Baahubali 2 Wowed Me


Baahubali 2 wowed me but not mainly for the visual effects (which are great) or the fight scenes. I was bowled over by the portrayal of Devasena’s character and her love story with Baahubali.

There has been criticism of the portrayal of the love story between Shiva and Avantika in Baahubali 1. I noticed that Avantika turns from a warrior to a docile ‘my Shiva will do my job‘ after falling in love. Looks like the director did take note of the criticism.

Note: No spoilers ahead.

Why was I so happy? Because for the first time in a mainstream Indian movie:

  • The woman is the same before and after falling in love/marriage. She does not tone down in her retorts or become obedient and servile.
  • She dares to talk back to her boyfriend/fiancé/husband ‘s mother in front of everyone several times and there are no repercussions from her partner.
  • Her partner never once says – ‘You need to apologize  to my mom‘ or ‘She is like that. She is old. Forgive her and adjust‘. Not once.
  • The guy is a total momma’s boy from the beginning but he dares to oppose his mother in the court in front of everyone in support of his wife/fiancée/girlfriend.
  • He still stands by his wife even when his mom ignores him and stops talking to him.
  • Arrogance in a woman is not punished.

Usually, the only women who can get away with arrogance or talking back in Indian movies are villains or women who don’t get the guy in the end (think Padayappa). The lead women usually don’t talk back like that after falling in love. Of course, the rest of the movie goes into clichés like having men to the rescue and revenge.

The reason it is so ground breaking in my eyes is because everything from popular culture to our society don’t endorse or showcase such behaviour. It is always about respect and blind obedience to one’s parents. I have heard a lot of times about how Indian (and other Asian) sons do not support their wives or speak up for them in front of their families and instead tell their wives to adjust or along the lines of ‘sorry, I can’t do anything‘. Check IHM’s or Madh mama’s blogs for examples of letters from women whose husbands don’t support them and instead keep mum when it comes to their parents.

I tried to think of an Indian movie where a similar thing happens and I could not think of any. Do you think there are other examples in Indian movies where the lady is rude/talks back to her partner’s parents and still has her partner’s full support and is not portrayed as reformed or remorseful after that?

The Art of Small Talk


I am so tired of the shit I have to hear in the name of chit chatting from absolute strangers.

As much as I do not like generalizing about cultures, I have experienced this here so much that I have now made a conscious decision to avoid initiating any conversations with people outside of the business I am there for. I loved to talk to people to learn more about their lives  and society but these talks have started getting on my nerves and I was pushed over the edge last week after hearing the same thing several times in a row.

I get this from everyone – people manning food/drink stalls, taxi drivers, doctors, people on the road asking for donations, people taking surveys at exhibits, workshops, at bus stops, in malls etc.

These are the questions and comments I encounter from people I have met for the first time in the name of small talk:

  1. Are you a citizen or a foreigner? In these exact words. Because they can’t tell. Uncle never gets this question because white skin = foreigner. How does this matter to a guy who is trying to collect donations for a charity? He told me he was trying to know me.
  2. Which country are you from?
  3. Why are you here if you are a foreigner?
  4. What kind of a visa are you on? The type of visa can easily help you determine my salary range.
  5. How long have you been here?
  6. Did you apply for permanent residence/green card?
  7. If it is a citizen, they go on to tell you to do this, apply for job here, on how easy it is to get a visa/PR, to keep trying blah blah. Unless you are working in the immigration or the highest levels of the government, I am not looking for advice from people who are not in the my/Uncle’s fields on job applications. You are a citizen and you have never had to apply for a visa here. You absolutely are not aware of the terms for visa application and when it is granted. I don’t know why people feel it is okay to give unsolicited advice. Like telling us, we didn’t get it because we did not try enough or do things properly.
  8. If it is a person who got a green card, they go on to make a judgement of your suitability for application of green card like they are the immigration officer. There are so many factors for getting one (none of it is listed btw) and just because they were lucky to get one 15 years ago, does not mean that the situation is exactly the same now. Also, people are shocked that I would even consider leaving the country because according to them this is the best place because they have a green card. They tell me that I should keep on trying forever until I succeed. Why the hell would we want to continue staying when one of us (I/Uncle) cannot get a visa long-term?!

