Don’t worry….

I’m fine- barely! Just have no househelp at all. And running a house this size alone, isn’t easy. The house is covered in a layer of dust barely hours after I dust, the stairs are taking a toll on my knee and one night I just had to lie down and sob in pain. The kids’ school buses come within hours of each other and there are days I lock a lunch-eating Bean alone in the house and run to get the Brat – all in all, a big mess.

I’ll blog soon and tell you about it all.

And because I can never leave with just a hello, have you guys seen the Union Bank of India advertisement featuring Aruna Anand (Viswanathan Anand’s wife)? I’ve always found her very attractive – something so genteel about her. The couple just had a baby after 14 years of marriage and seem over the moon, God bless the little fellow. But getting back to the advertisement, I found it so disappointing. Yes, she’s always the steady force behind him and I realise successful people need the support, but the subtle message that it is only right for a successful husband’s dream to be his wife’s too, just bothered me. The OA is an investment banker and in his success lies our family’s well being because I’ve sort of fallen off the career track and am sitting on the kerb planting roses and smelling them while speedy workers whiz by. But in spite of that I have my personal dreams. It would bring me deep joy if the OA were happy and at the top of his game – but it’s not my dream. It’s his dream. My dreams are different – I want to garden, I want to plant veggies and have organic produce on my table. I want my own column. I want so many things that are my personal dreams and not his.

When I cringed at the advertisement the OA shrugged – he didn’t see why I was objecting. Until I pointed to his daughter and said – “You want her to give up any personal dreams and only dream what her husband dreams?” and understanding dawned on his face. It’s not his fault for having been brought up in a patriachal system and I appreciate his willingness to see my point in a gender neutral way. It also solved the mystery of the whole “Ghar pe maa-beti nahi hai kya?” statement. Most men have a lot more empathy when the person affected is a daughter. A wife can suffer, but not a precious daughter. Makes me want to hit the OA over the head with something heavy, but I think I’ll let it pass this time.

We are currently in the process of househunting and we were talking to a landlord yesterday while the kids ran around the garden of the house we were looking at. The gentleman actually stopped talking and pointed to the Bean and asked me – How old is she? Four, I replied. She’s very intelligent, he said – she speaks beautifully and has a great vocabulary. I nodded thanks, brimming with pride, but keeping a straight face. The father looked fit to burst with pride, that someone noted his precious daughter’s brightness, based on a little chatter overheard while doing something else.

It is important for him that his daughter who has so much potential, so much life, have her own dreams, is a success in her own way. After all who is to define how big or small a dream should be. Support your partner,  your friend or your family in their dreams, but to reduce it to two people dreaming of one person’s success denies the very individuality of the other. Reduces her to a mere accessory, an appendage.  Surely Aruna has dreams other than being Mrs Anand? Yes, her husband represents the country and is our national pride but at home he should just be her husband, her equal, her partner. Why did the advertising company not use a successful woman like Renu Karnad  or Naina Lal Kidwai as the example and show how their husbands support – why are these ads so gender biased? Do their husbands only dream of their wife’s success? No man would ever appear in an advertisement saying that his only dream was to support his very successful wife. Why then is it okay to tell our daughters that it’s perfectly alright to dream your husband’s dream alone – unless of course its something shared like opening a dream business together or a cafe or something. No matter how big or successful or famous a spouse is, is it right to pass on the message that the wife must consider that her own dream? I shudder to think of that happening to my daughter. It must be bad enough to be overshadowed by a celebrity, to live your life around his schedule and needs – but surely something as personal and precious as a dream, should be your own?

This sort of subliminal message is so much more damaging than outright oppression that is easier to see and fight. And it’s a pity really, when it’s supported by someone I’ve always considered bright and intelligent. Today my objection might seem over-sensitive or like nitpicking. But in 20 years time I hope there will be more people who agree with me and less regressive advertising.

Here’s the advertisement.


168 thoughts on “Don’t worry….

  1. I hope we don’t have to wait for 20 years for most people to realize that a woman’s dreams are as valid and important as a man’s. Our advertising however, from the fairness cream ads, to food, cars, banking, would lead us to believe otherwise. Support is one thing, and families thrive on mutual support and caring, but I would hate it if my daughter or me had to give up on our own dreams to foster the men in our lives.

    • I hope so too, Banno. Just made me so sad – not even mad. The oil advertising and concern about a husband’s health and not a wife’s was bad enough. I understand that there are millions of women whose well being depends on their husband being alive, healthy and earning. But to take away that last little thing a woman has, her own personal dreams, and to tell her that even her dreams should be of his success… that is the limit.

      • That is unfortunately how our world is! If a woman has her own dreams, and those are at odds with her spouse’s dreams, she can even be accused of being selfish, and not committed enough to her husband. I’ve seen it happen so many times:(

        An elderly lady I know once told me when I was pregnant that I shouldn’t have a girl- bring up the girl with so much love and hope, then get her married, and then suffer because that man will treat her in any way he wants! Sometimes I feel she has a point.

  2. It’s funny but I had just that thought when I saw the ad a few times over. I was so peeved at the subliminal, but obvious bias, that I’ve started switching channels every time I see the ad.

    An argument at work (and I’m embarrassed to say advertising is our industry and area of work) brought about opinions like “Union Bank’s target audience has people who think this way, and will get it and relate to the idea of sharing dreams.”

    I’m all for sharing in your spouse/significant others/family/siblings/childs dream and supporting it in every way possible to make it come true, but at the cost of forgetting or overshadowing your own? I’m not sure thats such a good message to beam out.

    PS: good to have you back 🙂

    • 🙂 Good to be back, babe. And yes, I understand that their target audience probably relates to it. But 1) surely they can educate their audience and not perpetuate such notions. 2) I understand celebs are paid for advertising, and don’t really give a shit about the message being passed on. But this is even more of a let down than the fiercely heavy-browed Kajol doing fairness ads. I honestly thought intelligent, thinking people like the Anands wouldn’t want to be part of such a message. Entirely my mistake I am sure.

      • Hi MM,

        Celebrities don’t give a shit about the message being passed on through such ads and nor should we! Why should it hurt us to see a so-called educated woman & her man trying so hard to be heard? In ‘real life’, ask Anand & he’d say he’s nothing without his wife! When people are so hell bent on impressing others with their ‘intellect’, reactions like yours are sure to follow. Afterall, advertising is all about being heard one way or the other! Make noise- You have a winner.

        Relying on mere ads to pass an ‘intelligent’ message is again subjective. For eg: It might be very difficult for you to manage a home without house help, but I am able to do it while holding down a full time job! Again you are able to garden etc because your husband is earning enough to give the spouse a choice to give up her career. I could state that the message you are sending is, those women who have a full time job cannot run a home nor smell the roses! My reasoning might offend you & you might tell me that because of your work at home, your husband is motivated to go to work and your children have a mother at all time.

        Neither of us have an answer, mere defence at whatever we have chosen to do. Your daughter’s life is way better than your life because you are determined to give her what you never had. I think the world is in confusion because titles/position/reputation/recognition/applause/ labels like mother, father etc divide us as people.

        • Lets see now – you and the celebrities might not care about a message being passed, but sadly it is. And as the end consumer who it is targetted at, I have the absolute indisputable right to critique the point the advt is making. Right? Ignoring the fact that it influences millions of people is fooling ourselves, no? Have lost the rest of your first point – what do you mean?

          No one is relying on ads to give an intelligent message. On the other hand, should we not have an opinion on advts that ARE passing on a wrong message, be they any kind? Be it an advt that tells my daughter she needs to be fair/thin to be successful or tells my son he needs to play cricket to be cool, I speak for myself and for many others (clearly not you!) when I say that I find the messages harmful and if we don’t speak up against them we will be given worse by the advertising industry.

          And finally your argument. Yes, you COULD make that point, but it would be a spurious argument because we’re having an academic debate about a commercial CREATED for public consumption, NOT about Aruna’s personal life. You have to learn how to debate the point when I write a generic post, without dragging my personal life into it. I don’t live my life to send a message to anyone – whereas an advertisement is doing precisely that – selling you a concept. How did you think to equate the two?

