Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lipstick on his collar

Yes, Mr.Mukhtir Naqvi. I do wear lipstick. But no powder. And I do live in South Mumbai in what is considered an ‘elite’ locality ( though ‘elite slum’ is a more accurate description). I also frequent 5- Star hotels close by, notably the magnificent Taj Mahal. I unashamedly refer to it as my second home – for that it what it has always been. My lifestyle can be loosely described as a privileged one, by most standards. So bloody what?? I have worked long and hard for these perks. I have earned them through honest means. I did not inherit a fortune and was raised in a middle class home. Like every Indian, my parents dreamt of giving their children a better life by educating them. We fulfilled their dreams…. and a few of our own. Is that a crime??I proudly pay my taxes…. and my bills. Which is more than can be said for most of your tribe - the real ‘elite’ today - politicians with zero accountability and all the advantages they criticize in others. I refuse to be apologetic for the way I live. As they say, living well is still the best revenge! Unlike a lot of so-called netas, I do not have a criminal record. When I leave home, it is in a nice car, but not a mobile fortress with a cavalcade of state-paid gunmen to protect me. Traffic is not diverted along the routes I take, inconveniencing others. And I am frisked at airport, like everybody else. So…. Mr. Naqvi, how dare you put me (and other women) down by making such an impertinent and uncalled for remark ?We are professionals doing our jobs to the best of our abilities. Can you claim the same? Whether we apply lipstick, cake our faces with powder, wear wigs or fake eyelashes – that is our exclusive prerogative and business. It does not concern anyone else. This remark only displays your pathetically biased attitude towards women – particularly a class of urban careerists who defy the stereotype as determined by the likes of you.
The subtext of your remark ( and the remarks of other self-styled intellectuals who have discovered a new sport - ‘elite bashing’ ) comes at a time when our attention should be on more vital matters – survival under a siege. To target people who belong to a more affluent\educated segment of our society, is to display a perverse narrow mindedness. My voice is as valid as the voice of the anonymous vegetable vendor – we are both citizens of India. Are you trying to say tv anchors sans lipstick\powder are better at their jobs? Should women in politics shun cosmetics in order to be taken more ‘seriously’ (by men, of course!) ? Should female public figures dress down so they can add to their credibility factor and look the part assigned to them by society?? Does lipstick take away from their contribution\competence? Must ask Condileeza Rice (a woman who tops the world’s ‘Most Stylish’ lists year after year). Must also ask Sonia Gandhi, who is nothing if not impeccably turned out at all times, and definitely wears lipstick. Oh…. and how can I forget my new best friend , Jayanthi Natarajan??
It is a great pity Naqvi brought gender into the present crisis and trivialised the issue . George Fernandes lost the plot when he decided to wage war against a cola. Perhaps Naqvi’s battle is against poor lipstick??
A pity that the nightmare suffered by Mumbai has been reduced to some sort of a class war, in which the elite are supposed to ‘defend’ themselves and say, “ No, no, no…. we are really not like that…. we feel equally for the lives lost at CST.” Come on…. grow up. Tragedy IS like that – it is personalized and intense when it hits home as ferociously as these attacks did. Tragedy too, needs a ‘face’…. or an ‘image’ that encapsulates collective grief. It so happens, the Taj Mahal Hotel became that image…. that icon, symbolizing the horror of this incomprehensible tragedy that has left the nation reeling in its wake.Why bring class divides into it? Don’t our politicians insist on the best rooms (gratis), at 5-star hotels?At least, the rest of us pay the hefty tariffs ourselves. Don’t India’s unwashed, scruffy jholawala intellectuals quaff gallons of moofat Scotch, whenever and wherever?? First pay your own booze bills, guys, then save the world. It is believed Narayan Rane’s sons drive around in a Bentley with eight commandos to ‘protect’ them. Who pays?? Suckers like us . It is our Billionaires and Bollywood stars we flaunt internationally when we need to boost our country’s image. It is also the elite who donate generously towards rehabilitation efforts in a crisis. I am sick of being told off by the likes of Naqvi. I am sick of attempts to somehow make me feel ‘guilty’ for being who I am, looking the way I do.
Sorry, Mr. Naqvi. Read my lips : Much more lipstick! Darker and brighter! You are welcome to borrow some…

33 comments:

hitch writer said...

