Disney Princesses and a much needed analysis

When I was a child, Disney Princesses were a big thing among young girls like me and I confess I found their beauty, grace and perfection extremely awe-inspiring. It was only much later that i realised how truly absurd many of these stories were. A lot of the times these stories have been so stupid, they actually gave out the wrong message. All the time when they gave glamorised docile, weak and submissive women they have actually encouraged girls against getting empowered.

Cinderella: The story of a girl who spends some 20 or so years of her life as a maid to her step-mother and step-sisters doing nothing whatsoever to resist the opression and uplift her position. One day, she meets the Prince and falls in love. In the end, they get married and thanks to the Prince she finally experiences a better life.

Snow White: (what an awful name) Snow White runs away from her house when her step mother tries to kill her and when she finally gets the chance to live a free life as an independent woman, she takes refuge in the house of 7 dwarfs where she happily takes up the duty of doing household chores for them. Later in the story, she conditionally dies after eating and apple offered to her by a stranger! Eventually saved by some Prince.

Aurora: The one thing that strikes you in the movie is how little is the protagonist’s involvement in her own story. The long and short of Aurora’s story is that she goes into a prolonged sleep of several years because of the “curse of an evil fairy” and is saved by a king in the end.

Ariel: After falling in love with a Prince, this mermaid decides to exchange her tail for legs through the use of dark magic (!) in order to get him. The worst part of the story is Ariel getting the Prince. A happy ending, for me, would be Ariel learning that love is not a good enough reason to loose your individuality.

  
Now there are some who are absolutely unworthy of being role-models for thousands of young girls who look up to them because of the fact that for whatever brilliant reason these movies were made, these ladies only epitomize weak women. However, there are some who have been the silver linings to the dark clouds of Disney’s portrayal of the ideal princess/woman. (In increasing order of inspiration)

Belle: For me, there are exactly 3 reasons why I like Belle: 1. She reads 2. When she falls for the Beast, it’s for reasons beyond looks 3. She saves the hero. Yet, why the movie could not have had a better name than ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is beyond me.

Jasmine: Hands down, this one is my favorite Disney princess. Her love for adventure and freedom is totally relatable for me. To her being a princess is more of a captivity than a privilege and she even runs away from her palace in pursuit of freedom. Cherry on the top is the fact that she has a pet tiger.

Mulan: Now, Milan may not be my favourite but she is the role model every girl deserves. She is Brave, strong, independent, stubborn, daring and also much less feminine than the others. She is the warrior who has broken all the stereotypes of a princess.

 
There could be factual inaccuracies in my post because I saw these movies years ago. And some of them are not mentioned here because I have not seen them. Do let me know what you think about this post:)

Travel Memoirs

I’ve just been to Mussourie, Dehradun and Rishikesh and it’s been such a wonderful trip that I couldn’t not tell everyone about it.
Now, I live in a place that’s deprived even of a reasonable amount of scenic or natural beauty and that has very little historical importance. A hill-person, a beach-person, a desert-person, a museum-person, a forts-and-palaces-person or even a jungle-person would feel lost in this town of mine and I have to confess I’m a bit of all; only a mall-person or a cafe-person could thrive here. So, a person from a town as commonplace as mine yearns to be in glamorous destinations every once in a while.

It was this yearning that had me drawn towards the queen of hills: Mussourie and I couldn’t help but be jealous of those who live here. There are people who walk these hillsides everyday; who have these beautiful sceneries awaiting them every time they open their windows; and who have fresh, pollution-free mountain air gushing to welcome them every time they step out of their house.

So, when at Mussourie I’d say, you should trek to Lal-tibba, eat Kalsang, visit the Cambridge Book Store at the right time but more importantly relax in this laid-back town and take in the scenic beauty this place has to offer in abundance. I came here to meet Mr. Ruskin Bond, but ended up having the times of my life.

At Dehradun, I spent only very little time but I’d suggest everyone to go to Mindrolling Buddhist Temple, Robber’s Cave and Clement Town.

And in Rishikesh, let your adrenaline take charge. It’s a very good place for trying out all the adventure sports you always wanted to and then maybe spent a quiet hour or two at the Triveni Ghat listening to self-proclaimed conspiracy theorists discussing politics.

One thing that this trip got me thinking was: do we ever completely come back from places we visit and love? I think a part of us always stays back making the memories as vivid as yesterday for years to come.

Rain, thou art a nuisance!

