What will the neighbours say?

I screamed yesterday at our ‘thief’ friend. We had been trying to locate him for a few weeks as he was looking after a beautiful writing desk of mine and we wanted to begin efforts to get it back. Unfortunately he sold it. To finance his lifestyle and he was not in the slightest bit sorry.

I was on the balcony when I realised he was on the phone justifying his actions. I literally screamed “you thief” and ran inside and took the phone and said “you thief, you disgust me”.

Today my actions are being reviewed.

The big concern seems to be what will the neighbours think and say about my actions.

No matter what I do, think, feel or say, the only issue ever that must be a priority is not being judged by the neighbours.

I kind of have had three years to get to know the rules, and still I find it hard to adapt.

If you are molested by my drunken friend, you must say nothing. If my friend steals money from us, you must say nothing. And ultimately, if a friend of ours, steals our furniture and sells it for a profit, and refuses to give us the money, you may not speak out. You may not be outraged or offended.

You as a woman, must not embarrass society, and clearly speak out when a person needs to actually hear the truth. You may not scold, or reprimand a thief.

Men can drink, dance and be Merry till dawn. Women may not express utmost fury or upset. It is all about agreements.

The woman must agree to let her man be. I can see that in many stale relationships, agreements are made over time. A woman may start to avoid having sex with her husband after twenty years and she may make excuses and retreat to the world of her children. The darling I have a headache, becomes a rejection that the man has to concede to. The many Gentle man that has been thwarted in this way, finds his solace in the world of ambition, work, money and a few pegs at night before he rests his tired head on the pillow. He has stopped reaching his hand out for a loving connection, and he has long stopped hoping for a tender touch of his wife’s hand.

These agreements have been made in the silence of the night. She prefers to not have sex, and she is at peace to let him be and have his few hard won pegs of whiskey each night. She no longer has to pretend and kiss his stale breath. It becomes a win-win, despite the slightly tragic lose-lose at the heart of it.

Personally, I have not yet made these agreements, nor did I ever imagine I would have to. We met later in life, and it was a blessed, holy-temple town prasad, truly a gift from the gods. We came in peace, to create something new, something of our own determination. A love marriage by definition breaks the rules of the past, and gives way to creating a way of life built without the rule book handed down by the ancestors, the elders, or indeed the neighbours.

We have a friend in Jaipur that I basically now see as the proverbial nosy parker neighbour. He is a well respected man, with a lot of self-given leadership qualities and rights, and he has repeatedly stated from his unchallenged pulpit of power, that I, the Western woman am an unsuitable match. That my problem is my defiance of ancient cultural entitlements. He has often declared that I refuse repeatedly to show understanding. That I do not grasp that a succesful marriage is based on these silent understandings.

That my refusal to live with relational understanding is the problem. If only I showed some real understanding, as a woman must, I would understand, and deeply respect that my man requires my approval and acceptance of his tendencies. I must understand, and not question his desires. If he wants to enjoy and participate in online porn, that is his frustration and I must show tenderness. That he does not wish to have sex with me, and that he feels no desire for me, I am supposed to simply show humility and understand that in spite of this, he is still a good, kind and gentle man and that I must find understanding within myself that my desire or expectation to have a private sexual life, is simply a wrong, faulty expectation.

It is a little joke with a couple of our friends that Sir has to be correct no matter what.

I am starting to see that whilst I may not agree, he is the ultimate over-reaching neighbour. I will find him wherever we run to. We can pack up and move to a different town, and start again, but the Moral Policeman archetype will soon come knocking on our door in another guise. He is the conscience that speaks to many. That says, What will the neighbours say. Do not try to make a life based on modernity, and do not try to make a life based on new ideals and hopes. Here, I am the life sucker of your dreams. I am real, and I have a lot more power than you will ever be able to reconcile.

