What Women Don’t Want

Mukta Lad has over 13 years of experience in writing, with a special focus on advertising, marketing and media. She has extensively covered the Indian advertising and marketing communications industry as a trade media journalist and is currently the Assistant Editor at Brand Equity.

In a country that expects marriage and kids to be non-negotiable aspects of a woman’s life, you’ve chosen to go solo and live life on your own terms. What are the questions you get asked in this regard (and that you wish people would stop asking!) and how do you respond to these? 

Me choosing to walk out of my marriage and live independently has been a lot of privilege coming together – the privilege of being financially independent, having a well-paying job, no children, the agency to live by myself and have the lifestyle I want, supportive parents who’ve raised me in a progressive environment, and a now ex-partner who has been nothing but amicable and understanding throughout this process; not once has he tried to be difficult or delay any legalities. 

Any one of these privileges, if missing, would have made my life look completely different. I feel it’s important to acknowledge this at the outset. It’s much easier to chart the course of your own life when you have so much going for you. 

In terms of the questions I get asked, they are mostly a combination of the following and some random advice. I’ve taken the liberty to put together a bit of an advisory: 

“OMG are you okay?”

Yes, relax. I’m getting a divorce, not a death certificate. I understand people’s concern, and that it can get awkward when someone says “Oh, XYZ and I aren’t together anymore” but there’s no need to be this dramatic. 

“Are you happy?”

I genuinely love this question. It’s the perfect way for someone to gauge where someone is at mentally with their separation/divorce/break up and decide further course of conversation. 

“How much alimony are you getting?”

I’m not getting any alimony, thank you. And even if I were, why would I discuss the financial nuances with anyone and everyone? 

“Are you marrying again?”

Perhaps start with ‘have you gotten your divorce yet?’ If I marry right now I’ll also have to serve a prison sentence for having two husbands. Kindly stop springing this question. A person who’s getting out of a marriage or has just gotten out of one might not want to answer questions about returning to the very same institution. If you must know their thoughts on marriage, maybe an ‘Are you open to ever marrying again?’ might be a more sensitive variation. 

“Sign up on dating apps already!”

Finding yourself suddenly single can be disorienting. While some people may want to find a partner immediately, others might want nothing more than casual sex. And some others might just want to be alone for a while as they process the end of a long-term relationship. There’s no saying who’s ready when. Friends and well-wishers should stop pressurising people to date/hook up with people on apps. We know apps exist and we’ll do it when we’re ready.

“Don’t commit quickly!”

To me, this is really bizarre advice. When I met my now partner on a dating app six months ago, we decided to be together exclusively in about 2-3 weeks after we met. Questions from friends ranged from “Why did you commit so soon?” and “Keep swiping nevertheless” to “You should have played the field first for a while!” As if partners are refrigerators you might get a better deal on if you wait for a couple of months. Or is there a Big Billion Sale for boyfriends no one told me about? 

We know people mean well, but it’s also not our burden to think of everyone’s intent behind the unsolicited advice. And no one wants to feel judged – like it’s ‘uncool’ to commit but casual sex is ‘cool’. It’s all cool to whoever’s deciding, just stay out of it! 

What are your thoughts on the depiction of women in advertising today? In what way would you like to see it (the way women are depicted) change? 

I could write a book on this. I have been covering advertising for a while now and there’s so much that needs to change when it comes to depicting women. Having said that, advertising also reflects society and its mindsets, so well, it’s natural it’s not going to become ideal overnight. 

My biggest bone of contention with women’s portrayal in ads is the absolute lack of understanding of the everyday woman. She’s either a sanskaari mummy toiling for the well-being of her husband and children since dawn (wearing a full-sleeved salwar kameez) or she’s straddling a Bullet and going off on long bike rides. There seems to be no relatable in-between for the everyday woman – the one who manages her home, feeds her family but also holds a full-time job and looks after the elderly in her house. As if her routine struggles and rebellions aren’t ‘cool’ enough for TV.

I did a story recently for Women’s Day, where one advertising veteran I quoted said, “The worshipping of a woman’s many roops is a burden she carries. You can make lots of cute ads about lazy fathers but never an ad about a forgetful mom.” I think this sums this up very well. That it’s always nice to see women doing virtuous things on screen as far as possible. If she’s doing ‘rebellious’ things – the other end of this stereotype, it’s to make a statement, of course. And don’t forget to show she has coloured hair, tattoos, multiple piercings, a bike, a drum kit, and an electric guitar to complete the look.

Travel with a Twist

They say that “Travel Makes The Heart Grow Fonder,” but in this digitally-led environment that we live in, it seems like our hearts grow fonder just by scrolling through our screens. A thrilling adventure here, a beautiful setting there, all experienced through a picturesque phone screen, has made the concept of travelling so personal and intimate. Remember those computer wallpapers that made us to dream of a getaway ever so often? Well, it seems like now we’re smitten and inspired by people instead, who bring us enticing experiences and striking snapshots in just a click.

