in arranged marriages, there is a window or some limited scope to gauge the person we are about to marry. To get an idea, to prepare ourselves… My husband was the second guy to come home (over-eager case lolz). For my hubby, mine was the first alliance. I was the only girl he ever saw – never one before, never one after.

First our horoscopes were matched. When both families were satisfied with details, we exchanged photos. My photo we gave them was a school ID in b&w pp size with my princi’s seal across! That is still my hubby’s favourties he saves in his wallet. My in-laws were very decent people. They briefed their son and told him, if he was satisfied with the photo and my bio-data they would take him to the girl’s home (mine) otherwise not. My husband said he fell in love with the girl in b&w school photo which was hiding a lot of pain. He decided then & there to marry me. In exchange he sent a big album of pics taken in his university days, then taken in Kerala etc where he stylishly rides his Yamaha bike!

So even in bride-seeing there is respect. In our circles, the boy and the girl meeting is also viewed as the last-final step. Only when both express a certain willingness to marry looking at photos of each other after satisfying with bio-data and family details, we get the bride & groom to meet. In short, the scope for a possible marriage must be there. Otherwise we don’t proceed or parade girls unnecessarily before the groom or his family. Rarely after this step marriages don’t materialize. Atleast this is true as far as educated families are concerned. Care is taken to see that the girls in question don’t get hurt.

And nowadays in arranged marriages, bride-seeing is done at common venues like temples, restaurants which is much better. Nothing is advertised to friends or other relatives unless engagement/marriage is on cards. This is a very welcome move. Saves the girls’ families and the brides and the grooms a lot of embarrassment ensuring their privacy.

For instance, my bride-seeing somehow leaked in the neighbourhood both times and I was repeatedly asked by friends and wellwishers what happened. When the first alliance was dropped, many gave their own (unsolicited) opinion. Some told me, I was making a big mistake with a rash judgement that angrered me.

In my first alliance everything was okay. My uncle asked the boy many times whether he wanted to talk to me in private for 5 min. I was ready hahaha! But he said we would have all the time to talk after our marriage. Even my old fashioned uncle & aunt did not like this kind of attitude. They wanted me to get the right picture of the boy. It was my life matter.

Families don’t try to push girls into ”wells to drown” in our homes. Girls can have an opinion. Girls can reject boys, I did! After that the boy’s family came for a reconciliation but then my marriage with my husband got finalized in a mere 1 week’s time and the ME’s family was late by 1 week! Many don’t believe in destiny but I do. From one sunday to another, my life/future changed.

But to speak the truth, even if the ME would have finally agreed to talk to me I would have still said ‘no’ to him. I was shocked why he did not have the natural curiosity to get to know his life-partner before – before the ‘D’day. I saw it as nothing short of humiliation. In total contrast was my husband – he had to be dragged back home by his parents! Started calling (in office phone) and visiting me at work from very next day.

Whereas the ME did not even bother to ask for my office phone no. I couldn’t believe a young man not even 30 could be so cold! His parents asked him whether he liked me and he said he would tell them that at home! He did convey his like (!) the next day through the common people who brought the families together.

But by the time I was wounded beyond repair. I would have taken it in my stride had he said he did not like me after a word with me. Instead he said he wanted time to think and decide whether he liked me or not. As a woman, I never felt more ashamed before. None broke my spirit the way he did that evening. None tried to stamp over my self-respect and dignity like he did. 2 full families were in attendance – I had to stop myself from crying.

I won’t say I haven’t had arguments about this thing with my aunt and uncle. But I had to heed to their wishes. They were trying to do something good for me. The way my uncle would process wedding proposals for me would upset me. But in the end I can say, the reward is worth the waiting.

When the ME’s family came for a patch-up, my uncle said I could revise my opinion if I wanted. ‘These things happen’ he said but I remained stubborn. He said, there was too much at stake. The boy was well-settled, had a big family, good support system. What is all this when I could not succeed in arousing his interest, I said. I could picture the guy discussing with his family my merits and demerits. With no personal affliction.

I couldn’t believe the man who could have become my husband did not find me in anyway exciting the first time he laid eyes on me. Ours wouldn’t have been a love marriage. So in arranged marriages, bride-seeing gives you the kind of adrenaline rush like none other. Ís he/she the one?’ is the question that’s on the lips of every young to-be-bride/groom.