Lots of these ministers have made some comments that have only ridiculed themselves more than anything. They have now attracted the wrath of every one...

These politicians are bearing the brunt of the anger of the aam junta...

But junta... let us not forget the prime duty we all have to do... we must not let 26/11/08 be forgotten. Let us keep demanding the people behind it be brought to justice..

The politically correct Chidambaram says " I accept a mistake has been made " Great ! you accept it... now what?? end of the topic?? or we go after the planners behind these killers???

Pranab Mukherjee says " Time will tell how India will react "

When will the time come??? after you visit Sri Lanka and help them resolve their local crisis???

How many more days do we need to gather evidence??? How much time do we need to gather International support ??

When will we strike the terror camps and the terror Infrastructure in Muridke or POK ??? When

Maddy said...

I don't think you need to prove to anyone Shobhaa. Having read your posts on this issue, I can say, it is not a lip service you are doing but all your words are from your heart.

Anonymous said...

You call this class war. I call this reverse discrimination. Not the same thing. Believe you me, it doesn't happen only in India (I write this singing the Govinda/Kimi Katkar song of the 90s)!! What to do? People love to hate successful people. I do not of course condone Naqvi's remark.

Cinematically Speaking.

HOBO said...

:)

Kris Bass said...

A little out of context here actually - what was this post based on? Having said that, I do agree to your thoughts in this context.

Suvarna said...

Totally admire you for what you are and what you write and right said, Ms.Shobha :) I wish to be as much a self-made woman as you are!

Totally agree with you on lending some good shades of lipstick and maybe...some bangles too to Mr.Naqvi and his ilk.ha!

Twisted Elegance.... said...

@Shoba de

I can see that some politicians in this country lack common sense. Forget about what he said. The timing of the statement is so bad. If he was an intelligent man he would have thought twice before uttering this non-sense at a time when the whole country is bashing the politicians. I guess he has dug his own grave...

But many people are asking this question. Why din't all these people who write blogs, give interviews every other hour and shout at the top of their voices now din't do any such stuff when trains were bombed in 2006? Why din't these people come out and say 'enough is enough' then? Why weren't you so reactive then?

And the answer that people give to these questions is that its because terror has now come to the elite's vicinity!

I do sense a bit of truth in this argument....

Another Kiran In NYC said...

Ofcourse there is the truth that it takes a rich man to lose something, for him and influential others like him to wake up to the fact that there are thieves out there. Sometimes, just sometimes they are also moved at that point to realise the suffering of others who have less than them.

That my friends, is the human condition.

Do I wish it was another way and we were all bleeding hearts for the suffering of all... the hard working people who have little, and the hard or hard(ly) working people who have many resources?

Ofcourse I wish we were more democratic in our responses to suffering.

Personally at this point, I take comfort in the fact that ALL have finally woken up to the evil and its consequences. Perhaps we would have never reached this point except for tragic circumstances like this. But it has happened.
Perhaps this will be catalyst for people of influence AND the unwashed masses to keep the movement alive as long as neither category of people appropriate this movement for themselves. It is EVERYONE'S movement now. Thank god for that!

As for Naqvi's remark. He is an ass and an unfortunate one at that. I do not take much umbrage at his exact words as I do the gender bashing that comes with it. That is a systemic rot, that must be countered for ALL people (men and women) to make a difference in Indian Society.

Naqvi, denigrated my own worth as a woman first before he denigrated any pretentions to elitism that I may have. That is unforgiveable.

I am a woman (lipsticked or not) and I am worth as much as any man in Naqvis little skewed world.

Besides I look better in Lipstick than Naqvi ever could!

Another Kiran In NYC

Biloo Thackeray said...

Take a chill pill, Dey!
People like him are the modern day Robin Hoods minus the 'giving to the poor'. I'd ignore him if I was you.

കിഷോര്‍:Kishor said...

This is a fitting reply to reverse-classists like Naqvi. I dont even know how Naqvi can claim himself to be in working-class.

Some people make so many dumb judgments about others based on their class, gender or in Shobhaji's case beauty! Putting lipstick does not mean that their opinions are trashy or they don't have a voice.