Thanks to them, we get bitten by the travel bug and influenced in so many positive ways. And so, we’ve rounded up our list of favourite Travel Influencers a.k.a Digital Nomads who make venturing into the unknown so alluring!

  1. Shivya Nath – The Shooting Star

Image by Shivya Nath

This fierce lady right here quit her corporate job to travel the world. Sounds inspiring, doesn’t it? She says, “It was impossible to tame my cubicle-bound soul, I quit my job with the dream of travelling the world on my own terms.” And she did! As you scroll through her blog or Instagram you’ll see the spellbinding mountainous beauty of India to captivating streets of cherry blossom-filled Japan! She has also been location independent since 2013 and claims that the road is her home now. Apart from just posting pretty pictures, one can always find a takeaway on her blog. From gaining tips on how to save for travels to how one can manage visas smartly, Shivya gives you a 360-degree guide to traveling the world, on your own terms of course!

 

2. Anu & Pavan – Hungry Travellers

Image by HUNGRY TRAVELLERS

Anu, Pavan and cute little Kabir bring you travel adventures with a delicious twist. They bring you their experience one step at a time, one bite at a time and one place at a time. These foodies cum travellers’ vision was to build a community of like-minded people who share the same passion when it comes to food and travel. They launched their own café named ‘Hungry Travellers Café’ that serves earthy food with a touch of warm rustic décor. Being parents of a two year old, they also have some tricks up their sleeve, when it comes to travelling with a toddler. So if you have one of your own, you know who you need to stalk! If you’re looking to scout some perfect places for food all over the globe, head to their blog as they detail out every restaurant in every city that’s loaded with deliciousness.

 

3. Siddhartha Joshi – The Wanderer

Image by Siddhartha Joshi

He uses the hashtag #SidTheWanderer and trust us when we say it’s aptly put because as soon as you scroll through his feed, you seem to have wandered away into his inspiring escapes. Rated as one of India’s Top Travel and Living Blog, his space not only encapsulates artistic imagery but also covers travelogues, travel tips, photography tips, and travel videos. His dreamy feed makes you want to book your tickets right away and let’s not forget that his portrait-clicking-flair is quite heartwarming to look at as well. If you’re looking to transcend into a magical space in a World Without Borders (as he rightly believes in), this one’s your inspiring go-to!

 

4. Joshi Daniel

Image by Joshi Daniel

Vibrant setting, enticing snaps and perspective photography is what makes Joshi Daniel a favourite. His passion lies in capturing images of people he’s intrigued by – their stories, faces, cultures, lifestyles etc. A true nomad, Joshi trots down any street to get that perfect click. With several accolades bestowed on him, he truly captures moments with a creative edge. With a burst of colours and spaces, one can scroll through his feed endlessly. See the world through his eyes as he takes you on a journey that’s filled with story-telling and inspiring photography.

 

5. Prasad NP – Desi Traveler 

Image by Prasad Np

Having had enough of his desk job, Prasad realised that he had to stop running the rat race and start travelling, and boy, aren’t we glad he did! His travel stories fare quite differently as there’s always a personal element attached to each of them. He believes in not just showcasing the places, but also the human element in them. His travel blog features almost every state in India that he has explored, to full glory! With his fascinating Instagram feed, one can say that he brings food, people and places together quite effortlessly. If you’re looking to plunge into the authentic Indian world with a Desi twist, your search for an inspiring travelogue ends here. ­

And there you go, this World Tourism Day is dedicated to celebrating those wild souls that run on the fuel of passionate traveling and unfold adventures of nature’s beauty whilst inspiring us to take that picturesque leap!

A Rhyme for a Reason

It’s the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi,
a day that ushers in much joy and piety,
As the festive spirit begins to spread,
let’s make a promise to our Bappa beloved..
Let’s keep our environment safe and clean
and welcome Bappa to grace the scene.

The oceans too are His abode,
Tainting them is something we cannot afford.
Let’s try to celebrate pollution-free,
Have you heard of the idol that becomes a tree?
Music is part of Bappa’s “thaat,”
but He cringes at the deafening decibels of “Zingaat!”
So turn down the volume, noise is no fun
Instead, let aartis rule this season.

Festivities have their own special charm
They can be enjoyed without causing any harm
So round up the family, get in the festive mood,
And don’t guilt-trip yourself for binging on good food!
Make sure you get your fill of yummy modaks,
then rejoice to the rhythm of taasha-dholaks!
Forget all your worries, fling your problems away,
and join us to say, “Bappa Morya re!”