3/23/07

friandship making plz lolz

So.

TradWannabeRebel (TWR) desi girl falls for TypicalCuteHypocrite (TCH) desi boy. TWR girl wants to go out with TCH boy. TCH boy is busy salivating over the gori randi’s hoping that he has a shred of chance to get laid (because gori’s are all prostitutes, no) and thinks that TWR girl is not worth his time of the day. Besides, TCH boy surmises, desi girls aren’t supposed to want to date. Desi girls are supposed to go to classes, cook, sit and home and rant about how cheap everything in India is when compared to the yoo yess.

But TCH boy is benevolent. He decides to go out on one date with TWR girl before he starts calling her a whore. After all, a desi girl wanting to date is not something which is proper, but he is willing to make a rare allowance in this case.

Puffing up like a Goliath toad at his unparalleled altruistic capabilities, TCH boy finally goes out with TWR girl and takes her to a decrepit shanty passing off as an ‘authentic’ Chinese restaurant in the shadier part of town, to make sure that none of his other desi cronies spot them together. After all he has to maintain his status in the all pervasive mini Indian feudal system of the university, yeah?

So to no ones surprise the date doesn’t go too well, no thanks to TCH boy who has taken it upon himself to shove unsolicited advice about the rules of Desidom down poor, hapless TWR girl’s throat. Needless to say, TWR girl slips into the restroom and calls me frantically to come get her out of this vomitarium of a date or else she would hurt herself VERY badly.

And to cut a long story short, that’s exactly what I did. I swung by the ‘authentic’ Chinese restaurant and picked her up only to hear her chant over and over again that it wasn’t her place to date at all, and this incident was a sign from the arranged marriage gods that she’d better not go out with a guy if she’s not played out their whole ‘life in marital bliss’ tape in her head, beforehand.

Now, I commend TWR girl to actually grow some ovaries (see what I did there?) and try to have a legit social life outside of the desidom boundaries which fetter her, but trust a godawful experience with a guy like TCH boy to send the poor girl packing.

I really don’t mean to condemn all desi men (at least the TCH boy types) as vile scum, but…they are really not the poster children of progressiveness or non-antediluvian thinking.

Really, they aren’t.

If you are a desi guy like TCH boy and you’re actually reading this post without blowing your duplicitous top, then I beseech you to read on. Well.

So TCH boy (and boys like TCH boy), here’s what you don’t do/think/say/behave with respect to dating, love, relationships and desi girls in general.

1. If an Indian girl is faintly interested in the way she looks and she tries to make a minuscule effort to look presentable, please don’t jump on the how-can-traditional-desi-girls-want-to-look-good bandwagon and assume that she must be a whore. First of all what is your manic fixation with calling women whores? What are your criteria for the classification of whoriness? Attractiveness? A sense of style? The fact that a desi girl does not furtively look at the floor the minute she sets eyes on a desi boy, because god forbid you think that she was checking you out even if it was for 1/24th of a microsecond? What is it? I’m on a need to know basis because my glabella will crack if I don’t untangle this Gordian knot. It will!

2. A desi woman is human with sensory perceptions and organs just like you. The last time I checked, we had not evolved into a higher species bereft of sensory perception or base human needs, yet. So until we do evolve into a higher species where human wants become redundant, I’m sorry to break it to you, but we are (are you sure you want to read on desi boy?) just.like.you.with.the.same.physical.wants.and.needs. Right, now don’t contract a coronary infarction and die on me desi boy, you hear?

3. Desi girls want to get laid and have sex too. Or at least reach second base. There, I’ve said it.

4. Desi girls who want to date, just want to date sometimes. They don’t want to set a date or look for the right muhurat for marriage within six months or any of that crock. Realize that oftentimes, if not all the time it is only a glorified front to convince feudal lords like you of their unsullied chastity and piousness. They can’t tell you their actual intentions for fear of your infamous whoriness branding. Hence the savithiri-ist farce.