          Yes – mine is a blog that encompasses a lot of my life – its not a 30 second spot selling a product. If someone who reads it can only take home one message, then more fool them for missing the rest of the posts. You’re able to hold down a full time job, handle a house, smell the roses AND read a variety of blogs and comment on them without any househelp at all – more power to you. I know for sure I wouldn’t have the time to do all of those if I wanted to do justice to each one. How much time you choose to give your kids or how big a home and how elaborate a meal you serve, how many guests you host in a week would indicate how much help you hire and are personal questions and just as I wouldn’t poke my nose in my Aruna’s real life and yours, I’d expect you to respect that in this discussion.

          And I don’t garden because my spouse’s earning capability allows it. I garden because I enjoy it and have done that for the last ten years. I see you’re again looking at things through the sexist prism of what a husband and his earnings allow you to do. Don’t single women garden? Don’t single men cook? And oh – I DO work. I just choose how many hours I want to work and how many hours I want to devote to my home, family and personal development, just as my husband chooses his career and how many hours he wants to work and how many hours he wants to spend on family.

          Getting to your last point, there is no confusion over labels. Where is a debate without a context? Would you deal with female foeticide the same way, saying, oh they’re all babies getting aborted, so don’t count if its female or male? Doesn’t the picture change the moment you put it in perspective and realise that they are all female foetuses? Doesn’t an advt change the moment you show a girl getting rejected for not being fair? How many advts do you know of a boy losing a job because he’s not fair?

          And finally, I have to say, this is just conversation. Interaction. Discussing the finer points of some matter. If we stopped talking about all of this I’d not be blogging and you’d not be here reading it!

          • Oh My!

            I do not care about such messages because it is not easy to influence an intelligent mind! Those who can be influenced don’t need the help of only ads. Half of our million don’t even know V Anand is, let alone his wife. If there is a thin line b/w personal & professional then acting in the advt as a celebrity’s ‘wife’ is rather pointless. You seem to have already judged her choice. Isn’t that getting personal?

            Why speak against advts which amuse you? I’d ask my daughter to laugh with me & at them rather than breaking her head over why a bunch of dim witted people in the name of ‘famous’ came together to create a so-called moral-of-the-story advt to lure you! Why fill yourself with their negativity? I think it is impossible for a daughter whose mother holds herself in such high esteem to succumb to such shit!

            Yes, my argument, isn’t really an argument. Merely a humble POV which seems to have offended you. MM, why does it shock you when another woman is able to manage her choices well regardless of how difficult her situation is? You call me a sexist because I tell you that you have the choice of working part time whereas I do not. I am your average Jane who loves photography as much as you love gardening. But I object to this statement of yours “I’ve sort of fallen off the career track and am sitting on the kerb planting roses and smelling them while speedy workers whiz by”. What does this even mean? That if you had a career there’d be no roses?

            Of course, hiring maids/drivers/helpers are a rich person’s lingo. I do not understand why we pay other people to help us lead our everyday lives. It is a personal choice you say. You have a choice hence you say. I don’t see the maids having any.

            I think we need to tell our children that heroes are not only the one’s who represent one’s nation, heroes are also those who clean toilets at our work place. We can teach them that words like famous/educated/well read are mere words. That we are in the wrong to expect so much out of people the world knows while lesser known people like me are allowed to live the way we want to behind walls built by our own limited thoughts!

            • Yes Mal, you might be intelligent, or even an absolute genius but its not always just about you, or is it? There is a world of people out there who don’t have your abundance of brains and sense.

              My objection to the advt is on the basis of it influencing or further pepetrating a stereotype. You are not the only person watching it. What if an advt showed a girl baby being aborted? Or dowry being a good thing? There’d be a 1000 people out there believing it. If you still don’t get it then there’s no point us arguing it back and forth since we’ve both said what we have. Advertising is a public medium and as the public, we have a right and a responsibility to critique it. You don’t need to exercise it if you don’t feel the need, no? If you find it amusing, I’m afraid we have a very different idea of what humour is.

              I am offended because you don’t seem to understand the basic point of an academic debate without making it personal. I didn’t drag your life into it and I’ll thank you to be able to hold a civil conversation without discussing my personal choices. I am after all, not discussing Aruna’s personal choice to devote her life to VA – I too, am only critiquing an advertisement. Again, if you can’t tell the difference between academic debate and commenting on someone’s personal life then we have nothing to say to each other.

              I call you sexist because you assume that I freelance because my husband can afford househelp. I’ve been freelancing since my son was born and we could barely afford help so I swept, swabbed, cooked and took care of him, strapping him to my chest and going out for interviews but still refusing to work fulltime and leave him with strangers. After 15 years of a career if we can afford househelp and I don’t see how that is your business and why you should comment on it? Apparently you haven’t heard of the concept of earning money to make your own life convenient. I’m glad you enjoy the drudgery of housework because I’d much rather spend that extra hour with my child in the park or reading to him or rocking her to sleep.

              You have a daughter you say, and you work full time. Do you carry your daughter to work or do you leave her in a daycare or a maid? So in that case you TOO are dependent on someone for your daily needs – as valid for you to take care of her as it is for you to cook, clean and sweep your own home. Again, I’d not bother with your househelp or your choices if you didn’t interfere and comment on mine. Yes, hiring people is something it takes money to afford. So what is your point? That I should feel bad for earning money in a legitimate manner? Do you feel guilty that you earn more than an autowala or a maid? So why should I feel guilty if I give someone employment? I am after all giving them a job that they need and the money they want. The other option would be for all of us to sack all the househelp and let them starve – better idea? You believe there is great glory in scrubbing the floor when you could be spending time with family or improving your mind? Your choice. By the way, have you ever heard of this or is it a strange concept?

              And yes, my career left no time to smell roses. I have no idea if you have any idea what a career in media is like. Most people work till atleast 10pm which is when a paper goes to press, there are no holidays or days off unlike the average 5 day corporate week and you have to shoot out of bed at 3am and run if there is an accident. I hope you have a better understanding of things now and why something as consuming as that leaves no room to sit around digging in the dirt. If your career gives you time to smell roses along with slog at home and spend time with your kids, clearly you’re in a great place – why whine about my choices then?

              And now you’ve completely gone off on a tangent. I have no idea what you believe is the connection between this post and the toilet cleaner being a hero. No one is a hero. Everyone is doing a job. What you choose to make your job is your choice. Be it feeding your kid her lunch or sitting at work commenting on blogs, we make our choices. We are certainly wrong to expect anything of anyone’s personal life. Again, since you seem to be having a hard time getting my point – i don’t CARE what the woman does in her real life – but the moment she creates an advertisement that is for public consumption and sells the audience a concept, I have a right to comment on that concept. *Groan* But if you cannot tell the difference between someone’s personal choices and a discussion on advertising ethics and commercials being critiqued, I have no idea how to explain it to your further!

  3. Hey!
    It is sooooooo nice to see something from you.
    I am barely holding on to my house help and seriously it is frustrating.
    Just y’day I was telling the husbadn we will carpet the floors and get dishwasher and get rid of the need for house help. Dont know how doable it is but at some point in future I do want to more independent at least in my own home.

    Now to the ad. My husband is a Surgeon and he is a passionate one. His patients rank really high in his life just a little below us. 😛
    His dream obviously is to be the best there is which means he spends a good 14-16 hrs at hospital comes back and has to study and all his leave is used up for training purposes. Along the way I realised I have adopted his dream. So yes I share his dream. But that does not mean I have none of my own. I just saw the ad I see where the trouble is. My husband , for all that I have written, comes home and takes charge of both kids, prepares them for bed and is the one who tells stories to the son. He also makes sure I get my half hour in the morning with my coffee and blogs. 😀
    I dont think it is about sharing dreams but I agree everything you say about the ad.

    • Well I guess we’ll never know what Anand does for his kids, just as no one will realise that the OA gets up at 6.30 to wash two bums, shovel oats down their throats and rushes to the bus stop with the kids. But I’d have appreciated the ad more if I weren’t so sick of the gender bias. If they’d done this with a husband sharing his wife’s dream. If they’d not used a celebrity so that we were not given the message that if you’re famous your loved ones must treat your dreams as their own.

      PS: Don’t do the carpeting if you live in India – the dust is driving us mad. So are the light wood floors – they never look clean enough for my standards and we can’t really scrub them with soap and water. I’d totally get a dishwasher and a clothes dryer and be done with all househelp if I could, but am bumbling along right now.

      • I agree.And if this is a series of ads and sharing dreams is their theme and it would be nice to show Anand helping Aruna in hers.

