Congratulate her.

I didn’t want to make this about women. Because just about everyone we see everyday is working hard to create something. But lately some women in my life have just been hitting the ball out of the park. They’re amazing, and I don’t think they get enough credit, and more importantly, women do not encourage women. Women tend to be not only self deprecating, but also more judgemental of other women than they are of men. We have inherent biases that keep us from congratulating, and really truly and vocally encouraging other women in our lives.

 

So today, I am congratulating all of them. The “hers” in my life that inspired this post. Without specifically naming them, lest I divulge something that they didn’t wish should be posted online, and also for fear of forgetting any one of the “hers”; I will simply be alluding to them and what I think is so great about them. In an era where we are very obviously regressing in this great country, voting into power someone who is not only openly disrespectful toward us, but undoubtedly will take measures to make our lives more difficult than they already are as women, I think we, and our supportive male allies are our biggest hope for progress.

 

To the ones who are successfully running their own businesses – taking what they love to the next level – animals, food, photography, writing. You are bringing what you love, to others in your own unique light – organizing workshops  to engage people, doing interviews with people for projects that you’ll eventually release and will be a raging success, writing to engage children, getting children to engage with abused animals, sharing your recipes for food and for success – you are doing wonders for the human race using things that you love. You are brave to do this, and to not stick with something that only gets you a steady paycheck without nurturing your soul. Take that, and run with it onto braver things!

 

To the ones who are pursuing degrees or studying for a milestone exam – You are working hard, and it is visible. You have voiced how LONG you have been doing this, and you’re ready for it to be over. It will be over. Soon. And you’ll emerge victorious ;), brave, and successful, and you’ll have that job or that degree, and it’ll be amazing. Just brave on, a little more. You can do it. You’re amazing.

 

To the ones who are teaching – I can think of noone more qualified mentally and emotionally to impart wisdom to the next generation. (Old, much?) Yours is a difficult job, and one that you do well. Yours is the most valuable role in society. It shames me to think that all I do all day is sit at a computer writing code that will only ever so slightly REALLY impact a living, breathing soul in a meaningful way.

 

To those getting married as I write this 😉 – The wedding is for others, the marriage is for you. You have been so much more patient, accepting, and loving throughout the preparations than I was for my wedding. You are so involved, and you want to make everyone happy. That is f*cking EXHAUSTING, and you are doing an amazing job. I wish I had your strength, your beauty, and your grace. I hope your weddings are wonderful, and I hope your marriages are STELLAR!

 

To women in tech – Much as I love and support you, I think there is enough material about you already. So I am leaving you out of this one. This is about the non #femgineers in my life who are beyond amazing, and we do not talk about enough.

 

For those people who have talked insecurities with me, and I have shared mine with them. It is hard to remember how superbly wonderful you are in ALL other facets of life, than the one you’re insecure about, when you’re feeling like crap. But every time you find yourself engrossed in that one small slice of the pie, come back to this post, and remember that someone thinks that you are successful, wonderful, beautiful, and LOVED. AND you are drop dead gorgeous! Nobody’s life is what it appears on social media, and everyone wishes they had something that YOU have. So, walk like that, talk like that, and BE that way!

 

To all these amazing girls – your work, your choices, your souls, – a pinch of each one, blended together is a beautiful seasoning that makes you your own unique form of rare. So even though I just made you sound like a well seasoned steak, I think every one of you is a wonderful human being, acing all walks of life, and breathing life into a race that is slowly and surely writing itself off to technology and bad voting decisions. I congratulate you, and I thank you for being my friends!

 

This girl will probably burn your Rotis.

I read this article on The Life and Times of the Indian Homemaker (IHM). I love IHM’s posts and I love how her blog gives Indian women a place to call their own. Everyday, I’m thankful for the issues she brings to public eye.

As I read this, I found myself mentally adding a clause to each of her sentences, like this –

“Because in this environment a girl is being seen only as being ‘useful’ or ‘useless’ to men.” , only if her family leads her to believe so.

“she must strive for the approval of men, their neighbours, colleagues and extended families – this mindset has created a society where everybody knows what every woman must do or not do.” ,  only if her family led her to believe so.

And so forth. You get it, right ?

And, her family led her to believe so if they believed so themselves.

So today, sitting a few thousand miles away, this Indian girl presents and ode to her family, for never ever believing so.

My hopes for my home country are that every family begin thinking a little less about society and it’s never ending demands, and a little more about their little girls. This is a long shot, and most of the part of me that believes this will happen someday, is dead. But here is the ambivalence – I am living proof that this can happen. And so are most of my girlfriends that were not only allowed, but encouraged lives of independence – far away from home, allowed to be alone and become strong. Make choices, Make mistakes. Kill roaches. (ok, had to put that in there!)

The thing is that education and engineering degrees, do empower women the way they do other people. Just, not when the little woman is made to earn them, grow up, and then be married off to a conservative family come graduation time, her skills and knowledge forever buried, never to be seen again.

15.

9.

7.

5.

This was the number of girls in my four years of engineering college (or somewhere in this ballpark). The class was roughly about 50 strong each year. Many girls dropped off because they had no idea why they had enrolled in the first place, couldn’t comprehend it, and failed. Few were married off somewhere in between.

The rest of us, graduated and looked like she-males by the end of it.  (We also understood way too many filthy jokes than originally intended.) One of them certainly knew nothing (and still doesn’t) about how to make a perfect Roti and certainly does not care.

Image

The ones who failed, were probably more intelligent and more capable than all of us graduates combined. But, the text books were written in English (which was not their first OR second language), and I can make an educated guess that when they went home, their priorities were not to do homework or assignments. Their families wanted them to be ‘girls’.

At this same time, I would go home, grab a snack, watch some TV, and then study. I’d leave the gosh awful subject on electric currents and circuitry for when my Dad returned from work and then cried help. The point is this –  I have a Dad who would care to explain those stupid circuits to me, helped me with my engineering drawings (God knows I can’t visualize in 3D), and Calculus. I also had a grandfather who would dig into his 60 year old civil engineering reserves to explain some strange mapping techniques to me when I was in my first year of engineering. I have a mom who’d kick ass proof read every English essay and a Grandmother who’d ensure I had all the chocolate cake in the world to keep me happy when I was studying for those semester exams.

At the same time,  those girls were probably being made to drape themselves in sarees and make chai and sweets to try and impress an eligible bachelor from the community. And if said effort went any way other than instant marriage,  it was probably their fault. And today, that is the extent of their self esteem. What they are in someone else’s eyes. Or, what they’re not. What their skin color is. Or rather, what it is not. What they presented as dowry, and surely, what they did not.

So today, this girl who will easily build you a web application, a Facebook application or maybe even a basic circuit with a switch and a bulb, proudly says that she is not qualified to not burn those Rotis. And when he was standing about at the ripe young age of 18 being told “One of these girls will be cooking for you in the future“, this girl’s family was probably saying “Hell, no.