I knew this archetype well in my earlier life. I knew the dream-buster well. The strict father figure, that we could project all our own small failings onto. If something lacked the strength and guts to see to fruition, there was always the imagined dream buster that could be blamed for the thwarted efforts. It was mean Daddy/Mummy that could hold in their steadfast hands the basket of blame. Thankfully, there comes a time, where those parent figures are seen for what they really are; our caretakers, who become old and frail, and simply offered love. They did not stop us, and we are gifted that true recognition, a grace, that the only person or thing that has ever stood in our way, is ourselves.

I know that when my bags are packed and it is time to move on, Mr Pulpit will rejoice and say, “See I was right, she was incapable of understanding”. He will see it as a personal victory, and be triumphant that another foreigner was reduced to the ultimate indignation of being exiled and discarded as just another bit of white trash.

I find myself asking again and again, at which point do I have to concede that this society, will continue to highlight that this man cannot choose me.

Whose life is this?


No Sex Please!


Big wake-up call.

Women of a certain age are not supposed to want/need or enjoy sex!

Men just want to relax after a hard day and have a couple of pegs and have a good night’s rest. They want to be left alone, do their own thing, and follow their own dreams.

They like and enjoy the terrain of pretty young things, and the decency that comes with simply appreciating the sweetness of flirtatious fun. It is less demanding, less exhausting, and far, far, less boring, stereotypical bullshit expectations, and therefore a curb on their freedoms.

Roast Potatoes

Seems to have been a year of examining so much of what we are not!

Brexit raised all sorts of unexpected questions, that I absolutely thought I knew the answers too. I was British, and we were European. And we welcomed Jews, Indians, Caribbean, and Commonwealth people. Hey, I came from one of those immigrant families. I knew all my life what my part of being British meant. Suddenly that all changed, and I was literally being told, I am not European, and the trolls would tell me that ideal was a Leftist plan and that I had lost the vote and no further right to confuse being British with being a European.

Scotland of course, voted not to go for Independence, but now are re-considering. Which in time will mean, that Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, will be entirely un-nited, and at best I will be English. I don’t even know what the English Flag looks like, and to be honest, have no clue who St. George is and who I am supposed to now pay my allegiance to.

The same enquiry process has been hard at work on a personal level. I was safe in a loving relationship with a modern sensitive man who supported the rights of the Gay and Transgender community. He was you know the progressive man, I search for all my life. I felt safe to explore those dusty feminist theories now, with the safety net of now living in a culture immersion pot of academia. I loved my husband, and I still wore pretty elegant silk Kurtas and tight jeans and make-up, you know this was okay. This was not about being angry or a fem-bot in biker boots.

I spent months being this kinda tamed Tiger and learning how to be not quite a domestic goddess, but certainly a softer, more feminine version of myself than any former time or place had governed. Hell, I even baked cookies, and hot chocolate muffins!

I spent a lot of this period of my life, gazing at the giant Neem tree, and giving my forever thanks to the Giant of a Man that had found this property, with it’s wall wandering peacocks, the dream safe and many windowed light penthouse for his sweetie-kutie, and I padded around in my shorts, loving those plants, giant creepers, and blooming roses that he built by hand a bamboo and net five hundred square foot garden room for. Everything was thriving. All I could see and register was this Abundance.

We laughed for more than two and half years that we might one day buy an oven. It was terribly commitment-like and we whispered long forgotten recipes that we would make for each other on cold winter nights if we ever got one. Our finances ebbed and flowed, and our commitment fear was real. Many months we simply would choose something entirely not home and hearth related to blow our cash on. We could afford it. We just kept quietly, peacefully averting the we really are a domesticated couple moment.

We did. It came. We romanced ourselves these past few months on a feast of oven hot great wonders. Sugar dusted ginger snaps, and oozing spicy pizzas, diced coconut fragrant Kerala tender oven roasted beef and stuffed peppers, bakes aubergines and endless chocolate cakes, lemon cake and anything possible cake that may rise, burn, or somewhere in the middle. And then there were the Roast Potatoes.