        Thank you for the tip. I realise its not very practical but I am struggling with the househelps. There has to be a way out!!

        Wanted to ask about your SIL. She is doing well now? My brother getting married next week. YAY!! I am soooooo happy.

        • congratulations on the new member joining your family 🙂 May she bring joy and luck and be very happy.

          SIL is fine. Partying it up with her family and travelling. God is good and she’s healthy and fit now.

  4. And here I was, amazed at how you were adhering to your resolve and not posting much on purpose. 😦 I hope your situation eases soon and you get some much deserved rest. Love to the li’l ones. May they be angels and make this house-help-less time easier on you 🙂

    • 🙂 They aren’t angels but they’re learning so much more. The Bean lays the table, the Brat tidies up the shoe rack and clears the table. The Bean empties masalas from packets to jars and beats eggs, the Brat dries towels on the line… we’re getting by 🙂

      And seriously, I have had the odd pocket of time but I decided to stick to my resolve and not post much anyway.

  5. the ad, i think, is one of a series — it uses the face of the lower-profile person in a success story. there’s one that features Sachin Tendulkar’s brother… am hoping a future one will have a Mr Kidwai or a Mr Nooyi or similar. it can only boost the image of the public sector bank.
    that out of the way, good to have you back! hope your domestic niggles get sorted out soon, and you get to blog occasionally. you’ve been missed.

      • I’m not sure these ads run down the dreams of the lower-profile person. i think the idea’s to highlight the less-publicised contribution of the other people in these success stories — at least, that’s what i took away, after i’d gotten over the pativrata stereotype. but going by the response to this post, i may have been the exception.

    • At first when I saw it, it got my goat, same angle as yours. By the next (which as FP said had someone’s bro) I was not too sure. I did not concentrate on either, so did not see it in entirety but I am yet to understand what the other person has to do with the bank, other than going and depositing all the money or better withdrawing it.
      And why did Aruna Anand agree to do it in the first place or maybe she didn’t even think twice about the whole thing 🙂

  6. Good to know you are doing good MM. I was thinking you have really lost interest with this blog.

    I agree with what you have said here and yes we all have multiple facets and they seem to be highlighting only one and saying that is what that person is.

    I am sure our daughters will have it better

    • I did at one point. Too many random people, too much media interest, too many papers asking for stories and interviews. For what? One silly blog post written as a response to a terribly ill mannered rant? Not worth it. Better to lie low and wait for things to go back to the way they used to be with old bloggy friends and old readers.

      And yes, there is a part in each one of us that wants to see a loved one achieve their dream. But it’s probably the worst part to highlight in a certain context. I’d want to see more advertising asking you to reach for your own dreams, not your husband or brother’s. There is a dream the OA and I share for our family. And then there are our personal dreams.

  7. so happy you’re back (does a little happy dance which she hopes no one notices). missed your posts. missed your babies. somehow reading you has become a part of my life.
    no househelp sucks. and then feeling guilty for feeling bad that you have to do the work in what is afterall your own home sucks even more. i have a lot of muddled up thoughts about maids and the way we treat them which i need to sort out soon. i just wish housework wasn’t sooo difficult. i keep telling myself to stop dusting. lots of construction happening nearby and it takes just 5 minutes for the dust to settle back. but seeing all that dust makes the back of my eyeballs itch and i just have to dust. sigh. plus i’m working so the dependence on the maid who looks after my daughter and the fear that she will mistreat her and the guilt for not giving my daughter the best are enough to send me to the lunatic asylum soon. very soon.
    anyway hope your house help situation is solved soon. and where’s the post on baby button?

    • ha ha! no, I feel no guilt for a maid doing my work. I work for someone too, don’t I? The bigger a ‘company’ grows, the more people it employs. I work, I spend the extra time I get with my kids, I have guests, I sometimes host absolute strangers as a favour to someone or the other – I need the help. As long as I treat them well, pay them fair wages and am considerate, I feel no guilt.

      That said, in a country better equipped, I’d be happy to do my own work. We already do a lot between the OA and I and I like self sufficiency. But the house doesn’t stay clean for a minute in Gurgaon, the OA’s shirt collars need to be scrubbed by hand, the list is endless.

      No time to post on BB yet, but will do for sure.

      Psst… wanna happy dance with me? Am happy to be back too.

  8. While I completely agree about the gender biases, what if his dreams are her’s too? She does have the right to feel that way if she chooses to. About the agency not choosing a female role model, I am thinking hard which celebrity couple could make the connect. Can only come up with Farah Khan and Shirish Kunder from the top of my head as a duo with some amount of recognition who could have been used. Am sure there must be a couple more at least, can’t think of them just yet. Also, unsure if Kidwai and Karnad enjoy popular recognition? Also, the bank would certainly not want Kidwai being as she is the head honcho of a rival company. On another note, do read Aruna Anand’s blog. She writes marvelously well and have been her reader since long and she certainly seems to have a very distinct identity of her own which she exercises on her blog. Only wish she would post more often

    • Well of course they could be her dreams too. Just like wanting to be fairer, thinner or getting a new nose or wanting to be somebody’s third wife or something is a personal desire. It’s when it comes into the public domain as advertising and begins to influence thinking, that it gets worrisome. If this were some housewife somewhere – and I am sure there are millions of those, who exists only to make her husband’s life easier and see his dreams come true and basically take over where his mother left off, I couldn’t care less, other than perhaps feel bad that they haven’t explored their own dreams. But she isn’t. She is the famous wife of a famous man. And she is doing this on national TV. Beaming that subliminal message into millions of homes. Convincing 1000s of men that it if VA’s wife can make his dream hers, then why not his wife?

      I just picked Kidwai and Karnad randomly – you can pick any famous woman – an actress, an author, anyone. And if we find ourselves short of famous women, it might bring us back to the argument that its because we’re constantly telling our girls not to dream and succeed, but to be good supportive wives, to merely be support functions. In such cases I’m even happy to support those awful sanitary napkin advts that zoom up a woman army officer’s butt!

      Thank you for introducing me to Aruna’s blog. I’d love to read it. And based simply on what you say about it, I am further disappointed that someone who has a clear sense of self agreed to such an ad.

  9. Actually, I saw their other ad with Ajit Tendulkar and I still wondered why it didnt work. Even without the gender bias, the concept behind this ad is off.
    I didnt know Aruna-Anand had a baby recently – yay! 🙂

  10. Agree completely on the ad. Have seen hoardings here in Bombay with that and had the same thoughts. It worries me. And its great to be reading you again!

  11. Hey MM, good to have you back. I started reading your blog recently and I missed your regular posts. Luckily I had some older posts to catch up on. I’m quite a peeping tom that way :-). Agree that this ad stinks of gender bias but i guess they had another ad featuring Tendulkar’s brother too. And while we are on the subject of ads, must share with you one of my recent releases.

    Would love your comments – the good, bad and ugly.

      • Ya. I wrote it. In fact I’ve written all the Huggies ads for the past 5 years. Glad you like it. And now I’ve been given a beauty brand and it just feels so fake. Sigh. Everything has to end with male appreciation. That’s the starting point so you can imagine!

    • Hi Joe,

      Loved ur ad personally.. am a mom of two kids, who are growing up really fast, and the ad really touched me …

      But did u know that in South India, kids are not allowed to look at their own shadow, as it is supposed to make them thinner !! :O ( now, isn’t that an easy substitute for all these diets / exercise regimes ) ..

      And MM, love to see you posting, fighting trolls all over again 😀

  12. glad to see u back MM. did miss u tons! but great to know u r enjoying urself. do write whenever possible. it’s nice to start the day by reading u!

  13. Yayaayay! MM is back

    its great to see your blog updated 🙂

    Yours was one of the first blogs I started reading and its great when you are back..

    I saw the ad on the billboard! (Havent seen it on TV) the moment I saw, I wondered why she agreed to do it…like you, I do find her genteel…and I do like admiration for her grew a few notches down, after seeing that ad…

    Its sad because if women disagrees to take up such ads, the ads wont come up and it MAY change the view of women in the eyes of the (Indian?) men…

  14. I’d have disliked the ad for the very same reasons you stated. So *i* don’t think you’re nit-picking.

    I disliked the whole ad and the general impression it gave.

  15. and they could have used Mrs Anjali Tendulkar, she’s got her own dreams, her own life and isn’t a shadow of her husband, in spite of him being the leading sportsperson in the country.