As a human being, as an individual entity, as a woman, I seemed not to make a mark on the man. I had no interest either in someone who couldn’t find me interesting enough. What I felt was such an anger. Shame. I thought he needn’t have come home in that case. The photo must have been sufficient.

Anyway thankfully the match was not meant to be. Our karmas were different. I don’t even remember his name now. The first guy ever to come and officially ‘see’ me. I didn’t think my rejection would have affected the man either. Eventually he would have found someone dumb the way he liked. I felt bad for his future wife who I did not know…

Yes, the bride-seeing in itself could be so humiliating. Now with families coming together in public venues for the purpose, it has become a tolerable exercise and experience. Only if all is well, do strangers gain entry into our homes to proceed further. Otherwise the temple and/or the restaurant become mere ‘hi & bye’ places for incompatible matches. With time, even the inevitable bride-seeing has evolved into a somewhat respectable thing in arranged marriages. In last 10 years, this is what I am seeing all around me. If the boy or the girl dislike each other, the alliance is dropped that very moment without the world coming to know about it.

We women are not cattle – for someone to weigh us and tell us whether he/they liked to buy us out or not. I found the ME’s attitude offending my self-respect. My husband & his family treated me well right from the start. Even before anyone could ask the boy (my hubby) his opinion, their folks asked me whether I liked the groom, whether I was  being forced into the marriage and the kind of questions. I liked their approach. They wanted to know what was my wish.

It came as a surprise after the first debacle. Then I realized, world is full of good and bad. Decent and respectable people are as common as cruel and opportunistic ones.

The question of skin colour did not rise once even in my engagement period (it did figure in my biodata/kundali to which I am coming on later). It was a relief for me, my future husband paid no attention either to what clothes or shoes  I wore or what bag I carried. I had given the last paper of CAIIB in the morning of bride-seeing, and as the center was only 2 km away, walked back home in hot sun. Their family came home in the evening. My sari & blouse were borrowed. Did apply a faint coat of ‘Fair & lovely’not denying. The wedding plans were nearly finalized the very same evening.

Even after this, my uncle sent some distant cousin to ‘check-out the boy.’ The cousin after making discreet inquiries in my husband’s work place, neighbourhood etc came with a report, my man smoked (but his parents did not know) and had no affair with any girl. Was really a qualified engineer only and did not hold fake certificates (!) Had really bagged another better paid job and was resigning soon from the current place of work! My uncle double-checked the same using another party and confirmed my in-laws were decent folks and my husband was a reliable person.

Only after this our arranged marriage was solemnized. If this is how a girl orphaned before her marriage weds, just think of how much care our people may give for their much cherished daughter’s wedding. And to think that this was how we were some 20-25 years back. Indian women have come a long way since. Daughters are the Mahalakshmis of our homes. Families think a lot before getting their girls married to the right groom.

This  must also to some extent alleviate fear or doubts with respect to arranged matches. Before every arranged marriage is fixed, compatibility of the couples, their backgrounds etc are a lot thought over once the horoscopes or kundalis are found matching.

This is the respect women are given in my society. True we complain all the time about being thrust into arranged marriages but looking at the research that goes into each one, one wonders whether this is the reason arranged marriages are most successful in India over love marriages that sour rather unexpectedly and too soon.

Skin colour- where does this fit in.

There are some fairer looking people among us. But invariably they end up marrying the dark-skinned. Such matches or mis-matches are also common in my place. I don’t think skin colour has been an impediment at all for any  of us.

‘Madrasis don’t come cheap’ I reminded the northie boy ‘and no girl will marry a 22 old year over grown male child either. Our girls are well accomplished in academics and career and if you don’t have a matching IQ you are finished.’ It is the solid truth down south – even our villages have brightest girls who will not be fooled by superficial looks.

And South Indians are quietly well-off without a show-off. The tolas of gold and diamonds we have stashed will put many north Indian families to shock and shame. How many north Indian men can really afford the gold loving south Indian women. ‘

One more thing: Its true we came from 2 different worlds in a way: mine was and is something that values merit, the individual spirit. I am the 4th generation officially-literate woman in my family. So that must make one hell lot of difference… Women in my part of the country are progressive in an altogether varied wavelength. I think I have blogged this already: a girl cousin of mine lit the funeral pyre of her father in his cremation.

