Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Woman smart, Man smarter

My parents have only two children. Both of them daughters. It doesn’t matter to them that they don’t have a son, but it apparently does to a large number of strangers who always commiserate with them about their lack of sons. That my sister and I are both reasonably well educated and financially independent, matters little to them.
right now, I am in Arunachal, which I thought was better than the northern states in the way it treats women. They do treat women better, but women are still not considered to be equal to men at least in some tribes.
We went to a couple of Nyshi houses in and around itanagar, the state capital. Nyshis are the most dominant tribe in this hilly, thickly-forested state in terms of population. Seems like polygamy was a common practice among this tribe. The richer you are, the more the wives you should have. It is a status symbol and the other wives do not even mind. In fact they actually encourage it. Apparently it helps to have other women around the house to split their chores in the house and the field. And of course, if the first wife doesn’t have enough sons, a second or a third one is almost mandatory.
And it was while I was talking to one of these women, one of them said my parents don’t need a son, because I am as smart as a boy. She meant it as a compliment and I will take it as one. It is just that I am a wee bit disappointed because I expected more of Arunachalis.
And tomorrow I am off to Majuli, one of the largest river islands in the world and the seat of Assam’s Vaishnavite culture. More on that later.


Anonymous Navnita said...

Some things never change.....Arunachal or Bihar, it is the same story everywhere!

11:03 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Hmmm.. another of your yearly "vacations". I envy you, not so much cos I haven't been in India for three years now, but because you can take off so frequently :)
I am sure the old lady meant it as a compliment, not smart as in clever, but as in smart by appearance. You still wearing your hair short? :) Jokes apart, I think we have miles to go. And while I don't think polygamy passes in the South, I think we are much more conservative in everything else.

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Hathirpithi said...

Navnita: Couldn't agree more
Anti: don't envy me too much. My job is mind-numbing. If you want to swap jobs, I would be willing to swap vacations with you. And no they meant smart as in clever! And I still have short hair. Much shorter than earlier actually.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Payal said...

Same old story everywhere! I remember when I was 10, I'd gone out with my parents to their friends' place. The kids' grandmother was there, and she asked me about my siblings

When I said we are two sisters, she went: "What!? No brothers!" Shook her head sadly, and lost interest in me and my family!

10:50 PM  
Anonymous hathirpithi said...

payal: So true and so funny and so sad too.

5:59 PM  
Blogger MellowDrama said...

How the hell do you manage these vacations? I thought they had your nose to the grindstone. it Meghalaya or Nagaland - with a matriarchal set-up? btw why AP, go anywhere in India - the smaller towns and you will get the same reaction ;)

3:16 PM  
Anonymous shilpa said...

agree with Anti.. am sure the haircut gave the old lady something more to think about!!

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Une said...

That's a really nice thing to say. You really must have a field day visiting Arunachal and getting shocked all over the Polygamic antics there.You visit one lil' good old piece of the state and conjure up a wisecrack view about a reflecting mirror.
Polygamy is really shameful but i guess you gotta do some mental check up before stating "you had expected more of Arunachalis".Now i would ask you wat do you expect the more of urself too? Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most peaceful states in whole of India and the best place to live in the world given you dont tend to look at the world wearing tinted glasses always.

Seems like we are on a dead road with a writer of sushy stories. Anyways pls do keep coming and visiting But with some good range of touring.

10:14 PM  

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