Sky is the Limit For Unshackled Women


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The world of women has always been oscillating, especially in our sub-continent. Recorded history and sociology vouch for the fact that women were enlightened and emancipated in the best possible manner in the early Vedic ages. Conditions regressed in the later periods, only to deteriorate steadily. Women were weaned from the right to education, equality, economics and even dignity.

Foreign invasions and inland political insecurities which prompted the use of the purdah system caught on to the point of shrouding our sisters in some parts of the country till date.

Dowry system which was paved with the intention of passing on the rightful fraction of the family heirlooms and property took demonic proportions which started smouldering and singeing young women in their marriages. The rigid caste system, polygamy and the system of honour killing almost decimated the status of women to non-entities.

Our society slowly fell into a decadent pattern that proved to be a dreadful nightmare for women in particular. So much so that even five centuries ago, there were formulae for bringing up children. A separate set of rules for sons and daughters. By the time they were responsible young adults, they were prepared to slip into their slots and play their part within and outside their households. This methodology worked quite well through several centuries.

Several centuries later, the fairer sex stepped out of their hearths and homes pursuing education and professions. They did face teething problems till they emerged successfully. Then the trend became an accepted norm.

Young women blossomed at every given opportunity while their less accomplished sisters experienced the much needed exposure. This encouraged them to dream for a bigger platform for their daughters. If this phenomenon of getting better with each passing generation were to become a reality, then the world we live in will transform into Utopia.

Alas such is not the case. Parenting has become a challenge. Despite all the talks and convictions about creating a level playing ground for children of either gender, the harsh truth remains contrary. To be fair to parents of our sub-continent, many of them do walk their talk. There are lakhs of couples who have parented only one girl child and have helped her achieve wisely and well. Yet, sadly the fact remains that many of these young women are considered to be round pegs in square holes because the world at large openly or secretly consider them to be second class citizens.

Freedom for girl child

More than ever, there is a serious threat to the security and freedom of the girl child, especially in urban set ups. We are living in times where stories of molestation, rape and the fairer sex being subjected to indignities have started making headlines almost on a daily basis. While rationalists would like to smother this news content as the hype created by media, we must also remember that there can be no smoke without fire.

Let us face facts, looks like we have reached a stage where debauchery has begun to become a byword in our country. At one glance it is obvious that there is something essentially wrong in the way we bring up our children. It is not just about gender inequality which begins at the foetal stage.

The health and education sectors which make a staple contribution during the formative years wallow in corruption. The families and immediate society which moulds the child’s thinking and shapes its character unthinkingly imposes its biased convictions and baseless theories which undermine its personality in the long run.

Intrinsic human values like truth and compassion have given way to superficiality and wanton display of materialism. Certificates and documents have substituted learning and imbibing knowledge. The global village which leaves us spoilt for choices have made us blind to the positive qualities of our vicinity. There seems to be no censor over the entertainment sector which is dishing out brain candy and promoting medieval beliefs and superstitions. The scenario is bleak.

Despite this drawback, it is heartening to note that quite a decent number of the fairer sex in our cities have not only managed to survive but also thrive. If women can stand up against all odds and prove their mettle, just imagine, how much more they can achieve if they are unshackled of obstacles? The sky will be the limit!

Know Your Mother Tongue


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It so happened that a polyglot visited the court of Sri Krishnadevaraya. He told the king that he could read, write and speak impeccably in 18 languages. He challenged the scholars of the court and asked them to identify his mother tongue.

Scholars in various languages were summoned and were asked to hold a dialogue with the guest. Each one of them had a personal interview with the said scholar. They found for themselves that the multilinguist was claiming nothing but the truth. Yet, the challenge was a matter of prestige to the reigning king. He turned to his intelligent court jester Tenali Rama to find a solution.

Accordingly, Tenali Rama waited for the scholar to retire for the night. When the polyglot was in deep slumber, Tenali Rama threw some cold water over him. Almost immediately the shocked sleeping man awoke and shouted. “evarura waadu?” Tenali Rama sneaked away from the scene only to tell the king that the mother tongue of the scholar happened to be Telugu.

This little story is a pointer to the fact that no matter how many languages we might learn and master in life, our mother tongue stands supreme and foremost for it is embedded in our psyche ever since the day we are born.