I have been away from the UK for nearly a decade, and there is very little I can bring to this All India celebration of Lights, religions, ancient traditions, modernity. I cannot go home to Kerala and try to invent the wheel. There is a huge two thousand member family, alive and kicking and there is a heirachy, this feisty Tiger knows well enough to not bring her Western woe or ways to try to change it. The bravest thing I ever did, was ask if I may have my tea in a larger cup!

I do not need to flaunt my Western ideals, and I mostly wear extremely conservative Indian clothing. I am pretty much most of the time, not only covered up, but looking respectable, charming and elegant. The old baggy jeans and tee shirts are strictly for out of India dusty bus rides now, and family and friends have no idea that part of my life exists. Seldom but not never do I put Corrine Ray Bailey on the sound system and blast and dance to Put your Records on, and mostly we listen to exquisite and ancient Karnatic violin and tabla. And yes, I even watch Tamil and Malayalam movies and laugh at the punch lines!  There are a few moments of brazen Western nakedness, and on our entirely discrete, covered, private, enclosed terrace, I may once a month run to hang some washing on the line in knickers!

Sometimes, I actually forget I am Western. I wear Yellow silks now more frequently if that is possible than a confirmed Europhile wears Grey and Black. I slowly, slowly, learned the rules. When to wear a sari, when to not. When to speak out, and mostly, when to not. I learned to buy enough books, and pens to hide in the bedroom when the men came for dinner. I mostly learned not to expect please, or thank you, and that to argue, or make a noise would lead to days of partner induced penance. I learned it all.

The thing about my husband, who says he is no good, is actually that he is very good. At everything. He was a National Kabbadi player. He is fast. He knows attack and defense. He is a gifted artist, and has been feted by the Newspaper for thirty years. Crowds flock to see his cutting edge Performance Art, and he is held in loving esteem from one end of India to the other. That is no joke.

In spite of his fame, he possesses enormous, almost biblical humility. A quiet, shy, persona that takes nothing from people, expects nothing from people, and gives everything. Truly, what is not to love about that.

He has become the better than me at everything kind of guy. The kitchen has always been his domain, and I was the sous-chef. I cut the vegetables, and peeled the garlic cloves, and I watched and took moment by moment instructions how to use certain spices, and how to run an Indian Kitchen. I had to learn how to wash rice, and which of the eighteen different lentils needed soaking and which did not. I learned how to wash clothes in buckets and had to learn the real art of rinsing. Likewise, I was trained, scrupulously watched over by a Mother in Law how to wash a plate and never, ever cause shame by leaving an infinitesimal trace of soap on any surface. Mostly, anything Western, was obviously, unskilled, useless and not spicy or tasty or relevant in this culture. There is some truth to that, and actually I have been okay with that.

I have very few weapons. And I have tried very hard not to use them. Really, hand on heart, my only really powerful weapon of love was a super creamy spinach and nutmeg pasta served steaming hot that could diffuse any drama, and the smile on that man’s face would fill my heart with that thing, that thing, you know, only love.

Recently, we went to visit family in the South. I achieved an epic qualification and was fully granted permission from the Mother to clean the kitchen after one of those days when breakfast, lunch and dinner have been an endless, seamless, variety of perfection. She had stood nose to nose for weeks and was satisfied I had grasped the knowledge to wash and rinse plates, and was elevated to this prideful position of having free reign in HER kitchen.
I got it. I enjoyed it. I kept mostly quiet about, but maybe, I ruined it by telling him about it.

Soon back in our own home, I found myself feeling that Amma was here. Right by my side. Checking everything. I kind of joked that he had become his Ma but we both thought nothing much of a moment of kitchen sarcasm. He told me I did not know how to wash spinach, and he meant it. He refused to eat my food, and he unknowingly broke my heart.

