Reality Check!?!?

As usual my random browsing brought me to this page -Smoking (also posted below)

Both the posts (basically fwded stuff) on that page are hilarious and somewhere in the ocean of words there is also a ring of truthfulness. A must read -for all the women who are aspiring to marry the “much sought after” IIT-IIM grads, for all those grads who think they are "much sought after" marriage material, for those (women and men) who on a very general basis (there are always exceptions) completely distrust and dislike them (you will relate to it I promise) and for all those individuals(not just the IIT-IIM grads) who think they have a hallo around their heads because....

Managing IIMs

I like them. I enjoy their company. I'd count some among my good friends. But I couldn't handle them in large doses, and I emphatically could not live with one of them. Yes, I speak here of my own secret brand of bigotry-my deep-seated visceral mistrust of the Intellectual Indian Male (IIM).

Yes, I know generalisations are odious. They flatten rich, complex, idiosyncratic individuals into faceless homogeneity. I accept that's unfair. So let me clarify at the start that all I'm venturing here is a hypothesis-and one based on my own circumscribed personal experience of Indian mankind of the self-consciously cerebral variety. And anyway, given that women are constantly having to negotiate cliches about dumb blondes and hairy-legged feminists and bespectacled plain Janes, I don't see why I shouldn't run the risk of perpetuating a couple of truisms from an ovarian view of the universe. Let me first make a crucial distinction between the average thinking male and the IIM. In my book, the first is simply a man capable of some reflection, some analysis, of generating a few ideas (some inspired, some average)-basically a man who owns a cerebrum, like the rest of humanity, and uses it when he needs it. The IIM, on the other hand, Owns a Cerebrum-and how. He'll never let you forget it. He can't forget it himself. He struts it, he flaunts it, he jiggles it. He owns it with a ferocious zamindari arrogance, a naove self-consciousness, a Born-Again zeal.

His ancient forbears' primitive fetishisation of the penis has simply been replaced with a new-found reverence towards the new totem of the times: the Cerebral Cortex. The IIM has demarcated it, has set up his flags, manicured its hedges, careful to keep out any marauding impulse from the neighbouring vicinity of the cerebellum and hypothalamus. For the IIM has no use for these lesser cognitive mechanisms, these embarrassing throwbacks to a messy non-rational past.

Not surprisingly, the wilful schism between old brain and new brain has given rise to certain brands of convenient schizophrenia. And so the IIM is used to living like the Grand Trunk Express-in compartments. The divide between the boardroom and bedroom, between seminar room and locker room-these are some of the binaries the IIM thrives on. The IIM is fully capable of delivering a lecture, replete with bibliographical flourishes, on Lukacs' concept of reification, and promptly retiring to the Gents to share a lascivious wink with a fellow-lecturer on the proportions of the female chairperson's posterior. The IIM can offer you a cogent critique of the manifestations of patriarchal hegemony in diverse cultures of the globe. (His speeches about the Indian woman's Right to Orgasm have, in fact, a tinge of testosteronal hysteria that women are immediately wary of.) But question him about his family life, and you're likely to find that on an annual vacation back home, his wife spends three weeks at his parents' place, while he drops in for a token weekend at hers'.

Double standards. Mention the phrase in his presence, and the IIM will take instant umbrage. Catch him on a Sunday morning doing the crossword with his feet up, while his wife makes aloo parathas in the kitchen, and he'll shrug it off with, "I hope you aren't one of those politically correct feminists who doesn't understand that life is all about inconsistency and contradiction." Fair enough. But how about grappling with some of those contradictions, instead of blithely accepting those that suit you? The IIM won't deign to answer. He has his mind on higher things. He's busy plotting new paradigms for planetary perfection, while his wife sews on buttonholes and attends PTA meetings.