We learn our mother tongue from our parents and immediate family and neighbours in the aural or shravana mode. We are never sensitised to any aspect of grammar when we learn our tongue. We grasp aspects of syntax, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation merely by being exposed to it day after day throughout the formative years of our life.

Despite all this, most urban Indian children have lost sight of their mother tongues. Mixed marriages, nuclear families, the need to study in schools of different medium due to relocation of families from their native places can be identified as root cause of this trend.

India is a country of several such languages, most of which are still alive. We can interpret our glorious literature, tradition, culture, arts and architecture better because they share an invisible link with the associated language. A little effort and utilisation of modern technology and media coupled with human effort can keep the link to languages alive and pass them on to posterity.

Never Out of Fashion


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Trend cycle

A lot of us feel that if we are not in vogue for whatever reason, we become vague. Hence a lot of time, effort and money are invested so that we do not become outdated in the stylish world. In other words our passion for fashion is perhaps as old as civilization itself. A close observation of the happening trends around us will reveal that the so called seasonal look had existed in the past partially or in a consolidated manner somewhere, sometime. What we have presently done ( I mean at all times) is rediscovered the quaint old charm and fit it into the present to serve our social ethos and emotional satisfaction.

An honest dekko at the history of fashion across the world will assure us that hemlines and necklines regularly wax and wane. The length and width of our sleeves and trousers lines seem to be strangely guided by tidal waves. The colours of the rainbow bracketed by black and white enter and exit in turns assuming all the shades in between. Florals, stripes, polka dots, checks, animal and ethnic motifs wait in the backstage ready to take their turns on and offstage. Experts and the experienced will vouch for the fact that most patterns of different phases of life are essentially cyclic by nature. The world of fashion is no exception to this rule.

Accessories that go with our clothing range from subtly accentuating what we wear on the lower end of the scale, while, they sometimes seem to displace clothing by making a statement loud and clear. Our hair nails, skin tone, colour of our eyes, shape of our body and facial features have been subjected to dreadful disciplines to stay topical.

Now let us go through a fun exercise of keeping up with the trend in some random aspects of fashion. Then we will also see a parallel of the idea which existed in the past.

NAIL FILES

The double French manicure is nail the latest trend in nail art. The experts in the field do a thorough manicure and paint the nail in such a way that the upper portion of the nail is coloured in different stages of crescent moon, in various shades of sunrise.

Those of us who have had the experience of having applied Mehandi on our hands inclusive of our nails will vouch for the fact that while the pattern on the skin will fade away in a week’s time, the nail will retain colour till it outgrows our fingers. So all of us the average south Asian woman, who sported orange crescents of different proportions were way ahead of time because we have already been there and done that.

PATCH UP

Flip a women’s magazine over, you cannot but stop to admire the pretty ladies in their finery. These are days of mix and match. Different coloured and patterned cloth is ripped into strips and then stitched together to form a fabric. Then the self made designer cloth is cut to make exotic clothes for that vibrant ethnic look. People are ready to bleed their purses to possess one such work of art in their wardrobes.

Now, a little flashback, or a random flipping of channels will remind us that nomads and gypsies used the very same technique precisely for the same reasons. Those who considered themselves to be civilized copied the art and took to quilting in the big way, only to furtively work their way back into clothing.

SANS SOCKS

The most modern of them all, follow this unisex trend of doing away with wearing socks. It makes a lot of sense because we are becoming a hotter planet. Besides our shoe designers are working day and night to provide us with shoes that breathe and work hard to keep our feet from stinking. Those who cannot shed the “socks habit” are surreptitiously using ankle socks and tucking in the visible part only to look trendy.

When the sun did not set on the British Isles, the colonies in the tropical countries were enamoured by the booted looks of the White man.  They took to wearing shoes and half shoes sans socks, for two reasons. One, the socks was totally unfamiliar to their culture. Two, the oppressive heat made them omit the appendage.

HEAR HEAR ABOUT THE EAR

The affected young ladies of the west have declared that cuffed ear rings that hug the contours of the ear line happen to be the trend of 2016. Any material under the sun from seashells, to paper, to flowers, to plastic and precious metals and gems have been experimented to give that classy look.

Piercing the contours of the ears and wearing delectable accessories is not an alien concept to us south Asians. Our timeless jewellery boxes which house these striking trinkets can make the just born collection of the west fade in comparison.

