Sunday, June 1, 2014

Girly June

So, I have been away for a pretty long time. But my recent trip to New York, summer, India, Bombay, June and the impending rain has made me feel like feeling pretty and romantic all over again. And inspired! It's like when you decide you are going to enjoy life as it is, without worrying too much. So I am starting June with a-dress-a-day challenge for myself. I recently cleared out of wardrobe and I have tooooooo many dresses. So I will wear a dress a day, every day, till I need to buy more!! I am starting with my favourite new dress, which i bought in New York (more on that trip later) from this brand called J Crew. Along with that i hold my vintage purse (from the 60s) which i bought from a flea in Brooklyn! Shoes and shades from H&M. what do you think?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Love and Longing in October

So i got a new dress, and my husband go a new phone. And both of these combined to give us a great video of me trying to be all posey as we went for lunch on a hot afternoon. I think the dress looks really romantic and date type here don't you. And i love my new blingy sandals from zara. I manage to look so romantic, i love it. And this HTC 1 just did this all by itself. Awesome. Hope you like it. Dress from Westside, shoes and bag from Zara, smiles -- model's own :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Red Sunday: My last post as Indian Summer?

Red is such a different colour for me. I used to never wear it before but i have grown to embrace the colour as i have grown older. But somehow it's getting harder for me to do the fashion posts -- if i need to look good for a picture, you can guarantee, i won't look good. So maybe, i will stop fashion blogging soon, because i don't think i do it too well -- meet me on any other day, i am dressed so much better than this. :) i will keep doing outfit of the day posts on my blog but maybe Indian Summer needs to shut down. I will continue my fashion posts on Pop mad, but even when i don't do a fashion post, that blog has so much more for you to read, watch and listen to. So here i am wearing my favourite red pencil skirt (completely flatters my shape) and a top that i love -- thanks to its cute robot print. And my new favourite shoes from Forever 21 -- black keds with tiny black spokes! So comfy as well. Hope you like this post. Will take a day and think about shutting Indian Summer down, but I want to thank everyone who has ever read this blog. Love you.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I know it's been super long since a post but I have abandoned my fashion blog for my pop culture one called, but i am back! I love, love this dress ia m wearing. It's comfy and just is meant for my body shape. Also i have been buying accessories from Forever 21 like crazy and especially love my neck piece and my fox earings. The bag, also from forever 21, is sporty and cool. And these shoes from Zara are ones I am wearing everywhnere now -- you know me, comfort comes first. Ok, many more posts to come. :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

When Education makes you a misfit

I came across this story in my village Kharkhoda, and it made me think about the unfairness of it all. It didn't fit the parametres of my magazine so i am putting it up on my blog as i feel the issue is too important to not be talked about.

Jyoti, Rachna and Ruby. All pictures by Raul Irani of Open Magazine

Once a small, dusty village -- Kharkhoda in Sonepat, Haryana -- is now a bustling town. Through a market that sells pirated copies of English movies as soon as they release, to yummy bread pakoras, one reaches the gates of a private school, Sanjay Atray Memorial School. It is right in the middle of a school day, and the primary wing is full of crying, sleepy and yet boisterous young ones. But when a visitor comes calling, they recite poems at the drop of a hat – their English almost devoid of a village accent. Ask them who taught them Jack and Jill, and they all shout in unison, “Jyoti Maam”. In a village where parents are usually not ones to recommend Enid Blyton to their kids, teachers are the ones to look up to. Jyoti Bagri is 25 and the head of the primary sections. Born and brought up in Kharkhoda by an educated father (who is a MA, BeD and now works as a government employee) and a mother (who though only studied till class 5, wants her daughters to study), she now possesses a Bachelors of Arts degree, a BeD degree and after pursuing a MA in Literature, she is now undertaking another MA in Political Science. At first glance, she looks like any young woman dressed in the latest salwar kurta fashion – well fitting and colour coordinated right down to her nail polish and chappals. It could be all the Indian soaps she watches in her free time that lend inspiration. Slender and caramel skinned with a ready, charming smile, she exudes confidence when she talks and you know that she would fit right in, whatever the situation may be. There is another detail about her that does define who she is – at least in our country – she belongs to the SC/ST class.