I wonder how many progressive women from Delhi and Mumbai would be given/take such a privilege.

I think feminism is more about the mind. Women’s lib is a matter of the mind.

But I found no urge to detail all this to the thoughtless young man who was so brash with his judgement. Even at 22 years I remembered I wasn’t like him, thank God for small mercies. How these guys overrate themselves!

If skin colour is to be an issue, South Indians a majority of us will have to remain single without marrying which as you see is not the case!

My friends’daughters say, they like boys who are intelligent, hardworking with a good scope for a great future. The individual’s merit counts. Girls do not anymore run away with roadside Romeos. Rather girls today are much smarter. And if the boys aren’t smarter enough, they are doomed!

The boy was young yet I thought he had to be shown his place. It irritated me that there were men in my country who still grew up with this kind of mentality. What a shallow guy. My son will be 21 in a few more months – but he’s never had this kind of thinking. He has healthy respect for girls who are his friends. Admits they are sharper than him and his other boy friends. They do keep talking about ‘hot girls’ (me eavesdropping at times lolz unintentionally – duty of a parent!) but by ‘hot’ they mean a good figure I guess, not skin.

Education to a large extent brings in the awareness, no doubt. The northie boy’s highschool grades certainly did not help.

Every man can have a personal preference – like for a slim girl, tall one,  fair one for his bride. But voicing a racial slur so casually without a thought can reflect only one thing: ignorance. And possibly something more: shallowness and overrating of oneself.

(Admittedly there are some amongst us who rarely accord such an importance to Vanity. The point is, most don’t )


One more thing, what is really beauty. Beauty is truly in the beholder’s eyes. Fair north Indian boys with light brown eyes hardly hold the interest of Madarasi women.We don’t like the John Abraham and Salman Khan types who shave their chest hair. We like the real masculine RajniKanth or Kamal Hassan. We like bears!

In this following deo ad, top model Arjun Rampal bares his clean shaven armpit and torso (seen in tv in full 360 degree view, edited in You Tube donno why).  Wonder which woman really equates this polished physique with masculinity. Utterly peeved to think of a man like a blob of smooth creamy butter sorry! Not my type 😦

My idea is not to hurt anyone’s sentiment, just to show how we all view ‘beauty’ in different ways. What is obviously macho and so-called ‘manly’ to other metro girls is horribly effeminate to most Madarasi girls! Fact.


Similarly our men like neither the Karina Kapoor nor Katrina Kaif type women. Size zero girls are a big no-no to most men down south. If you don’t look healthy and well-endowed, you could be the very Princess Di, but no south Indian man may like you. Which is why heroines like Khusboo rounded and robust in looks could rule Tamil cinema for over a decade.

Size Zero is okay for some girls like 6-pack is for men I guess. But going overboard is disturbing. Size zero is fine if it is for health reasons. 

Sometimes I think, size zero is as vain as going for silicon implants by some women. Diametrically opposite but destination is the same.


Saritha, Sujatha, Suhasini Maniratnam, Radhika – these are all darkest skinned Tamil cinema heroines likes of whom you cannot see anywhere in India. What a depth to their acting. I am a huge, huge fan of all these great actors. Tamil Nadu also gave Bollywood Vyjayanthi Mala, Padmini, Rekha, Hemamalini, Sridevi etc but the dusky girls of the south Indian film industry held their own fort in local cinema for years. They are the best south Indian film industry has ever produced. The recent one to join this brown girl gang is Priya Mani from Bangalore, a national award winner. Shoba who died at a tender age of 18 in the year 1981, was also a national award winner who was duskiest. Monisha, the mallu teenage actress who died very young and tragic in a car accident, was also a national award winner. Good to see those like Nandita Das express their views on vanity – when it comes to skin colour.

Who was India’s first lady legislator and who is the brain behind the Cancer Institute, Chennai? Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy. The first woman student to be admitted to Men’s college. Was she a fair maiden or dark damsel?

What about the Golden Girl P.T. Usha. No other Indian athlete won for India the kind of pride and honour in international arena the way she has done. How is her beauty personified.


Here’s an amazing Tamil song with subtitles on ”black beauty!’ ‘Karuppu thaan enakku pidichua coloru! which means ‘Black is the (only) colour I love!” What a strong message like a tight slap to Northie guys or other men/women from any part of the world who think too much about themselves!!! Who judge women with their skin!

