Monday, March 11, 2013

85th Regatta and some thoughts

COEP's boating extravaganza, 'Regatta' is known to every self-respecting collegian. The fest is extraordinary due to its unique nature. No other college in Pune, as far as I know, can boast of a boat club that competes at national level. Or a boat club at all.

So last Sunday, (10 March), we reached COEP just fifteen minutes before the events were to start. The stone bleachers were full and people were even crouched on the rocky river bank. We managed to find places to stand as the first events began. The sun was low in the sky and in the evening light, sleek sculls and kayaks and other boats (that I can't remember the names of, but were nevertheless, quite beautiful) streaked on the sedate, sparkling river. I was very much impressed by the synchronisation of guys in the two person kayak. The movement of their arms was pure poetry as they raced. Their movements were the epitome of grace.

The theme of the evening was 'Women empowerment'. A noble and a pertinent issue, indeed. I particularly loved the event (kayak ballet), that depicted the struggle for recognition by females and advocated feminism. It used pyrotechnics, which looked amazing in the twilight.

I cannot say that i was delighted with the voiceover. No doubt the girl who was narrating was probably as feminist as I am, but some of the things she said made no sense to me.

How can one possibly equate 'westernization' with 'crimes against women'?

The stock answer would probably be that the Indian culture has a rich tradition of honouring females. We had great scholars like Maitreyi and Gargee and we revere the femininity by worshipping goddesses.

But to me, this rings hollow. India respected females. But that was in the long past. In the recent times, however, women are and were nothing more than commodities to be traded, used and abused. That is something no zealot can refuse.

Westernization is not the cause of crimes against women. Education liberated females. It allowed them to pursue a job, earn money and become independent financially as well as socially. This means that the presence of females in the outside world increased because they stepped out of their houses. And wore clothes that were not modest, stayed out late at night and drank and smoked. And talked of conquering the world. They became more sexually independent. But this alteration is not in any way, an invitation to be violated by men. 

We need to separate the demure, modest image of womanhood from the reality. Any deviation from this standard invites castigation by the society - 'she brought it on herself'., she didn't. It was all you!

To be utterly frank, it encourages the anachronistic mindset of the society. When a scantily clad woman is out of the house at midnight, men think that she's probably a prostitute or a woman looking for thrills. It is taken as a license to force her. If a shirtless man walks on roads, women do not go and tear the rest of his clothes off. It is okay for him to be underdressed because he is a man. And by that single virtue of his - genetic lottery, if you will - he is allowed to do anything.

Women need to be careful because they have no other option. But they shouldn't need to be.

The sooner we understand the identity of the modern woman, the better. It is time to let go of all those women in our myths as the ideal of womenhood. If Satyavan will not follow Yam for Savitri, damn well she won't do it for him either. Because now, they are equals. Or at least, they are supposed to be.

'Mere jagah to aap ke charnon mein hai' - was the staple dialouge in the 60s and 70s. Not in this age.

And everyone, especially Indian women need to get this straight.

And back to Regatta again!

The story of the farmer regarding the sex determination test was wonderful. The edges of the boats were lined with lights that changed colour and as the story progressed, the students formed different shapes with their boats - a stalk of wheat, a swastik etc...

The mashal dance on the opposite bank was amazing.

Since the boat club is just for COEP students, I couldn't help but feel jealous about them. Maybe FC should start one too. (And row where? On FC road or JM road? Or maybe FC should really accquire more land and invest in a pool...or a lake...anything related to water.)

So all in all, the 85th Regatta lived up to its hype and I will definitely be there next year, cheering on the participants. (Though I will keep wondering who the handsome dude in the two person kayak was! :D )

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