Articles for October 2007

Memories of the mountains

Doing it finally. The book that everyone pestered me for and gave up. Only, its a series of blog posts. For how long they will go on…. who knows? The memories are endless… but will the words last?

For as long as I remember, I have been rather footloose. Traveling to new places experiencing new lifestyles and going through a lot of difficulties in the process seems to come naturally. Good or bad, I cannot say. But o­ne thing is for sure, my wanderlust has taught me a lot of things I would not have known otherwise.

This section is about my experiences of a nomadic life in Manali. I had gone there as an instructor in a children’s outdoor education camp with no intention of returning without having seen the region in some detail. I stayed back after completing the duration of the camps to complete my basic mountaineering course at the institute there. After that, I joined forces with a horseman who was originally from Delhiand had now settled in Manali.

We provided trekking services with the horses for pack luggage and us working as the guide and cook and led the nomadic life of the famed Khampa horsemen around the year. The wanderings included regions like Ladakh, Zanskar, Spiti, Changthang, Kinnaur, Ramput, Shimla, Banjar, Dharamshala, Manali, Mandi…. I stayed there for six years. These were probably the most dramatic and educational years in my life until then.

Leading the life of a rural nomad and working as a guide and horsewoman o­n trekking groups for a living was unheard of among my family and friends and also among the locals in the places I lived in. At a time when their own children were moving away from the life of hardships in favor of comfortable homes and jobs in the tourist industry, it seemed incredible that someone preferred the old ways of life and had left the cities and all their development to settle among the mountains.

This section was born from the fascinated response around numerous fires o­n chilly nights as we warmed our hearts and froze our blood over numerous escapades and touching memories. This is for the armchair adventurer and the o­ne desirous of leading a life of choice no matter where they went. The story is of efforts making a seemingly impossible adjustment enjoyable.

This is also for those who want to know what I have been up to during my 6 year long absence from the city of Mmubai.

Feminism and society

Call me old fashioned or ignorant, but I am well aware that I am not entirely cues in to this feminism thing. I am female. I am a housewife, a mountaineer, a professional in multiple areas at my whim. They are all aspects of me. Why should it be that my being a housewife is wrong or makes me weaker in anyway? For that matter, why is there a need to have an exclusive label, if equality and empowerment is the idea?

Does being protected make something stronger? Is that equality? I think feminists are the biggest danger to women power, because they demand that separate platform, rather that empowering women to simply be themselves and powerful.

I think that this whole thing is so hyped and people are so aggressive about it, that all sense of perspective is lost. The original idea of setting women free from social pressure has now given was to the pressure of expecting a woman to reject all that is “traditionally” allotted a feminine connotation. That’s plain silly.

No matter how many women burn their bras, its going to be a hell of a long time before there are as many female construction workers as males and if it happened, it would be plain stupid and a mismanagement of human resources.

Rejecting traditional female roles and beginning afresh is like reinventing the wheel. I am a woman, and only one who doesn’t understand people at all will imagine me to be weak. That strength didn’t come from competing with males or insisting that I be the same as them. It came from being myself and if some expectations crashed, either from the traditional end or the feminity end….. *shrug*

Males don’t get PMS. Women have multiple orgasms. On the other hand, orgasm for a male is guaranteed. Men have more muscle mass than women, women do have breasts, and I’m not even going to get into the psychological differences. Just grab a copy of the Mars and Venus book.

I can understand how it is important for a woman not to be oppressed and how it is a violation of her personal rights. What about the rights of those who are expected to accept women even where they don’t believe it works?

I think woman power is not about “Equal-to-man” power. Why use men as a scale anyway? Are they an ideal? I think its not about woman power even. It is about being yourself and having the guts to go through with it, whether you are male or female. There is no point dragging gender in as a measure while claiming that the ideal is removing it from the public domain.

So people, figure out what exactly it is that you are trying to say. And yes, this is a kind of direct response to a “burn-the-bra” type who had the guts to look down her nose at me for being a housewife. I am a housewife, because I don’t want to land up for work everyday. What’s more, I have managed to figure out a life for myself where I can work 10 days a month at the most and afford to live happily.

I refuse to believe that my feminity requires me to slog 30 days a month to prove I’m powerful. If I can’t ensure my freedom, what power do I have?

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