Incidentally Hemamalini and Rekha were rejected by the local Tamil film industry so they went to Bollywood to try their luck there!

What is the reason for south Indians according least importance to vanity? Prevailing high rates of literacy ofcourse.

So far as i can see, the focus is more on academics, employment, savings, child-raising, acquiring wealth/estate. Which is the main reason our women spend more on jewellery over cosmetics or clothes.

When you have less important things to focus on – you can expect to be distracted. If your hands are full, mind is occupied, how can you dwell on frivolous wastes?

I am seeing north Indian families both in Chennai & in Doha. They can’t do without a fulltime maid and other helps. All 24 hours a day, there must be someone to chop their vegetables, take care of babies, make the rotis. We in the south do have part-time help, but we are not dependent on househelp the way these women are. We are the real independent. Many of my friends do not employ househelp at all. I am often asked why I do not employ a cook and a driver and a fulltime maid.

(Some more questions thrown at me:

You having your mother-in-law with you?! Really?!

You cook?!)

It always amazes me that the so-called feminists in Delhi who hold banners cannot take care of themselves and may not survive without a househelp. Sense of independence stems from self-reliance first. In contrast my friends in Kerala not only single-handedly run palatial homes without any help, they are also working moms who ride to work in their 2-wheelers, clad in cotton saris. I was reflecting exactly on this, sharing a hearty sumptuous meal with a friend with whom I holidayed in Thrishur a couple of years back… No, none of my friends have any idea what is feminism is all about!

I was in a north Indian friend’s place where there was a Nepali manworker. 24 hours he is hanging at their place. I couldn’t tolerate it for over 5-10 minutes. I wonder how my friend is managing.

I may or may not be a loud feminist, but it hurt me when my friend gave orders and the 24 year old manservant cut the subzi and cooked for us. In front of my eyes he mopped their floors and dusted the sofas. I don’t know what is wrong with me, and why I felt like leaving the place soon.

As much as I believe in equality and respect for women in all grounds, I hate to wound male pride. May be because I am the mother of a young man…  Or perhaps I have grown up in a fairly decent world where men and women are equal partners and mutual respect is norm of the society…

Let it be, I think. Finally we must have happy life. Life without compromises is impossible, unthinkable. We give up something for nobler causes – for some greater accomplishments, that’s all.

I can now figure out why complexion/skin colour still mattes to some states in India/some communities over others. Unless and until there is social and true emancipation brought in by knowledge and practice, we cannot hope to see better days in near future…

For Indian Media, I have this to say: DO NOT GENERALIZE. India is not mere Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh. Your brand of feminism is not something I can agree with. Neither is your brand of beauty mine.

Beauty and the Burqa

Every woman is different. Why compare one with another.

If I like someone’s mind, he is hot to me. A shallow goodlooking man is the most repulsive thing one can come across in my opinion.

Same with women with good looks or figure. I am seeing beautiful Arab women – Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanians, Turks…

All painted nails, painted toes, best accessories like labelled handbags, great shoes, straightened hair (Syrians and Lebanese and Turks are very westernized and don even tighter jeans & shirts – only thing is, they have to cover their HAIR!! nothing else). Even without all this, they would still look beautiful. They have the subtle middle-eastern features, not rough and/or coarse like ours. Their skin looks pearly and flawless.

Actually ours (desi) is soft and supple skin too but the toffee brown hardly shows the way a fair skin does. Truth is, most of us browns don’t get freckles or pimples either. Our skin tone is richer, creamier but many fail to notice this kind of beauty. We boast of a healthy skin without a blemish that our genes gift us. And more than all brown skin ages the sl….ow…est.

Leaves me wondering why Arab women must need to dress up at all. We the dusky south Indian women are no match to the arabs in some ways – physically. We lack the height principally and so the posture.  Then we live in hot countries where we are not always locked into air-con rooms 24 hours. We move about in heat and dust and we do our daily chores – which is why all my life not even once I could get manicure done or my fingernails painted. Growing finger nails itself is a luxury – it means you are a zero in domestic front. I cannot ever afford to grow my finger nails least of all get them painted because they will get into my everyday work. I wonder how these arab beauties manage in the home front. Who among them cooks. What is KFC for?!

