Jan 31, 2021

The Myntra Controversy

 

Reading this article about Myntra’s logo, I pondered, “Does it make sense? How is it derogatory for women?”  

 In fact, I appreciate the creativity of the designer, and don’t tell me that Myntra chose letter -M to signify this, it may be an opportunity they capitalised on but never promoted or bragged it. 

For me, at least, I never noticed it till this morning. 

Raised by an NGO activist, this complaint must have got over nerves of the company. Believing that such images will tarnish women’s image, objectify them and prevent their freedom is foolishness. In fact such news and complaints promote this very conservative belief. 

Seeing anything for the first time excites people, makes them curious. Imagine why a boy from a small town ogle a girl from a metro city. That happens in the beginning, but when he lives in the metro everything becomes normal, as if normalcy always existed. 

This is a normal tendency and happens with you, me and everybody, and here if such images become frequently visible to society then it can kill this conservative belief.

 A belief of a society or a culture is never driven by extreme punishable acts like molestation and rape, but by such people who do not give equal rights to women in their daily lives. Ordinary people and women have that responsibility to change this situation in their households, only then can we kill it in the society. We, comfortably, blame offenders (of women and government) for this situation and inequality in gender. But let us look at our own Indian households-

Old ladies of 1980-90s never allowed their daughter-in-laws to step out from their homes.(I ignore 1-2% outliers) Forget home, ladies were to cover themselves from head to toe. And young girls or ladies did not object because it synced with their upbringing. This was a normal life for them. 

Even today, a well-educated woman living in a nuclear family with husband would cover herself completely when she goes to her in-laws place. Some women can also deny by saying that they do it to respect them. I agree. Old people think their respect holds good if the women of their home cover herself from head to toe. I wonder how such people would have ogled Mahabharata women characters where none of them were seen covering their heads. 

Today’s Myntra incident is another step of cementing such misogynistic belief. It is about a belief that this society of both men and women support. Changing this preconceived belief can kill this inequality.

Although, release of certain laws by government has helped this situation:

1) Equal property rights for daughter and son

2) Right to daughter to cremate their parents

3)Ban of Triple talaq

And needless to mention, initiatives by corporates have also helped to infuse gender equality.

Initiatives like women’s day is in craze these days may be because we believe that it supports feminism. It encourages women to come out from their shell, express and celebrate. But does it not also indicates that women will only have one day of their freedom and expression? Does that mean rest of the other days belong to men? 

 A potential solution: Either, we celebrate Men’s day to balance it, or we abolish Women’s Day.


At last, women have to play a greater role to claim their equality. They should not depend on men to do it. Muscle power is no more in vogue. All power lies in thoughts and its expression. Below image shows the same.



This post is part of Blogchatter's CauseAChatter

Jan 26, 2021

One Arranged Murder- Book review



I picked up Mr Bhagat’s book to check what is it that makes him sell so many books. The conclusion was not unexpected though; the name sells not the book or the story, and it would be difficult to understand with just one book as what goes behind is often invisible. 

But before I dig into other aspects, let us take a quick look into One Arranged Murder. 

This whodunit story opened up with Prerna’s death. She fell from her terrace on the night of Karvachauth. With that starts the investigation of her murder, Saurabh, her lover, and Keshav along with police investigates this Karvachauth Murder case. All throughout the mystery, Bhagat has tried to indict social messages. For example, Saurabh’s character was used to let the reader know the ill effects of obesity and how foodporn was an addiction in an obese's life. In several instances, other current topics like farmer’s issue of India and the usage of google map and Uber were discussed. The reason I believe might be to help reader relate with their day-to-day life. This mystery book was written under these backdrops along with the family secrets and drama that ran in the Malhotra family. 

Writing is simple, anybody should be able to understand the language. Narration didn’t impress me much, for it never gripped me with its descriptions of other aspects apart from the central plot. Willing to leave the story in between, I continued and finished with an urge to know how the book was written. 

There were several characters- Sourabh, Keshav, Anjali, Prerna, Ramesh, Bindu, Neelam, Singh, ACP, Aditya, Maajee, and each character addresses one another with their relation like Bhai, Maajee, Virjee, etc. The mention of Virji was overused and frustrated me, rest was ok.

Sourabh, Prerna’s lover was not sad on her fiancee’s death, and moved on pretty quickly, maybe to let the reader think of him as one of the suspect, but that emotion of sadness I felt needed more space in the plot.

 Body-shaming reference was overused, so much so that it irritated me.  I could understand that the author attempted to inspire people to remain healthy, but it became redundant. I can now relate why Mr Bhagat is regularly posting his running pics on Instagram handle. His social interaction is doing the job of inspiring the people but not the book.

