Saturday, September 29, 2007

Chak De Kudiyaan - II

"We live in the same house, yet my 14 year old daughter sent an email requesting an appointment as she felt it was the only way she could meet me. It shook me up."
- Indra Nooyi, CEO PepsoCo worldwide, speaking to the Economic Times

Ironically, I read these words late last night, just after my daughter flopped off to sleep waaaay past her bedtime. Her reason for staying up most days: You came home late again.

I haven't got an email from her yet but this essay she penned recently for Hindi class on "Meri ma' was an interesting insight into the world as it looks from her side of the dining table.

"Meri ma bahut acchi hai.
Wo mujhe bahut pyaar karti hain...
Meri ma ravivaar ko khana banati hain".

Actually I would amend that to "kabhi kabhi ravivar ko..." but hey, I'll accept her version.

So what's the point I'm making? Just that it doesn't seem to ever get 'easier'. Kids need you at age 1, age 3, age 6, age 9 - and far beyond that. So when is the 'right time' really, for women to get back and give all to their chosen professions...

When the other parent chooses to stay home and shoulder family responsibilities instead, perhaps. But that is something we don't even sit down and discuss. As I scanned through yet another Business Today 'Top 25 women in Business' list a couple of days ago, I wondered if any of them have such an arrangement.

If they do, it's a well kept secret.

I mean at least one very high profile banker kind of fits this bill but she's never talked about this aspect of her life publicly. No glory - in India - being known as 'Mr Carly Fiorina'.

In fact in India most of the women on the 'look how we've come' list seem to have spouses with equally high profile and high pressure careers. Obviously there are grandmoms and maids in the picture but that kid is probably gonna need to send two emails...

So what's the answer?
Yes, men can't have babies but do they have the guts to 'downsize' if their wives are obviously more talented or more driven than they are?

Are women okay with having a husband who looks after the stuff 'moms have always done' without being racked by guilt?

And if they are, can the rest of the world please stop wondering '"Is there something wrong with this guy - why is he not 'working'??"

If only we could move beyond our roles - as defined by society and our egos - as defined by our insecurities.

If only...

We could at least admit there is a huge problem instead of putting on a smiley facade. As top cop, tough woman Kiran Bedi recently admnitted in an interview to British writer Zerbanoo Gifford:

"If I were to be reincarnated and had to do it all over again, I would want the same mother and father but not necessarily the same husband. There's room for improvement there..."

Wonder what Mr Bedi has to say, in response.

Previous post: Chak de kudiyaan


  1. >Yes, men can't have babies but do they have the guts to 'downsize' if their wives are obviously more talented or more driven than they are?

    Just wondering, if a man asks her wife to 'downsize' in case he (and she too) sees a better career for him; the act is not seen as repression based on gender.

  2. हमलोगों ने कुछ मान्य्ताये बाना रखी हैं जिससे निकलना होगा. जैसे जैसे शिक्षा बढ़ेगी ये सब मान्य्ताये दूर हो जाएँगी

  3. Hi Rashmi, my husband and I had this conversation sometime back, when I asked him something similar to your question, 'Yes, men can't have babies but do they have the guts to 'downsize'...?'

    He was visibly troubled by even the idea at first, but the more we spoke about it, he agreed it could be done, but still maintained the mother-child bond is special and can't be duplicated by a dad.

    Not sure how true that is, considering we don't have kids yet, but thats the argument given by most folks of our generation who like to believe they are 'progressive' in their thinking. I'd be curious to know what you and the other folks here think about it.

    Deep down, the real reason might still be the eternal 'what will other folks say?' question. I wrote about something similar on my blog recently, here's the link if you want to check it out.

  4. Between trying to break stereotype and dispute over duties I believe the issue is much deeper extending into emotional availability. Kids are an excuse. Being a parent comes with a responsibility for both parents. Having a career is not the issue. Its the acceptance that you have to work above and beyond to be successful. We focus on the wrong things and thats where the issue is . I have heard of socialite mothers who are busy what the father is in industrialist and having a cook and a bai can never compensate having the parents around and I mean both . Moms groom the kid with the feminine side and the Dad the masculine aspects to make a balanced human. So my question back to you - Is it really about the role each plays outside the home or education on the importance on work life balance ? If it takes 2 to tango - definitely takes more than one to be a parent . Some where down the path to finding independence we forget that balance is equally important. You had an article of matlab , naam and izzat. Between the naam and izzat - matlab is lost specially in todays busy life.

