Monday, March 14, 2011

My New Blog


I have moved to WordPress from Blogger and my new blog home is called  Sharbori's Blog

I have imported all my posts and comments.  More importantly, I have also imported all my favourite blog links there.

So, do come and visit me there.


Rendezvous with Bengaluru Weekly Street Market

Today I went out with friend Vishnu who also acts my guide to discovering Bengaluru, to Sultanpet weekly second hand goods market. The market comes alive once a week and all kinds of second hand goods are available there .... electrical, electronic, shoes, cloths, hardware, etc, etc.

The place was teeming with people of all shapes and sizes ..... women wearing colourful cloths, toddlers holding on to their parents, teenagers hanging out just for fun, weary middle aged people who are out there for a good bargain ...

And in this melee, autos and cars were vying for space among hundreds of people ... it was amazing to see that actually everyone was getting their way, albeit making others to go out of theirs!

People who come to this market are looking for cheap products and to bargain for some more. We had people scrambling to buy mobile phones for Rs. 100, which were chinese made. I could not help but wonder whether they would actually work, but I guess people who were buying had some reason to scramble for them.

The whole market place was such a unique and lovely experience for me. I felt both lost and connected with people on the street and with the life that was thriving and throbbing right there.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sexuality and Old Age - In India or Anywhere Else

Ok, so this is a taboo subject … for all of us … in India or anywhere else, except may be in some of the tribes who have not been infected by our kind of “civilization”.

So what is it that I want to write about? Sexuality in old age, or the way society looks at it? I am not sure, for the subject is so vast and there are so many things to say, that I think I will limit this post only on one or two aspects.

First of all, I believe that

- the idea of sexuality for long has been confined largely to heaving, gleaming bodies entwined in lust, but bodies which are young, muscular or shapely.
- that in popular myths, sexuality is, all about lust and fulfillment of that through sexual intercourse and that too is when you are young in your body.
- That Images of people with lined faces, slacking muscles and shaking hands, embracing each other in a lustful way makes some of us feel uncomfortable and evokes disgust and shame.

Sexuality itself is such a taboo subject that we can indulge in it only through forbidden or voyeuristic pleasures or by sublimating it a higher philosophical plane where the body does not exist. In this scenario, sexuality in the elderly is not part of our collectively held image of the elderly in India.

In India, one of the collective images about the elderly is that of people who surrender in prayer to the divine, engaging in morning or evening walks to keep sickness at bay, playing the role of the babysitter/additional helping hand at home and/or waiting for death to come and rescue them. The other collective picture of the elderly (now brought to the fore by the media) is the healthy, smart, enthusiastic and independent (read deep pocketed) individual who doesn’t mind flirting with her spouse, goes out on holidays and has a good time.

I am not claiming that either of these pictures is undesirable. The issue that I am trying to bring to the fore is that what certainly happens in old age is that your body becomes less agile and one certainly feels less enthusiastic about sexuality as one did before. Immediate fulfillment of lust may not even be as important as it was before, but that does not mean that older people lose their lustfulness, their sexual arousal or their need for passionate and tender love from their partners.

Where I have a problem is that either older people are shown as “less than able” as compared to the youthful generation or their image is carefully built so that youthfulness is preserved in these characters. So even when they flirt or are provocative, they necessarily imitate the younger generation, and when get caught, they feel ashamed and have a strong need to hide it from others! (Remember one of the monthly income scheme ad?). My protest is towards inducing the subtle element of shame in these pictures. What is there to feel ashamed of?

Some of the recent studies state and I quote

“Humans have sex for several reasons. Sex serves many purposes not related to reproduction. Sex is a way to express love and it also provides the feeling of security and reconfirms the feelings shared between people, regardless of age. Sex has also been shown to calm people in stressful periods. Sex has a symbolic value, which is independent of age.

However sex between elderly people is often treated as a taboo by society. Whilst sex itself is a sensitive topic due to its private nature, sex between seniors is often treated with extra care. This attitude is especially common among younger people and it has been suggested that this may be caused by younger people's belief that the lust and ability to have sex diminishes once the primary reason for sex is no longer present.”

Quoted from

(for more information, you may also like to visit

All that I am trying to put up here is that as people grow older, their physical and emotional needs become different than when they were younger. While sexuality is certainly not only about sexual coitus but also of passion, intimacy, tenderness and is emotionally fulfilling; physical intimacy and yes, the bad word "intercourse" does play a significant part in it. Therefore, why look at the older person as someone who is wise and tranquil and does not have an iota of lust in them? Can we for a change look at them as people who are matured (at least in age), and have similar need for a fulfilling physical intimate relationship with the desired partner, be it intercourse or gentle loving touch? Can we concede to ourselves that youthfulness may not be all that important to have a zest for life?