5. You are not the irrefutable vigilante of the modesty meter. No, you.are.NOT. And fantastic arguments like “I’m the one affected by what she wears” or my personal favorite, the asinine “What a desi girl wears reflects on all the Indians in this university, and she must be heedful of that” doesn’t count. So check yourself before you gleefully offer concerned advice as to how a desi woman should dress herself, because you know you just feel for the desi community and you have such drippy consideration for the desi girl’s status (which you will proceed to tear to shreds, but hey who am I to judge you) in the university’s desi community’s modesty-a-thon; for fucks sake.

6. It’s high time you ditched the unadulterated cultural hypocrisy schtick you’ve got going on, oh-kay? Understand that it is utterly repugnant to mess around as much as you want and then turn around and expect a living shrine of immaculate chastity for a life partner. Even if you haven’t had any real interaction with the female of the species for most of your existence and you think that that’s your way of maintaining an austere life then you still don’t have any right to project your aberrant views onto anyone else. Get off your high horse and just live, for crying out loud.

7. And finally, just ditch the strip club welcoming committee please. Why do you play out your deep seated insecurities in this patriarchal dehumanizing ritual? Why is it that you ‘welcome’ a new desi guy student by immediately shunting him off to the strip club along with a battalion of your cronies like one of those mandatory field trips to the natural history museum, huh? If you cannot approach a girl like other humans do or your insecurities and prejudices blinker your abilities to think rationally and with reasonable fair-mindedness then it is no reason to go indulge in a female dehumanizing ritual. It really isn’t. Do you feel manly and on top of the world when you spiritedly fling dollar bills at a woman’s vagina? Really? Do you? If you say “Come on, it’s only a strip club, every guy needs to let off some steam” you better watch what you eat cause I swear to god I’ll at the very least, poison you. And that’s a promise.

I don’t expect desi guys like TCH boy to change overnight. Call me overly cynical but I don’t expect them to change at all. They’re so sunk in their mire of denial that even a slight attitude change would be a milestone of epic proportions.

And don’t even get me started on their issues with desi women smoking and drinking. I don’t smoke but guys like these make me want to wear a florescent pleather micro mini with a garish purple sequined string bikini top, complete with glass platform heels, and gallivant the length and breadth of this campus with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of Jose Cuervo’s black medallion tequila in my other hand.

If pushed hard enough, I might just do it too. Ahem.

3/5/07

Waves of Beauty, Rivers of Blood

It’s been an exhausting two weeks. I don’t want to divulge too much, but suffice to say that I’ve gotten roughly three hours of sleep in the last four days. I don’t know if this makes a whit of sense, but after being flung into the morass of one stressful situation after another, my anxiety has plateaued, and I feel that I can’t possibly be more stressed out than I already am and an uncharacteristic calm has washed over me.

Anyway, in order to take my mind off well, stress; I buried myself in the material required for one of my classes. We have an ongoing project in this class which constitutes 50% of our final grade and it includes the all important final presentation along with papers submitted at regular intervals on our respective topics (we had to choose from five singular topics) and one of the topics was to understand and fabricate the identity of the Hindu great Goddess (sic) and to piece Her together through pietistic experience.

After poring over several publications and dissertations and articles ranging from being quite appealing to utterly ludicrous to plain bizarre; I have to admit that I’m hooked. Our history (well, religious or otherwise) is absolutely wondrous, to put it mildly.

To methodize the murky reserves of information crammed into my mind, I decided to distinguish the early history of the Goddesses in my study and I also put them in different groups. I will not elaborate on all the groups but I will however expand on one category which I was completely enamored by; the history and the evolution of the warrior Goddess.

I was quite familiar with the myths and the traditions and the various stories dealing with the origin and the evolution of the pan-Indian martial goddess but I always found them largely inconclusive. For one, I never really understood how an often fierce, autarchic and irrepressible Goddess figure can somehow become a docile and an obedient consort of Shiva, representing the values connected to a ‘typical’ Hindu wife. With more obsessive reading however, I could finally dispel the cobwebs in my mind and begin to comprehend the proto-legends with respect to the warrior Goddess and Her counterparts.