BOW BROW

Men and women, who have been born with joint eyebrows, can save a pretty penny this year because, sporting a Unibrow, happens to be the in thing these days. Beauty parlours all over the world are wishing for this trend to go away because the numbers that come to correct their brows are dwindling. People are encouraging hair to grow between the brows and sometimes clipping on a tiny tuft to bridge the gap.

A trip down the memory lane will remind us that the artists singing the Qawwali, especially the women would use an eye pencil to draw a line between the brows to give them that distinguished pretty look. The trend would ensure that the beholder rests his or her eyes On the bow like  brow of the person. It was a show stopper even then.

CROWNING GLORY

Time stands testimony for the fact that women have manipulated their crowning glory to the point of horripilation by curling or straightening it, perming or colouring it, cutting it or growing it and then tried every tip in the world to keep it clean of dandruff and lice and save it from having spilt ends or simply falling away from our scalps. We plait it, put it up in a bun or very simply let it down when we don’t try out exotic hairdos. The fairer sex of another time and place precisely did the same things with their manes using different implements, chemicals and ecofriendly products. For example Remember how the entire nation gasped when they saw Meena Kumari in an atrocious orange wig signifying the extensive use of henna?

Men with long hair, sometimes worn in a pony tail or as plait are considered to be the prototypes of the quintessential cool man. Men have worn long hair ever since Paleolithic days. Gods, kings and common man alike have worn their hair long without being rebuked or commented upon. Long hair among men has been considered as a symbol of power and strength. Can you think of a single god in the Greek or Indian pantheon with short hair?

SWEEP BACK OR SPIKE THEM

The hair gel perhaps sells by the pints because fashion conscious youth across the world cannot do without them. It is certainly fun to see them sweating over the stuck up look when our rural brethren manage to arrive at the same look with a tablespoon of castor oil. To be fair to the “gel”, we must admit that it comes in a variety of tantalising and soothing aromas.

VEGAN JEWELLERY

Flowers, leaves and sprouted cereals are doing the rounds on the latest ramps across the globe. Fashion Gurus gather the beauteous bounties of nature and fit them out as accessories like finger and ear rings, necklaces, bracelets, hair bands and sometimes as items of clothing when they weave a casual sarong or a sash with natural leaves and flowers to accentuate that green look.

The costumes of traditional Greek,  Hawaiian and belly dancers and many varieties of folk dancers across the globe cannot be considered complete without floral garlands and tiaras Any Indian who is exposed to this genre of vegan jewellery cannot but recollect the classical looks of Sita or Shakuntala bedecked with floral jewellery.

Carolina Herrera once said, “Fashion has always been a repetition of ideas, but what makes it news is the way you put it together.”Truer words have not been spoken.

 

Constants and Variables of Life


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It is a fact that human behaviour, habits and social behaviour always alter according to the venue, circumstances and other basic needs. Hence, it will be highly unfair to determine whether an individual, community or race isright or wrong, on the basis of what we consider to be correct.

For instance, people who went hunting in the past and dared the feral aspects of wilderness and triumphed over a carcass of a dead feline or an elephant were celebrated as heroes of sorts.

Nevertheless, if someone were to copy the feat today, he or she is likely to be booked by the law for perpetrating a serious offence. For those of you who think that citing an example that spans across ages is obsolete, let us examine a real time reality.

In certain countries it is considered highly sinful for a woman to even get her clothes tailored by a male sartorial professional. On the other hand there are countries that encourage sunbathing with minimal or no clothing to its people to ward off hazards like melanoma.

The two cases have been cited to clarify that most aspects of human life are variables. What we eat or wear, how we speak or function, the language and the culture and the habits that we adopt among millions of other such trivia can vary from place to place or time to time. One cannot really fault  or eulogise them because, we as a society figure out the best practices that will work for us as a unit.

Change in culture

Once we find the practices redundant, we have the knack of shedding them entirely or very simply salvage the core value of the custom and reinvent the same to suit our needs. Right from Paleolithic times, man has realised the need for food, clothing and shelter and he has worked on his necessities and come up with practical and economical solutions that can cater to him at the given point of time.

The food that was cooked using fire is now processed through a plethora of new age equipments. The animal skins and barks that constituted our clothing have come a long way now, as they come in a spectrum of colours, materials and designs.

