After her recent loss in the election, Hillary Clinton appeared in public sans make-up. When questioned, she said she is done with hiding – behind makeup, hiding her feelings, her thoughts, her emotions. And who could blame her? Her opponent won after saying the most hurtful things to people of all stripes, insulting every group except his fan club – white males. The white women, also insulted still voted for him, shrugging off his insults as “boy talk”. Hillary, having thrown down the gauntlet, has issued a challenge to many – in fact her message is resonating with women in a way that her campaign speeches did not. For the first time, a lot of us are feeling an affinity to her greater then we felt throughout the year-long campaign. Can it be that finally we can say what we really feel? Can we finally stand up and say – it is not acceptable to comment on a women’s appearance. Ask a male colleague or friend: How would they like it if they received comments like “I don’t like your tie – you’ve put on weight since I say you last. Your hair looks terrible” etc etc. Are we then saying then no more social niceties? No, just that we want our appearance not to be part of the conversation all the time. We all know there are days when you feel like dressing up for your morning walk, and others when you want to be in your most comfortable clothes all day long. What is wrong with these choices? Women who never step out without makeup are reevaluating – do I really need to do this. Perhaps women, in asking for equality have to step up the game – it’s not a matter of equal pay alone, or respect for ourselves as individuals. It is also the right to be treated with respect and not commented upon at every stage. Commenting to a female colleague “You look nice in that outfit” is out: “Your comments at the meeting were insightful” is in. Women won the right to be in the workplace but it looks like we have not yet won the right to be treated as an equal- a contributing, able, productive colleague. In other settings, it is time to finally stand up to the catcalls, comments and innuendo. We don’t need that anymore. It was not acceptable to be groped in a DTC bus in Delhi in the 1970s. It is not acceptable to have to brush away unwanted advances today either. We know when someone is being genuinely complimentary. Male or female, it is not ok to say “You have put on weight since I saw you last” to a friend. Unless your friend is recovering from chemotherapy and is on the road to recovery. And to all the folks who think this is political correctness – no it is not. Before making a comment just follow this simple rule “Would I like someone to say that to me?” The Golden Rule is still a good one to go by. About women and their clothing. Have we gone too far? With baring bodies, with so-called fashionable clothes? How can we be taken seriously if all we do is draw attention to our appearance? And yet our choices should not always be fair game. If someone chooses or does not choose to wear a bra, how is it anyone’s business – as long as she is covered? Let us give ourselves the freedom to make choices – not be bound by what everyone else might say. Clothes that are too tight or too short – seriously do you feel comfortable in them? Who has decided that it is ok to be uncomfortable, yet grit your teeth and smile? Wear 6-8 inch heels which kill your feet? We got rid corsets and stockings. How about going all the way? Yes and to bikins as well – are they really comfortable? Don’t they bite into you at all the wrong places? Try a more comfortable two-piece or one piece. Who has decreed that women have to be uncomfortable – and that is ok? There is a medium between too tight clothes and sweat pants – that’s the one maybe we should embrace. Even in our pretend play – let’s make it ok for little girls to not be little princesses all the time. Let them pretend to be kickass soccer players or swashbuckling pirates. Let’s update our children’s pretend play along with everything else. If this is the message of Hillary post- election, perhaps it is something to heed. Hillary – the smart Midwestern women who had to first change her appearance to be acceptable as first lady of a southern state. Hillary, who as first lady was first reviled for her health care plan – instead of being admired for her efforts, even if misguided . Hillary, who faced the humiliation when her husband the President was impeached – who stood up for her then? Would it have not been nice if she could have said, “What the President did was wrong – if he had done it as a private citizen, it would only have hurt his family. When he did it as a President, he hurt the presidency – it was an insult to the American people.” Wouldn’t it be nice if in the twenty-first century, a first lady does not have to dismiss her husband’s behavior as boy talk but hold him to a higher standard? Wouldn’t it be good if we all held each other to a higher standard? What is the use of calling ourselves educated and civilized if we cannot treat each other with respect? That’s a New Year resolution we can all make; a little thoughtful reflection and a resolve to watch our behavior and hold ourselves to a higher standard. It would certainly make 2017 brighter for all of us and make civil discourse a lot more pleasant.
Some of you know about my accident earlier in the year. For most immigrants who come here, its holiday time to meet with family and friends. For me this time it is purposeful – and one of the purposes was to get treatment here for the residual effects of the accident.
So after the wedding, I’m down for a visit to my ayurvedic doctor. She gives me some medicines and then prescribes 7 days of special massage. The first session which I schedule for 4.30 in the afternoon turns out to be a bad choice. The session starts off well with a drink of warm water and s check of blood pressure. My therapist is a smiling young lady. First it is on to my stomach for a massage with warm oil. Then half an hour of navzil – being rubbed down with warm medicated rice in a pouch. Unfortunately, I do not know the girl yet so I don’t tell her that the pressure she is using and being on my stomach for an hour does not agree with me. I finish the session and get home to an extremely queasy stomach which soon decides it does not want to hold on to the still undigested lunch. Dinner is half an idli followed by a sleepless night.
The next day session had been schedule for 7.30 am because it is my therapists off day and she only has a morning session slot. What follows is a sleepless night and queasy stomach. So I have to cancel the next appointment. Another consultation with my doctor and I realize all the things that I did wrong. So start again. Therapy at 11 am. Light breakfast. Spent half the session – neck and shoulders sitting up and only lie down for the lower back. My therapist is very apologetic. I reassure her In regard to the pain I myself did not know my arm was still in such a bad shape. It hurts like it did 5 months ago! At USA, we had worked on my neck a lot so it was doing fine. My shoulder, arm and lower back however still need work.
The theory in the ayurvedic treatment is to allow the heat of the treatment to enter in and help reduce the inflammation and relax the muscles. Anju is amazed that at every session, I come up with a new spot to work on. It is like all the spots are waiting for their turn in the limelight. Each session ends with a warm water bath to remove the residues of the treatment.
So here I am one week later – whole and complete – I know there are still things I need to take care of in order to keep myself in good shape. Lessons learned. Thank you therapists and all. What a profession to be in – when your job is to reduce another’s pain. God bless you.