A Review of One and A Half Wife by Meghna Pant

Since the time we are born we become an integral part of a plethora of relationships. As we start growing up, we actually start to understand the importance of those relationships. There are some people who constantly keep on paying obeisance to the relationships around them while there are some who tend to not acknowledge the sanctity of relationships. One and A Half Wife by Meghna Pant is the story of human relations and how it can make and break the life of a person.

One and A Half Wife is the story of a girl-next-door whose life changes along with the trials and tribulations which she faces in the course of her life. The protagonist of the story, Amara Malhotra starts of as a simple girl who lives a life the way her Biji(mother) wants it to be. The strong-willed Biji has only two targets in her life – the first one is to get a Green Card and the second is to get her only daughter married to a rich Green Card holder. The first of Biji’s dreams found shape with the help of her brother and her family leaves India and settles down in America. However enjoying the American Dream was not as easy as it seems to be. With several hiccups here and there, Amara’s non-descriptive life changes when she is married to Harvard-educated millionaire Prashant Roy. Finally, Biji’s second dream also found a fruitful culmination. However, on the very first day of her marriage, Amara saw her vision of a perfect life with a perfect Prince being shattered. Her so-called fairytale marriage was nothing more than sacrifices from her end and selfishness, demeaning comments and indifference towards her from her husband. She was constantly scrutinized and criticised for her looks, her manners and etiquettes by her husband. She tried her best to save her marriage by overlooking the negativities, sometimes stooping down to incorrigible levels, but it collapsed after a few years. With the end of her marriage, the American Dream after which she was running as per Biji’s wishes also came to an abrupt halt. However, life does not stop there and Amara comes back to the place of her birth Shimla to start her life afresh. In Shimla, she is caught in the web between traditional beliefs and modern ideas. With a little compassion and counselling she came to understand what actually is “Her desire” rather than anyone else’s desire for which she has been living and suffering till then.

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Summertime Fun with Kyra

Summer season is the time when we actually tend to experience the ill-effects of global warming. The summer of 2012 till date has seen me hopping three cities with fluctuating temperature and humidity. Everyone, every other day is praying to God and also resorting to bizarre rituals just to get the glimpse of the Rain God. But suddenly something inside me asked “aren’t summers meant to be hot, that too in a tropical country like India? That voice helped me to stop fooling myself and instead of complaining venture out in order to enjoy the sun and the heat.

With the new found wisdom, I started thinking of ways to enjoy this summer to the core. The first idea that came to my mind was to give a call to my dear friend Kyra, the globe- trotting, extrovert girl always brimming with ideas. After a lot of deliberations, Kyra and I set out to experience some real summertime fun. I was ecstatic about the fact that in this closeted living, finally we finally got the chance to nourish our body with the essential Vitamin D while having some real fun.

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Time to Change the Disgraceful Prenuptial Affairs

Walking down the aisle with the person of love is a dream which is cherished by nearly everyone. A marriage is a celebration of love and bonding between two individuals. However, there are certain prenuptial requirements which can deter the charm and enjoyment of a marriage. The matrimonial ads have always fascinated me. Even a few years ago, reading them aloud and laughing out an their absurdity used to our favourite timepass. The “Brides Wanted” ads were so similar, whether it is meant for Hindus, Muslims or Christians. Though I do not follow them anymore, it remains the same till now. The grooms and their parents are always on a lookout for a bride who is “fair, really beautiful, convent-educated with traditional values and modern outlook”. The other requirements notwithstanding, people are still obsessed with fair complexioned girls. It acts as a mirror of the Indian psyche which is yet to shed its fetish for fair skin and embrace inner qualities of a person. When I was a kid, there was only the Fair and Lovely advertisement which was seen on TV. The people around me and the culture in which I was brought up gave no importance to superficial aspects like skin colour. On the contrary, priority was given to our education, our thinking and our power to judge things in the future. However, the past few years have proved me wrong again. The consumer market is now flooded with fairness products who unabashedly flaunts their bias towards fair skin. Popular actresses and well known celebrities are all promoting the so-called fairness products. I feel it’s a shame that we are drawing the younger generation towards a notion that beauty is all about possessing a fair skin and not a fair mind. The concepts of fair ideas and fair judgements are nowhere being instilled in the minds of the young people. For a country like India where majority of the people are below the age of 25, I feel there is the utmost need for all of us, at least the so-called educated ones, to be the change and stop this shameless portrayal of our preference towards fair-complexioned people.

