Thursday, 20 February 2014

Finish-ing School for Men



I just got a plot of land, my own do bigha zameen. Don’t ask me how now. It’s in UP hinterland and no body asks any questions there. I also got a black  bag of money as a gift alongside. It’s a bottomless bag quite like Santa’s sack. I was told – Banao beta, whatever you want to. Set the foundation of your dreams right here. Build karo gallows pillars of steel, or sangmarmar. Right here!

I spent an evening downing spirits and raising mine further, planning all the time – What will I build on this plot of land divine? And then I got it.

Why, a Finishing School for Men.

No no no! Not the kind of fancy school which will teach them those manners. Sit thus and stand on both feet, not tilting your behind like an ass on one side. Open doors to passing ladies, and stare not at their retreating behinds. Don’t wear flat-fronts and if you do, some binders inside please. It’s a metro rail car, not a sleaze fest on wheels. My finishing school will not get into superficialities of polishing the Hallo Maim to Heylo Medem.

My school will only admit men who smilingly accepted a good chunk of their father-in-laws’ wealth in the name of Shagan aka Blessings. Why admit them? Well, to finish them, of course!

Why the serious face? I think you are confused. Wait, read on first.

Say for instance the lethal combination of IIT IIM. Techie MBAs apparently garner the biggest loot, or so I see. Soon as they call home to inform their parents about their selection in some of the premier engineering colleges and then management institutes in the country, the father boasts ‘Ladka kisska hai’ and the mother, after a whispered prayer to God, starts calculating her son’s marital worth with her best friend. On top of that, if God GMAT-willing, the son reaches foreign shores for $-making, the shagan ticker suddenly goes on an over-drive, like a flea infested dog’s tail. IIT tic tic tic – IIM tic tic tic – Goldman Sachs tic tic tic – Condo in San Francisco – tic tic tic … till the ticker itself asks for mercy and stops at a number the father and mother know not how to pronounce. And the guy, in a week’s time, flies home with his accent, picks a bride showing off his fat wallet, turns his face the other way when mummy ji daddy ji do the deal, and to the tune of drum beats sits cushy in his sasur’s gifted limousine and decides to permanently move to India. Why? Better job prospects, and much better inflow of shagan envelopes for occasions and non-occasions, complete. No matter that the woman is equally qualified too. ‘It’s just Indian tradition, babes. We can’t question it. We found trew love, now let the parents do their thing. Yo!’ Such a condition of tradition-al custom-ary matrimony needs redressal, and a good school, no?

Okay, you seem shocked. Well, here's another example.

Every village has a Pappu who passed his UPSC and is now a glorified sarkari babu. Every town too, just like every city has a handful with IAS, IPS, IRS written in font bigger than their names, outside homes they no longer stay in. You clear that exam and out comes a little booklet – Directory of Civil Servants. Servants to public but masters of their own ceremonies. A million Xerox copies with their details and passport sized faces spread all over the nation, like wild fire. And then come suitor-seekers much like the ‘we three kings of orient are, bearing gifts we travel afar’. Yes, parties with marriageable daughters knocking on every hostel door. ‘Hello, I have one daughter. Susheel. Will you marry please? Um, what caste do you enjoy?’ There is no ticker here. Just a SALE painted in red on most doors. And Ma ji Pappa ji’s ageing backs waiting to be scratched. One marries a trader so his export-import is easy-breezy. What is a few trees when woods will be saved for sasur ji? Another revs up his Merc, dusting the lanes of his hamlet. He went for three crores. Even his cows moo a regal mooo, reserved-ly of course. Off they go straight from their baraats on their Bharat dharshan saying ‘We will travel the world, but we cannot do it side-stepping ancestral traditions. This is how it happens in my family. Chalo, you are Mrs. Babu now. You will live like a queen. By the way, how many clothes for the rishteydaars?’ Again I say, such a serious condition of tradition-al custom-ary matrimony needs redressal, and a good school, no?

Just two samples of candidates who may apply to my school. To be finished. Of course, you may know many more. Once I am done with all the sessions of this die-ploma course, their pictures will be hung in the Hall of Shame Fame, depending on their past performances. Please note, full respect will be given to their insistence on the idea of “traditions” and all their cousin "customs", in whatever attire they strut around and no matter how old. The hanging … of the photographs, will all begin with a puja to Saraswati maa, the deity of those books upon books which helped them enter their temples of learning. Followed by lighting the lamp and finally garlanding these martyrs heroes of Modern Day and Age. After all, traditions are important, they themselves insist!    