Well, as they say, can you put lipstick on a male-chauvinistic-pig??? :-)

obssesor said...

The class of politicians will never learn!!Naqvi has made his place in history!
PS:look at that loser rane rant!!sad..

Gavraan Mulgi said...

There is some truth in what "Twisted Elegance" here tries to posit. To a large measure,the Mumbai terror siege was more about what was happening to the right people in the right place at the wrong time if you see what I mean. One of the commentators has,in an earlier entry, said perhaps we would not have been, as a nation, moved enough by a similar incident targetting a shanty colony or labour camp.It's primarily because terror is "in the here and now" of our elitist backyards and neighborhoods that we are essentially, shitting bricks 24/7 and camouflaging it through defiant soliloquys in our blogs.
As an aside and with all due respect, Shobha tai, there are those of us who are deeply ashamed of Bollywood cinema and would go to great lengths distancing our culture and thought processes from it. Flaunt our billionaires, management graduates, IITians- oui, maybe but Bollywood actors, hell no!
Peace.

Amit said...

I think the commenters here are on to something. Our tendency to be self-centered and not question the previous bombings - which primarily affected the labor class or the faceless Indians has brought us to this stage. I can sense a terrorist's frustration about the ease with which Indian society ignores blasts and goes about its normal task. Whether the blast is in a shanty or in a railway station or at a five star, are we, Indians, willing to hold the politicians accountable the way we did this time? Shobhaa, what do you say? It would be nice to hear a response from you.
Regards,
Amit

Mickie Sorabjee said...

Being attired in western attire-lipstick-powder and protesting against politicians or lighting candles (in memory of martyrs) is preferable and more acceptable than being garbed in saintly saffron robes and igniting communal passions and bomb blasts (to kill innocent victims) or hearing pseudo-patriotic politicians making perennial empty promises. Mickie Sorabjee

Niedhie said...

How can our politicians manage time to make such stupid talks? I can only imagine an idiot making such a sleezy comment. More than a week has passed and I am still waiting to hear some concrete steps taken to stop such occurences in future. When will they look beyond lipstick and powder I wonder...

कुमार विनोद said...

right mam, but whom you are addressing, they have lost their ears, eyes of shame. BIGDAIL aulad of their fathers, they enjoy all the 'sukh' on public cost, only by entry to business of polict. Most of the are reached their where they dont have to pay for the LIPSTIC they buy for their wifes/kepts. Mufatkhor

Rakhee Bhatt said...

ndtv cnn-ibn star news

Don't trust one thing they say. They are anti-national channels which have collaboration with all foreign companies, so they write against India to make their masters happy.

Shailini Natarajan said...

All politicians are evil.

Congress
c for congress
c for corruption
c for cunning
c for chamcha
c for chor

seema said...

Why just the politicans? Please read my tribute to the Mumbai Attack victims. None of the news papers were willing to carry these to the public and haughtily commented (without even taking a look at these) "we do not print poetry". Can I request you and all others reading this message to take a look? http://seemasahaa.wordpress.com/

i_am_a_nymph said...

whats wrong in being elite?its something everyone strives to be and frankly it takes a lot of sincere good effort too..

i cant find any difference between someone killed at CST or at the Taj.for in the end six feet of earth is all that is needed for a man!!

bhavjot said...

every where in various walks of life we are aquainted with such problems.....
somebody who is sincere in studies is supposed to be in a simple sober attire ...n get up ....
i ask bloody how come on this earth mental intellect are so related????
even if they are i seriously dont giv a damn !

Vinay. said...

you are unnecessirily making him popular.does he deserve so much of space and debate?He is a nobody and let him remain so.
vinay

Cool4u said...

Indeed a befitting reply to Mr Naqvi, for whatever hi is worth. I noticed you addressed him as Mukhtir Naqvi and not Mukhtar.

Faisal.K said...

Interesting and hilarious. I do have a question though and it is a relevant one. Granted what happened was below any human standard of acceptance, but why is it that the Taj is being made out to be a symbol of India rather than the CST station which carries the Aam junta? Is it not India's middle class which powers India? No offense no any elite, or would be elitist meant here.