For a girl the insult does not stop with the ridiculous matrimonial ads. Arrange marriages are something which have been part of our society from time immemorial. The arrangement is done after following a number of prenuptial steps, the first being the grooms side visiting the brides place, with or without the groom! As a witness to such situations, I can assure you that there are still some family members in every family who resort to bizarre methods of checking whether everything is fine with the bride. The most interesting thing is that all those are done by trick methods – the girl being asked to serve tea to everyone in order to see whether she walks properly or not, the girl being asked to lift her sari in a bid to know whether the her facial colour matches her other body parts! This, for me, can be termed simply ridiculous and demeaning.

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Urban Shots: Bright Lights – The Review

Looking after a baby 24/7 is a gruelling task and a lot of things, which were previously an integral part of your life, are affected. For me reading is one such thing which has been adversely affected. However, a couple of months back my husband told me about the Blogadda Book Reviews Program and I wasted no time in applying for it. Now, that I have been chosen to review their recent book on offer, Urban Shots: Brights Lights I am extremely ecstatic.

Urban Shots: Bright Lights as the name suggests is a compilation of 29 stories by 21 writers focusing on urban India and portraying a gamut of urban characters and their lives. One gets the opportunity to read a variety of genres in this single book. There are the humorous stories to tickle your funny bones as well as emotional and heart-rending ones which will leave you dewy eyed.

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Eve-Teasing – The Social Malady

Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez have become household names recently, though sadly after their untimely demise at the hands of some rowdy goons. In a tragic incident on 20th October, these two youths were knifed to death for protesting against eve-teasing. While they were being mercilessly stabbed, the crowd stood there watching the crime taking place like mute spectators. It is said that Keenan’s girlfriend was being teased by the main accused Jeetendra Rana when she along with four other friends came out for paan after having dinner at a restaurant. When Keenan protested against the evil gesture, Rana went away only to return with 20 more drunkards. Firstly, they stabbed Keenan and when Reuben tried to save his friend, he met with the same fate.

There are no words to describe the morbidity of the entire incident. I feel extremely ashamed to even think that we co-exist in the society along with sociopaths like Rana who suffers from personality disorders and can manifest any form of brutality without even an iota of hesitation! As a girl I am very sure that each and every girl in this society, whether pretty or ugly, fair or dark, fully clothed or scantily clad, have faced situations similar to this, if not worse. Though eve-teasing is rampant in India, there are many countries and their citizens who have never heard of such a word. It again reveals the shameful state of affairs of the Indian society.  Thousands of eve-teasing incidents occur every day, most of which are either ignored or unreported. Many activists tend to point the reason why girls don’t come out of the closet and protest such incidents. My question to them is how many incidents can you protest, when every other day you face similar situations. The action which we generally tend to take depends on the severity of the malady. In some cases you don’t even understand who is physically assaulting you in a crowded bus. What will you do in such cases? There is not only a single manner in which eve-teasing is done. Some of them can be handled by simply being strict, for some others you need to actually hunt for the actual culprit. These psychopaths are extremely intelligent, they know when to catch their prey without getting caught, and if caught they are sure to make things horrible for the victim and their near and dear ones.

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On Working after Motherhood

My Little One!When I was a kid I used to tell my Mom that when I have my own kids, I’ll quit working, unlike you. The feeling was strong and always came out with some sense of negativity. I used to add that every mother should stay at home in order to look after their kids for the few initial years. My mother hardly answered me back citing her reasons of continuing her job though it was obvious that she was facing extreme hardships taking care of her three children along with her full-time job. However, I also noticed that, even after my sly statements, she never ever considered leaving her job and staying at home. I even rebuked all those mothers who left their children at their homes and rejoined their jobs after a couple of months of maternity leaves. Those opinions were the fruits of the insecurities and hardships which I faced when I was left alone at home with my mother working outside. However, as I started growing up, I enjoyed the fact that I have a working mother and enjoyed flaunting it to my friends!

Now when I have a kid of my own and I stay home the entire day tending to all his needs with full attention and utmost care, I understand the need of having a job which can be termed as full-time. I, now fully understand what my mother’s silence meant when I made those remarks. Its not only about the money, it’s also about my own self. Financial security is essential, as is the mental stability after being a mother. For me being a first time mother was one of the most heavenly feelings one can experience which can never be expressed or described in words. I love to play and pamper my little one and fulfil all that he requires at this stage with as much love, care, sincerity and affection possible. However, in the quest of achieving that I started to feel myself as the Nanny of my child, more than a mother.