He's earned the right to be sensitive now. He can talk for hours about his childhood traumas and adolescent angst. He's allowed to sniffle through war movies. He enjoys these privileges to the hilt, and loves to tell you about his sensitive female side (IIMs are notoriously deluded.) But his wife hasn't yet earned the right to be smarter than he is. Woe betide her if she were to find fault with one of his learned monographs, or suggest that their second kid take on her surname. For when a self-conscious sensitivity gets together with a self-conscious cerebrum, what you get is an outsized case of self-absorption, a narrow self-serving intellectual sophistry. Knowledge for the IIM is about acquisition. It's about grasping and jealously hoarding a body of information with a view to monopolising power. The self and knowledge are two entirely separate categories for the IIM. Learning, consequently, isn't about self-enquiry and internalisation; it's about naked colonisation and annexation.

I have a private litmus test by which I separate the regular thinking bloke from the IIM. The strategy is to mix up contexts and see how he reacts. (The IIM simply cannot handle sudden shifts in register, especially when initiated by a woman.) Discuss rabi crops and Richard Gere, J. Krishnamurti and your grandmother's mango pickle recipe-all in the same breath. If he brightens up at the mention of James Joyce, but looks uncomfortable or furtive or lecherous (or worse still, emits one of those high-pitched, repressed, quintessentially Indian male giggles) at the mention of Jennifer Lopez, banish him forthwith to the IIM category. There is surely nothing more pitiful than the male who's intellectually bullworkered, but psychologically pre-pubescent.

Of course, he deserves sympathy. Don't give up on him. Befriend him, civilise him, edify him. Remind him that it's possible to be honest and open, even playful, about sex, without having to retreat into some furtive old boys' clique to ventilate a festering adolescent male fantasy. Remind him that there's a vast terrain between the head and the loins just waiting to be explored. Remind him that it's possible to own a mind without doing a tribal dance around it to prove that it's yours. And advise him to learn the following by rote-the fact that genuine liberalism has always been much more a matter of the gut, than the cerebrum.

Feminism in a different shade! (My fav of the two)

I know I am in deep, cranium-level shit when I find myself agreeing to cook, clean, care, lose weight on the ass, gain it on the breasts, earn a five-figure paycheck, tone down the hair, the laugh, the 'attitude', never abuse (i.e. verbal/ tobacco / alcohol), read management tomes, drape my head on hometown visits (his, naturally), act coy in front of his friends, gratified in front of mine, gush 'intellect' to his corporate colleagues, and homely inanities to his sisters, rear well-read children, love his body hair, balls, bedroom, boardroom, bathroom habits… and to the rest of the world… always appear a genial host, generous lover and genteel wife.

After all, I, a Girl from a Good Indian Family (GGIF), have netted a denizen of that hallowed 'double degree' Indian tribe for marriage, no less! This IIT/IIM (A) super achiever (also exemplary Husband Material) comes loaded with attitude, acclaim and a list of expectations, which I giddily ignore in the first wave of 'pure chemistry', and wallow morosely in during the later phase of 'pure logistics'! And the warning signals are building up slowly, like electrical sparks fizzing on a hot fuse…

When I affectionately call him a “bastard” (Hang on… that's not an abuse… in my immediate social neighborhood words like bastard, b**** and ones that rhyme, semi-rhyme with suck are veritable endearments; not a very venerated trait but what the hell, when in 'abuse arena' do as the slang slayers do!), the Man clams up like a grouchy oyster, throws a cold look, radiates a spine-chilling vibe and orders for the coffee bill (and I haven't even finished my cappuccino). The next hour is spent with me sniveling apologetically to explain, “When I say bastard, I don't mean bastard, really…” (Frigging shit… what do I mean… butterflies and basted butter?) After all, Good Girls especially from Good Brahmin Homes are not supposed to know about, forget say words like the aforesaid one! And yes they also do not smoke, drink, cuss, belch, have wrinkled elbows or wear cheap cotton bras.

I know I am swirling (and swallowing my pride, peace and personality) in a classic, vicious chapter of the Typical Indian Phenomenon. All Indian men (and not just Good Brahmin, Double Degree Boys) who trudge the arranged (and often love) marriage path come backpacking with an amazing Everest of preconceived notions about GGIFs. Of course, we GGIFs play up this image fervently with every 'good catch'... neurotically suppressing stress, stretch marks, squishy breasts, slobby Sunday habits, and prior sexual experience with a virginal, 'wifey' flair.