Admissions open now. Aa jao! Why are you hiding your face? Ab sharmaana kaisa?

Disclaimer - Resemblance to any person living or married is not my fault. The intention is not to hurt, but to show a bitter truth. I still see this sad reality all around. And more kinds than the two I pointed out. A lot goes in the name of 'customs' and 'traditions' and I speak particularly to the men here. Old has to make way for the New. It is time they, if not everyone else, stood up!

[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was: A plot of Earth - You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?]

64 comments:

  1. Yeah pretty sick all this lena, dena, gifts all forced in the name of tradition. Makes me sick. I guess the younger lot are doing better but it is still a malaise that will take a long time to go. Girls and more importantly boys have to put a foot down on this khareed farokht. One among the many ugly traditions in India that exploit and thrive despite all the education and modernity that we claim. Hard hitting post. A juicy prompt that one was :).

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    1. I like how you say 'despite all the education and modernity that we claim'. So true, that mask!
      Thanks for liking this, Rachna.

      Delete
  2. Another satirical dig at men and society eh? Well played sister. If truth me told, it is more of a dig at society in general, so I'll let this one slide :) I kid of course. These so called "customs" and "traditions" are the bitter truth of Indian society and some "arranged marriages". Let's hope some of the "old" read some of these "sensible new" thoughts and help usher their "new borns" into an era where as relationships and marriageable worth are no longer decided by such trivial manner. Well, if not, there is always your school on the plot of land donated by Project 365. Can I get a job there? I do have an Engineering degree with a phorein Masters degree :)

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    1. You are right, Sid. It is about society at large. I am picking a party which I think can herald a change, apart from the women i.e. Surprisingly, "love marriages" also function on the logic that - we have agreed to your love. Now you agree to our way of formalising it. :)
      Excuse me ... donated by Project 365? Yes, you can get a job only after you successfully explain what you meant by this. :D I know your degrees, Sid!

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  3. So I am going through all the CAT grilling and GMAT willing session right now. Lovely satire but the situation is really pathetic. The cake is too small. Imagine scoring 99.4 percentile and yet not getting a call from good IIMs.
    And gone are the days when Mrs Babu lived like a queen. What about punishment posting, political harassment, transfers? People only see the bright side of it.

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    1. I know, and I agree. I know about the former since my brother took his MDS exams a few years back. I know about the latter because I am living it. However, for both Alka, I speak with real life examples in my head. And I also see those proudly and shamelessly enjoying and promoting the 'bright side'. I shudder to think their children may carry on such "traditions" in the garb of 'Respect for Elders'.
      Thank you for reading!

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  4. Wow bang on... You said it all... The way a groom is sold to the highest bidder... Paise k saath beti.bhi... Ye kaisi insaafi. It's a sham, but there are a few who have blankly refused dowry... Maybe they can join as teachers in your school and give others some spanking. :) I loved your writing... Absolutely delighful. Yo.

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    1. :) What a delightful thought, that anti-dowry persons join my school as teachers. I so wish it was that easy. Yes, even the spanking part. :D 'Thank you for stopping by, and for liking what you read.

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  5. I remember having a close friend who was approached by this guy from IIT. AArranged marriage proposal it was and on the first meet itself she asked "Kya Aap Virgin Hain?"
    And you expect men with brains to have some wisdom too, let alone manners.

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    1. WHAT? You left me speechless. I think another post brews in this shocked head of mine. :)
      Thanks for reading, Red.

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  6. Oooh! Love the biting satire. This is so sick but true.

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    1. Sick but true, true.
      Thanks for reading, Ritu ma'am.

