I live in a culture where female infanticide is still a reality. Where dowry, although prohibited by law, is still a heavy current practice, masqueraded  as apparently harmless and naive ‘gifts’.

The culture I currently live in also passes discriminative laws against women, as you can see here.

It’s a culture where women are encouraged to go to office in salwar suits or sarees, because such attires are perceived as ‘formal’. And men are formal when they are in western suits. When they, the men, wear kurta suits, they are felt to be in ‘ethnic gowns’.

A culture where women usually eat last.

A culture where wives walk behind their husbands in the streets.

A culture where almost everything related to women means ‘behind’.

And it all comes packed up in the beautiful gift wrap of ‘tradition’. With a pink ribbon on top.  Paternalism oppresses women under the pretext of ‘protection’. And ‘protection’ becomes an interchangeable term to ‘tradition’.  And ‘tradition’ preaches that oppression does not actually mean ‘oppression’. Rather, it means ‘respect’.

And the surprise element in all this is… a lot many westerners, especially women, buy the whole idea. Let me lit a cigarette and try to explain.

Although I come from a third world country hardly known to Indians in general, I indeed identify myself as a ‘westerner’. And I don’t know whether I should really mention such obviousness, but well…being a westerner has less to do with geographical location than to culture.

Thinking as a westerner, I can’t refrain myself from thinking of my childhood. If you take little Flávia (that’s my name), you will see her reading fairy tale books. You will see her watching Disney classics such as Snow White or The Sleeping Beauty. Or The Little Mermaid, the story where a cute mermaid LOSES HER VOICE in order to obtain, well… love.

So little Flávia grew up (not much, since I’m 5’3”, haha). And medium-sized Flávia carried, deep there in her inner-self,  this whole cultural baggage of romantic love. Flávia sought for a fairy-tale-kind-of-love. It was too late when Shrek came into the picture. Flávia was already in the quest for a guy who would be strong and handsome. A guy who was going to be ready to protect her, even if that protection implied the subtle usurpation of her voice.

Interestingly enough, this type of ideal love seems to be increasingly declining in western culture. Be it due to the influence of Shrek in the popular mindset, or simply due to the non-practicality of such type of relationship in a world where women are continuously gaining voice and rights, the fact is: the formula ‘I protect + You respect’, where the ‘you’ stands for ‘women’, is not so appealing anymore.

But things are not so simple, you know. Let me grab a beer and try to explain.

I do not stand alone in my search for a fairy-tale love. There are many Flávias, as well as many Charlottes, many Bridgets and many Vivians in this world. All eager to voluntarily give up their rights in order to find a husband.

Anyway, good news is there. There is always a time to wake up and think. A time to start questioning such customs, rather than blindly following them. A time to start questioning all your behavior up to date, rather than being condescending towards it. A time to ask ‘why’ for a formality which does nothing less than reproduce chauvinistic patterns. Even if it sounds as cute, innocent and respectul as calling the guy you  worship love as ‘ji’.

Sounds offensive? Great. I’d better be offensive than blind.

And yes, this is a tentative response to the post Why I Don’t Mention My Husband’s Name.

Shame on me. I had completely forgotten about this blog. Will try to post more. Or not. Will try to have more sympathy towards wordpress. Or not. Maybe it is a good idea to migrate to blogger. But then I remember about the other blog I keep there. It is completely dated. Maybe it’s a matter of understanding better the underlying reasons of having a blog. Or not.

There was this talk with my workmate. I know it may sound funny, but people do question me a lot. Especially when it comes to uh…my looks.

The guy: Why are you wearing yellow nail color?

Me: Why shouldn’t I be wearing it?

The guy: Because it’s not good.

Me: Who told you so?

The guy: It’s obvious it is not good. It’ s not soothing to the eyes.

Well. That was not obvious to me. I don’t actually feel ‘soothing’ should be amongst the pros and cons to consider before I  decide on what to wear. Moreover, yellow is one of my favorite colors. My skin is yellowish.  My name, Flávia, stands for ‘yellow’ in its greek roots.  Yellow, by Coldplay, is one of my fav songs. So I definitely think the world shouldn’t be soothing. It should be yellow.  At least for this week. Then orange. Or purple.