I mean, which guy has not asked his 'would be' if she has had affairs, and which girl has ever gone beyond: “Oh, it was just a crush, when I was 16.” Okay, so some of the more carefree, cosmopolitan ones like my friend, S would admit, “Look, I never asked you about your past, so leave mine alone.” Hell… she is never going to admit to 'Husband Material' that two months before she met him, she shacked up with delectable Danny from Delhi in the back of a Sumo and drove to Neemrana to spend a proverbial dirty weekend. Pot-smoking, nirvana-seeking M from Laidback Lucknow will never confess that after being 'forced' to say 'yes' to a submarine engineer from Ranchi, she stormed off to Manali (she works in the adventure travel industry) to lose her virginity in a fit of raunchy rebellion, succeeded, and promptly broke off her engagement to the stable, staid, 'seedha' engineer, who after just two meetings had started sending her love letters and asthma-inducing teddy bears (replete with red hearts and ribbons).

Army kid V, who falls in love and into bed faster than Madonna changes her look, warned me 'not to open my lips when he tries to kiss me, to act coy, to say 'no' at least five times before 'doing' the 'upper body' bit (again… in my social neighborhood there are distinct levels of foreplay, interplay and 'all the way', depending on the occasion and state of intoxication.) And there was to be absolutely no mention of drunken party smooches, steamy couplings with past beaus and heart-wrenching romances with all The Wrong Ones. After all, possessiveness is supposed to be a man's prerogative and GGIFs should be prepared to stoically sit through the banter of his boisterous bachelor days, when: “I just could not get enough of that stacked airhostess post the Chennai-Delhi-Mumbai flight.” Also, GGIFs do not know a crotch from a crochet, balls from a bulb, or their own libido's from lasagna.

Needless to say, I am the proverbial cold 'fish' with a lip-zipped libido as he fervently 'checks out my goods' by the cupful and the handful. Images of beau #2 sigh before me even as he prods, pillows and puckers into me… smooching to Silk Route's Dooba Dooba in a rain-railing-all-around car, hands cueing editing tapes and breasts at the same time, skin strawberry red with love bites… a passionate picture best not replayed while I lie prostrate, 'pure' and placid. All I confess to is being kissed against my will in Bangalore on a third-year college trip. After all, most 'Husband Material' men wear blinkers when it comes to their would-be's past… want to be or wanting to believe that they are the first conquerors on virgin territory… if only they knew of the secret explorations and hidden trails that have been undertaken here and there… yes... yes... there…

From sex to the saucepan… the Man also wants to know if I have any culinary experience. Having been in hostels for the better part of 27 years, Tarla Dalal I definitely am not! And all moms of Husband Material men invariably ask their prospective daughters-in-law if they know how to cook, while mentally sizing them up to see if they can keep her 30-year-old baby happy, healthy and slobbery over his hot curry, mixed vegetables and yellow dal ('arhar' -- that's his favourite one as I was promptly informed.)

On trips home, the nearest I had ever gone to a kitchen was to forage for besan to apply to my face. My parents had in vain entreated me to learn some 'housekeeping-homemaking-husband happy' skills. After a month of my mom's badgering, I signed up for a Mrs. Khanna's cookery class and learned all about exotic souffl├ęs and English soups (we students were doled out teensy-weensy bits of our hour-long endeavours to taste, while the rest was horded up for the Khanna clans daily feasts). Even as a single student/working woman, and consequently a media industry maverick, food or the lack of it is never an issue. At home, the maid obliges by going so far as to even peel my eggs, while I wallow in bed. Weekends mean survival on bread, butter and Maggi noodles, the staple diet of an entire tribe of hard-working hard-partying gals in metros. So when he pops the all-important question: “Do you know how to make chappatis?” I know I really 'knead' help on this one… Who the hell has time to make chappatis when chilled beer had sufficed so far? “No,” I rattled, “But I can learn; and I do know how to make English soups and souffl├ęs…” The last I hear is that he has instructed his married sister to live with us after marriage so that she can 'train' me to cook according to his taste. I growl and yelp long distance to my mom: “Mom, What am I getting into…?” My Homely Indian Mom assures me that learning to cook is as easy as baking a pie (now that I know!) And Man persists in letting me know that he expects warm, freshly cooked, healthy, high-fibre, nutritious meals (apart from my five-figure paycheck, of course!)