I AM JUDGING YOU

Let me demonstrate some of the incidents where I am asked these questions.

Incident 1

I went to the doctor and she is east Asian and she told me she felt like a second class resident in Australia and so she took up citizenship here. She started advising me on how good this country is and why I should not move out despite that fact that we are having issues with getting visas. What  are we supposed to do? Become illegal immigrants? I didn’t point out the fact that she feels comfortable here because she belongs to the majority race here while I am not. It is quite easy for her to feel like a first class citizen because she is in the majority here.

Incident 2

I was walking by and there was this donation drive. A guy stops me and asks me if I am a citizen. Which visa I am on? What am I doing here? I asked him how all this was relevant to what he wanted to talk about? Oh, I was just getting to know you. I could see he lost face. How in the world does my passport or visa help you know me? It just helps you put me in a box, you will never take me out of. People need to get better questions to ask.

Incident 3

I was at a free exhibit, when a lady (clearly from a government department) asks me if I would take a survey on visitors to the exhibit. I was like okay because I am aware that they need  to show some data collection. The questions in the survey are

Q1 – Are you a citizen/PR/foreigner on visa A/B/C?

Q2 – Age? I gave a range and she wanted the exact age and she put an age she preferred. You ask any woman here her age and she will for the life of you never tell you. The moment they are over 30, they are start claiming  – I am 16/18 forever ha ha ha but they will not tell you. So, I don’t get how that question got an approval.

Q3 – How did you hear about us?

Q4 – Occupation? How does it matter for checking out a free exhibit?

Q5 – Your salary range?

I politely told her that she needs to provide feedback to her superiors that these questions are very invasive. How does my salary matter for checking out a free exhibit? That is so dumb.  She totally lost face.

How would she feel if I were to meet her on the train and start asking what her highest educational qualification was or what kind of house/flat she lives in because I can easily determine her wealth status from her housing type. Wouldn’t that be invasive coming from a stranger? She was like she would be totally fine with it (Asian justification tactic alert. Never admit the problem and make lame excuses). She tried to justify on how income correlates to mentality but I told her that income/education need not correlate to a certain mentality. Maybe it did, 50 years ago but not now. Some of the most racist/ignorant/crappy people I have met here are people who earn a lot and better educated that an average person. They have travelled to USA, Europe, Australia etc and yet are some of the most ignorant people on the planet while people who are not high earners (in their definition) have been pretty egalitarian and less racist. This is totally judging people based on their incomes and boxing them.

Incident 4

Even the library system flashes in capital letters that I am a FOREIGNER. It really flashes in large capital letters! Why does it matter? A library member is a member irrespective of their visa.

Incident 5

Taxi driver telling us that we should apply for this job here and there and that we should apply for green card in this way or another. He is not even remotely in our field.

I am so tired of such stupid invasive questions/comments from strangers when people in this culture will never reveal anything about themselves even if you have known them for months. For example, they will tell someone of their own race about their boyfriend but will never admit to you that a certain guy is their boyfriend. Instead, they will correct you when you say boyfriend and tell you that he is ‘a friend‘. My colleagues of 2 years will not tell me where they went for a holiday because I am not one of them #samerace. They will have bitter arguments with other colleagues but will still tell them about their holidays because #samerace.

All this coming from a culture that is so non-inclusive, you will never be in their insider circle even if you have known them for a bazillion years because you are not one of them. I don’t get why such a society feels justified in asking invasive questions.

I have been to several states in USA (not in the last 1 year) and I have had so many conversations with strangers without being asked once about my visa status. I find it ridiculous that I am asked that question regularly here, everywhere I turn from people who have no legal authority to do so.

I am sure that there are better ways to chat and get to know people.

i dont need to your visa

Weird Things About Pokémon Anime


Last updated on 31 Aug, 2016.

I shall update this post as I watch more episodes.

I started watching Pokémon anime because of Pokémon Go. I liked the TV series and found it quite funny but there are some weird things in there and I am sure, I don’t get some things due to cultural differences. However, I am really glad that they did not edit it out when the series was dubbed in English. I wonder if these would be considered kid appropriate even though all the kids were watching it.