Ok, ok, there you go. My all time fav Indian ad:

Hats off to Limca =D

Second place award goes to this Docomo add. Just great:

=P

I can say the experience I am having here with the world cup is quite a unique one. In May itself, I started to feel weird. No noise. No flooding of ads. People around me were not obstinately talking about the event.  As the first Brazil match started, I could get the confirmation that it is completely weird to be out of Brazil during a world cup. But then I enjoyed. At least the annoying vuvuzelas are not there. Well, they are there in tv, but I definitely don’t have to bother about a drunk neighbor who keeps on playing that all night long.  Being in silent India during a world cup can be fun, too.

Then the second match was coming. I decided to invite some Brazilian friends over to see the match. And Havi. Well, Havi is one of our best Indian friends. And he happens to like football. I guess he felt weird with the fact that we Brazilians were shouting a lot. I am sure my friend Deb spoiled her vocal cords. We shouted like anything. And I had to face the direct consequences of it in my womb. Well, it hasn’t been a month since I had a myomectomy surgery done. So I am still in the process of recovering. And all that shouting had a direct consequence in my uterus. I better be careful =D

The match itself was a thrill. Brazilian players were toiling to overcome the barriers posed by tall and strong Ivorians. And they were getting beaten up like anything too, for the faults were hard on them. I think the Ivorians trying to use the power of force over technique was a great deal of a problem. This public display of strength served only to build up the tension between the two teams. Brazilians were getting fed up with such faults. I felt really sorry to see Elano, who scored a goal in the match, leave the field in a stretcher. He got badly injured.

And that’s not all. It was hard to believe Kaká got a red card. Player Keita got hit by Kaká on his chest and started faking it was on his face. Lame. Bad, bad player award to Keita.

And no, I am not proud of Fabiano’s ‘Hand of God’ goal. It was as stupid as any handling can be. But the other two goals were legitimate and made me feel damn proud of our yellow tee squad. And talking about tees, I wonder why those Ivorians insist on those tight t-shirts. Seriously, they looked ridiculous. Good and well toned up bodies, but looking ridiculous. Well, maybe I am too conservative when it comes to male outfits =D

Then I was seeing Portugal match against North Korea. Well, I really like the colonizer’s team. More because of their looks, you know. In general, people think it was a great match. I know they scored a lot, but apart from good looking legs, I didn’t see much. Maybe I got carried away by their looks and by my legitimate right to objectify men (hope chauvinists feel mocked here). Anyway. I think a good match is one with balance. Not a one way match. Not a match in which you see only one team attacking. The drama should be there. Things should be hectic and players should struggle to get a goal. That’s a good match for me. After the third goal I started to feel bored. But I seriously hope the situation won’t get repeated with my dear Brazilians. In his last match, Cris Ronaldo found out he can do much more than looking good in field. That will be problem. Indeed.

Everybody knows love marriage is still a taboo here in India. Add  it to the fact that your love marriage is also an intercultural one and that’s it: you will be flooded with all sorts of comments and questions.

My husband is often faced with questions from his folks. Since I don’t know Tamil, he kindly translates them to me. Sometimes I wish he weren’t so much bothered about sharing them with me. But mostly I have fun with what I hear. Examples of what people ask:

1. Why did you marry a foreigner? Well, I think it’s hard for them to understand the concept of love and even harder to understand the concept of love that goes beyond national borders.

2. She doesn’t know Tamil, so how do you manage to talk to her? As if English is not a means of communication =D

3. But she can’t cook, how do you manage? I still struggle to figure out what they mean here </irony> because, well, I can cook and I can cook pretty well. With that in mind, I infer they mean to say I can’t cook Indian food. And with that in mind, I need not struggle anymore to find what they really mean: he should have married a servant maid who is ready to cook anything he wants. Sexism detected.

4. How much did her dad give you as dowry? Err… what? Dowry sounds so 1894, you know. I really didn’t know that by migrating to India I was going to actually go back in time. Did I take a plane or a time machine to land here? =D

5.  Why doesn’t she wear gold? Well, this question they usually make in English. I kindly smile and say I am not so much into gold. And then I feel just back in time… again =D

And no, I am not bothered by such questions. I truly believe that love is all that matters. And I have never seen anything close to such thoughts in my husband’s day-to-day speech. And that’s exactly why I decided to share my life with him. And hope that one day the world will finally get rid of such sexist bias. Prejudice is a disease. Alejandro.

A match with no goal…

But no gaffe either.