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With the rains finally ( and thankfully ) over, after 3 months or so I am finally in a position to think and to write and so I decide to pour my heart out about the much loved: rain
I somehow fail to understand why people are so obsessed with the “beauty of rain”: the poets who’ve written poems on it and musicians who have found their strokes of inspiration in it; writers write better when it rains and readers find it ( and an overrated cup of coffee ) a perfect companion for their favourite books; rains are a much liked and overly fancified backdrop for Bollywood movies and their song and dance sequences.
But, despite these  exaggerated attempts to glamorise rain, the rain reality of the country remains far from fantasy as rains continue to wreck havoc in the lives of commoners year after year: it disrupts everyday life by making getting out of the house or even opening the window a battle against the odds; it makes the already-in-bad-condition roads of our country much worse ( giving the tea-stall parties an opportunity to revisit the topic of corruption ), infact some of these narrower roads become so unbearable you will find yourself fighting an urge to puke; and don’t even get me started on how badly it hits the poor: the quality of their previous years’ prayers is directly related to whether their house is able to withstand the wrath of the rain-gods or gives up under the pressure.
So, you can enjoy the rains as much as you want and dance when it pours and threatens to submerge the entire town, I will not be okay with it until I get the option to simply hibernate in the monsoon season.

The Mango Tree: Part 5 of 5

“I remember well, madam. He was a well built man who owned a lot of farms in our village. His age would’ve been 42-43 at the time when his son died after which he became addicted to alcohol so much so that his maternal brother had to come and take him to his own village so that he could be cared for. A few days later, we came to know of his death post which, his brother came in to look after his farms” he said.
“And how many years ago did he die?” I asked.
“Umm.. It must have been 30-31 years, I think” he said.

Hemaram’s story turns out to be much more sinister than I thought. And with the same thought I decide to pen this story down.

So this was the final part of the story. Hope you liked it. Do share your thoughts in comments.

The Mango Tree: Part 4 of 5

“This is all I know about the incidents” I told my cousins who’d been all listening ardently to this old local tale. Though I’d been only 10 years old at that time, I remember watching, with increasing curiosity, the entire drama unfold.

A few weeks hence, as I was sitting at a tea shop on the outskirts of the town on my way back from my evening-time stroll, I was joined by a man. His name, I discovered, was Kumar and he soon got engaged in a conversation with the tea shop owner. Just as I was making to leave the shop I overheard him say the name of his village: Shyamgunj. I froze. Shyamgunj. The word sent a chill down my spine. I immediately turned towards him and asked “Then you must know about Hemaram?”. “Hemaram?” he pondered upon the question a little “Naturally. I would have been 15 or so at the time of his death but I remembered it well” the man said.

I suppressed a desire to laugh. This man clearly knew about no Hemaram if he in his middle age was claiming that he had been 15 year old at the time of his death, which occurred only 13 years ago. But he seemed to be in full mood to narrate a tale and I was in no hurry to return home. Thus he began:

The Mango Tree: Part 3 of 5

Then, on the morning of the sixteenth day, Hemaram was seen walking towards his house looking as if he had walked all night all the way from Shyamgunj. His appearance was dishevelled and unkempt and he smelt of liquor. Walking with great difficulty, he went straight to his house without paying any heed to the excited chatter of people who had gathered outside their house to talk about this scene. Once inside his hut, he bolted the door from inside and slept through the day. In the evening when he woke up, he was hysterical. He tore his hair and banged his head and screamed and cried till his lungs no longer allowed him to. By this time every man, woman and child in the vicinity had gathered near his house, shocked and scared. A warning was henceforth issued to every child by their parents never to be seen anywhere near this man for they were certain he was possessed by some evil spirit.

By the next day, it became known through some anonymous source: that the spirit that had possessed him was that of his father who had died a few years back and the unaware Hemaram could not attend the funeral. He even managed to anger the spirit furthermore by attempting to sell his ancestral property. The angered spirit decided to extract its revenge from Hemaram by driving him mad.

Later that night, the gardener hanged himself on the Mango Tree and died.

The Mango Tree: Part 2 of 5

Hemaram was from a faraway village lying in the remote regions of the Ranakpur forest and this was also his qualification for the job because it was believed that he should posess abundant knowledge about flora in general given that he had spent years amidst them. He was a fifty-ish , well built man who had spent a good eighteen years of his life looking after the garden and by the look of things, he was here to stay. The garden itself was big, lined with trees and
with a large patch of lush, green grass in the middle. In the extreme corner of the garden stood the mango tree and a few feet from it was the gardener’s house. There was also a flower patch near the tree which was extremely well-cared-for.

Things were going on very smoothly form Hemaram until one day when it occurred to him that despite his good mental and physical health, he was nearing the dusk of his life. So, he decided that he must visit his village Shyamgunj once before dying. And so, the next day, he packed his belongings and took the first bus in the morning to Sadari, the town closest to his village.

A fortnight passed and there was no news of Hemaram.