Next take the question of career. He sees no 'value' in what I do, badgers me about my career graph, my potential, my savings, my sanity… OK, so what if my resume looks like a frigging construction site, I don't need him to dig around it. GGIFs are but naturally professionally qualified (which I am), and should hold stable jobs (read: dead end). All his pals seem to have wives/girlfriends/mistresses who, to my mind, are shagging their bosses, if not acting like one in their high-tech startups. I glibly highlight my television stint as one glamorous roll in the arc lights, (leading him to believe that I am on a bra-sharing basis with the Malaikas, Sophiyas and Arundhatis.)

As an ex-PR person, I trump up the corporate strategy, media relations and image management jazz. In reality, all I (and every other PR professional) did was plug press releases, curse my clients and nurse migraines over blatantly plagiarised presentations. Oh yes, I also write… and am promptly given unasked-for feedback by him, “I think your feature lacks in-depth information”. Every time he grills me about my 'future career plans' I shrivel into a defensive little ball of throat-clenching explanations, promising to redo my resume, to look for that killer job, yes… yes… to “add value, exploit my potential, become a good resource (and not a rolling stone -- in plain management speak), to network, apply here, there, everywhere. Of course, god forbid, if I happen to get pregnant while surfing up the career ladder, I will have to take a break. “Yes, Yes, whatever you say,” I meekly and myopically agree.

Like I said, I know I am in deep, cranium-level shit! So why don't I tell him to take a hike? Why should I tie the knot (and my own noose) with this tight assed Typical Indian Man? What about my fantasy orgies with rugged bikers, sensitive musicians, droopy-eyed authors and hard muscled stray hikers? Am I over the hill at 27? Will my breasts need helium support in two years? Will I die a rocking old spinster? Won't I be better off than my best friend who married for love and little else (she had an abortion last year as could not afford a baby)? Will Silk Route still be music to my ears when I am shagging my married boss at 35, single and blissfully sex starved? What if my biker/musician/author/hiker never comes along? Or comes along and leaves me the nympho for some highflying nymph? Hell, I can fake innocence, learn to cook, drape my head, clean, care, lose weight on the ass, gain it on the breasts, earn a five-figure paycheck, tone down the hair, the laugh and the 'attitude', never abuse (i.e. verbal / tobacco / alcohol), read management tomes, drape my head on hometown (his, naturally) visits, act coy in front of his friends, gratified in front of mine, gush 'intellect' to his corporate colleagues, and homely inanities to his sisters, bring up well read children, love his body hair, balls, bedroom, boardroom, bathroom habits… and to the rest of the world… always appear a genial host, generous lover and genteel wife! Why… you ask? Because inspite of the blinkers, bullying, badgering, and blanket of body hair, I realize I am in love with this Typical Indian Man!


Raaga said...

I've read both these before, but enjoyed reading them again today. :)

I can so identify with the second essay :)

astha said...

very true.. the typical indian male should realise that the indian women have evolved from the closed door creeps to outgoing-enterprising females. With the exposure to the modern world, even females are aware about themselves and know, if not more, but substancially about the hidden topics.

Caffeinism said...

@ raaga- From where did you find my link?Thanks for dropping by.

@ astha-when did u start blogging?

Caffeinism said...

@ deba,astha-Hmm..actually Its feminism with a difference...wonder if u read it fully..its says in the end women put with all that because...u know...hence the reality check part.

Debaditya said...

i had my first conf call here today..
it's okey:-)

yeah.. i did not read the post fully:-(...

Raaga said...

I am me :)

fullmoononearth said...

I believe things are changing and for the good.

Caffeinism said...

@ Fme- yes they are..

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