      Delete
  7. Having worked in the south, I have come across many potential grooms with degrees from the IITs and IIMs. Some rather proud of the moolah they will bring in, but many quite awkward in the situation they are in. A good friend of mine who is "out in the market" right now has said a strict no to any alliance where the parents speak of money, his family supports him completely on it :) So I guess things are changing.....but there is another side to the story as well.. where grooms from the "feeling awkward" category find it tough to find alliances, why you ask? well, the girls and their families want grooms who are "onsite" in phoren, preferably Amreeka.. oh and he better have plans for the green patti in the US too. I have a friend who has been struggling to find a girl due to these reasons :P

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    1. That good friend of yours is indeed a find. I agree whole-heartedly that things are changing. Perhaps, at a speed which is too slow to be noticeable. Oh I hear you when you say "the girls and their families want grooms who are "onsite" in phoren, preferably Amreeka". It's a vicious circle, Seeta. Happiness has come to be identified with wealth in a very strange and impersonal way. Sad!

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  8. I like this tirade doused in saccharin sweet tone... Well written Sakshi :)

    Shagun

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    1. Shagun, good to see you here. :D Very happy you liked this. :)

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  9. A nice take on the prevailing situation! Hope things change for better:)

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    1. Hope so too.
      Thank you for reading, Rahul.

      Delete
  10. There are communities where a boy's degree decides his 'worth'. 1 crore for Engineering, 5c for doctor, 10c for foreign return doctor and so on...I personally know a few who gleefully announced that they are doing a post graduation so that their 'worth' will increase! Tell me where to download the application forms, I will send these namoonas to your school. :)

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    1. You know, I had written a paragraph on Doctors too. But since I did not know any real life examples, I did not want to go ahead with it. But I hear you, Yamini. And shame on those who announced such a demeaning thing. I am now seriously considering opening a school for the 'namoonas'. A lesson in self-esteem is what they deserve.

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  11. Aha. Let's finish them I say! :) A long time ago it was all about a Maruti 800, now we talk about Limos. Who says we haven't progressed?

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    1. Come aboard and help me, Jyothi.
      And look how we have "progressed". So sad!

      Delete
  12. So true! all this lena dena crap... Even queuing up in a line for Rs. 10 notes as 'shagan' or whatever the hell they call it on auspicious occasions... Why only that? I have seen sisters ( makes me feel so ashamed for I'm a woman too ) looting their brothers for cell phones, jewellery and every thing out there just because it is a 'custom' that the brother needs to keep giving...! I have a long list of these for both men and women but if I write here it will only make me more bitter ... I hope we change! I so hope we change!

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    1. That's another interesting perspective, Nabanita, Write the list as a post on your blog. Let's all share it. Kissi ko toh sharam aayegi.
      Thank you for sharing this the other day. Felt good. :)

      Delete
  13. If this is the state of our society then sad it indeed is. Though, truth be told, I am yet to come across a fanciful product of the blue chip IIT, IIM and their ilk who has not found his own charming (and not necessarily slim or fair) maiden (in high school or college or, later, in the work force) instead of having to rely on his parents' fat-shagan-sniffing noses. Maybe I just need to move around in more exciting company.

    Lovely post with plenty of barbed wit!

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    1. Rickie, "love marriages" are also "arranged" in a fashion that I describe. You move in greatly refined company. Good for you! :)
      Glad you liked this!!

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  14. good satirical take on the pathetic situation in the society.

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  15. God, my day just got better thinking about such finishing schools for such men! if you ever happen to open this finishing school, then please, please do employ me as one of faculties. I would like to try my hand too at finishing, errr, polishing, these men.

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    1. Ha ha, Prasanna. Then our thought match. :D I will employ you instantly. I am sure you will derive as much pleasure with this 'finishing'' as I will. :D

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  16. Nobody can stop this but the people. But do you see many voices raised Sakshi?

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    1. SO few you don't even hear them in a crowd. I agree with you.

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  17. Yet another new genre explore with gusto and love the way you took on the hypocrisy of our society, MBA-wallah, phoren return, pot of gold and 'Sankskari' Alok Baba Nath will fume reading this one!!! It's brilliance personified, Mrs Sakshi Nanda. RESPECT.
    Just 1 question: Has Aseem Sir read this one? What's his take?
    Cheerz
    Vishal

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    1. Yes, Aseem has. His take I saw when he got married. That is why I write this with full conviction that things CAN change. :)
      Thanks for reading, Vishal.

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  18. will a girl marry a boy who doesn earn more than her?? why is it that a girl alwaz wnats to marry someone who is either earning more than her or as much as her?