The weird things don’t make me want to stop watching this series because I really enjoy it and it makes me laugh. It is cute and heartwarming and has some lessons thrown in. Besides, I love these little quirks 🙂

Season 1

  • 10-year olds leaving home to be trainers alone in the world! Hey, it is a fictional world. Anything is possible.
  •  Ep. 20 (Beauty & the beach)

Ash meets his mom after 2 months on the road and they never hug or touch! His mom was physically closer to the prof. throughout the episode than to her own son. Ash always hugs his pokémon though!

Same episode, there is a beauty contest and only this part is still in Japanese and not dubbed. James (a guy) who is dressed as a woman and claims his beauty does not lie in a man. He often likes to dress as a woman. Maybe, a great introduction to kids about gender fluidity and cross dressers?!

Then, James says ‘service, service’ in Japanese (It said service in the subs) and presses some button on his bikini and his breasts inflate a lot.

Everyone cheers for them and James holds his large breasts and says to Misty (who is around 13-14 years old) – ‘You participated 10 years too early’! Look at Misty’s face – She is devastated by this!

 

pokemon
; The subtitles say:You participated 10 years too early!

Note – Points 3,4,5 are from the same beach beauty contest scene. 

  • Ep. 34 The Kangaskhan Kid was super bizarre.

Fathers dangling 3 year olds from the windows of a helicopter and accidentally dropping the baby in the jungle.

The kids carrying 2 adults on a palanquin kinda thing because the adults don’t want to walk in the jungle.  Why couldn’t they drive?

Misty smacking a kid who barely reaches up to her waist.

The father hitting his 6/7 year old with a wooden log on the head! Then, all characters justify it as a good thing because it helped bring his memory back ha ha.

When the kid regains consciousness, the father opens his coat and shirt, shows his bare chest and asks ‘My boy, remember papa?’! What was that for, I wonder he he.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 12.40.18 PM.png
Tommy, my boy
Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 12.41.19 PM.png
Remember papa?

These adults who cannot even walk in the jungle because it is too hard decide to live in the jungle forever.

  • Ep 47 A Chansey operation

The adult male doc says ‘I can never say no to a pretty face‘ when Misty pleads for them to treat Pikachu. It is not like he is calling her a cute little kid but more in an adult dating kinda way (she must be around 12-14 years old). Even Misty confirm this when she comments to Brock ‘Looks like the doc is not the only one who likes pretty faces‘ because Brock is hitting on every single woman he can find.

  • Ep. 48 Holy matrimony

The underground room where rich Jessie tries to make James a ‘gentleman’ seemed to hint toward BDSM from the stuff in the room to the way rich Jesse and Jame’s parents talked.

The Need for Independence & Control


I was reading Atul Gawande’s ‘Being Mortal’ when this hit me.

The author discusses how old people became depressed being in old age homes as there was loss of independence and privacy. They were being treated like kids – the home tells you when to get up and when to eat and what to eat. This is why assisted living in the original sense (the author talks about how assisted living as a concept changed over years) became popular because people could live in their own home by their own rules. The medical system and the oldies families were concerned with safety while the old peoples were more concerned about living the way they pleased with nobody dictating their lives.

If human nature strives for independence and control which is evidenced by research and old people are so unhappy about being told what to do, what about the countless daughter-in-laws (DILs) and sons in traditional societies who never get to be independent?

The moment the DIL comes into the family, everyone from her husband’s mother to father to other relatives take it upon themselves to show the DIL her place. They tell her what to cook, what to wear, when she can go out and even, if and when she can talk to her own parents. For the sons, unless they have studied/worked in another city, many of them never get the opportunity to explore their own tastes or desires. For the couple, they often do not get to explore setting up their own house or creating a home with their own rules. Often, it is about assimilating into somebody else’s home. 

On top of it, the in-laws and the husband are surprised when the DIL is upset about ‘trivial things’ like the colour of the curtains and wonder why she can’t ‘just adjust and give in’. That is because nobody likes being made to live their entire life according to another person’s whim and fancy. Yes, one could argue that one has to follow laws but everyone likes to have a semblance of control over their own lives to the largest extent possible as an adult.