I was happy to put the Kitchen Closed sign up and relax into this end of the year unwinding, unraveling and make myself a less frazzled person and let the power of forgiveness do its’ thing, and allow grace and burning Hannukah candles to burn off our mis-understandings and ignorance.

We made it, 365 days to the end of the year. I stand here filled with both regret, confusion and thanks. It has been a year of non-stop wrestling with what I think, feel and hope and then comparing it to the actual feedback life gives me.The gap between those two places, my experience, and the Indian reality has at times been so vast, I imagine I have the wisdom to accept this shortfall, and in truth, there is no wisdom and instead huge ache. The ache of alignment has been 2016 every single waking and dreaming day and night. So it might seem like there is anger and bitter disappointment, and there is , and yet, still I must, and need to say, offer and share my sombre, sober part reticent Thanks.

I have not forgotten the Roast Potatoes by the way. When I said I came without weapons, bar a bowl of pasta, I was not completely telling the truth. When I said, I had no wily Western-ness left, I was not completely honest. All of my homesickness, longing, and imagining of the life I left behind had the potential to be transcended, and shared when we actually did buy our tiny toaster oven. All of what I have been, my whole life, was a Jewish Mama in waiting, a balabushka, that spent her life in sales, marketing, and thriving on the good company of others and well to be honest, knowing from age three how to work that room. I earned my living doing that! And I prided myself on running a kitchen home that fed the hungry, and impressed the cynical. I could woe and wow with not only wafer thin baked deserts and tarts, delicate soups and unusual wines. I could always, always, make beyond decent Roast Potatoes.

A testament to my spuds has been Indian guests refusing to eat Western foods and moments later finding an entire oven tray finished. I have softened angry, upset, tired and discontent fools with my pre-dinner treat. That wild and much loved Tarragon plant that grows on our garden, is my I remember who I am damn it Moment! Wrapped up in that moment are all those Mui Mui shoes, those promotions, those meetings, those delightful cocktail dresses wrapped in chorine free tissue paper. Those Potatoes are everything I have been. That woman who walked Tiger Leaping Gorge in China alone, and ate bones in a refugee camp on the Thai Burma border. Those potatoes are that kid with braces that was shocked to be in a ghastly purple nylon bridesmaid dress, that twerp whose flower bouquet fell apart, those tears shed and all the life of not knowing with certainty anything at all.

Those paper garlic petals that fill my potato tray and my magic touch of taking brown soft spuds to crispy on the outside and soft on the inside is my magic mixture of olive oil, and butter. It is my ability to still make alchemy, and share it with others is my humble thank you, I love you.

We talked about having a quiet New Years’ Eve, and making dinner together and him making Kerala beef fry, and me making Roast Potatoes. We laughed that we could get some rum and watch a movie and fall asleep in each others’ arms, drunk, full and fat.

I was a bit shocked when lunch was served just now. It was semi roast potatoes and beef. There was no coconut. I checked to see if this was lunch and dinner was something we would do later, but he explained this is it. This is tonight’s’ dinner.

This independence thing is so vast, so huge. It is a lifetime of defiance. Not wanting to ever be dependent on another. This fight of his is real. To conquer time and to be a master of his own heart. He must, like a Kabbadi player, only win.

I feel myself a ghost. I have no place here. There is nothing I can bring to this party. He has finally even, usurped my role as the roast potato queen.

He knows how to do everything now.


The terrible, terrible Indian Wife

I am shocked. And sad. For I became truly the Bad Indian Wife.

It started out that it was a play on words, that my fierce, non stop loving and passion was what made me the unconventional Bad Wife. That I did not nag, cry, become desolate and manipulate with tears. That I was so aloof and uncompromising and unusual, that alone was going to keep my man.

But actually I became the terrible, terrible wife. Call off the visit to the lawyer. We will not make it to man and wife. Every single relationship threshold has been trashed, and mostly by  me.