Why is it that internationally we all saw 1/10th of the footage given to CST as opposed to the Taj which was burnt onto all tv screen everywhere in the world? Since all of you are claiming that it means the same thing including Ms De whether a person dies by gunfire at the Taj or at CST?

deartush said...

I completely agree with you. These politicians have no right whatsoever to comment on any class of citizens or their lifestyles. Cause, even a small time politician leads a luxurious life in our country, thanks to the taxes paid by both rich and middle-class. The only way we could answer to these politicians is through the ballot. I think the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls would be interesting to watch!

shail said...

Kudos for this post!

Money L Munot said...

Agreed, whatever Naqvi said was totally uncalled for, but are we to blame him? We all know politicans are irresponsible and totally unwanted people.

But tell me one thing, would you have been so outraged if this was not in Taj or Oberoi or even South Mumbai? Mind you, i am a Mumbaikar my self and our home is in Walkeshwar, though i live in Dubai. Aren't we all acting as hypocrites just because we 'could' have been there? I mean lets admit it, i like being called lucky, because if i was to be in Mumbai, i would have been surely in one of those places. But many people get killed everyday in Assam, J & K, Andhra Pradesh and other places like these by terrorists with different agenda. Though i stumbled upon your post when a friend of mine sent me the link on facebook, but i have been forced to think from long that all Indians are plain hyporcrites, including me. I have some views of my own, if you mught have some time:

http://moneymunot.blogspot.com/

Money L Munot

Annu said...

You speak about the fact that people should not claim to be helpless, but could you suggest one other alternative to make the politicians hear our voice... We all have voices and strong minds backing these voices... but where can we channel it?! Thats the topmost question running across the minds of most educated youngsters!

ekta Khetan said...

Very well written. Am sure almost every non-politician Indian thinks that way.

But Alas, we are not doing anything about it. Wish someone can.

Nischal S said...

Okay,
Let me speak about the http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=a5hftcXspHM

Gilani a seperatist. Had they been with Pak they would have suffered same underdevelopment and carelessness as pak's Afhgan border. He deliberatley refers to India as Hindhustan, talks about India's friendship with US and Isreal. What is he upto? Does he realize we have largest muslim minority in Asia with equal status(ex-President Of India Abdul Kalam- Muslim).There are mosque and Temple exist in same city,where else such harmon can be found. He is repeated been fed wrong food by Pak counter part, that hadn't been for India, then they would fall prey of attack from array of neighbouring countries like Pak,Uzbe, Russia ....so on. He needs to understand Army is present to protect citizens and not to harm them, we are land of Buddha, Gandhi and Dr.Abdul Kalam.

@lankr1ta said...

It is very populist to engage in Elite bashing.... Of course Mr Naqvi doe snot mean it, as he doe snot anything that he says- he is a politician after all!

Munmun said...

I like your blog. I am blogrolling you!

Bapa Rao said...

Shoba De's focus on the lipstick comment (like Naqvi's comment itself ) is a distraction from a serious issue. If I were Naqvi's spokesman which of course I am not, I would have clarified his comments thus:

"In a democracy, politicians can't simply do their job like other professionals--in a relative vacuum--without regard to civic society which is where the true leadership and momentum has to come from. At a time of national crisis, when we have the political class that is legitimately elevated by the system, it makes no sense for civic society--of which successful and relatively leisured elites are necessarily a key component--to throw a tantrum and cry pox on all politicians at the precise time when those politicians need direction and support in doing their job of defending the nation in a manner consonant with the nation's will. That is simply a prescription for inaction, frustration, and an invitation to our enemies to launch bigger and bolder attacks.

The lipstick comment should not be taken literally [continues the hypothetical spokesman]--it indicates Naqvi's concern for the seeming intellectual frivolity and concomitant abdication of responsible leadership exhibited by people of Ms. De's class whose fine education, considerable intellectual attainments and rhetorical skill are sorely needed to provide clarity and thought leadership at a time when our enemies are assiduously sowing confusion of purpose in our society.

No one grudges Ms. De the enjoyment of the fruits of her honest labor; however one might gently mention that our national value system has always idealized the notion of wealth as guardianship, and exhorts the privileged towards the path of duty and austerity. While these are ideals often observed in the breach, they remain our sole bulwark of defense at this time of existential threat from a determined enemy."