Multiple reference of eleven minutes also didn’t go well with me. I can only guess if this is an intentional reference to Paulo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes, and if that is true then it is not good. The targeted readers of this book will not even realize this disguising analogy. Other references include that to a brief description of google map utility and uber which was ok. Even a brief description of farmer’s issue is also ok as the author did not stretch it much like the foodporn issue.

I liked the unfolding of the mystery, but the reason for killing is not big enough or I should say cliched and overused in many Bollywood movies. In between, the story tries to confuse you about the suspect. It went well as I could not guess the killer till the end. 

What interests me is the research behind unravelling of the mystery in such stories. This one had a good reference, but the plot escaped the research that could have been described well. The research that could have gone down to funnel down to killer was entirely missing. It was pretty much straightforward, no explanation of experiment, reference to a laboratory, to a doctor , nothing was there.

I liked the ending, and sometimes the lasting impression shadows the overall image of the book. Review could have been nicer, but since I read it a while ago and therefore I had enough time to reflect about the theme.

However, a couple of lines I liked in the book is 

Buddha said, "What's better? The mosquito doesn't bite you at all, or that it does and you get to scratch it?"    


Bhagat has realized that mystery as a genre can keep his fortunes for a long time. Probably one reason he started writing in this genre. Before anyone reads his books, one thought should be kept in mind- the book is written purely for Indian readers, but not all Indian readers, only for those who don’t read many novels or books. For the people who would end up reading one or probably two books in a year, and who are not aware of what all is available in the bookish diaspora.. Before I say something, let us look into how many such people exist in India. 25% of youth population (15 to 24 years) exist in India (source google) which is a great number and off that , may be 5-8% will be regular readers, and rest are his targeted audience. A big number. This one and his fantastic marketing strategy paid off well and will continue to pay off for some more time.

I became pretty sure that I am not his targeted reader, so can not say if it is a wonderful book or not. If any of the Bhagat’s targeted reader doesn’t like the book, then book might have not served its purpose. I have a feeling that his targeted people would like the book. I have some friends who liked it. 

I think I am the targeted audience for his Instagram handle, but not the book. 

At last, I recommend this book to all the people who don’t read enough books, have a fear whether they could read a book without a dictionary, want to read but don’t know how to start? All Bhagat’s books will be great to start with.

Will I pick up his books again? Maybe yes, after some time, just to check the buzz and the strategy of his books.


Grab it, Bhagat's targeted readers, I am sure you will like it.

 

Jan 15, 2021

A New Hope- Fiction 500

 


The sun blazed Amay’s eyes as he rode to office. Shadowing his eyes with left hand, he was moving cautiously at 30 km/hr on a seemingly vacant but damaged road. The image of white diamond Swift sedan popped in front of him. He decided that the car was worth to have in such weather and rough roads.

But, one hand could not stop the sun glare as his fingers became a slit. Cursing the hard sun while imagining himself in that white car, he got a sudden jerk on his back. The bike swerved, his one hand grip loosened, eyes lost track, and the bike plunged. Before even he could grasp anything and regain control, a mini truck coming from behind ran over his right leg. The next moment was as if he was a metal sheet between the jaws of a press machine, he felt the sudden pain till his yield strength and then everything went black, to nothingness, his leg like the metal sheet was cut into two pieces. The raging fire like that of a hot boiler was killing his right leg, and he became unconscious.

“ How are you feeling” enquired the doctor. The truck driver who ran over his leg brought him to the nearby hospital, but it was not before 24 hours that he got to senses. Although doctors performed an immediate treatment on his leg.

His fate is going to play with his wish.

“I am feeling good about the car, and now I will also have a comfortable ride to the office.” The doctor was dumbfounded, his eyes were still closed, and he spoke about the car. There was nothing doctor could do, but wait for him to gain conscious.

After a few hours, the attendant sitting outside his room hears loud noises, as if Amay has seen a ghost. He went inside only to find that Amay was awake and realized his right leg was no more like before.

Earlier, the infection had spread in his leg, and it was imperative to amputate his right foot.

Later, the doctor explained him the situation. Amay heard everything with a stern face. It was a shock for him and sucked his entire energy. He only has two options now, either to buy a car or to get a prosthetic leg. The money saved can only have 1 of these two. Having lost from his fate, he had no other option but to choose prosthetic leg.

Submerged in these lowly thoughts, he impulsively picked up a paperback kept besides his hospital bed: “Lifeline-Will they ever succeed?” It was a story that could give anybody a new hope, and Amay became its proof. Rejuvenated, Amay gladly agreed for the prosthetic leg, and vowed to work hard again to buy that white diamond sedan.