Caves that sheltered man through the vagaries of nature have given way to varied housing from chalets to skyscrapers and everything in between. Everything else that we use or possess happens to be ancillaries to our basic needs. Therefore, mankind as a race must realise that there is really no point in nitpicking, categorising or even on contemplating on sticking on to anything at all.

It is mandatory to remember that the only constant is change. Besides, are we not constantly reinventing the proverbial wheel by working out solutions to the same requirements?

Physics and mathematics explain the conceptual difference between variables and constants and the subtle but irrevocable relationship between the two factors. One cannot exist or function without another.

To put it more simply, we need a constant to evaluate the variable. So also, in life we need constants and variables. We must understand that constants remain invariable across time and space whereas variables always undergo modifications.

It is interesting to note that science, religion, psychology and psychiatry have surprisingly come up with a constant — Truth. The truth they speak of does not subscribe to any region, religion, cult or culture. It is a human truth that is woven around integrity, responsibility, reliability and intrinsic goodness punctuated with a generous dollop of compassion.

The person who adheres to this kind of truth need not feel obligated or answerable to anyone except his own conscience. And as the bard said, if one is true to oneself, the night shall follow the day.

The ability to go through life as an onlooker without getting involved or critical about matters that do not concern us or understand will make it happier, simpler and straightforward. But, as they say, “It is simple to be happy but very difficult to be simple.”
Truth can never become outdated because we need the north star to navigate through the sea of life.

If each one of us strives to sort out and differentiate between variables and constants, we will find ourselves becoming less and less judgemental. Bonhomie and harmony will seep through seamlessly through the newfound maturity and make the world a better place to live in.

Do A SWOT Analysis Of Yourself


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Management principles lay a very high premium on SWOT analysis. It is believed that if every person takes cognisance of his strengths and weaknesses and is alert for the opportunities and threats that come his way, little else can stop him from achieving his aim. If we are under the impression that this is a new age understanding, we must stand corrected.

Panditha Jagannatha, a 16th century poor scholar, was well versed in the Vedas and had a terrific memory. He went to Delhi to seek his fortunes. On reaching the capital, he performed a SWOT analysis of the situation. He realised that he could not walk into the court of Emperor Jahangir at his will. That was a threat that had to be dealt with. Therefore, he waited for an opportunity that would open up his path.

He chose to repose faith in his knowledge and talent which were his strength. One day, when he was strolling in the bazaar, he chanced upon a loud altercation that was taking place between two merchants. He watched the squabble along with the other onlookers. None in the audience could follow the argument because it was in an alien language. Soon the quibblers decided to seek royal justice. They were presented before the court.

The emperor of Hindustan was reluctant to deliver his verdict. He did not want to be unjust because no one could comprehend the content of the argument. At this point of time poet Jagannatha offered his services to resolve the problem. Jagannatha overcame his weakness of being ignorant of the language with his strength. He used his memory power and recited the whole conversation verbatim, though he did not understand a word of Persian. The polyglot in the court translated the same for the emperor and pronounced his judgment.

The story does not end there. Jagannatha was invited to take position as the court poet. He was encouraged to use his talents and knowledge to build a secular state. He was conferred the title of Panditha and many rewards. This historical incident stands testimony to the power of human intelligence. If we are in touch with ourselves and the world around us, doing a SWOT analysis can always help us see a way out and help us realize our fondest dreams despite all obstacles.

Thou Shalt Not Covet


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S Radha Prathi, May 30, 2016

Times have changed. But then, so have our methods to economise on expenditure.

Gone are the days when people would help themselves to office stationery or use the telephone to make personal calls. For that matter, we do not find too many people borrowing newspapers and magazines subscribed by their neighbours. People hardly get their pharmacist to bill them for medicines after purchasing cosmetics and bars of chocolate. If you are under the impression that we have come of age and do not indulge in petty penny pinching, think again!

Times have changed. But so have our methods to economise on our expenditure. Correct me if I am wrong. Have we not seen people making a beeline to a plug point to charge their phones and laptops when they visit others at their homes, offices, hospitals or auditoriums? If there is free Wi-Fi, they will not pass up the opportunity to use the same.

The phrase “missed call” might make it to the Guinness Book of World Records for being mouthed and used a maximum number of times by Indians. Movies and large file are always invariably downloaded or uploaded on free resources.