Also, we (I sometimes do) often tend to go into parent mode with our parents as they grow older. Something we need to work on avoiding. 

Food for though for older people who wish to control their kids and their spouses lives. They may obey but they are not happy and this is why. If you are a DIL who feels irritated but can’t find anything wrong, this is why. Our societal norms are so ingrained in us that it is difficult to articulate what feels wrong. If you are a husband whose spouse complains about your mom/dad/sis/relative picking on her and you can’t get why she is so upset, this is why.

Give space and freedom to adults because that is how we are meant to be. How can one truly lead a fulfilled life if they do not get to live an independent life?

The Need For Approval From In-Laws


The Need For Approval From In-Laws

Why do women have such a strong need for approval from their in-laws?

As I listen to upset women about how their in-laws did not like this or that and read emails from women talking about issues with their in-laws, I really wonder why none of these women talk about their husbands or their parents in the same manner. 

“My dad was not happy because I don’t do puja every day”.

“My mom does not approve  and made remarks that I do not wake up at 5 AM daily.”

“My husband is not happy that I wore a dress today”.

No. I never hear those words from married women. It is almost always my mother in law (MIL)/ father in law (FIL)/ Sister in law (SIL) did not like that.

Why are women socially conditioned into pleasing their in-laws? Do they really care more about their in-laws than their parents or husbands? We are not children dependent on our parents approval. Isn’t love from the husband, friends and family enough? Why do we have to be in the good books of our MILs and FILs as well? There is this strong unwritten social contract that the DIL shouldn’t rock the boat and a lot of women play by that. Add to that, a lot of husbands tend to keep quiet and not support their wives because they do not wish to rock the boat either and because they are not suffering as much because filial piety but this is a story for another day.

Let’s look at this way – if your best friend was dating a guy who was constantly critical and never approved of anything she did, would the most natural reaction be to tell her to try harder or to break up? Why do we ditch logic when it comes to this situation? Admitted, a lot of the older generation (especially Asians) are traditional and do not believe in praising and prefer criticism by virtue of being elder but is it even logical to start relationships like that? With criticism and disapproval? The older folks also need to think about that.

From my observations, even if it is an arranged marriage, many in-laws do not approve of their daughter in laws (DILs) and are extremely critical of them, no matter what they do. A DIL may do whatever they tell her to do but they would still find fault with her. The very fact that she is the DIL (aka lowest in the social order of family) is reason enough. If it is so obvious that your in-laws are never going to approve of you, why even bother seeking their approval? Why not just live the way it suits you because they are always going to find something to nitpick on? If it a love marriage, many parents feel that the DIL should bend backwards because they were benevolent enough to let their son marry her. Many DILs feel guilty because of all the drama and hurt that led to the love marriage and are willing to do a lot to be accepted by their in-laws  and to ensure that there is no further cause for complaint. Often, so many DILs dislike their MIL but most play along in order to avoid confrontation or due to lack of support.

My opinion is that getting along with the in-laws is the icing on the cake. The cake is your marriage. If you look around you would realise that it is quite difficult to have a great marriage as it is, so why add additional people to the equation and complicate your life? It is great if you can get along fantastically with your in-laws but if you can’t, I think it is no big deal. Women would never let their friends/relatives/colleagues walk all over them, the way many DILs let their in-laws do. I do understand that many people do not like confrontations but sometimes, we have to fight it out, set boundaries and cut out toxic relationships if need be. On an average, we form a relationship with our in-laws well into our adulthood. It is not like we invested the last 30 years of our life nurturing the relationship and have difficulties letting go. It is enough if we can be civil and sit through a dinner without yelling or scratching each others eyes out.

“They are my husband’s parents, how can I stop talking to them?”

Yes, you can. You don’t have to engage in long conversations beyond civil greetings and polite meals. That does not mean that your husband should stop talking to his parents or your guilt trip him every time he talks to them. He can talk and visit all he wants. 

“I live in the same house as my in-laws.”