On the whim of everlasting romance, I said yes to moving to Jaipur for a three month work visit. We set up home and I was excited to visit the archeological wonders of this paradoxically ancient and modern city. I took photos of the mirrored halls of the Havelli’s, and the majestic doorways of the city that capture the most electrifying sunlight. I photographed every single bouquet of flowers adorned on the city walls, the city palaces, the rooftops and I wrote everyday inspired that one day I might have a story to share at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

I wore sari’s and placed rose petals at our guru’s image. I hung heavy curtains in the winter to keep out the drafts, and I cleaned the bathroom floors and walls with the dedication of a brahmin in the making. I went to male only parties and ate boiled egg for dinner and I choked back my tears when the men mocked me and laughed at me.

I tried to be firm and have boundaries with the boys that forgot to turn up to classes without a word of apology and I tried to keep my manners when groups of men came to the house to drink, make merry and speak in Hindi only. I was the Bad Indian Wife that smiled, made fat home-made fries, and trays of roast potatoes and NEVER, never showed my upset.

Most of this eighteen months has been an archive of photographed moments, that look mighty impressive. Each photo though was a patchwork of lies, covering up that yet again that morning, that evening there had been a fight. One way or another there was always a fight.

He blamed me for most of it. For raising my voice and being an embarrassment in a society that is always looking, peeking and poking their nose. He tried so many times to warn me, that socially it was unacceptable to make a noise about many things that should remain private.  The more he asked me to not make a noise, I am afraid, the more damn noise I chose to make. Yes, I screamed at him. Yes, I threw some glasses at the door in my frustration. Yes, I threw the desk photographs of us at the wall.

He repeatedly told me that his friends said I was crazy. That they knew it, and they were right. So, I carried on writing on social media that I could handle it, that I could absolutely not give a flying fuck that his friends thought I was crazy. I removed them from having access to my personal musings, and found secret, private places to write. Then they called me crazy for removing them from social media. See she really is crazy.

We did a bit of travelling, the usual three day trek by train to Kerala, a few times. Many of the trips were marred by more fights, more inconvenient culture clashes, more disappointed expectations that I would mismanage. I could not be anything but the Bad Indian Wife. I liked to sometimes wear my hair loose and wild, and laugh wildly and reveal my bad teeth. I liked to wear Western clothes that did not hide my middle aged weight and I brazenly wore bare arms, which was not a culture mistake but an aesthetic one as my arms are not as toned as a taught twenty four year old.

We did not see much of Rajasthan. We kept talking about a trip to Udaipur, but all we actually managed was a few days in Pushkar where he found his Charas Wallah and I did not find my yoga school. I was always looking for the defining thing that would make it alright. Maybe I would join a jewelllery school in this holy lake town, and commute monthly back to Jaipur and we could be a grown-up couple both fulfilling our dreams. I visited those jewellery schools, and said, No, this is not real. What is real is facing the music, standing by my husband, and living our life day by day and getting through whatever it was that was happening.

My resolve was to stop running away every time it got difficult. I stopped packing my small overnight bag and booking tickets to Chennai. I stopped imagining I would just find a great teaching project, and I would lean-in to this life, and face the difficulties. I had no friends. And in a way that was part of being the Bad Indian Wife. I did not run out on the town with my girlfriends, giggling over new places to visit, and nor did I come home drunk on white wine and late-night taxi soirees with friends. I stopped playing the independent sassy woman role, and I just chilled.

I live with someone who smokes a lot of ganja so I thought I understood the rules of chill. But I got them wrong. Chill is a head-state. A mental landscape akin to Utopia. It is were the buzz of dreams and fantasies collide, those pretty girls, the great art conceptions, and all the universal questions are balanced with doped up sweet and tidy reconciliations. Real life is not really the same tidy peace-making entirely visual mental construct that we have in our chemically altered minds.
For one thing it is less attractive. Those flaws that get erased in magical marijuana moments are all glaring in our faces. The crooked smile, the slightly sad eyes, the slightly unattractive patch of dry skin by your cheek, and your frizzy, sun-bleached hair is annoying. It just does not look and feel like the airbrushed gloss of the artists’ perfect image of the world.

