Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pregnancy ain't so preity

Pregnant women are crazy women is what most men are gonna conclude after watching Preity Zinta in Salaam Namaste. Will I be running around the countryside at midnight - with a wife whose bump is the size of a baby asteroid - in search of Ben & Jerry's Dark Belgian Chocolate icecream? Or Haldiram's dahi papri chaat, or whatever else mere bachche ki maa craves at the moment??

Well, I guess it happens to some - but not everybody. I can't remember having any particular food fetishes when I was pregnant. I just ate a lot more of everything than I should have, then took two whole years to shed the resulting flab. Unlike Preity, who just coolly disengaged the asteroid from her regular tummy and went back to her normal sexy self.

But yes, I guess pregnant women are a special breed who need to use the loo way too often. They laugh, and cry, for no reason at all - thanks to the hormones surging through their system. It's no cake walk, for sure and I'm wondering what is this filmi fascination with having a baby - whether it makes sense for the mother or not?

You can argue the baby is a 'life' from the time of conception or argue otherwise. Salaam Namaste is a movie, so we know Saif and Preity will get together in the end. Otherwise? How was Preity planning to support the baby??

I for one am firmly on the side of women having the right to abortion. It's no big deal in India, of course. Ads for "Pearl Centre" abound in local trains - offering to do the job for as little as Rs 100. Prevention is always better than abortion but abortion is better than bringing an unwanted life into this world.

Why it makes sense
Steven Levitt of 'Freakonomics' fame has explained the drop in US crime rates over the last 10 years by linking it with the historic Roe vs Wade judgement in 1973, which legalised abortion in that country. His argument - supported by intuition and then statistics - is that the drop came about because a large number of unwanted babies (of poor, young, black mothers) were never born. And hence a whole generation of potential criminals never came into existence.

Not everyone agrees with the argument but, anticipating the emotions his theory would arouse, Levitt points out that "economics is about what is true, not what ought to be true".

Kya kehna
And here I have my own strange little experience to recount. Six - well almost seven years ago - home pregnancy kits were not easily available. Jab mujhe laga kuh gadbad hai, I decided to visit a gynaec. She gave me a urine test and a few minutes later pronounced, "Congratulations".

Then, she added, "Aage kya karna hai?" I was a bit perpelexed but then it dawned on me what she was alluding to. I'd come for the test alone - no mother, mother in law or husband in tow (dunno what he was busy with that day but well, he wasn't with me!).

Then she scanned me for signs of 'marriage' - no mangalsutra, no sindoor, jeans and t shirt. And put me down in the 'unwed mother' category.

Well, I clarified things and we fixed the next appointment. But looking back I think she was pretty cool, practical and non-moralistic about the whole thing. No allusions to paap or lectures on sin.

And no, seeing a sonograph of a baby would not be cho-chweet enough to move me - or most Indian women - to keep a baby conceived outside marriage. That's just plain stupid - and unfair - for both mother and baby. Better think a million times before you welcome into this world a baby, whether with a salaam or a namaste!


  1. woah, you overlooked the widespread gender bias in India, and legalizing abortion would make the gender ratio spin out of control.

  2. Kinda off the track, but *my* Salaam Namaste joke:
    They should've named them "Dick" and "HumpHer" in the movie. Sums it up well ;-)

  3. hi rashmi,

    You are quite a rational thinker.


  4. Dear Rashmi,

    I certainly would have gone out and gotten the Ben & Jerry's for my wife if she wanted it. I am not married yet but I know that I will be in Saif's shoes one day. I think it was a good time-pass movie. Perhaps you'd like to check out what I thought of the film at Take care.


  5. Anonymous3:29 PM

    I definitely agree with you on the point that bringing a baby into this world should be something that should be decided on more substance than just a sonograph (of course it was oh cho chwweet, but thats not life!), I am sure it wont move a rape victim or such.
    As for the movie , it was just timepass, but the last part where they made delivery a laughing stock was disgusting; and also it seemed like Nick, Saif's character in the movie never ever intended for the two separate rooms to remain so from the beginning (Oh, stupid Amby!).

  6. Anonymous3:29 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. hi there like your blog,

  8. Well,I have not watched that movie.Most of the movies these days are a bit too off the *watchable* mark.Anyways sorry for digressing.

    Unlike in the western society, sex before marriage is not a prevalent concept in India [ Note: I am not talking about the so called *upwardly mobile* crowd of the metros].So the problem of teenage single mothers is not as big a problem as in US or elsewhere in the western world.The children of illiterate parents who live in abject poverty are the problem here in India.Mostly these are future candidates for criminals.This can be checked only by education in my opinion.

  9. Ma'am:

    The way you discuss these sensitive topics is really awe inspiring!

    Re: pre-marital sex and out-of-marriage babies, a glad-to-know-and-see thing is an ever increasing rational thinking among my generation (20 something, living away from home, titillated watching Polyesthers' crowd). Yes, PMS, pun unintended, is a reality.

    I am only glad to see that it is being affected upon both pre-steam (Condom, hamesha, yehi hai sahi [may be this is an initiative propelled by the nasty acronym AIDS]) and post-steam (as mentioned in your post).

    I'm also glad that we as a society are becoming less uncomfortable discussing these things.

    Finally, I'm very glad that books titled, 'First Information Report for teenagers' exist which tell our xxteen something siblings, children and acquaintances about the teenage version of birds-and-bees, I bought one for my teenage sister.

    Kanta laga notwithstanding, we'd make for a rational and informed society very soon.

  10. Steven Levitate never mentions "of poor, young, black mothers" in his theory on the correlation of abortion and crime rates. I think you have done him a disservice by expanding his work. The fact is any unwanted child is likely to turn criminal if not moved to a nuturing environment.

    In fact, if you had read the book, you would know that he furthers his theory by showing a corollary; when a nation reversed its position on legalised abortion within 18 years its crimes rates increased. The country--Romania

  11. Ads for "Pearl Centre" abound in local trains - offering to do the job for as little as Rs 100.

    How safe are these places? Do they offer trained doctors/staff and hygienic facilities for Rs 100?

    There are very real risks faced by people choosing the quick way out.

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