      • Ok, I have a point to make here, but I dont know how to make it without offending anyone…let me try anyway.

        All the women being suggested as “successful” alternatives, are conventionally successful – which also conveys the impression that success means going out and earning truckloads of money. If the ad showed VA supporting Aruna’s dream of having…say the best garden in town, would it still not be okay? What is wrong with having a dream like that? My plants give me more joy than my job. But then again, wouldn’t women still find reason to be pissed and say – “oh international success for him, backyard garden for her, what sort of gender-stereotyping is this”?

        Dont get me wrong – im an unapologetic feminist – i’m just saying MAYBE we get a little too sensitive sometimes..

        I didn’t offend anyone na? 🙂

        • This gets into stickier ground, you’re right. And yes we are sensitive, but with good reason no? Centuries of oppression is bound to create suspicion. I’d be okay with that advt if it were her dream. I’d be okay with showing Tendulkar or Ganguly helping his wife at work if it were truly their work. After all VA is a chess player in real life and they ARE cashing in on reality. I am in this case not arguing about a person’s choices, but about advertising standards and choices.

          • No I completely agree with what you’re saying about the message the ad sends out. I took off on a bit of a tangent I guess – just that the alternatives being suggested made me wonder how big a dream is big enough to deserve a spouse’s sacrifices.

          • She was a gold medallist throughout her graduation & post graduation(she’s a qualified pediatrician).My sis studied with her & as far as I know she comes from a family of super rich diamond merchants , is an only child & her Mom is into a lot of social work .(real social work & not just the got nothing else to do high society type)She’s part Irish, I think.Anyway she came across (from what I heard )as a very down to earth , friendly girl with no airs but determined nevertheless.She spoke of marrying the guy even before she met him way back in college & some friends joked about it but she got what she wanted anyway:)Am sure from what little I know she would not appear in such an ad .Maybe she did give up her career for her family & kids but why is that wrong? It’s her choice isn’t it?Felt sorry seeing Sachin’s bro in the ad.Do they mean he had/has no dreams of his own?

            • No I don’t think that is wrong, Rajni. I might have an opinion on someone’s personal life, but I certainly wouldn’t voice it publicly, because its her personal choice. I only object to it being glorified as an advertisement.

  16. Glad to have you back MM.
    I agree that the subliminal messaging is just as bad if not worse than in-your-face biases like fairness ads.
    I hope you are able to sort out the house help, it cant be easy with two wee ones in the house.

    • They’re not the problem, Harishri… It’s just too big a house to keep dust free by myself. And I have far too many houseguests. All of whose company I enjoy but it also means a lot more work.

  17. hi,

    I am from the ad frat and strangely had thought the very same things about this particular ad when I saw it. Am putting up your post on my FB page, hope its ok with you. just wanted my friends and colleagues to see a real feedback.

  18. Co-incidentally I just saw the ad on Saturday (a hoarding) on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. We had made a very early morning start, skipped breakfast and the husband and I were ravenous, so the first thought that came to mind when I saw the ad was, when P dreams of a mc aloo tikki, Mrs P dreams of a maharaja mac with double cheese and extra fries! On a serious note, the ad had irked me somewhat and I’d put it down to my being extra sensitive these days because I’ve pretty much fallen off the career track myself (except that I don’t plant roses like you, I just like to wallow in the mud and self pity), but watching the full TV ad and reading your post has made me realize the folly of my own thoughts. You’re absolutely right, I think its perfectly fine to nurture your husband’s dreams as long as you make sure you have dreams of your own and nurture those too.
    On the help front, I can completely empathize. One thing that’s worked for me lately is keeping several part timers (three in my case) and splitting the work between them. All of them being equally useless and unreliable, this arrangement ensures that at the very least, there is some extra capacity at hand and I’m not left completely stranded! Hang in there and hope you get good help soon.

    • ha ha… so don’t plant roses. Watch TV all day. It’s no one else’s business. There is no free lunch. The entire headache of running the house is on you and people who discount that are just blind. To say nothing of the fact that you pay by losing out on career growth, a monthly salary, adult company…I could go on.
      I have tried part timers and the problem I have had is that they will say 11am and come at 12.30. The next one is only free to come at 2. Then the next at 4pm. So I find myself bound to the house the entire day, unable to either go out for errands or even the famed kitty parties because I’m just twiddling my thumbs waiting for them. Seems simpler to up and do it myself and get out of the house. Which never happens because once I am done I pass out in exhaustion.

  19. I haven’t seen the ad, so can’t comment on the content. And I strongly agree with your observation that much of what we see, read and listen to is absolutely gender biased. But I have a question. What is the harm in having a shared dream and why can’t the dream of a wife be the success of her husband. And importantly as well the other way round?
    I think a great many parents make the dream of their children their personal dream; don’t they? For example when a child dreams to achieve something fruitful in life, there are a great many parents who sacrifice their own careers, savings and life to achieve it. Without a strong belief in a shared cause, greatness is seldom achieved. When Sachin Tendulkar’s brother Ajit discovered his potential, he planted the seed of the dream in the family and it became the goal of everyone involved. This is why we have had the opportunity to witness a genius like him.
    Incidentally my friend, chess grand master SuryaSekhar Ganguly, who is one of the key person in Anand’s support team would tell you that immense amount of mental, tactical preparation is required to achieve what Anand does. I mean this guy requires a handful of grand masters just to prepare for his strategies and offensives. Leave aside the immense mental stamina that would be required to execute them on the board. His achievements would not be possible if his dream does not consume everyone else’s and all around him share the one dream of him being the best.
    Being a genius unfortunately is not like being an investment banker or a software developer (I’m not disrespecting anyone here, but the yardsticks to measure an average Joe and a genius can’t be same)
    From Rabindranath Tagore, to Albert Einstein, to Richard Feynmann, to Celine Dione, to Marie Cuire, you would find countless many who had their spouses share their dreams and may or may not have lost their individuality and sometimes became a mere shadow of their partners. Unfortunate though it is, without unrelenting support, it is difficult to sustain genius. World would have been poorer without those whose silent selfless service have nourished these great minds.
    ***Obviously this does not give the right to average Joe’s and pea-brained patriarchs to be high-handed in the way they treat their wife or mother.

    • Balmiki, I’d suggest you take a look at this advt – its a sort of subliminal message IMHO. If you read the comments you will see that it has offended a lot of women for the same reason. Shared dreams are nice if they’re about a house in the hills. But the message this one gives is of a wife whose life revolves around her husband’s – you should see how it shows her packing etc for him. I know plenty of women do that. And I know that in our house the OA prefers packing because he packs better than I do. So I pack and then I turn around to see him sneakily re-doing the whole lot. But the message this seems to give is that its okay to accept another’s dream as your own. I feel very strongly about advertising and the subliminal messages it gives.

      I’m sure it takes a team to put Mr Anand where he is, but I believe if you are a genius you don’t need the team. Sure, a team hones you, but then they’re just a team who you pay to help. In this case they’ve shown the wife for a reason, instead of showing say, the rest of the team you speak of. The problem with showing a wife in such an advt is that the first message that hits is that its a wife’s job to ensure her husband’s dream is hers. There may be more, it might be a much deeper advt than us simpletons can see, but then its a pointless advt if that is not being conveyed to us general junta. Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure it takes a lot of support from a spouse if you’re a celebrity. I just don’t like the idea being preached to the average joe who is watching that advt because then he believes that he deserves that support too and his wife believes that she must do that. That is what advtng does no? It tells you that you must do what the celeb is doing – using a particular cream to succeed, drinking a particular thing to be cool etc. The problem is that along with that.. it passes on so much more.

