Of Navratra Thalis, Indian Men and the Earth Hour

This week has been significant in terms of the events that have occured and given me plenty to muse over. Environment and climate change has clearly been the most talked about phenomena in recent months, hogging quite a bit of newsprint. The thought that we’re living in a fragile enviroment and we need to protect it, was echoed in the psyche of people with an ‘overwhelming’ participation in the Earth Hour on 28th March 2009. While all this is very fine and long due, I can’t get over the irony of the fact that over one lakh villages are still unelectrified in India and hence this whole hullabaloo of Earth Hour is actually lost on them. Talk about extremes!
This post is going to be rather disconnected I’m afraid, as it does not follow one thought but three of them. And what’s more, there’s no connection between them. So the next thing I ‘talk’ about is the Navratra or rather the food people eat during this period. With all that oily stuff in the dinner plates, and the snacking on potato wafers whenever one feels peckish, it somehow turns the very logic of fasting on its head! Five stars hotels and restaurants outdo one another in offering their clients the choicest of Navratra thalis- that quintessential Indian plate with numerous offerings in small bowls, complete with a sweet dish-juxtaposing the spiritual with the material. Isn’t that convenient or what?!
So I finally get to that topic of Indian ‘purush’ who has been bashed endlessly in various newspaper columns, college discussions, chat shows and what have you. What is it about them that makes you cringe when you think of them as a collective entity? Sure, there are some wonderful men out there in my family, among my friends, colleagues and acquaintances and men I don’t even know personally. But when I think of the word or rather two words ‘Indian man’, I picture those numerous lecherous glances being thrown my way with that implicit abuse “you aurrrrat!”. The other day I had gone to a couple of banks to enquire about a loan. The response from the two men sitting behind their clerical desks was interesting. While, one of them turned his head sideways to talk to me (he probably thought he was being respectful by not looking at me), the other quite refused to look at me on my face but concentrating somewhere lower (ladies, take your guess!). Crossing my arms in front of me didn’t really help. After all, I was just a lone ‘aurat’ without a male to accompany me.