There are people who pamper their taste buds and sometimes satiate their hunger by playing tasters wherever possible. I know friends of friends who keep fit by always attending trial classes for a week in various yoga centres and gymnasiums around the city. Then there are those international faux pas where our countrymen are renowned for buying exotic branded clothes or fancy items abroad, use them for the special occasion and return the same and get a complete refund without the slightest iota of guilt. Well, the list can go on endlessly.

True, most of us like to save a pretty penny. There is nothing wrong. However, using weird and unethical ways to economise on expenditure can prove to be morally degenerating in the long run.

It is said that once a thief entered Cha-nakya’s humble home on a winter night. The robber was extremely surprised to see the minister and his wife sleeping on a mat, while there was a pile of blankets in one corner. Even as the thief was wondering about the anomaly, Chanakya woke up. The burglar could not help articulating his question. Chanakya said that the king had sent the blankets to his home to be distributed among the poor. Hence he would not use the woolies that did not belong to him. The malefactor left the premises sorry, ashamed and reformed – a role model worthy of being emulated. It is time to awaken the self esteem in us. Better late than never!

Evolution of Hospitality Industry


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When the conservative Indians promoted the concept of eating outside their homes by patronising the exceptional culinary skills of the Udupi cooks, little did they realise that they were paving the way for a mighty food and hospitality industry in the coming decades.

Though the industry began as an amateur, it slowly developed into a state-of-the-art restaurant over a period of time, giving it a professional touch.

Soon, high profile hospitality industry like the star-rated hotels, swanky resorts, restaurants and VIP guest houses felt the need for trained professionals who could carry out their duties with a flair of international sensibilities.

The Government of India realised these needs and encouraged various universities to include a course in Hotel Management in the 1980s.

Now, most colleges offer good infrastructure and they complement classroom academics with practical lessons to enrich the knowledge of the students. However, the results have not been exactly spectacular, thus far.

While some colleges are affiliated to the Indian universities, many have tied up with foreign universities for short term diploma courses and certificate courses, which boost the profile of the student in the international scene.

Initially a 4-year undergraduate course called BHM (Bachelor of Hotel Management) was introduced with relevant subjects touching on areas like language, accounts, housekeeping and related skills necessary for the job. The teaching faculty at hotel management colleges said that though the course content matched international standards, unfortunately, the takers of the courses were the students who were much below the average mark. A survey reveals that the situation has not altered much, even to this day.

The reasons are obvious – students with low marks or candidates who may have discontinued education are the usual takers. Naturally, they do not do well in academics because of lack of basic knowledge coupled with a sense of low self-esteem.

They are also perhaps acutely aware of the fact that the society at large is not really well-known for honouring jobs as hoteliers, waiters or housekeepers even in star-rated hotels. This is also one of the main reasons why there was a glaring absence of girl students in these classes in the initial years. The scene has changed a little over the years. Now there is a steady trickle of young women who are ready to give it a shot.

Despite the low popularity level, it is a fact that, the course has landed several diligent students in enviable positions in many star-rated hotels.

Success stories

These success stories have also encouraged the partially-educated staff working in private and ordinary eateries to take up the course to upgrade themselves as professionally qualified personnel who can move on to greener pastures.

Then there are enterprising hoteliers who introduce grooming classes and train their staff in communication and soft skills to enhance the quality of the services in the hotel. Such trained workers are indirectly motivated to clear their intermediate examinations privately and take up a hotel management course.

The reason for such careful cushioning lies in the realms of detrimental attrition which leaves the industry almost always in a state of uncertainty.

The day is not far when the growing demand of the industry will attract more and more and even meritorious students to consider hotel management courses as a career option.

Hotel management colleges can consider this situation to be a cue and gear up to cater to the needs of the industry and give it the much needed facelift. Globalisation and enhanced spending capacity of Indians has paved the way for a boom in the hospitality industry in a big way. Campus recruitments are becoming the order of the day.

Big names in the industry across the globe are ready to absorb and pay fancy salaries and positions construing to the talents and qualifications of the candidates. In fact the market has expanded over the past couple of years. Developing marine businesses like cruise liners and ships are recruiting personnel by the dozens. Event management teams and trip organisers are always looking for trained staff.

Certainly, the situation cannot get any better. Earnest students of hotel management can be rest assured that they can land themselves on the velvet if they work diligently towards their goal.