Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Live-in or married

I watched Barkha Dutt's talk show on NDTV after the Supreme Court of India said there was nothing wrong with premarital sex or live in relationships. I honestly never realized it was a crime, if the partners were over a certain age and had consented to the act.

Having heard all the excitement on what I call the channel of "lipstick journalism", I looked up the news and realized the Courts have long since maintained this, but NDTV is our crusader for all the Western values including gay rights, pub culture, live in relationships....spends hours of precious prime time TV to these issues, while the country reels under corrupt governance and slow progress in areas of crucial importance such as infrastructure, health and education at grassroot level.

Khushboo (the actress who had 20 cases against her for saying it is alright to indulge in premarital sex as long as one uses precautions), her lawyer said- "Living in should not be an aspirational value, as values such as these have broken Western societies and the world is looking up to India simply because of its unique social fabric which is a result of its traditional values..."

Probably commissurate with my grey hair and teenage daughter, I completely agree with this. Yes, people do have rights and should not be harrassed if they are living together, but in spite of the law of the land, I would prefer it never to recieve "social sanction", even though that remains only a dinosaurish wish on my part.

A 20 year old man said on the show-"Marriage has to go." Uh o ok...what can we say? Shaadi. com guy said- "Institutions have to be challenged and then they emerge stronger" All the sugar and clarified butter in your mouth, pal. (Tere muh me ghee shakkar) May your business scale the skies- may our children get married and live happily ever after.

In the UK though, married, single, single with partner, separated, divorced....all are in equal proportions in the society and I meet so many young nurses or midwives who decide to get married, after a few years (and a few children) of living together. It seems like a huge waste of few thousand pounds on a lavish wedding, (dress, cake, hall, food, drinks...etc) and I have often questioned the rationale-"do you feel any different as Mrs so and so?".

Most of the time they are emotional and romantic and see it as a confirmation of the man's love and commitment to the relationship. Some believe one should be married before having kids, others think names of children and money matters are better managed. Yet, I dont get a satisfactory explanation and most of them are happier

I think a change is always nice. However, it is not so easy for married couples to change status-"chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jaaye...hum dono" No, one can't do away with the familiarity of marriage, where the allegation is that the partners take each other for granted and the dynamics is different.

Listening to Kalpana Lajmi who has been living with Bhupen Hazarika for past 38 years, it seems she didnt marry lest she be asked to cook dinner and dress in a sari, everyday. But the dynamics in marriages today are different anyway. Who can be expected to dress and cook traditionally? Not the present jean clad, texting generation brought up on McDonalds and Pizzahuts.

Then there are the celebrities who love to marry in style, in castles and fortresses only to realize they want time out. Simon Cowell is the latest eligible half century old bachelor who has offered a prenuptial contract of God knows how many thousands of dollars and home worth what they will be living in at the time, to his fiancee, who it is predicted, will jump at the offer. So you marry with a back up plan about how to split amicably. How strange and unromantic, might as well just live together, but then I am already a dinosaur.

The Supreme Court and National Commision for women believes that if the rights of women are same if they are married or in a long term relationship, the charm of a live in relationship, which curiously is attractive because of the "No strings attached" clause will fade and the institution of marriage will remain strong.

Wonder what the twenty somethings in urban India think about that. Being a gynaecologist exposes you to the dynamics of relationships everywhere you work, be it UK, Bahrain, South Delhi (designer class) or Noida (call centres).

Live in and party out or get married and stay put? Choice is yours....

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

IPL fever

Madingley Hall in Cambridge, where I attended the course "Teaching the teachers to teach", is an example of medieval opulence. Built in the 16th century, it was rented to the Prince of Wales in the 19th century when the young man attended University in Cambridge.

It was a historic setting, with the carved doors, designed ceilings, painted glass windows and wall size paintings, for our non medical, non powerpoint presentations, which ranged from juggling, judo, wonderwoman, rifle shooting and chicken curry to how to declutter your house and what to look for while buying a pram. These were meant to break the ice between participants, who varied from the junior most to the senior most in the NHS heirarchy.

Having been witness to the IPL fever on Indian and English news channels, it came as no surprise when one of the Indian consultants stood up to present-"Why is IPL so successful?"

It must have had an impact, because later on, a white British girl while toying with ideas of what she could learn from her male Indian anaesthetist colleague in a 5 minute teaching session, decided on "rules of cricket." I must admit that ketamine did figure in her list of things to learn from Indians, but cricket got the thumbs up.

IPL is to India and the Indian media, what football used to be, to the British. I say used to be, because now the contrasting news on BBC is usually about how much in debt the football clubs are and how many are going bust. It is being revealed now that players have been paid more than what has been collected in revenues and the big bucks which made the football players, heroes and role models for youngsters, are losing a few zeroes.

The excitement on the ground in India, though,with the bright coloured teams (yellow superkings, purple knights, blue royals), glamourous owners (a coming together of the two most watched- cricket and Bollywood) and sexy cheerleaders, is just catching. In Lalit Modi's own words- "There is no recession in IPL."

Corporates ensure the flow of big money. The corporates are taking over everything- hospitals, movies, sports, education and the media (Rann, the movie was a fantastic take on that). But then big money seems to get bigger and bigger for the chosen few, in the nexus of politicians and industrialists. For instance, Tony Blair earned 12 million pounds after he stopped being Prime Minister, 6 times more than what he had earned before. Banks seem to pay big bonuses (20% of taxpayer's money which was provided as a bailout to failing banks) no matter what. Their policy has been called "Heads I win, Tails you lose". The crores which emerge after being tucked away in politicians cupboards in Jharkhand make democracy a joke and the value of money, a concern.

Money started by being such that you could redeem an equivalent of gold or silver but gradually over the years, countries did away with any equivalence in gold reserves and then it came to the stage where the US dollar became the "gold standard".  China with its mounting dollar reserves, watched in dismay, as the dollar threatened to sink like a concrete slab in the Thames, at the height of the crisis. But try as you might, with the world so connected, it is not easy to disentangle oneself from the mess created by unregulated capitalism.

Mohammad Yunus, the founder of the Microfinancing bank in Bangladesh, who won the Nobel Peace prize (well deserved, unlike others) was asked after the banking crises about whether the Grameen Bank would be affected. He said, very refreshingly that our loans are based on real assets like goats, cows and land, not on virtual instruments, like in the corporate banks.

IPL meanwhile is raking in the moolah- merchandise, matches, theatre screenings, TV rights....... Lets watch Brett Lee bowl, Priety Zinta cheer, Shilpa Shetty pout, Shahrukh Khan stammer and May the best team win!