Of Cabbages and Kings

April 24, 2010


Filed under: Random musing — Tags: , , , , — Chinmayi @ 5:36 am

is a disgusting pop-culture term. Sadly, it is also an appropriate one. The truth is that women don’t seem to know how to be friends with eachother without some sort of undercurrent of hostility and competitiveness. It is a phenomenon that I have always found disturbing.

It used to make me wonder why, when we already have so much to deal with in the male-dominated world, we are each others’ worst enemies. And then I found an explanation somewhere (and I am unable to locate that somewhere right now, so I’m afraid there will be a referencing problem).

Women are brought up to hate themselves and their own kind. It is a manifestation of our self-loathing that we inflict harm on our own kind.  The harm varies with the degree of self-loathing and the sphere in which a woman operates. But that’s where it all comes from: the brutalising of daughters-in-law, the picking on the pretty intern, the stealing of other women’s partners and sabotaging of their relationships, the disproportionate aggression with female domestic help,  the fake smugness that women love to project at eachother, the hurry to pass judgment on other women, the eagerness to bring them down…all of it.

So the next time you smile to yourself smugly because another women’s marriage broke down, or because you elbowed the only other woman in the office out of a meeting, odds are the you are smiling like a wrist-slasher at something that you did to hurt yourself.

And this is why all feminists are so passionate about the sisterhood. It isn’t just about being supportive of other women, or of combating boys-clubs..it is about standing up for ourselves, and learning to respect, support and care for ourselves. Because all these women – the friends, the daughters, daughters-in-law, bosses, employees, bus-conductors, saleswomen, stewardesses..they are all a part of who we are.


April 21, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — Chinmayi @ 3:52 pm

I’ve been reading old European fiction again. The trouble with doing this sort of thing (and I do this a lot) is that one’s imagination is populated almost entirely with people from different lands and different times.

You live in a place where the sun burns holes in your feet and dream of silk stockings. You learn that you are supposed to help the elderly, but you have to pass them sleeping on the street everyday and look on helplessly.

Going to Europe was like a homecoming. Things are somehow right there. You don’t raise your voice. Men tell you that you are beautiful if they think so and it doesn’t mean that they are being creepy. There are flowers growing everywhere. Everybody seems to love wine, music and dark chocolate. There is poetry plastered all over trains and a musician in every corner.

Aggression and pushiness are frowned upon. And people are direct but very pleasantly so. There’s no syrupy exaggeration or stupid wide-eyed naivete. Just a down-to-earth practicality. Everybody reads at least a little. The television is much too expensive to be a national pass-time.

I know that it must take young countries many years to catch up with ancient undisturbed civilisations. And that some amount of shouting and elbowing must happen before we settle down. But I do miss the peace and quiet sometimes.

April 14, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — Chinmayi @ 6:44 pm

You tell yourself: I’ll be gone
To some other land, some other sea,
to a city lovelier far than this
Could ever have been or hoped to be—
Where every step now tightens the noose:
A heart in a body buried and out of use;
How long, how long must I be here
Confined among these dreary purlieus
Of the common mind? Wherever now I look
Black ruins of my life rise into view.
So many years have I been here
Spending and squandering and nothing gained.

Aside from being shatteringly beautiful, this verse brought home to me exactly how much is lost in translation. Lawrence Durrell was responsible for this particular formulation. If you see the other versions here, they will make you want to weep for their frustrating inability to capture its elusive beauty.

April 11, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — Chinmayi @ 5:15 pm

The film was moving and disturbing. Told from the perspective of a little girl who kept walking into other people’s secrets, as I used to.

She tried hard to understand the adult world, and got it all wrong, like I did. And she made a terrible terrible mistake, like I very nearly did. Her whole life was atonement for that mistake. And her book, an attempt to make the past whole again.

I simply must have the book. It can only be better than the film. The idea smells like one that must have been difficult to translate into film. Fleeting passion, understated class issues, morality, legal loopholes, shades of grey, a poetic subtext.

Yes, I simply must have it.

April 6, 2010

The Enchantress and the Author

Filed under: books, Random musing — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 5:34 pm

I am working my way through Enchantress of Florence (finally). It is a great example of the magic of Rushdie’s writing. But there isn’t a single character there that I can identify with.

Rushdie’s is an unambiguously, exclusively male voice. As the magic, the flow and the erudition of the tale each gather me into the book, I still find that I cannot step into it fully. Every man has a woman. Every man wants a woman. Except the eunuch/ spy of course (who presumably doesn’t count as a man in the Rushdie world). What does a woman want? Do women exist other than to entice, charm , seduce, sleep with, long for or, compete for men? Do women exist except as satellites? Not in Rushdie’s universe. Sometimes I wonder whether dear Mr. Rushdie has missed a greater part of the last century. His books are sometimes like the adolescent male’s medieval paradise within literature. Modern books that never seem to move beyond the good old ways of woman= whore/ wife/ mother syndrome.

There are attempts at redemption here and there (the high-spirited Jodha as the King’s ideal wife is declared to be quite different from a boy’s fantasy of big breasts and small brains), but it is ineffective. The image that sticks in my mind as being quite appropriate as a description of the women of the Rudhdie universe is of Akbar and Mogor Amore moving through the harem, with all the women wafting past them like satellites around stars.

Blog at WordPress.com.