Jan 8, 2021

A Man Called Ove- Book Review



Why I chose this book?

I check out books recommended by celebrities or prominent individuals as sometimes you could get your hands on books like this gem- “ A Man Called Ove”. 

First, I noticed this book on Twinkle Khanna’s Instagram. Following  such people who read has always been good for me.

 Extraordinary  Goodreads rating of 4.35/5  in 505,076 ratings  convinced me to download the Kindle sample and check the book out. This was some months back. For some reasons I kept on procrastinating it, but then I ended my 2020 with this one by Fredrik Backman.

Fredrik Backman? 

Fredrik Backman is a Swedish blogger, columnist and author. His debut novel A MAN CALLED OVE was a number 1 bestseller across Scandinavia, has sold over 1 million copies worldwide, was a Richard and Judy summer read in the UK and an instant New York Times paperback bestseller, and has been made into an acclaimed film. Fredrik's subsequent novels, also went straight to number 1 in Sweden on publication.


Is this close to becoming one of my favorite books?? Yes, it is very close. It’d have been my best book if I’d have read it a decade back. At the end, you compare books with your best reads (those are probably your initial reads as a beginner) and the impression at that time becomes an indelible one.

The greatness of the book is understood by the number of ratings it has on Goodreads. The book by all means was appreciated by many seasoned readers, which is an arduous task for an author in today’s flat world. 

My gratitude to Author Fredrik Backman for penning down such a marvellous book and telling a sad story in a humourous way.

This is a story of Ove, an old man, who lives by his ethics, is down to earth, and believes in doing things on his own. Compelled to retire because of a health issue and grieved by the loss of his wife, he found it painful to live in this society, and every other day tried to commit suicide. But his life took a dramatic change when a boisterous pregnant lady and her family moved in as his neighbor. He would keep on making suicide attempts, would fail, and the story would move forward.

Author has painted the entire landscape of the urban society through Ove’s lens.Below lines will give a macro view of his thought:

"Nowadays people changed their stuff so often that any expertise in how to make things last was becoming superfluous. Quality: no one cared about that anymore."

"This was a world where one became outdated before one's time was up. An entire country standing up and applauding the fact that no one was capable of doing anything properly any more. The unreserved celebration of mediocrity.

No one could change tyres. install a dimmer switch. Lay some tiles. Plaster a wall. Submit their own tax accounts. There were all forms of knowledge that had lost their relevance.."

No comparison stands good of him and people of a succeeding generation, so to say, you can see the changing landscape of the society irritated him.

This line from the book describes him totally:

Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say’ 

He was a man of his words and, truly; he liked Saab, and judged people based on their actions and choices.

What makes this character interesting? 

People whom you would not like in first meeting, or bluntly, you would hate them, such is the character of  Ove. But as you understand him, his struggles, sad story and happy past, you start loving him.

I think  everyone can relate to him at a certain point in a story. You may not need to be old as the reactions of Ove to life situations is sometimes very realistic and to the point. 

Another aspect that makes this stand apart is the way author described his emotions. For eg

" And when she giggled she sounded the way Ove imagined champagne bubbles would have sounded if they were capable of laughter"

And then this one:

' Corrugated iron?' he says to himself, as if tasting the word, like someone who's just woken up and is intensely trying to remember what he's been dreaming.


Did you get it? Description of emotions in such a subtle way makes this book an international bestseller. One of the reason that I liked this book.

And then this one won my heart, and made me realize love in a new and a unique way:

" He decided that maybe her inability to be on time was not the most important thing."

Here, he referred to the inability of his wife to be punctual....


The story moved forward with such finer details of Ove’s past and present. The intention of author was to share any related past incident or memory that would help the reader follow the present scenario, and in the process would also add a layer of characterisation to Ove. It worked pretty well. 

Author has also tried to portray the bond or lack of it between neighbors. How they can change one’s life or can make it miserable.  Initially he disliked the intrusive nature of his neighbors but at the end he started liking them like a family. Prior to that, he only liked people primarily whose choices of a car were a Saab or a Volvo.

The book is written in third person, and in past and present tense as it talks about Ove’s past and present life. I liked the narration. Each chapter is like an incident from Ove’s life, and the chapter’s name is the title for that incident.

What one can learn from the book>

  • We should do our own work, I know this is a debatable topic as outsourcing gives you time to invest in something else. But, even then it holds good.
  • Principles are very important in one's life. We all should try to do what we say.
  • We should help others selflessly in our own capacity.
  • Neighbors can sometimes become more than family also.


A movie was also made on this book. But do read it before you watch the movie. On the whole, I recommend this book to every one, and especially to contemporary authors and writers.

Read other book reviews here

Happy Reading :)