      • Dear MM,
        I understand where you are coming from. Well, we can all safely agree that developing one’s moral center from advertisements and daily soaps is quite dangerous.
        More often than not we fall into the trap of stereotyping. The media and the TV channels around us try to sell products for their sponsors by capitalizing on the psyche of the consumers, rather than educating the public. If there were televisions in the early 19th century India, we sure could have seen today, archived advertisement footage glorifying burning women on the funeral pyre and condemning widow remarriage. Now we have fairness creams and misbehaving youth acting as the uber cool ultra aggressive representative of tomorrow’s India who do nothing more but feed the delicate egos of a consumer society.
        But my original point was a bit different.
        Imagine the difficulties of a young Indian physicist from late 19th Century India where the British and Europeans consider him to be intellectually inferior just because of the color of his skin color. The general consensus among those who hold government offices and head prestigious institutions, is that Indians possess little or no scientific acumen and an Indian’s foray into Physics is an exercise in futility. Hence he has little or no funds for research, no support system and a general amount of disdain which he faces from his colleagues on a daily basis.
        Now in the face of such tremendous odds, this guy goes on to create the experimental model of radio from a makeshift laboratory in an unused toilet of Presidency College in Kolkata with equipment created by him or by local craftsmen. This is the widely known story of the father of modern Indian Physics, the great experimental physicist Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose.
        What is lesser known is the story of his wife Abala Bose. An exceptional woman in her own right, she was a brilliant scholar herself. Before marrying Prof Bose, she was preparing to be a doctor and was on the verge of completing her degree. If she had successfully done so, she would have probably been among the very first female doctors in our country trained in European medicine. No small feat, considering the socio-economic and political background of her time.
        The reason she gave up on her dream was without her complete support it was impossible for Prof Bose to pursue his passion. I’ve read that things were so damn difficult then that she would row a boat herself across the Ganges to pick Prof. Bose from Chandernagar Station and the couple would row the boat back together as it was not financially affordable for them to rent a house in Calcutta where Porf. Bose taught in the Presidency College.
        In the process his dream became hers and her sacrifice of her own dreams laid the path for development of studying physical sciences in modern India. A sacrifice acknowledged by Bose in his writings.
        With our modern gender neutral sensibilities, this tale of sacrifice might make us wonder if Prof Bose would have done the same thing, had their roles reversed. But there can be no denying the fact that her support and sacrifices not only led to the discoveries made by Prof Bose, but also indirectly paved the path of next generation of brilliant Indian physicists like S.N Bose, Meghnad Saha, C.V. Raman etc. who were proteges of J.C. Bose and were inspired by him.
        Long story short, what I want to say is that sometimes, under exceptional circumstances, a person can share his/her personal dream to achieve a greater objective. In case of the Anands, I am inclined to assume that Aruna Anand is doing the same.

        • Okay so you’re agreeing with my point on how its a bad advertisement. As far as Aruna Anand goes, I think its her personal life and choice and not one I’d want to comment on, if indeed she is doing that.
          That said, I think there’s a lot to be discussed over your point. Personal dreams as opposed to greater common good. One never knows which person might actually be the bigger success given the chance. Maybe Aruna would have been a world famous dancer if not for this? Maybe Nita Ambani would have been really famous as a dancer and not as Mukesh Ambani’s wife, if she’d focused on herself? I mean how do we put one person’s worth or dreams over another’s?

          • Yes I have seen the ad. It makes Aruna Anand look like Vishwanthan’s house help and personal butler. The execution of the ad is quite demeaning to women in general.One can imagine how such ads may strike a deep chord in hearts of old male executives in the selection committees of government undertaken banks(my mother being a government bank employee for the last 27 years, I’m no alien to such babus!)
            Getting back to our earlier discussion on whether it is worthwhile to sacrifice your own dreams and aspirations so that your partner can succeed in an out of the ordinary and tremendously challenging profession. Well this is a very difficult question with no straight answers. In my opinion, even if Aruna Anand weren’t a particularly talented dancer, she had as much right as taking up dancing as her husband is entitled to playing chess. She may had turned out to be another Mallika Sarabhai or just could have been a dancer performing at local, regional events; In any case those achievements could not have been compared to her husband’s as you cannot compare apples with oranges. They are simply two different entities. I have an old school belief system where the yardstick to measure my success is my own journey, my little contribution to my own field and how it has helped the progress of my subject and not what the world thinks of my fame or bank balance.
            Coming back to my earlier example of Prof Bose and his wife, you can imagine both of them taking the notion of breaking stereotypes to the extreme. On one hand you have a physicist trying to establish that intellectual faculties are not confined to the whiteness of your skin.On the other hand a woman trying to establish that her gender does not inhibit her merit to a patriarchal society where women are thought of as little more than child bearing vessels. Had she been a doctor, her contributions could have been significant as well. The reason she started the endeavour was to save lives in a country where women living behind the confines of the household were often not allowed to be diagnosed by male doctors. But there is really no way of comparing; and I believe there is no need to compare as we would be comparing apples and oranges again.
            Incidentally the first female doctor in India, Dr Kadambini Ganguly, a contemporary of Abala Bose was supported by her husband to the extent that her dream became his. He would look after their children, perform household chores,while she could study medicine. And for this her husband Dwarkanath Ganguly, prominent bramho social reformer had to face immense social ostracism in a male dominated 19th Century India. Compared to these stories, the story of Anands and Ambanis seem a bit pale.
            I strongly agree that you can have a life of your own even when your spouse is an international celebrity. Dona Ganguly was a professional dancer and was seriously dedicated to dancing even when Sourav Ganguly was the skipper of the Indian cricket team.
            We also need to admit the fact in our Indian society, the women more often than not do not get the due for the talent they possess. Genders seldom reverse the pre-conceived roles that the society assigns them. Men rarely are ready to abandon their careers to help their wives excel in something, unless there is an immediate and huge financial gain to be enjoyed.
            This is the sad truth of our society.
            The parameters which we use to judge the individuality of Dona Ganguly should not be different from those which we should assess Aruna Anand. In my opinion, if some one decides to dedicate his or her life entirely to the success of his or her spouse, we should respect the person irrespective of his or her gender. Or else we assume the same mindset of those who would taunt Dwarkanath Ganguly when he would cook and tend their children while his wife Kadambini would immerse herself in medical textbooks. You see, dreams can often become viral…..don’t you remember the great I have a dream speech?

  20. Hi MM,

    Glad you are back…
    please take care of your health and good luck with house hunting…

    I feel the same about Aruna – she looks so gentle and I have heard she’s a good dancer… their family is just 4 houses from my in laws – nice people is what i have heard about them…and i was so glad about the baby too…

    have to check on the ad…


  21. aren’t you a darling? here I am feeling low and all, and there you are! feels great to have you back MM…missed you, ok??
    about the ad, I somehow did not see it the way you saw it. I thought the feeling that was echoed was more about the unconditional support that a partner provides the other with, i’m sure you do it for OA no matter how engrossed you are within your own agenda and he does it for you. The ad has a nice subtle message (good they didn’t make her talk) which I like. I did not see anything as being forced or thrust upon her – after all don’t we all actually have much interest in our spouse’s dreams and passion. However, the convention of showing the woman do it as always throws a different light on it.

    • See that is my point, sweetheart. There is absolutely no harm in worrying about your husband’s health and buying an oil that suits him. But women die of heart disease too. How come they never show a man worrying over his wife’s health and buying her woman’s complan or something? It’s this gender angle I object to. Admittedly I didn’t know about the Sachin advt when I wrote this post, but I’m still not too happy showing how others have put their lives on hold for one person.

      A partner provides support yes. Always. Else I’d kick him out on his butt. 😉 But when you tell me that his dream is mine, I have my worries because that is his personal achievement. All said and done its V Anand who is the super star, not her. I do want my husband to do well. I help him in every way I can. I support him when he needs it and yell at him when he works too much and neglects me! But when I close my eyes and dream, I thankfully dream for myself. I have my own dreams. That doesn’t mean I don’t support his. But they are not mine. *Shrug* Or maybe that that is just a few of us?

      • Exactly.My dreams are my priority, I accept. But there are days when I see Vijay play a cricket match or tennis tournament and want bigger, better things for him. I would’t mind leaving all my work behind to just go stand beside the tennis court to cheer him up. Likewise you would pack OA’s bags knowing he would secretly redo it 🙂 , take time to buy stuff that’d suit him..that’s exactly the bit shown here I feel. it’s just supporting his choice though it might not be something you’d really like for yourself. Of course we all can interpret it differently. Somehow people of the advertising world assume it should be the woman doing all these things or that it would sell better. The ad probably should have shown both Anand and his wife – VA doing something for his wife , you know…

        • But standing by the tennis court to cheer Vijay or re-packing something doesn’t portray either of us as people without our own dreams and passions. They are a part of our lives. The advt on the other hand gives the impression that all she does is serve him. THAT is what I objected to – THAT is what I don’t want my daughter to grow up doing.

  22. I didn’t think the way you thought about this. But I was a little offended by the new Birla Sun life insurance ad that features a couple. Watch this and tell me if you are offended.