I have fallen for every single feel sorry for myself trick in the book. I have become desolate, scared, and insecure.

I have wanted validation, and become needy of love. I became jealous and spiteful. I resented those pretty boundary-less young nymphets taking his time. I complained when we went to festivals and he sat me down in a cafe and went to party for three days with his Kerala friends. I called him out when he would sit me by a door and then go and hang out with cool dj’s and divas and say I was just saying hello. I called him out that he was expecting me to live life in purdah and I could not do it.

I wrote of my unquiet heart. I felt my radar for untruth. I laughed at the deceipt that was so evident of those men telling me to my face All that was wrong with me. They told me I was in the wrong relationship because I wanted my husband to not put his joint butts out on the terrace floor. They lectured me that I was a petty woman and that I was not treated him right, or allowing him his masculine freedoms.

But actually, the Bad Indian wife was allowing it all. That is what made me so ‘bad’ was that I refused to stoop as low as the ancient bondage that really exists in Indian arranged marriages. I actually believed I was playing poker and even with an open hand I felt I was winning. I laughed because those critics had to go home to their deeply unhappy marriages, and mine was different. Mine was full of joy and we were living in some kind of superior truth.

But we are not. We have lost sight of everything. We are in stale and tired situation, where desire has not existed since the beginning. Where I have internalised every doubt and fear and no longer no who I am. I have lost any sense of inner pride, and I do not look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman looking back at me. We don’t actually have a mirror. Because I have allowed our home to become something where woman does not exist.

I have erased my own needs. I have certainly erased like-minded friends, and Western culture from our world. I have erased sexual desire. I have given up. When my husband smokes his last three joints to knock himself out into a deep sleep and avoid sex, I have stayed up on the internet till dawn, and hurled myself into writing, and exploring and trying to accept it all with some academic distance that keep me from my true feelings.

We went to the homeopath, and smiled and shared our difficulties, and we carefully took our dilutions daily, and if peace returned, we said Jai Dr Bhatia. But then would stop going.
I can NOT make another human being look at their stuff. And damn I have tried.

He blames me for my outbursts, and my emotionalism. And I blame myself for my stubborn and reckless ego driven fantasies that I was the woman that was so damn hot and amazing that I was, and would and should be enough for him.

I blame him for a lot of things. I blame him for being so damn intelligent that he must surely comprehend all that really is, and for avoiding addressing it. I blame him for his ability to look away, to not feel, to refuse, and to refute that Houston we really do have a problem. I blame him for his desires online, his search for fame, and his refusal to know me and avoid intimacy. I blame him for his quick temper, his stubborn moods, and his restless nature.

But obviously, I blame myself mostly. No matter how bad it has ever been, I blame myself for crying in silence. For not calling a girlfriend. How on earth did I think I could get through this alone? How did I think I could live for eighteen months in a city without work and without one single friend. Not a single person to share a coffee with, a walk or a smile with. How did I live for eighteen months alone. How did I allow such torture to happen? All I have done is sit and watch myself age. And become unhappy and afraid.

I doubt now, I will find love again. I doubt now I will be a fabulous sexy girlfriend, if only it was the right man. It is true what they say, all of this self-esteem, vitality, sexuality is, of course, an inside job.

I have searched and searched within myself, and I cannot find it. I can no longer find that woman who was happy and confident. I can no longer find that woman who feels that she is unstoppable and a giant of a Bad Indian Wife.

I became a terrible, terrible girlfriend, racked with doubt and fear. And blame. I no longer think we will kiss and make up. That we will make love all afternoon, and kiss, and whisper and feel like allowing saliva and sweat to soothe away our troubles. We have found other ways now. To keep cool and calm.