What are your views? What do you think?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Courtney Martin: Reinventing feminism | Video on

Courtney Martin: Reinventing feminism | Video on

Re inventing feminism

I found this talk both hopeful and inspiring, especially when it is so easy and"tempting" to feel overwhelmed and disillusioned in the current context of the world.

Courtney E Martin chronicles and encourages the current generation of young activists and feminists. She's the author of "Do it Anyway - the new generation of activists" and an editor of

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Amazing women in my life - part 5

Although I am writing this on International Women's Day, I personally do not believe that we have to have a special day to commemorate women ... we ought to do it every single day at all moments in our lives.  This can not be a politically correct, nice to do thing, it has to be in our bones, in our blood and in our hearts.

I started to write this note about another woman that I met recently .... She is 90 plus years old, lives in an ashram in Haridwar ... all by herself.  Her children live in India but away from her.  She has been living in that Ashram for the last 28 years.  While going to the ashram, I was expecting to see someone who was old, withering and waiting to somehow spend the last days of her life .... instead I met someone who was old alright, but boy, oh, boy, was she feisty!   Her energy, memory and zest for life hit right at some of the sterotypical ideas I was holding about being old and about old women.

Her name is Santosh Rani ... She was born in Peshawar in the early twentieth century, came to India after the partition, is the eldest of six siblings.  Got married, borne six children, four of whom are alive.  After her husband passed away, she chose to stay at this Ashram as she valued her freedom and her own way of living.

After she met me for the first time,  she asked me about my family, my daughter, as though she had known me for ever.  In fact, she had only heard about me and my family from her daughter some months back.

As she sat there talking about her children, I could not help but notice the utter pragmatism with which she approached life ... she weighed pros and cons carefully, believed in  choosing that which made most sense, even if that meant having to give up some immediate gains and losses.

After chatting with her for a while  I  gingerly asked her whether she wished to come with us to Hrishikesh but it would also mean 4 to 5 hours drive? Her face lit up and she said "Main to chal padungi"! (I would gladly hop in and come along).  First layer of my stereotyping of older women peeled off at that moment.

Not only did she come with us and enjoyed the journey, she also chatted about her life, every detail intact in her memory, where all she stayed, which year were her children born, how was life then, everything.  The second layer of forgetful, old women picture peeled off.

While we were at Hrishikesh, she insisted that we should keep her seated on a wheelchair  at a corner of a fairly busy road, and go down and visit Lachhmanjhula (the famous hanging bridge over Ganga at Hrishikesh).  I was petrified at the idea of keeping her seated on the wheelchair at a corner but she insisted ... "Go, go, have a good time, look around, I will be fine".  While we went down to the river and visited the bridge, I felt very anxious and wanted to come back as early as possible.  When we came back, she was calmly sitting there and  exclaimed that we had come back rather early!  She wanted us to spend some more time but we declined.   I was amazed as to how calm she was and that there was no sense of anxiety at all in her voice.

She came back to the ashram .... laid down on her bed and rested for a while.  We waited for her domestic help to return to be with her.  She talked about needing someone to be with her as it gives her some sense of comfort .... she said if she was as fit as she was earlier, even this would not have been needed!  As though if she could, she would have taken care of herself, and of others, all by herself.

She peeled off the last layer of my imaginary stereotype as she suggested that next time I was there she would "take"  me to Shimla for a trip.  I loved her!

Santosh Rani helped me to believe that helplessness and lack of courage is learnt and are not associated with age or ailments, and that being a woman is a celebration of life.

happy womens day to all of you!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Hello Dear Friends,

I am back, from a long hiatus - been working and travelling; and in between all of that, lost the zest for writing the blog.  Every time I thought of writing, I told myself, I must come back better prepared, with good material and stories, and snippets and  insights, and photographs and, and, and........  And the return never happened.  Friends dropped into the blog, left their comments and invitation for me to return and I told myself - I shall, soon. And that was four and a half months ago, and I never did, I was never prepared.

Yet, I have so much to share, many travel tales, lots of snippets and stories of my life, many books and movies that I encountered recently and all the happening in the world ....

But more than anything else, the big realisation  is that one does not have to come to friends well prepared and ready... one does not have to offer something worthwhile.... one does not have to "present" something to others.   One can just come in as it is with whatever one has, for friends do just that, make you feel wanted, welcome and received, for just the way you are!

thank you my friends, Zephyr, Pooja, Corinne ... and many others who have written to me and invited me to come back into this space.  Thank you for being my friend!