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Friendship is Overrated

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies – Aristotle quoted this long time back. my question is whether this concept holds true in this jet age, where we have apparently become modern yet remain far from enjoying a scientific and modern mind and soul.

One can find a plethora of friendship quotes celebrating friends and friendship in your life. There was a time when even I was mesmerized by those quotes and thoughts and found them quite believable (I feel that was due to my age). For me my friends were my source of sustenance. Each and every person at one point of time feels that friendship is the be all and end all of life. Friends and friendship are prioritized more than anything else in the world, even family and love. The feeling of having a friend with whom you can share your innermost joys and sorrows brings your romantic side to the forefront. In this age of internet and websites, the social networking sites are filled up with testimonials from your friends. The number of friends in your profile and the testimonials written about you by them bear testimony of how good and popular you are. There are a lot of people who are against such trends and I am one among them. For me friendship is something which does not require show off. There is simply no need to flaunt your friendship by penning down simply good things about your friends, when you are aware that your friend actually bears thousands of negative aspects. There is also no need of adding friends in your profile just because you want to increase your list, though you know they are simply your acquaintance with whom you may not even talk in reality.

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A Perspective on Religious Rituals

To begin with, the sentiments and opinions written in this post are entirely mine. They have nothing to do with any particular religion or the rituals associated with it. It is just to share my traumatic experience which happened in the name of religion and above all, GOD.

It happened just a month ago – the immersion ceremony of Goddess Muthyalamma. She is one of the many forms of Goddess Durga/ Kali.  We all know idols are taken for immersion in processions.  From my childhood, I had been a great admirer of such processions. The sights and sounds of merriment associated with processions always mesmerized me. Though I had never been a part of such processions, yet I adored them to the core. To ever have a negative outlook of such processions is something that I never imagined.

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The Idea of Beauty

It is said “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. My question here is what is the BEAUTY that the eyes look for? Is it the beauty of the outer appearance, the beauty of the talent or the sheer beauty of the heart? The age-old notion have been that when a girl looks for a prospective partner, it is his talent that counts and for a guy it is the appearance of the girl that matters. With the change in time the ideas have also seen drastic changes. However, the fact remains the same – one has to have a certain special quality or has to be the proud owner of beautiful looks.

How many times have we actually looked for a person who is devoid of all such characteristics, but the mere presence of whom can warm our heart, bring a smile to our face and can create an aura of optimism? It is true that in today’s world, full of lies and deceits, someone with a heart of gold is hard to find. People strive hard to meet their daily requirements, in this fast and competitive world. In the process, all the innocence and purity of mind and soul take a backseat. Notwithstanding, there are still people who value the concepts of trust, innocence, purity and clear conscience. They might not be great charmers or people of fine intellect, but the ones whom you can trust and have faith. They respect their elders and love the younger ones and can go to any length to keep their near and dear ones happy. I have been lucky to actually come across such people. It was surprised by the fact that they never nurtured negative emotions like jealousy or grudge, which is extremely hard to find. As they were free from such negative thoughts, they never resented any actions or comments. In your moments of agony and anguish, they were the ones to fill the heart with ecstasy and joy. You can say that we have our friends who are always there in times of our need. But the people I am talking about can bring a smile even in the face of the strangers. They do not differentiate between friends and strangers. It is a bliss to merely sit with them, without even uttering a single word.

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Bengalis in Bollywood

Bengalis have always been proud of their tradition, culture and intellect. It is true that there is no dearth of talent in Bengal. But people in Bengal also possess the tendency to over indulge in the feel good factor and in the process become cocooned in their shells. From the time I started understanding concepts like intellect and culture, I found that Bengalis are of the opinion that people in other parts of India are not able to judge them without bias, though every other talent comes out from the soil of Bengal or are Bengalis settled in other states.

Be it in literature, art, music, direction, we can go on citing examples of gems which Bengal has produced. From Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore to  freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose to the Oscar winning Satyajit Ray, the list is endless.  Though they were renowned all across the globe, yet for some reason or the other, their talent was never given its due worth in India. Just like any other Bengali, as I started to grow up, the idea that Bengalis are not properly recognized in India started creeping in my mind. With so many years of nurturing, the idea has become an integral part of me now.

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