G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Are women at the mercy of biology?

Since Victorian era began in England, in India- let alone sex-mentioning women’s monthly periods became taboo. It was not so in medieval times. Indian historians (e.g. T S Shejwalkar, D G Godse द ग गोडसे) have quoted instances when women’s monthly period was mentioned without any hesitation.

During my childhood in sixties and seventies, monthly period was a subject that could not be avoided (how do you turn down an invitation to participate in religious activities?) yet could not be discussed directly. Many euphemisms were invented. I remember one – ‘Dog touched’. My mother used it and we interrogated her mercilessly- how the hell it did! She always came up with a story. Not very convincing most times.

Although my mother never practiced it, we saw most women of Brahmin households “sitting Out/Aside/Away” during those "dog-touched” days. They were not allowed to ‘touch’ most things and people. They almost became 'untouchables'. They used separate set of utensils for eating, wore separate set of clothes and so on. The whole day, they sat in a shadowy corner of the house.

I felt great mystery every time I came across a “sitting OAA” woman. Now, how the hell did a dog touch her?!

These days in cities I don’t come across women “sitting OAA” but the subject is still treated with some hesitation. We have dozens of sanitary napkin brands on the market today, but their advertisements continue to be shrouded in mystery.

I guess the practice of "sitting OAA" had a lot of merit. It made sure a woman was freed of physical labour (sample these killers- fetching water, cooking, washing clothes) and sex during menstruation. It gave her much needed rest.

I never heard menopause being discussed at all. So following headline would sound from planet Venus.

ELIZABETH HAYT (NYT June 7,2007)“Listen Up, Everybody: I’m in Menopause”


Artist: Barbara Smaller The New Yorker 1 Nov 1999