    • *groan* why…?
      every newly wed woman gets asked the question more than she should. I don’t see why nosy people don’t ask newly wed men if their wives are expecting yet. After all one assumes it took some action from both sides no?

      • I know. I don’t understand how an increment on the wife’s job is not jump worthy ( and this guy is walking away…), while he himself was sharing his accomplishments at work. And for all of this, he is the husband who SHOULD know about the *other* news. Grr.

  23. “Most men have a lot more empathy when the person affected is a daughter. A wife can suffer, but not a precious daughter. Makes me want to hit the OA over the head with something heavy, but I think I’ll let it pass this time.”

    I know!!! double standards no?

  24. So in this article she speaks about being happy to be in his shadow and actually even packing for him as one of her jobs – not so much in the way a wife does it for her husband, but as though it’s part of her duty as his caretaker. (you are a fool btw for even trying; I make the husband pack and unpack for me regardless of whether he is traveling or not. If they are so good at it, let them do it for god’s sake!). I read some posts on her blog and couldn’t even reconcile her wit and humor with the person in this interview – but that makes me question what we assume in itself (given that somehow I thought I knew who she was from her blog). In some ways it’s no different than a SAHM being accused of “not using her education or brains” or whatever it is. Don’t get me wrong, the interview disappointed me because in some ways I wanted to believe it’s the ad that got it wrong. It now seems to me like this is who she is and the ad just beamed it into a million homes. So then does the disappointment become with the ad industry more than her?
    I’m just wondering if she looks at the ad and says that’s who I am, my dream is to support my husband and it’s represented accurately – can she step out of that and objectively refuse because it perpetuates a wider stereotype that is harmful.

    • Well yes, I’ve seen some interviews and she does come across as the sweet wife who lives in his shadow. If that is who she is and she doesn’t mind it being beamed into 2 million homes, that is fine for her I suppose. To me, its as regressive as a saas bahu serial and if people like you and me don’t express our disappointment in it, our daughters will believe that is the right way for a woman to be.

  25. OK, as a society we have always encouraged our daughters to be supportive of their husband’s dreams, to put themselves in second place, for the sake of the family. And now, we have to condone this message in the media, too? I’m wondering if a Victoria Spice would have done something like this or Steffi Graf? Heck, I don’t like this at all…. I don’t. It’s telling our daughters that they don’t count for much. I’m likely to kill anybody who’d suggest to DD that this is okay. Even, if you choose to not have a career outside the home – your dream could very well be raising good future citizens of the world or raising the best potty trained dog, for all I care.Why is that dream less important than anyone else’s?

    • This is really interesting. Thank you for sharing it. There is an Indian book too – I think its a Zubaan publication, on what they call the other side of the story – the woman’s side, rarely represented.

  26. Hey MM, so glad to have you back. I agree with you on this post. It is indeed good to share your spouse/loved one’s dream but it is completely wrong to make less of other person’s dreams just because he/she is not so successful. How do you define success? It just cant be defined with fame and money.

  27. what is wrong if a husband and wife are so well tuned that share the same dream?
    If we want gender equality we must stop thinking on gender basis…so if one spuse is sharing and supporting other’s dream would you find it wrong?…or is wrong only if a woman supports man not vice versa?

    • Sharing A dream is very different to living HIS dream. A dream is one we see together. HIS dream is one he has always seen and she has only recently joined in. Perhaps it comes as part of the baggage of marrying a celebrity? I shudder to think of marrying someone so famous that from the beginning of the marriage it is clear that it will always be his career that gets priority. Even if I am a bank clerk, my career is important to me if I am career oriented. I recall my mother’s only objection when I brought the OA home to say I wanted to marry him – He is very ambitious; will he make space for your dreams? I was shocked. I thought she’d object to the religious difference and instead she was worried about my individuality. I will never forget that and neither can I be thankful enough for having a mother like her.

      Yes, we want gender equality and to get there we first need to bring women up to a certain standard. Give them their rights and then let them choose how they want to exercise it. It is not wrong to support a husband. But it is wrong to beam that advt into millions of easily influenced, patriachal homes and further reinforce the stereotype of a woman who is self-sacrificing and only dreams what her husband dreams. Our country doesn’t need this – not right now.

  28. I didn’t actually take the ad so seriously. I thought it was sweet that they highlighted the supportive role of the spouse of a star. The way I see it, its not about supporting the husband’s dream, or losing your own dream, but just about supporting and being there for someone you love and care for – it could be a sibling, a spouse, a friend or even a parent. But yes, it would be awesome if they came up with a campaign where Kiran Mazumdar Shaw/Indra Nooyi’s spouses were shown being equally supportive 🙂 I hope the UB guys are listening… 🙂

    • haha! We’re not taking it seriously really. It’s easy to switch channels. But yes, the moment you mention something, it is bound to create debate and discussion. That’s nice. For instance, I don’t find this any more annoying than the 1000 cooking oil advertisements that only focus on how your husband’s heart health is important. On an average I find women much sicklier than men and yet I see no advertising aimed at them. What is it – are our men not interested in our health? Is it social conditioning or are men just heartless? Or is the life of a woman less valuable than a man’s? So many niggling questions.
      As I said, I’d like to see the advt featuring a woman for once and that would make all the difference.

  29. So relieving to see a post from you again. Especially on a topic that touches many a nerve. I ‘m actually half-hoping that your no-blogging-much resolve breaks and you post as regularly as you used to! Totally love the way you write. Your posts really egg me on to start writing again. Hope I do too. Pls do keep them coming in! 🙂

  30. I saw similar ads pop up every time i opened TOI, Sachin’s brother, boxer Virender singh’s brother etc. it bothered right there and was totally off. same thought went through my mind. How did Ajit Tendulkar Virendar’s borther feel featured in the ad.

    And then you blog about Aruna. yeah I don’t get it too, how come one’s dream is any lesser to siblings’/spouse’s.?

  31. good to see you are back…

    i did see the ad and the ad of sachin’s brother. Did not think of it in this angle before you pointed it out… interesting

  32. Yay! someone’s back. Off track, how’z the knee gurl? I could imagine you gnashing your teeth as you painfully tackle the staircase.
    I happened to see the ad last week and had to read through it thrice to get the message. The only question I had was – Why would a champion leave her passion and make it someone else’s passion? And why this balidan was so great that it covered so much ad space? Marketing tamasha at its best…
    Well the good part is – I see enough proof on your blog that we would not have to wait for 20 years to make some marketing pros wake up and smell the coffee. Till then lets have a good time on their goof ups 🙂

    • Knee is pretty bad. Have been limping. And its deteriorating into other problems. I keep the weight off it so I walk lopsided, which gives me a back ache and some pain in the soles of my feet. I’m a merry soul arent I? 🙂

  33. Haven’t seen this ad yet, so no comments. Have you seen the TBZ jewellery ad? ‘Kisi ka noor ban-na ek kala hai’ wala? Puke- worthy! Similar sentiments and highly offensive (much like an earlier ad of the same brand’s where the Mum- in- law to be frowns upon a jeans clad son’s girlfriend but relents, once she turns up in a saree.. or something to that effect!).
    Makes me wonder about the folks making these ads, really! On one side, the advertising world (or at least the larger perception around it) is supposed to consist of some of the smarter brains in the country today (not to mention, more open, progressive, blah, blah) and then they go ahead and make ads like these!

    I’ve missed seeing you here; and the one day I skip my ‘check MM’s blog’ routine, you go ahead and post!

    Lastly, your daughter is all of that and more – intelligent, bright, beautiful and precious. Its so easy to see why the OA is such a smitten father! (As are most dads of daughters, but that is a story for another day :))

  34. First off, thrilled to see you back. Am sorry about your knee.. Dindt realise it was troubling you again so much. As a long term chronic diabetic , I know how it feels to live with some ache or the other all the time. It is very, very depressing infact. And you have no maid which makes it worse. My flat is only as big as your baths, but I am constanly struggling to keep it clean…sigh. I hope happy days are around the corner for you as far as all these domestic issues are concerned.