He will go to his studio. And I will write, or relax on the balcony. We will share some food and drink some rum and say Ah yes, Good wishes for next year.

But next year is just a few hours added on to this year. It has been goddamn awful. I want to go kickboxing and kick the shit out of a wall, and say what a fucking terrible terrible year this has been.

I put all the house bets on being this dazzling Bad Indian Wife. I held my high high at those parties and wore those curvy-licious dresses. I pouted and played with make-up and big hair. The boobs are already big, and the waist small. But I failed.

He is one beautiful, sexual, sensual, creature of love. That is for sure. And it is me that is not.

I truly in every sense, of being a woman, I failed.

May his year bring him work and personal success.

I am de-railed. I am out of alignment. I am wrong. I am tired. I became ugly, inside and out.
I am both sorry, and not sorry. I accept that far, far from being the glamorous, almost famous Bad Indian Wife, I became instead, a very, terrible, terrible pyjama wearing, unsexy, unhappy girlfriend.

The End.

Stealing my time

Yesterday I was approached by private mail by two young Indian men. I am admin of a couple of social media forums, so to answer their calls, was not a search for fandom or to make new friends, but, in the line of duty, to respond to work related matters.

The first one announced that he was six foot two, had a degree in dentistry, and could send me a photo of his new car to prove that he owned it outright, and that he had a flat in Jaipur.
I smiled. And moved on.

Only to return to increasingly rude, and aggressive missed emails. He demanded to know why I had not replied to his messages, and they culminated in insults. Why you have big ego problem, and oh you not speak English?

I did not reply and explain my time was precious, and that his manner was beyond rude. Nor did I even hint that he could benefit from coaching classes that might help him gain some useful tools to approach women that would achieve better results. I heard this great truth that there is a delete button, and I gladly used it.

The second visitor has left me slightly more wary. Still slightly under my skin, and that troubles me. His first appearance to post a Travel Forum website in an events listing page on Social Media. It looked impressive, and I am guilty of not having taken time to read it thoroughly before submitting the post.

I shared a beautiful, short, well written article by the Former US President Jimmy Carter, that was an inspiring passage that spoke to my heart, and I hoped it may be read by other forum members with open-hearted, curiosity. The young man, retorted with a subtle, but nonetheless evident rejection of the ideas, and whilst there was no outright hostility, there was stealth like speed. I did not pick up the troll characteristic, it all happened so fast.

Like any of us who have ever in earnest tried to respond to a troll, I typed carefully edited words, that outlined why I felt that the response was misplaced. My instinct and my polite response revealed that I felt it was a subtle move to distract the other members from the sweetness of the OP and to shift the debate away from the calls for growing global consideration of women and young girls rights. Bottom line, he argued for mens’ rights.

My suggestion was that if he felt to write or share about Men’s rights, he might consider posting a new thread. He did, but it was a poorly constructed mess of ideas, suggesting Indian men do bad things to get foreign wives.

This young man had actually privately messaged me over several days, demanding I find him a foreign girlfriend and his age limit was up to 40 years. I went back to the inbox messages and had a quick look on his own page, just to gather my feelings. His own page declared he was standing as a Uttar Pradash political candidate. His inbox messages to me had become increasingly hostile and un-nervingly quite personal.

Initially he had made contact about his travel website and his endeavours to save foreign travelers from the perils of being cheated whilst in India. He was making salacious enquiries as to whether I was a lesbian and if I wanted to be a guest in his house, I would be welcome regardless of my sexual orientation. Wow, that was a bold opening question in a country that legally prohibits homosexuality. I tried my best at that point to get clear and firm, and said, My husband is sitting next to me and a little alarmed at your comments.

I did not take a screen shot of his comments, and over a few days his unread messages had piled up. They were warnings, that my husband would be cheating me, that men from his part of the world where known to steal from women, and that many Indian men had tricked women into marriage without declaring their marital status.

