Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Backyard Heroes

At 6 am, as the morning joggers throng Palavakkam beach on East Coast Road, the members of the Palavakkam Cricket Club (PCC) also gather to begin their morning practice. Captains Gnanamurthy and Karthik instruct the boys to take positions, the senior most member of the team, Guna, helps the beginners with the nuances of the game. The 55-member club is quite famous in ECR for their feats in gully cricket (backyard cricket). The team has won many tournaments against the prominent teams across the city. In a discussion with DC, the team opens up about their love for the cricket and the future of gully cricket.

One of the founding members of PCC, Sasi tells us about the history of PCC, “We formed PCC in 2005. We would all play cricket on the beach and with time the number who came to the beach kept growing. PCC is comprised of three teams, each of which was formed based on age,” he says. The oldest member of the team, Guna, who is a Physical Training teacher at a local school, is proud of the boys. “I'm proud of the sportsmanship these boys bring to the game. It can only happen when there is a love for the game. There is absolutely no politics. Everybody is willing to learn and improve their skills. It is their hard work and dedication that is the reason behind our club's success,” he proudly states.

Membership to PCC is open to all ECR residents, but conditions apply! “Every member should strictly adhere to the rules and regulations,” Sasi states, adding, “We practice in the morning every day. We go across the State to play in various tournaments and we want our players in their best form. So whoever joins the team should be open to learn and work hard,” says Sasi.

Captain Gnanamurthy’s obsession for the game, however, defies logic, “We once had to play in a tournament and unfortunately I was not granted leave at work. So I decided to quit my job,” he says to this stunned reporter. “That is just an example of the passion we all share for the game,” adds Sasi.

Gully cricket might be popular in the city, but the players of PCC reckon that it still hasn’t got the recognition that it deserves. “We really wish that there could be many more tournaments and it would be great if the government and corporate organizations do their bit to popularise gully cricket. Even the pitch that we play was laid by us. There aren't too many people who come forward to help us,” says Sasi.

In a country, where cricket is considered a religion, we hope that the boys' dream to popularise the street form of the game comes true.

Friday, April 4, 2014

That 'homely' girl doesn't exist

When we hear about women, who are ill-treated in Afghanistan, Pakistan and a few other countries, we often catch ourselves being happy about living in India, where we presume that many women are independent, safe and considered ‘equals’. While the recent crimes unleashed against women prove that this country is not really women-friendly, I reckon that we must also think of how women are oppressed in the name of marriage (more specifically arranged marriage) regardless of their education, upbringing and financial independence.

In the last few years, to help a friend, who wanted his parents to find a girl for him, I visited a few matrimonial websites. Although I was honestly ashamed of checking matrimonial websites, for I am strongly against the whole system of arranged marriage, I gave in for my friend, who couldn’t make up his mind about his life partner. While he didn’t have any expectations, his parents had a list of things in mind, ideally, which the bride had to meet. For instance, the girl was expected to go to work, wake up early, cook for the whole family, take care of the household, should have long hair, shouldn’t wear sleeveless clothes, shouldn’t wear jeans and kurtas to any occasions, shouldn’t be fat and on top of all that, the girl should look ‘homely’. And when I was informed of this list, I squirmed and rolled my eyes!

While I couldn’t reason with the old parents of my friend and make them realise that their thoughts are regressive, I thought I should at least write here for the men, who are going to let their parents choose their wives and to the men, who are dreaming of marrying ‘homely’ girls.

What exactly does the word ‘homely’ mean? Does it mean that the girl should wear traditional clothes? Does it also mean that the girl who wear salwar kameez and saree only conduct themselves appropriately? Does it mean that the girl should cook and take care of the house, while the men choose to watch TV? I can’t assimilate the fact that I am writing about the word ‘homely’ in the 21st century. But I think I should be loud about it because this attitude of finding ‘homely’ girl doesn’t seem to die with the old generation.

Now let’s dissect the word ‘homely’ layer by layer. So if a girl will be judged based on what she wears, one will definitely go wrong. A friend of mine, who is single and who doesn’t wear anything other than salwar kameez has had four one-night stands and another friend, who is also single and who is always seen in a tee and jeans, is still a virgin. How would one go about judging those girls then? Why should they be judged in the first place?

And a homely girl is expected to take care of the house. What does that exactly mean? When a man and a woman agree to live together for the rest of their lives, the responsibility of maintaining the house lies equally with both of them. Why should a woman alone cook, wash and clean the house? Why shouldn’t a man cook? Who categorized these responsibilities?

Okay! Let’s presume that a woman chooses to be ‘homely’, does all the menial chores and provides everything that is expected out of her. But why don’t this new age men understand that women choose to be ‘homely’ at the rate of giving up their individuality and independence? That ‘homely’ girl doesn’t exist. Who looks homely is just a mirage. Why wouldn’t these modern men appreciate that marriage shouldn’t clip women’s wings? Was ever a man questioned about continuing to work after marriage or after having a baby? While my questions might look superficial and clichéd, deep down the heart I’m deeply upset about the young crop, who are well educated and who work in reputed organizations, still expect to marry someone, who is ‘homely’. Why should I quote my friends’ lives, when quite a few men and oldies often throw disgusting look at me when they see me wearing jeans to a wedding, when they learn that I don’t cook, when I dismiss their question ‘When will you give us the good news?’, when I openly say that life is just not about having a child, when I cut my hair short, when I talk about sex, when I confess that I have had a drink or two, when I support my LGBT friends, when I agree that ‘virginity’ is a myth, when I loudly record my opinions about pre-martial sex and when I ridicule this futile system of arranged marriage!

To all the men, who are planning to get married, please keep these points in mind. Marriage doesn’t give you the rights to choose someone just to take care of your parents, cook for your family, work and give her earnings to you, bear your offspring, satiate your carnal pleasures, wash your clothes and raise your children. Marriage is about choosing that one person, whom you will respect and shower with unconditional love. In my opinion, marriage is about making that ultimate choice of sharing your life with another person, who makes you a better person and who gets kicked about being their real-self with you! Let all the other trivial things be buried forever when you thoroughly enjoy living with the love of your life, whom you choose for yourself without delegating the responsibility.