    I thought the ads were off too! Although, I didnt see it the way you have. The ads have featured Rahman’s mother, virender singh’s brother, tendulakar’s brother etc. I simply felt bad for them . Because the write ups could not convey even an iota of gratitude or admiration for these people. Infact I found the pcitures of the siblings more disturbing…more than aruna’s or rehaman’s mother. In their case , one is a mother so all that dreaming/sacrificing on her behalf is no big deal for I am a mother too and it comes naturaly to me. Whatever I am doing for Yohaan is no big deal and certainly not a sacrifice. In aruna’s case, well, she chose to marry a world famous celebrity and how she decides to handle his stardom is essentialy her choice. But with the siblings of tendulkar and virender singh, it touched a nerve, totaly in the wrong manner. The spot light seems not only forced but awkward, as if these siblings dont have any indiviuality or even achievements and aspirations of their own. In that , I do understand the point you are making about Aruna too. And then I so dont get the connection with banking either. All in all, the ad left me annoyed and even confused. Thank God I watch zero TV and films.

    When is the next post coming then?? What can I say, I live for them MM! 🙂

  35. i have always found Aruna to be so beautiful – she has intelligent looking eyes… But always I have felt uncomfortable to read about how she has adjusted her schedule to match her husbands (articles I read long ago). I am totally with you on the ad. Feel sad about it.

  36. Dear MM;

    I know what you mean. Before I got married, my MIL tried telling me that my interests should be subservient to those of my husband. As infuriated as I was, I knew better than to pick this battle before the wedding.

    After we got married, I made it a point to build a wall, drawing a clear boundary in a SILENT but very effective manner.

    In a couple of weeks I will be getting my PhD. Inspite of all her tall promises she is not coming for the event. Even though I will not be confronting her, I know that had it been her daughter walking on stage or even her son-in-law (whose graduation she attended) matters would have been different.

    I know these are her shortcomings and it is naive to expect her to be perfect. But in the end of the day, there is a but….



    • Congratulations on the PhD 🙂 Yes, I too was told by the FIL that my career is nothing in the face of the OA’s bright future and I must ensure that I support him even if it means giving up my own dreams. I was hopping mad at that time but stayed quiet because I didn’t want to pick a fight.
      They say nothing anymore because they believe I am working flexitime for their son’s convenience. I’m not bothering to correct them in that misapprehension. We moved to Delhi inspite of his career doing well elsewhere because this is the place I am most happily employed. And I pick and choose my work because I know plenty of people in the industry here and this works best for my career and home.

      • Hi MM

        Glad to see your response. I so wanted to get that off my chest.

        More importantly, glad that you are back online. I used to frequently check your blog to see if there was a new entry. Of course, your reasons for blogging less frequently are most understandable, and something that all your readers must respect.

        Am sure you would have heard this over and over again, that your posts touched a corner of our hearts.

        On a more serious topic, please do take care of your knees. Feel very, very bad to know that you are in pain.

        till later
        take care

  37. You must be about my daughter’s age..and I am fulfilled to see this amount of sensitivity in girls your age. You and Aanchal (my daughter) seem to be someone the mirror of my soul reflected..and that makes me so very happy:-)

    Ref the infamous, shortsighted, conformist adv ..there are any number of such ads all around that violate and batter and defile the sanctity of personas of individuals. Type-casting women as wives, daughters, sisters- the self-sacrificing lamb to slaughter nobility associated with Indian womanhood..makes me want to throw up! Its not only this ad. Its all the “fairness vitamins” ones..the one about the singer girl that cannot get famous because she is dark-complexioned..and instantly becomes a success after applying Fair n Lovely or whatever miracle vitamin…I feel like smashing the heads that conceived such ideas ..and suing the channels that air them with brilliant elan.

    Yes, its a male dominated world. But aren’t WE–the female half..responsible to a large extent in propagating this nonsense?? Bringing up our sons exhorting their manhood hence supremacy? Leaving all sanity and sane decisions- be it taking an insurance/ investments, or whatever- to our menfolk ONLY?? Until We change our thinking, and learn to respect ourselves as members of the human race-with a full right to our personal spaces, privacy, choices and dreams and ambitions..nothing will change!

    • Very good point Aunty. And I am so glad to hear it come from you and your generation too. I see other ladies who are older feel that I am being extra sensitive and I worry for their daughters!

  38. missed you. for the umpteenth time i wish i lived somewhere in your vicinity. or u in mine. steoreotypes in our culture will take ages to change. till then we’ll keep seeing ads like this bcos somewhere in our desi subconscious, we’re still brought up to believe it makes more sense to support our husbands bcos God knows our dreams are frivolous. my sisters and mom will never get off my case for giving up on myself so easily. i just came back from a play that i accompanied nosh and her class from school to – Helen Keller’s life. In it, Anne Sullivan her teacher tells Helen’s Dad that according to her, the original sin is ‘giving up on yourself’. it just struck me as the truth.

  39. The Kelloggs ad is legendary! Thanks a bunch to the person who posted the link.
    I’ve been hooting with laughter for the last ten minutes. And I had to sock my husband when he asked me if I’ve been constipated for the last six years which explians why I have never helped him find his socks.
    Welcome back, Miss Lady! I really missed reading you. Don’t stay away too long this time around.

  40. Hmmm.. I have never seen this ad on TV, heard it on Radio though. Didn’t bother me as I didn’t think of this angle at all. The line goes ” Appke sapne sirf aapke nahin hote”. So it came across as near and dear ones sharing your dreams and not about making them their own. However, I was confused with respect to the link with banking. Guess watching it on TV has a different impact.

  41. I could see how this could be seen in a negative light gender-wise and send the wrong message. Not sure I would react the same if the second party were a brother or father or husband. I think you can co-opt someone’s dream (soooo much easier! I keep telling the spousal unit that I wish he had some really big dream that I could also dream of because I would be so excellent at running his life; he turns around and taxes me with creating my own big dream he can ride on because he thinks I’m the more ambitious of the two… so we’re both absolving ourselves of responsibility for our pathetic dreamless lives – sigh!) but to show a woman do this on behalf of a man really gets into stereotyping territory. They could have made the point much better and more powerfully if they had shown a husband do it for his famous wife.

  42. I do also think there may be no gender bias on her part in her individual case. If my spouse were a world famous chess player and required constant support, I would give my career up (if I felt comfortable doing it) if it made sense to optimize our joint lives. But I would also expect that if I were a world famous chess player, my husband would do the same thing, in the spirit of rationality.

    On a tangential note, I think its the same argument as stay-at-home/part-time spouses. Typically, there should be no gender bias. Some people are ambitious in a work related sense, others’ dreams don’t include achieving success at work. In such a scenario, each one should do their thing and thus optimize the family situation. However, the fact that 90% of the stay-at-home spouses are female leads one to believe that its not just an individual choice, its a gendered choice. (And, just to be clear, I do NOT blame the women for doing this. It’s not about weak will, its about the way society is structured to make it hard for either gender to switch roles. Think about the number of men in unhappy jobs they are unsuited for, who would be much happier being stay-at-home dads).

    • Exactly. In their specific case it might not be, but the message most of the time is simple – support your husband’s career, buy this oil for his health (never mind if you die of heart disease) and wear this cream if you don’t want him to lose interest in you after 30. Gah.

  43. I’m on a roll here. The Birla Ad? All kinds of obnoxious. She announces she has “good news” and all he can think of is whether she’s pregnant? And when she announces pretty big news (she got an increment), he’s disappointed and walks away??? WTF??? She should’ve let him fall under the bus and collected his insurance. Oh wait, he’s so stupid, he didn’t buy it. I’m hoping that’s why she saved him.

  44. @Mal – you were warned and chose to disregard my request so I’m not publishing any more of your comments. It is really not my fault if you don’t understand the difference between commenting on my personal life and talking about the adverse effects of advertising. Others seem to be able to stick to the point without discussion my supposed wealth or your lack thereof. Really, it’s neither here nor there. You’re free to comment again when you get over your personal hang ups and are able to debate/discuss in a civil manner without making it personal.

    Did a quick check on your past comments and realised the only time you’re willing to be part of a conversation is if you’re criticising me. Since its a personal blog it runs TOTALLY on my whims and fancies so thems the rules, take it or leave it. Toodles! Muah muah, kiss kiss.

    *and the high society lady heads off for kitty party with maid carrying handbag behind her and another carrying the pocket dog*

      • There’s an entire thread up above somewhere. This is one of those people who can’t tell the difference between critiquing a book/movie/advertisement and asking me why I need a maid to sweep the house. I’m also a little tired of pointing out to her that I don’t care if AA irons VA’s socks in private and this is only about bad advertising. I’m torn between laughing my guts out and er… never mind. Clearly she is more deserving of my pity than my annoyance.