Any ex-pat woman will know this is quite untrue. Indian citizens have in their passports very clearly stamped, their marital status. So, they are unlikely to be already married and granted life-time visits and visas outside of India.

The realization came immediately, that this person could be a very cunning hacker, keeping people online long enough in time-wasting conversations to nab our Ip address and enter into our files with the ease and cunning only a thief knows.

Finally I thought to check his travel website and was alarmed to see semi-naked Western women claiming to be making elegant testimonials of his services. Please, book your stay in India with me, and do quickly send me your bank account details immediately.

Blocked and removed. And warning and apology posted in said Forum to other members.

Maximum of fifteen minutes of my life wasted. And yet, I still feel unsettled about this.

I want to know why we do not do more to call out these people? I am in many ways a far lucky woman to have simply got an offer to see a picture of his car, when so many women are sent without warning, naked dick shots of undesirable men.

What is going on the mental process of any man that for no apparent reason suddenly takes a photo of himself with or without boxer shorts, edits the picture, and then still in a trance like stupor presses send?

I guess in other countries, the law is very clear on what is, and what is not harassment. Yesterday a wise friend, clarified that in the UK, it has to happen only three times for a case to be made against the offender, and they will be found, tried, and punished.

I know here there is a huge amount of leniency. The theory that boys will be boys is deeply embedded in the old cronies sitting on the Supreme Court benches, and until that changes, unfortunately, nothing will change.

There is a sickness, that is palpable in their desire to intrude. These boys are not fools. They have been to the best of Universities, and they are the brightest of the bunch. They attempt to take hold, to have control of the situation, and they will quickstep any attempt to defy them. They maneuver with the might of a rapist. That you will be silenced, pushed, defamed, and afraid of them, is something they assume from the start.

They are predators, and they are stealing a lot more than our time.

Up-ending Patriachy

For most of this year I have blogged in secret or had pseudonym pages where I could gather my thoughts without condemnation.

I lived with the powerful ultimatum, that “my friends think and know you are crazy”.

So i gave them less fuel. I played nice lady and stopped saying out loud the things you do not say in polite company.

However. It is NOT 1974 and I am not nine years old. And in my very adult, property owning, mortgage paying world actually the rules have thankfully been upended.

In polite twenty first century society, men who rape small children are called pedophiles not miscreants.

In the 21st century, men who put down women, tell them they do not know what they are talking about are called very rude abusive men.

People get away with everything when the weapon is that you will be exiled if you speak out. It is a tactic of ownership, possession and control.

It works. Very well. It is never easy in polite society to say Good gods, how utterly ignorant.

But from now on. I am calling it.

India is a remarkable society. They love fiercely. Indian women friends have excelled in every field in the world so these stories of not treating women well are not true. They are all earning money and participating fully in life.

The people who pretend India is not fully educated, or not ready for change are the ignorant ones that are holding people, and themselves back. It is the men who refuse to live alongside the success of women. It is men who pretend women are going shopping or nagging. It is men who downplay their wives accomplishments.

I see Indian women chief ministers, doctors, scholars, curators, authors, celebrities, home makers, mothers, artists all thriving, laughing, living full and rich lives.

It is these men who dis-empower and long for the days when they could drink all night and watch girls by day.

Male entitlement in India is the problem. They are so damn busy beating their chests, they have not seen or refuse to see what women have achieved in the last forty years.

Little boys not wanting to face the greatness of women as their equal counterpart.

It is these men downplaying rape. It is the men refusing to be vocal. It is the men not protesting in the streets or changing laws. It is the men not upholding women feeling safe in public parks. It is these men who do not want life to change.

Really. Thank you great, astonishing India that exists. To the millions of parents and grand parents that stamped out inequality and educated your beautiful daughters. Your fight is still our fight and thank you for teaching us to be seen and heard.

The life-throb of ages

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

Rabindranath Tagore
Gitanjali. Stanza 69