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!

Brace Yourself For The Post Party Syndrome


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Calm after the storm

The two-faced Roman god Janus is ready to usher in the new year, while earthlings are partying hard. What many of us do not know is that we are working ourselves into as state of frenzy in the name of unwinding. This is true of those who organise parties as well as those who attend them.

A lot of meticulous planning, precious time and hard-earned money is ploughed into these events by hoteliers and owners of restaurants, bars and pubs besides individuals. Painstakingly decorating the party space, arranging enough food and drinks to go around and organising entertainment programmes takes several months of hard work and networking. Needless to say, this puts a great strain on their nerves.

It’s easy to assume that the party hoppers are a jolly lot, but that is far from the truth. They, for their part, are stressed about what to wear, whose company to seek, how to fit in at the party and get home safely afterwards.

Back to the grind

While all the music, dancing and socialising is fun while it lasts, the morning after generally brings along a hangover or worse, depression and loneliness. The post-party syndrome can encapsulate a lot of issues. You might feel lazy, fatigued and reluctant to get on with your work and normal routine. The late nights, gorging on calorie-rich food and aerated or alcoholic drinks can take a toll on the intestines and the liver. The lack of sleep will affect your cognitive function.

While none of these are reasons to pass on the merriment, by taking a few smart measures, you can save yourself from the physical and emotional stress that is likely to bog you down.

Catch up on some sleep every now and then so that you’re not caught yawning in company during the party. Loss of sleep can be telling on the countenance and general health of the individual in the long run. You would do well to have plenty of salad, fruits and juices during the day to offset the heavy food that you might eat at night.

Following an exercise regime will help you burn off the calories you gained binge-eating and drinking over the past few weeks. It is wise to keep tab on the amount of liquor that you consume in order to avoid embarrassment, untoward incidents and accidents.

The emptiness you’re left with

Psychologists point out that people who throw or attend many parties could experience a sense of loss, emotional numbness and anxiety once the gala time is over. This usually happens because they might have run into people whom they no longer care for or simply wish to avoid. They might have lost track of important days in all the frenzy. Even as they pretend to be happy and confident, they might be upset and despondent.

Putting the past behind and learning to live in the moment is the way to deal with these painful emotions. New year parties are, after all, about ringing out the old and ringing in the new. When you run into someone you dislike or have complicated emotions for, flash an affable smile, offer a kind word and move on. Try to forgive and forget for your own peace of mind.

You must understand that anything that brings you happiness must be good and genuine for it to last long. Refrain from hypocrisy and try to be earnest in terms of behaviour and attitude. Good manners and courteous behaviour has never killed anyone. A dollop of unadulterated enthusiasm can spread chirpiness and good cheer all around.

If you think your emotional wounds are still raw or that you may not be able to handle nasty surprises, pre-empt the guest list. If it is not to your liking, excuse yourself from attending the party. This can save you a lot of trouble and unpleasantness.

The most telling sign of the post-party syndrome is the lacuna created by the sudden lack of activity, which could lead to boredom, frustration and irritability.

Once you understand that parties are for enjoyment, socialising and rejuvenating your spirits, you can spend the days after the party organising contact numbers and addresses for future use. You can redeem your promise about keeping in touch by sending flowers or cards to renew your friendship with those you like.

If you hear of good or bad things happening to those you care for, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and get talking. An unexpected friendly gesture can not only cheer them up but will also make you feel happy. Once you learn the art of coping with the post-party syndrome, you will find yourself looking forward to more such good times!

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.

 

Suited to Summer


Suited to Summer
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Sweating in stiff formals? Summer suits are here to help you breathe easy, says S Radha Prathi
 

Haven’t we all heard of Bertie Wooster’s eternal boast of having written an article on ‘What the well-dressed man is wearing’? If Bertie was here today, he would have goggled at what the well-dressed man is wearing and how serious he is about his attire.

Summers in India can be forbiddingly hot and indefinitely long. The characteristic heat and dust of India coupled with regional humidity or aridity make the smartest dandy shy away from formal wear. The trendy formal suits which serve the dual purpose of keeping off the winter’s cold and looking dapper have to be resigned to the wardrobe for the next couple of months.

Women have an easier time in summer as they can coolly switch to cottons. But not so the men who usually sweat through in stiff suits they have to wear to business meetings.

Arrow’s Italian Fashion Designer Renato Grande says, “In the hierarchy of style, a good suit remains a man’s only trump card. Even in this age of casual-wear, the suit still carries an air of success, taste, and sophistication.” And today the man who is conscious of what he wears, has help at hand. Creative designers have come up with ‘cool and comfortable’ formal clothing. The main perspective while designing summer suits are to make the person not only look but also feel at ease throughout the day.

A bird’s eye-view of what the designers and leading shops in men’s wear have to offer this season reveals that this summer, their collections stand out due to their thoughtful choice of fabric. While the Arrow President Collection crafts its outfits from superfine Italian fabrics made from the finest Giza cotton, the Signature collection swears by linen. Some international premium brands such as Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole and Izod opt for the finest cotton that money can buy to beat the summer heat. Mr Grande has come out with a collection for his customers which he feels is, “trendy, light weight and designed to make you eventually look the gentleman you are”.

One candid designer remarked, “this season, my recommendation for formal men’s clothing is very simple — be comfortable and basic. Wear a light coloured linen suit in the day and a darker one at night. The only downside really is that linen crumples and at the end of the day, it might really look tacky. So, the other option is to wear a light tropical wool suit which breathes and does not make you uncomfortable.”

Chalk stripes appear to be the order of the day as they are the ‘original’ power suit. Mr Paresh Lamba, a leading designer who has his exclusive ‘Signature’ men’s wear suggests, “colours should be mild during the day, even though you can team up a mild coloured suit with a more adventurous colour shirt inside to add a dash of colour.”

As the choice of formal suits unfolds, accessories like ties, socks and handkerchiefs to complement also figures in the reckoning of the designers.