Where her education should be considered an asset, Jyoti’s biggest disappointment is that it is what makes her a pariah in her own caste. SC/ST Families don’t want a smart “over educated” daughter in law, in case she starts bossing them around. The fact that Jyoti wants to work after marriage is another deterrent. But she acknowledges that the problem lies with her and her family as well. They don’t want to settle for less than what they deserve now. Thanks to her education, she doesn’t want to marry a boy who is less educated or well settled She want to be with a partner that equal her in every regard. As Jyoti says, “Most SC/ST boys either take the reserved jobs or get into business. That’s their mentality. I want a boy who is at least as educated as I am.”

That’s the story of her other sisters too -- Ruby the eldest at 29 and Rachna, 27. Ruby who is also a BA, MA (in Hindi and Sanskrit) and BeD and Rachna has a diploma in computers and has done a beauty course as well. Both have been in the marriage circuit for a while now, and have now got used to relatives and neighbours telling their parents “Pada liya na. Ab shaadi nahin ho rahi.” The stories of their marriage woes can be divided into two parts – boys that reject them because of the “over education” and boys they reject because of their “under education”. In Haryana, where statistics show the number of college-going girls has quadrupled in last 25 years and the number of Class 12-pass girls has gone up five-fold since the ’80s; but that of boys has not even doubled, this could pose as a serious problem. In his 2001 report titled India Gender Profile, commissioned by Swedish International Development Agency, Gautam Bhan, now Senior Consultant for Curriculum Development and Policy and Advisory Services at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, made the connection between marriageblity and education of women. He cited the 1991 census figures which showed that 46% men from backward classes were educated, but only 19 per cent women were educated. He gave reasons such as religions and caste as main deterrents to education for women but also cited marriageblity as one of the main reasons. The report says – “Education in Urban areas is now considered an asset that makes a girl more attractive to a suitor. In rural areas, however, too much education is seen a sign that the girl lacks good domestic skills and hence will not make a good wife. This is also true for low-income families in urban areas and religious families of all strata.”

The Bagri sisters have other problems to add to their woes. Most men who come to their house are not as educated, or have a stable government job which is a pre-requisite according to the sisters and their father. There is also another glitch – the educated girls would not even dream of marrying someone who would ask for dowry. Ruby tells the stories with a sardonic laugh. “So a few days ago, someone came by who was only 12th pass. And they thought I was too educated for their son, who didn’t even have a proper job. We said no right away.” The girls’s relatives have tried to get different grooms to their small home, but once the would-be in laws hear of Ruby’s qualifications, they decide it’s not worth being with smart talking bride. “My father tells people that I can only get married in a house that lets me work after marriage. That gets rid of most of them,” she says. Jyoti says, “Being educated has given us some power but nothing good is coming of it.” As they wait for the eldest to get married, the girls are just getting older, which is another problem. Their parents have also never lied about their ages. “My father often tells people ‘at least see her, she doesn’t look 29. Ladki ke gun dekho’. But nobody wants to. They don’t want an over-educated, old bride,” says Ruby. These experiences of the bad kind have made Ruby world wise as well, “I don’t want to get married outside my caste. I may have to adjust -- because if you marry a man from the higher caste, one day it matters. I just want him to have a good, stable job. I know of friends who married boys of higher castes and later had to get divorced. It just doesn’t work.”