What a distaste the middle-eastern women have for other women of the world. It is sad, the girls who came from torn nations still have such a mean thinking about other women: most of them are incapable of looking beyond the skin. In a way they match some of our north Indian sisters & brothers. They are gauging others with their clothes, hair, cosmetics and accessories. This is their daily routine, decking upto the hilt. Exactly how much time they expend on grooming is worth doing a PhD on.

The general Indian opinion is, because these arab women can be talaked just like that, physical appeal matters to them very much to retain a hold over their men. Some of them share their husbands with 2 or 3 more women who knows. A sense of insecurity hangs about every Arab girl or even Filipino girl here in middle-east. Their men are free to cast them aside anytime they choose. Which makes them embrace vanity with such a vigour. Grooming becomes an obsession with them.

Even those covered with full burqa grow such beautiful painted nails – with nail art. They make sure their exposed parts are visible to one and all. Its all the beauty the veiled ones can ever manage to show off. So I have seen those women who hide themselves behind the hijab or abaya are the ones who carry the best accessories, best shoes, have the most beautiful painted nails that they can let the world see!! No wonder the hijabs/abayas themselves are again a fashion statement on their own – some lacy, some with heavy embroidery work etc.  All the women smell of expensive perfumes. (Whereas in daytime, I just cannot wear perfume because just hate the mingling of sweat and perfume/bodyspray (in night chill and in a/c you don’t need a perfume!). I am sure I smell of the curry and spice I am cooking at home all the time lolz! At home sometimes I am told I smell of the flowers I use a lot in my pooja!)

But tell me how accomplished are women in the middle-east despite their expensive mascaras and eyelashes and lip balms and blushers and perfumes and clutches and shoes and watches and mobile phones – none of which most of us Indian women can match up to. What a vain thing. How many doctors or mathematicians or scientists or even service/field nurses among them. How many writers and thinkers and other skilled and semi-skilled workers.

How many of the middle-eastern women can even think for themselves. How many can break free from the burqas first. How many nurture an independent, rebel spirit. Do these women have any substance at all?

Who is the real beauty. May be the answer may give a clue to a man’s mind here!

What has beauty got to do with one’s IQ. Beauty & Brains is sure a deadly combo!!

But it all boils down to this hometruth finally: 

Women who cling to vanity  with a desperation do so because perhaps they lack a sense of security. Security that comes with independence, confidence and free spirit.

Do not judge a book by its cover! Is beauty only skin-deep?

Not a cosmetics person, except for the essential moisturizer we can’t do without in our humid conditions. Considering the harmful side-effects associated with beauty salons, we can easily get the routine going at home, in our own bath/bed rooms – if at all we want

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I won’t say grooming is total vice. Its just not my cup of tea. I choose the wrong colours and I am clumsy generally. But I appreciate decent grooming – nothing more. Too much of dwelling on personal grooming irritates me.

Why waste thousands of rupees in parlours exposing our skin and hair to chemicals and synthetics. Even if the beauty people give us fresh gowns & towels after a thorough rinse & iron, aren’t they recycled, used by many before us? At home, how much we worry about personal hygiene? How can we compromise on the same in a beauty salon. (I am very conscious about these things – which is why I think a lot before stepping into a salon. Same goes for restaurant food served in same plates. In Chennai, the biggest blessing is, in most restaurants they keep cut banana leaves on the freshly washed and dried plates. Food is served essentially on such laid-in banana leaves in plates only. This is akin to using fresh new plate straight from the store everytime. All good rated restaurants adopt this practice.

While using natural remedies and home beauty aids, we were taught by our elders that those things were good for our skin, hair etc. The colour of our skin was never the point. I grew up in a predominantly south Indian locality where none was glowing fair. Okay some had a fairer skin than most of us but still not ‘the north Indian fair’- to make the distinction. North Indians always stood out among Madarasis. Chennai is very cosmopolitan and is a potpourri of cultures. Probably now, Tamils could be minority in Madras who knows?! By and large I can still safely vouch, my city is mostly tan in character.

But in last 10 years or so, we are having mixed marriages with girls/boys from different states/countries in our extended family circle. Lines are starting to blurr as we have mingled with Mallu speaking, Hindi speaking, even Urdu-speaking, Punjabi speaking, Sindhi speaking and Marathi speaking communities and even have gone international with children marrying French and American! So what will be our future family language is a suspense!