Please move out. In my opinion, moving out is one of the best things one can do for their marriage, especially if it is an arranged one where the woman doesn’t know her spouse well. I blogged about it here. Besides, we can’t get along with everyone in our class or in office. What do we do? Fight every time? No, we just be polite and avoid unnecessary interactions. Same in this case.

Involvement Interference from family and levels allowed is something a couple needs to discuss before marriage, especially if one or both partners is from a traditional or patriarchal culture. I am surprised at how DILS are caught by surprise when their husbands keep quiet or by how much his aunty has a say in your life. Most people avoid discussing these things but they need to be talked about. How much is the acceptable level of interference and how will your spouse protect you (from them)?

Is it okay if your mom dictates my clothes? Will you tell her not to bother me or keep quiet? Do they get to tell me to do puja daily? Can I refuse and answer back if I don’t agree with them? Can I refuse to cook if I am tired? Does my family have equal access to us like your parents? Do I get to argue the way  I do with my parents?

Of course, we have to be nice and kind like we treat all guests and people we meet for the first time. I am not asking you to start your relationship with your in-laws on the warpath. That doesn’t mean you let them walk all over you. It is way easier if you set your boundaries the first time something bothers you than wait for it to happen 20 times before you voice it out because people are conditioned to you obeying. Yes, voicing it out gives you the title of an arrogant/difficult DIL where the norm is obedient but it is a choice you have to make – get the good DIL badge of honor (which is never gonna come) or make choices that make you happy.

I really feel DILs should let go of the need for approval and acceptance from their in-laws. That is really one of the most liberating things we can do. There is no badge for the perfect DIL but not giving a shit about people who don’t approve does improve the quality of your life dramatically.

Finding a Ziploc Bag


Our search for ziploc bags in Croatia started after Uncle realized that he had forgotten to pack them when we left. We thought that it was not a big deal because one can ziploc bags anywhere these days. We were stumped to find that it was very difficult to find ziploc bags in Croatia. Even the largest supermarkets or stationary shops did not have them! We looked in Zagreb and Split with no luck. We didn’t check Ikea though.

Instead we found this!

Finding Ziplocks in Croatia

Seal your own bag with rubber bands ha ha. We remarked about this to a friend and she told us how her non-Croatian friends could not get why she couldn’t just use ziplocs.  This is why!

Next time you go to Croatia, bring your own ziploc bags! Really weird but true!

Serving Water in Restaurants


Last night, we were at a Japanese place and there were wet tissues on our table. Uncle used one as it was there. The waitress counted the wet tissues we used and added it to our bill! We were so shocked, I told them they were sneaky and cheating people because it is not indicated that it is chargeable. Why keep it on the table if it not for free?! She told us we were the first people to complain about this and that every restaurant does this ha. I hate the sneaky ways restaurants here charge for everything from water to tissues and add it to your bill.

Another pet peeve of mine is (east) Asian restaurants don’t serve tap water to patrons and always charge you for it which I find ridiculous. I haven’t been charged for drinking plain water in restaurants in India/USA/Europe unless I specifically wished to buy bottled water. If tap water of a country is drinkable and affordable, why not serve for free? As if it’s not enough that they charge for it, they serve it in tiny glasses which have to be constantly refilled and the servers keep making you wait for it. God help you, if you badly need water.

Once, we went to a restaurant as a part of an office meeting. When I asked for water, they said they do not serve tap water. I asked them if they could take a glass and just fill from the sink tap, they plain refused because ‘it is not part of their policy’ and if you want you can only buy San Pellergrino water. Nothing else. I thought that was extremely snobbish and bloody wasteful to have water shipped all the way from Europe. Same with another Thai food chain. They used to serve free water. Then they started charging for it. Then, they stopped serving tap water. If one wants, they need to buy bottled water or nothing else.

It is such a snobbish and so environment unfriendly and I am always surprised when people defend this bullshit practice, much less support it.

The only saving grace is that Indian and western (if they are not run by east Asians) serve free water.

Does complaining about being charged 50 cents for water make you a cheap skate? Does drinking/serving only bottled water from Europe make you posh? Do people just accept this because it is a norm in these societies? Do they keep quiet to avoid confrontation? Do most people give a shit about the environment? (No, they don’t give a shit).