If there was some hope that educated boys of higher castes would marry the sisters, that was also shattered with a recent experience Jyoti went through. After the mother of one of her students observed Jyoti over a period of time, she decided that this was one fair maiden for her nephew. On the school’s Annual Day, the whole Jat family came down to vet Jyoti – without her even having an inkling of what was happening. They stared at her all day, passing smiles when she glanced over suspiciously. The boy was smitten, he told his aunt. It was time to meet the parents and fix the rishta. And then it came to light – Jyoti was an SC/ST. “That’s when I never saw them again,” says Jyoti. They were impressed with her education, but the caste question was too big to ignore. In the same village, a 40 year-old who got her 16 year-old daughter married after forging her school documents to prove she was 18, says that this is the only way to go. “It’s too big a risk to take. A good match was right in front of me. And I couldn’t let it go waste.” Her daughter is now a mother at 17.

Far away from the Bagri sisters, in Trichy, Yoesthin and her sisters face the same dilemma. A Dalit activist, Yoesthin doesn’t plan to get married as she has to take care of her old parents and also because she doesn’t want to lose her freedom. The thought of marriage is anyone a tiresome for her, because as she says it’s just too hard. The 38 year old year these days is trying to get her other two sisters Vinotha (35) and Pricelin (30) married off. The girls, who are both teachers teaching younger children, earn enough to be deemed “marriage worthy”. But Yoesthin is now facing an unusual problem – “if the boys are working at good government jobs, they are usually not educated. They get these jobs thanks to the quota. And if they are educated, they would want girls of higher castes or younger.” All three sisters, who got educated and started working in their 20s, are now stuck in a rut. But as Yoesthin says that that shouldn’t deter other Dalit girls as education is stil the most important thing. The Dalit activist spends her days in field advising young Dalit girls to go to school as she knows it’s what matters. “Awareness is important. Maybe then things will change.” Her sisters who have had enough of this situation are now insisting that they also stay unmarried like her. “Their heart isn’t in it anymore.”

An Indian Express news report from Gujarat in 2009 had cited the example of a Dalit girl with an MBA degree eloping with an upper caste boy far less qualified than her. The boy’s family intervened and insisted that the girl be returned to her family, as despite her qualification, having a Dalit daughter in law could cause trouble with the family getting their own daughters married. Kannal Parmar, the activist that had recounted the incident to Express, started his own SC/ST marriage bureau after this incident. He was quoted as saying, “Incidents of educated girls having to compromise and settle for lesser-educated boys within their sub-caste or facing discrimination when married to higher castes triggered the idea of creating an option to bridge the gap. Gujarat, by and large, is an ultra casteist state where marriage between two sub-castes is a taboo. Although SCs are still not accepted in higher castes, they can find better matches as per their sensibilities this way.”

Pathakjee from Pathakjee Matrimonial Consultant, who specialize in SC/ST marriages  in and around New Delhi,  tells us that he thinks that 75% of SC/ST boys want girls who are less educated than them. “I recently took the rishta of a good looking, educated and well earning girl to a well-off boy who was less educated than her. They boy just refused. He says he would rather not get married than get married to a girl who is more educated than him. They are both still looking for spouses.”
Other than Rajasthan, our reporting showed that such instances are high in areas such as Kerala as well, where the literacy rate amongst girls is high as well – the government of Kerala website shows figures as high as 91.98 literacy rate for women in 2011. Rekha Raj, an activist who works with Dalits in Kerala, says she has noticed the same phenomenon in the Dalit community. She cites the example of a family of unmarried girls ranging in age from 30 to 45, all highly educated but incapable of finding grooms. Along with reasons such as their dark skin working against them, even in their own caste, “over education” is one main problem. “When they are educated, they have a voice and opinions. They understand their rights and want to live life in a certain way. But that goes against them as Dalit families usually want a meek wife and daughter in law. They don’t want girls who are too progressive. We recently got one of the sisters married at age 35 – it was a hard task.” Another activist Bobby Joseph, who is also involved with Dalit causes, gives another example, “Most Dalit men are getting married early, and since many girls are studying longer, they get too old for these men. The main factor is still that education makes these girls powerful and independent and the patriarchal nature of society doesn’t want to accept that, and hence their education goes against them. If she is educated, she most probably won’t even offer dowry, and that would spell doom for most men’s families.”