When I think warrior Goddess, Goddesses like Durga, Chamundi and Chandika immediately take precedence in my mind. But I discovered that the ideology behind any Warrior Goddess* we worship today was mainly derived from Her ancient predecessor Vindhyavaasini (literally meaning She who resides in the Vindhyas). It could also be surmised that Vindhyavaasini was a classificatory sobriquet rather than an individual name of the Goddess.

The earliest attestation of the mythology of Vindhyavaasini was in the Harivamsa (1st and 2nd centuries C.E) where she was integrated into the life story of Krishna and she was also coupled with two other goddesses Ekanamsa (a sister of Krishna) and Nidra (the goddess of sleep). In Shaivaite history, she was first mentioned in the Skandapurana as being born out of Parvati’s sloughed off dark skin and she was referred to as Kaushiki.

Vindhyavaasini however existed independently of both the Bhagavata and the Shaiva legends. She was originally said to be a local deity in the Vindhyas and she was aggressive, ferocious, turbulent and generous and She was considered a favorite of the people on the fringes of society i.e. robbers, dacoits, hunters and criminals. Her abode was the jungles of the Vindhya Mountains and her attendants were demons (of both genders), ghosts and terrifying spirits. She could only be appeased by meat offerings (hunters usually offered their best catch to Her) and strong liquor. She had very dark skin and was said to have four hands; each holding a trident, a drinking cup (said to be filled with wine), a sword and a lotus. Her upper cloth was yellow in color and the cloth covering the lower half of Her body was black. She was not associated with any God through matrimony or otherwise and She was said to exist and function as a unique entity. In all Her resplendence, She consumes liquor and She dances with her ghastly ganas, laughing uproariously (Harivamsa 48.32: saavaini´si tamograste babhau bhuutaganakule nrtyatiı hasatiı caiva vipariıtena bhaasvatiık) and it is said that Her laughter would fill Her enemies with fear and dread.

However when the need was felt to integrate the local divinities into the tenets of Shaivism, Vindhyavaasini was incorporated or Sanskritized into an aspect of Parvati, which firmly placed Parvati (a spousal deity) at the very top of the Goddess hierarchy clearly decreasing the importance of Vindhyavaasini with respect to Parvati.

Now Korravai (or Kotai or Kotravai) was an ancient Tamil war goddess and She could be very well be an aspect of Vindhyavaasini for all we know^. She was also said to be bellicose, dark skinned and terrifying. She was first mentioned during the Sangam period as a fierce war Goddess in Korravai nilai from the Tolkkapiyam. She supposedly enjoyed animal sacrifices and buffaloes were usually sacrificed in Her name. Alcohol was used to appease Her as well. Just like Vindhyavaasini in the North She was not associated with any God or any male entity through matrimony or otherwise. And it was also said that She resided in the forest with her battalions of ghouls, demons, spirits and other ghastly entities. What really took me by surprise however was Her strange and terrifying role in the history of Tamil militarism as the Goddess who demanded the lives of Her warriors when their commander was successful at war. Warriors would pledge their lives to Korravai willingly and slit their throats when their leader was victorious in battle and this practice (martial suicide in other words) was called Navakandam. An example of this practice is illustrated in the Kalingathu Parani (a work dedicated to the Chola king Kulotunga) as seen in this excerpt,


The temple of Korravai is decorated with lotus flowers which bloomed when the warriors sliced their own necks.


[sic]

I absolutely adore the idea that we did in fact have Goddesses who existed autonomously without any connection to a male Deity. Call me biased but I find the idea of a goddess who was dark, single, chaotic, uncontrollable and munificent at the same time, exceptionally glorious. And to top it all off She consumed alcohol! Strong liquor was one of Vindhyavaasini’s and Korravai’s staple offerings and to me that just hits the stratosphere of coolness, for want of a better word.

As I wade through the mire of information required for this project, I am beginning to comprehend the notion that the identity of the Goddess in Indian mythology is both tenebrous and infallible.

And I wouldn't want it any other way.

* Warrior goddesses should not be confused with dreadful goddesses i.e. goddesses like Kali, Kalashankarshini, Mrityu etc.

^ Pure speculation on my part.