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    1. That 'always' is a strange generalisation. And frankly, I would not know the answer to it hence. :)

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  19. Terrific piece. And I agree about the 'Pappu' from every village. :)

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    1. :D Thanks, Spunky, My own beau is one. But well, not the kind I am going to finish. :D

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  20. Awesome post Sakshi! Loved the way you used the prompt to bring out the bitter fact that haunts our society. I see parents and relatives of the groom in weddings with greedy eyes to grab ...rather cash in as much as they can....yes such grooms and their families definitely need a finishing school...:)

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    1. Thank you, Shaivi. Happy to see you here. :)

      Delete
  21. As long as there are girl's parents waiting with bags of money to pay there will be hungry parents of the groom waiting to milk the cow. Let the groom's parents and relatives wait with the 'var-mala' expecting a fat dowry. The flowers will wither and fall away but no bride ( or her parents) should come forward to the mandap. waiting for such a dawn to arise.

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    1. I agree totally, Kalpana. You point out the other side of the story. However, I do think there is a lot of helplessness in those 'bags of money'. And I absolutely LOVE the "Let the groom's parents and relatives wait with the 'var-mala' expecting a fat dowry. The flowers will wither and fall away but no bride ( or her parents) should come forward to the mandap. waiting for such a dawn to arise." Wonderful!!

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  22. This is just a tip of the iceberg...much more goes on in the name of rista-judna. These are changing but not until men really grow up.

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    1. I agree, Janaki. Relationships are made or marred over money. In fact, how much exchanges hands is the first thread of relationship that two new families form.
      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  23. Oh yes! A bitter truth indeed! And a pathetic condition of society too! But are we really doing anything to stop this? These men are scarily all around me in my workplace!

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    1. The good ones are few and far between. It's so frustrating that I had to write such a violent post and talk about 'finish-ing' them. I wish you better company in your office. :)
      Thank you for stopping by!

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  24. Okay the post is hilarious!! Honestly a great take on the current scenario of traditions in India and ofcourse factors that decide 'Shagun aka Blessings'. ;) Loved it.

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  25. Reality bites, and should bite till the time one doesn't realize that its bleeding. It needs ointment, bandage, and then will the India's healing process begin.. Till then, "Lifafe mein kitna de rahe ho?, Lifafe se paon chhu lo, Lifafa pakda ke aate hain, ye toh shagun hai, rakh lo!! " A well written satire Sakshi

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    1. Like the analogy, Arpita.
      Thank you for liking this!

      Delete
  26. haha, and I find it highly comical how they come on a one-week mission-bound whirlwind trip from phoren, chose their 'pick' from a dozen eager dulhans, partake in the wedding like a total outsider, as if merely obliging people by their pricey presence in their own wedding. Its all done within a week, coming from videss, choosing their brides like choosing a fresh fruit, marrying the fruit, eating the fruit, and going back and burping in Videss

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    1. Oh so you too have witnessed what I say in my post, Zinal. I like how you describe it. So real. But how sad it all is. How sad!
      Thanks for reading.

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  27. such a well written article! great job Sakshj :-)

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    1. Good to see you here, Gauri.
      And thank you. :)

      Delete
  28. Scathing wit ! JNU had a lot of Pappu's preparing for their IAS exams and one of them actually told me how much more "value" this would give them in the Marriage market. My response to him was apne ghar ke saamne board laga lo - Ladka bikau hai !

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    1. Usney laga bhi liya hoga, Ruch. Proudy way mein. :D
      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  29. " Hum toh kuch mangenge nahi, lekin aap log apni ladki ko khali haath toh nahin bhejenge na ? jo dena hai, aap woh de dijiyega...humein koi eitraaz nahi....aakhir ladki aapki hai..aapki iccha hogi ki usko baut kucch dena hai shadi mein...hum mana kyun karenge...aur hamara ladka bhi itan accha pad'ha likha hai kamata hai, yeh to aap log bhi jaante hein "....

    Well written, Sakshi !
    Go, study , earn, increase your worth, but unless you love a girl, she's not going to fall for you, come what may ! Keep waiting with your certificates and salary slips .....
    I've seen this happen, so I can identify with your post very well !!

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    1. My God, that dialogue you quote reeks of reality. So true!!
      I am glad you see what I see. We women are equally complicit in perpetuating evils we clearly identify as that.
      Thanks.

      Delete
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