          • Hi MM!

            Good luck with your knee!

            The ad that you’re talking about – they say there that your dreams are not yours alone. So Aruna shares VA’s dreams. To me, that doesn’t necessarily sound like Aruna has no dreams of her own. Yes, the fact that Aruna is portrayed and not VA, as sharing the spouse’s dream is selling on our “role of the woman” emotion, I agree. It’d have been great had they shown Renu Karnad’s husband (?) supporting her. But I don’t really think that women sharing a dream necessarily makes it their only dream. Do you think that’s the impression the public gets out of this ad?

            I read Mal’s comments below. 🙂 Hilarious! I feel she’s trying really hard to convince us of something – I just don’t know what. 🙂

  45. On the contrary MM, I found the advertisement really sensible. Coming from a sports background myself, I can relate to it. There were times when my father, mother and sister only and only lived my dreams of crossing the English channel and other seas. Their day began with Mom and Dad waking up very early and making my dabbas ready which I took between swimming practice and school. Then they used to write applications to companies for sponsorship or used to make rounds to the to see if he could bear my expenses. The sister helped me finish my homework and saw to it that I scraped through my academics. The only topics of discussion in the house were my timings, my stamina and my schedules. The point I am trying to make here is that, your near and dear share the same ambition as yours.

    Also, there are multiple ads of Union Bank with the same message. One is with Vijender Singh’s brother Manoj, Sachin Tendulkar’s brother Ajit, all giving the same message. I am not sure how the bank is reaching it’s audience this way but I dont think there is a feminist angle to it.

    • Context is everything. A parent will wash your butt, put your socks on and do everything for a child – how can we compare that to a husband and wife? The relationship is different. With siblings and spouses it’s more of an equal relationship. I can see a parent having to write a letter for a child, but surely adults can do their own work? I realise it takes a team to make a success, but I really don’t think its fair to glorify it in an advt (and I talk of this only in the wife supporting husband context), although I will not comment on anyone choosing to do that in real life.

  46. I agree to most of what you say , MM! but is there wrong for a woman to share her man’s dream? you know this question comes from a woman will not JUST yet give up on her career and manages a 5 year old and the kid’s extra curricular activities to her own house,work,exams and additional qualification right ? We never know if Aruna had a particular personal dream per say? may be her dream was to dream for her husband to win? no?

    may be the concept was the adage, behind every successful man is a woman? may be the execution is wrong? instead of showing her folding clothes, may be they could have done something different like cheering him from the background at a tournament ?

    btw, I know Aruna Anand through a relative…she is a very well educated,level headed;a linguist(knows Spanish and French); an avid chess player herself…..she stands clear in her thoughts and is OK with not having a lucrative career ….

    • I disagree Indu-Bindu. There is nothing wrong with supporting someone’s dream, but in a country where women are still killed for dowry, where there is still female foeticide, an advt showing a woman being just another support function, is very disheartening, specially when real people and not just models do it.

      • First timer to the blog and loved it.
        I totally agree, its disheartening to see the woman as JUST another support function. I also got the same feeling when i saw a similar ad on Birla Life Insurance when the wife says she has some good news and tells she has an increment and not really expecting. The disappointment on the guy’s face was something that i could not fathom.
        on a side note keep em coming…your lovely posts i mean 🙂

  47. and yes the part i agree is when you question about the gender bias….they should have indira nooyi , kiran mazumdar-shah and other successful woman….there is a classic example of even the first woman grandmaster Viji….there was an wonderful article on how her father gave up everything and every one of his own dream to support his daughter….this article was published in a tamil magazine…

  48. oiiiiiiiiiiiii you back 🙂 just the other day I was going over you previous posts 🙂 Now that you have already told us how daba hua you are under the kaam ka bojh, I will say wokaaayyy come when you want but come 🙂

    As for the ad, 20 years!!! Blah! Being friends with guys mostly, I know they neither expect, nor are fond of such ego worshipping. Yes, they love it when their partner is part of their journey, but they would also want us to be self assured and on our own path you know. And whats more, they are more than willing to be a constructive, happy part of it! Trust me , its not gonna take 20 years 🙂

  49. It would be amusing to see Bean’s views once she is capable of understanding these. 😛 Something makes me think she will be VERY headstrong.

  50. :-))) Great Going MM:-))) It IS her personal blog..errr…Mal. And her personal life. And wealth. Or lack thereof. And her personal maid/maids. AND lack thereof :-))

    Hey the communist age is over. We all work our backsides off juggling our assorted multifaceted personas till we are dizzy. All of us have maidservants- (this is India, remember??) and still have swept/swabbed our homes with our own hands many-a-time, cut-cooked food, washed dishes, done laundry..and with complete satisfaction and happiness. Its easy to sit back and criticize..this isn’t actually a domain for interactive chat. Its someone’s personal contemplative thought processes. And even if it was.. why not have a healthy discussion, without personal attacks?? Its sad to see on FB walls even- people are so bl###y egoistic and touchy about their points of view!!

    Hats off to you, MM. For your thoughts, your sensitivity, your involvement with your family, your adjustments in juggling work/ambitions/offspring/home, and your ability to stand by your convictions!!
    all the very best always:-)

  51. Can I hv your mail id?I have it in my office mail but I’m at home on a 2 month break & there’s something personal I’d like to share since I believe you blog had some role to play:)

  52. Obviously seeing ‘137’ with comments led me straight here without bothering to read a single one of them. Two points –
    1. I wish they’d shown the whole situation in reverse. And in a brighter room. Anand sharing Aruna’s dream of Anand being the GM for the rest of his life may have been nicer! Or Mary Kom’s husband would’ve been an easy and GOOD choice. He even looks after her kids when she is off to bash up her next opponent in the ring.
    2. Why the straight face? Next time, BEAM too 🙂 Brighter than an ECE bulb. After all, who got her vocab UP there?! 🙂 Good show.

  53. loved your post. very very apt…even the most fair and just among men have this dilemna of wanting more for their daughters but not-so-much for their wives 🙂

  54. hi madmomma,

    here are two more ads with similar concepts of someone close backing up another loved ones’ dream. There is one more which i have heard in Radio’s but havent seen it yet in TV. Its about how AR rahman’s mom wanted him to be a musician and that it was her dream or smth to that effect. I just couldnt stop thinking about this discussion and the ad kept coming back to me.It was just a bit confusing there! i mean we all know that rahman stepped into his dad’s shoes at a very young age to sustain the family. he had to drop out of school and was playing in a troop to get the family running. Shoudl we say that family responsibilities was thrust on him by his mother or that he was living her dream? we dont even think of it that way right? At the end of the day we just think that she gave the world a great musician. So i was wondering if may be what we take as a message from the ad is based largely our perception of the relationship shown there? we cant think of a mother as a selfish or a self centered person. but on the contrary like you had pointed out, years of suppression – has it made us think that AA didnt have choice and hence she chose to nurture VA’s dream as her’s???? i would like to know your thoughts on this.

    • I will try not to confuse the issue and will clarify as I did to another reader, that I have not seen the other advts. I didn’t know it was part of a series, so I am merely reacting to this advt.
      Moving to the next point, I think each one is looked at in a context. The context I looked at this one in, was as a woman. From a gender perspective it seems oppressive to show a wife dreaming only of her husband’s career and not even about her lime pickle even if that is all she does. I won’t comment on Rahman because I don’t want to comment on his or VA’s personal life and I haven’t seen the advt you are talking about.

  55. His wife dreamt the same? I am sure she did..from the time she was in school and went to college and slogged through her courses and exams, I am sure HER dream was that Anand become the best chess player in the world!!! LOL!!!! Absolutely ridiculous ad. I cannot believe she agreed to it. The ad shows “her” for the full duration and talks about Anand. Maybe if they showed her pressing his feet at the end of the day, it would have completed the picture. Not shown Anand, just his feet 😉 I think my opinion of Anand as a person also went down several notches, given that he thought this ad was completely fine and not putting his wife down.
    I would have personally found that degrading! I agree 100% with you. Such ads are very sexist and underestimate the potential of women to do BIG things in the world. Why don’t we see any ads that portray a male doing household chores, taking care of his kids, getting hot dinner ready when his wife comes home from work?

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