I don’t expect a Tamil girl really and that too from my caste/creed for my son honestly – I wonder which state girl will my boy get home one day to see me lolz. Kundali, what kundali?!

So we women are already in that age now. Thinking of our children’s marriage plans. And why not. If my son would be a daughter, won’t I think of becoming a granny by 50?

Come a long way in life that i know what matters and what matters not in life.

Age is not something I am ashamed of. If you are in 40s, then it means you have traveled a great distance in life. I have crossed quite a no. of valleys and underpasses in my life, but it always makes me feel good when someone underestimates my age! (which is quite often!) 

It does however get under my skin like when some northie once asked me quite innocently, ‘why are you south Indians so dark?!’ 

The word is not even ‘dark’ I think. Many openly use the word ‘black!’

To which my answer is: because of the racial difference. And the climatic/regional conditions.

Again I first became aware of my skin colour only when my ‘kundali’ (horoscope or rather horrorscope) was drawn up by my family to get me married.  It was a 2 page document – the first page bearing my birth date, star as per Hindu-Tamil calendar plus the birth chart computed. This was my horoscope.

The second page comprised of my bio-data – like my age again, my family background, educational qualifications, jobs if any etc.

What was interesting was that, in this second page of my Bio-data/Kundali was this quirky little entry:

Complexion of the girl:  WHEATISH!!!

Oh my, I got the shock of my life reading it along with my height, weight statistics.

I asked my uncle the purpose for this kind of summation of me.  He said it was necessary and was an apt description of me – because that was what I was like – like a majority south Indians, wheatish-skinned or coffee to chocolaty-brown skinned!

He said, that way, if the boy wanted a real fair girl, looking at the description of my complexion, he wouldn’t pursue the alliance which was better for both parties. Why the family may even drop the proposal totally with that one word, if they wanted to. ”Saves a big headache’ said my uncle, ‘if anyone should have a preference.”

It was humiliating – but arranged marriage it had to be for me because I knew I would never come to like a man that way ever if I had to go about looking for one myself! My family was in a rush to see me off.

‘Bride-seeing’ is the worst assault to inflict on a woman I know – it is not at all exciting.

I have mixed reactions to arranged marriages:  they are safe bet if you ask me frankly.  We kinda get an idea about what we are getting ourselves into.  But those of us who have had arranged marriages also sometimes feel like we have missed something exciting in life – like being wooed for instance.  My friends who have had love marriages claim the contrary surprisingly these days. They say the greatest casualty in love marriages is the curiosity factor – because there is nothing more to know about your spouse after the D-Date. The transition from being a lover to spouse is not exciting, some insist!

My friends who have had love marriages were spared the stone-age ‘bride-seeing’ routine in the minimum. The wheatish complexion description of mine in my ‘kundali’ never ceases to flabbergast me until today… This kind of quantification of us women like livestock is … well so demeaning….  On the contrary I also recall my hubby’s Kundali – there was no physical description of him other than his height.  Not even weight.  His educational & work description went to over 2 pages including laurels in sports, etc.

For me the listed qualifications after my education/work was: CAN COOK, MOTHERLESS SO USED TO MANAGE FAMILY!!! I think that was what clinched my marriage deal (if I can say that).

I do remember questioning my uncle on that as well for which his justification was, ‘Udyogam Purusha Lakshanam’ (a man’s beauty lies in his earning capacity). So no need to describe a man besides his profession. But obviously for a girl it was different.

Chennai has changed a lot ever since. In digital age of today, its the Madarasi woman who picks and chooses her man not the other way around.


Rarely therefore step into a beauty salon. If at all I have it, its rather for cleansing over grooming.

Last time I went there the girls gave me the brochures: the facials listed were:







and even VAMPIRE FACIAL! (not in my regular salon)

Except the last 3, all others were aimed at making your skin appear fairest. It was sickening. A chemical bleach is the first and foremost step. A bleach essentially dries out your skin and could make you age faster, how many women realize this. With south Indians, the preferred facial is always Skin lightening I believe.  The girls encouraged me to try one of the first 4.