If the above mentioned case studies say anything it’s that this is a story reflected in many states of India. Young men from the SC/ST strata don’t want to marry a girl who is better than them in any regard. And young educated girls from backward classes, don’t want to spend their lives with someone they can’t have a conversation with. Varsha Jhanwar from the Aastha Sansthan in Rajasthan, who works with women’s issues, says that according to their research men from SC/ST and other backward classes in rural areas usually don’t pay much attention to education, and get waylaid by drinking and general vagrancy. “The girls then obviously don’t want to marry such boys. As a result, parents react by stopping their girls from even going to school. In those cases, they can marry their girls off wherever they wish.” State governments are now trying to remedy the situation of unmarried girls from backward classes, but these come with their own problems. Almost every state now offers monetary incentive for inter-caste marriages. West Bengal, Bihar, Utter Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra are just some of the states that offer Rs 25,000 to Rs 5 lakhs for inter caster marriages that are registered. Shivajirao Moghe, minister of Social Justice, Welfare of Nomadic, De-Notified Tribes and Other Backward Classes and De-addiction Activities of Maharashtra, puts a unique spin on it when we suggest that the money may prompt people to get married for the wrong reasons. “It’s all about love, not money. When society rejects love, we the government, encourage it. It’s about breaking the caste barrier and some incentive is welcome. This money is to help them. Love knows no caste. People who get married like this know that they have also worked in the larger interest of people.” He does agree that educated girls could be shunned as the mentality of the rural folk may lead them to believe that education makes a girl too modernized. But says that he is sure that will change one day. There could also be another reason – as most women are uneducated, rural schools have less women teachers and hence parents don’t feel comfortable sending their daughters in. Nooreen Dossa of Educate Girls, which works in Rajasthan, says, “People think education will westernize their daughters. Also, government schools don’t have female teachers. The lack of education makes sure that there are very few female role models. We need to change that.”

Back in Kharkhoda, Jyoti feels that the cash incentive that encourages inter-caste marriages will give rise to greedy people. She had a friend who got married under the scheme, but her husband left her soon after. She feels that instead of offering money, maybe governments should offer jobs to the girls, making them good investments in turn. Despite their circumstances, the three sisters haven’t lost hope. They thank God everyday for parents who support them and are sure that they won’t compromise. They want to just focus on moving ahead. As Jyoti says, “You can’t let society change you. You need to change society.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Just another day at work

Dressing to work is always about comfort, and though these days i usually want to wear dresses (thanks to the heat), since i take the train, i feel pants or jeans are such an easy option. You never have to worry about the breeze blowing up your skirt! i hate that, and it makes me soo conscious. So these jeans of mine are very soft and actually don't make me feel too hot. I love my new top from Vintage Earth which is my go to store for ethnic chic. And my Zara shoes, which are my attempt at androgyny. Also check out the tiny animal farm on my ears. Take care.
BTW, i am now available for taking people shopping...aka like a personal shopper. I have done a few stints for friends and i think i can do it professionally. And no, i am not charging the world. So if you have anyone who wants a new wardrobe and needs some help, do recommend me if you think it will be of help :) Affordable shopping or high street, we can do it all. Please do spread the word.

shoes, bag, jeans from zara. Shirt from vintage earth, earings from accessorise. shades from promod

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Food for your Soles!

One thing I love about summer is the pretty colours and shapes shoes come in. Wearing the strappy shoe is so much better when they are in gold and silver. So when Sole'D asked me to try their shoes, I was more than happy to get on that bandwagon. The strappy flats are perfect for someone who are on their feet the whole day but still want their feet to look pretty. Comfort is key, all the while looking so cute. I paired the flats with an Aztec print dress that i picked up for a steal at Lokhandwala market for just Rs 300. It's perfect for that evening out for coffee or in this weather, lemonade. They also have many other pretty colours so do try them out. They are available at a click Sole'D :) and for the dress, just ask me for directions!! Hope you like it. The typewriter is from Chor Bazar.