Working women these days opted for skin fairness I was told. Mostly these are married and middle-aged women. Skin lightening therefore is the fastest selling beauty treatment in Chennai of late. Girls now do not opt to look fair for boys, but girls want to look fair in corporate hemisphere where they have to compete in business environment with woman aspirants from other states. IT sector has  changed our women a lot.

I am not saying grooming is wrong, I am only asking why so much focus on grooming.

Since yearly once I get a facial done, I opt for gold facial always. Expensive but it brings a glow without whitening your skin that can last upto a month. Value for your money. Gold dust is rubbed into your face with galvanizing machine that helps absorb it.

I like gold facial because it does not make me appear ghost white. In middle-east since I do not go out much and I am devoid of sunlight, I tend to look fairer which is very much unlike me. But under the hot Indian sun, my natural skin tone resurfaces in matter of days.

Which is why all of us Indian women in the gulf look paler. We are in air-con all 24 hours with no sun ray touching us. 2 months here i become white like a paper I hate. Even a mild moisturizer makes me look even whiter giving me ghastly looks. Frankly don’t bother.

It will take another family event for me to step into a parlour. No wedding in the next year – but I think I liked the gold facial. There is no harm in getting it done once an year I guess. It took out my tan accumulated in one whole year without giving me a fair skin – so that’s what I like about it.

Its funny I did not do it until my 40th year, in the prime of my youth, but I must go for these in this middle-age.

Facials: The purpose is mainly to weed out blackheads & warts. Because I don’t use cleansers routinely at home neither do I steam. Its healthy to get the pores opened once in a while so the dirt deep down may be brought out and the base skin molecules cleansed in and out. This I believe is done technically with doctors/dermatologists in VLCC and hence the high rates (there is one at stone’s throw near my place – in last 10 years not stepped in once there). So a facial is basically a non-medical treatment procedure.

Doing it the scientific manner like in VLCC is definitely a better option. Recommended provided you can afford. A facial here might cost you double than what it costs in a branded salon. Not for me.

Finally physical exercise is the best skin toner. For a soft and supple skin, I would recommend hydrating your skin with more and more water. Drink water in plentifuls. Use air-conditioners sparingly – they dry out your skin.

And finally our gene plays an effective role in determining our skin tone, ageing process. I would rather prefer a brainy gene over a beauty gene anyday.

Wanting to look good, look presentable is perfectly okay. But I am not comfortable with the idea of spending too much resources and time on this nonsense.

Besides, well, a beautiful person need not have to be a hot, melting type- could well turn out to be an iceberg, who knows?! (Know some in this category!) Refuse to believe there is a connection between onés physical appeal and hotness (!) lolz

A chain of branded uni-sex salons is where I visit. The girls keep asking me why I am not regular. They still rememer even if I visit them only once annually! Or may be because I am going there for last 10 years. Have membership as my son and husband also get haircut done in the same parlour. The girls cannot believe my age. ‘What is the secret’ one asked and I said, ‘its that I don’t visit beauty salons ever! Definitely not more than once an year!”

The girls privately agree with me. The lesser the massage, the better they assure me. There are dark circles under my eyes because I spend more time on my system and in reading books.

Even otherwise its natural to age, why not? Are we all 16 year old teenage girls? I have flab (or what they call love handles) in  my tummy-hips because I am a mom! And to my knowledge, men love the love-handles lolz! Gotta a problem only when you don’t boast of one! Where to hide our wrinkles and grey hair?! How long?!

I have to say, more men visit beauty clinics over women these days! But I have to say again, who I see most here are north Indian guys settled in the city. Equal no. of such men get their hair straightened as women – sickening! So is this how John Abraham has that slick look 😦


Wow and now this:

Flip side of Arranged Marriages:

The Bride-seeing in Arranged Marriages still seems to be the only way to go about it. Something like ‘necessary evil.’ Now the event is more neutralized in public & common meeting grounds so we no more traditionally have the ‘bride-seeing’ – rather its the boy & girl ‘getting to know each other.’ Fair deal if you ask me. Now not many girls go through what I and my friends had to endure.

So my take on Arranged Marriages?

It is still the easiest way out lolz – for those of us girls who just cannot fall in love easily! By mid 20s you simply need a man very badly! Marriage is the best & legal way to go about it right?! (Feminist in me speaking :-))


From → Bharatiya Naari

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