  5. the task to take the call to men and blaming them for not "DOWNSIZING" is obviously ridiculous. A marriage is supposedly meant to move by both the people and rightly said by someone, rashmi, look in yourself before commenting on somebody else.... and your daughter gave u a fitting reply

  6. hey, u missed a big point in there...downsize or continuing is all dependent on family's interest...there is no point in saying "meine ye kya hai, to tum bhi ye karo"

    you have to see all factors - economic, social...that gender factor should not come!!

  7. Hi Rashmi,

    Quite an interesting post! After reading it I got reminded of an interview that I read recently of Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Citigroup’s Global Wealth Management. You can find the interview here:

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Sorry for the spamming, couldn't get to paste this link properly:

  10. Yes, men can't have babies but do they have the guts to 'downsize' if their wives are obviously more talented or more driven than they are?

    Hmm..I don't think he should downsize. He should just fire you and get someone more suitable to the role just as most corporate managements do. LOL.

  11. I doubt on an average men would do that! But, I think if required they should. Because for the new family - Husband, wife and the kids who might come up in future, it would be good.

  12. Wow just going by the comments a lot of men are uncomfortable with the idea of 'downsizing' as you put it.

    The flip side is what I've seen in my experience of stay-at-home dads. They just never seem to do all the work that the women did when they stayed at home. And they are appreciated so much more.

    While the woman who has all the stress of supporting the family (and has to contend with the inevitable brickbats of abandoning her family) often has to come home and put in some 'wifely' duties (often cooking!) as well.

  13. WOW.. you are asking to break an age old edict that men are the providers.
    Can this be done.. SURE... Will it happen in the near future, I am sceptical about it.
    A lot of reasons why men won't do it are already listed in the comments.
    On the other side, there are lots of women who don't want that. Women want husbands who they can look up too. How many women do you know who choose to marry guys who are less talented or less capable then them. I bet its not more than a handfull.
    Same thing goes for parents. They want their daughters to marry somebody more capable, with more money....

  14. good post,and would stirr up everyones thought process, including men!! So true that men, nor can have babies, niether the guts to downsize.

    The issue is not gender related, its of acceptance..We've been brought up with certian baseless fundamentals (a so called "indian culture")of women taking care of all the household chores, which includes taking care of the kids too and men going out to earn a living for the entire family...but today when we both men and women have equal opputunities and equally talented species, why not change the old perception and share the responsibilties equally be it taking care of the kids or be it shopping for the weekily provision.Or be is downsizing if you think your spouse is doing better in her career than you are???

    Come on folks accept it...

  15. great post
    Nice to see such a female activist..


  16. Anonymous2:26 PM

    I think that men are completely capable of doing this, and it should not be seen as an element of weakness.

  17. For a married woman, you really don't seem to understand men do you ? A career means different things to men and women. For a women a career is a means for independence, or a means of expressing herself. Its not related to her identity.

    Unlike girls, a boy does not become a man as a result of biology. He has to "become a man"...he has to take up responsibility for his family and society...and his career represents this becoming.

    Having said that, I do feel men can downsize if they feel its required.

  18. Anonymous3:43 PM

    'Yes, men can't have babies but do they have the guts to 'downsize'

    Well they do not, simply because the very same women would not look up to him, the way a man would have looked up to the lady of the house. i might sound stereotype, but a man can consider his wife as his "ardhangini", even if she does not work or win the bread for the house.
    my mom knows nothing about finance or real estate and is just an arts graduate who stopped studying after 1976. But guess whom my father consulted first before taking a house loan? not his IITian son who is working with MNC's but his faithful better half. Afterall she is the finance minister of teh house. me and dad are only taxpayers.
    But will woman today consider her hubby as better half(instead of just half), when he is not winning the bread?? they do so a lot in west. at least in switzerland i can see. But Indian women are not yet matured(apology for the choice of word, but found non better) for that. In the obsession to break one gender stereotype biased against women, they completely ignore to break other gender stereotypes which are associated with men.
    To hell with semantics, you can say, but look at the choice of your word in ur article. "downsize" is what u used.
    Indian men would start doing so, when indian women would consiously or at least semi consiously consider the her man has "optimised" or "accomodated" or even "sacrificed" ( which supposedly only women do) his career.
    As for the logic, that men look down upon women who are not working, remember one who doesn't respect his wife for being his wife, would never do so even if she is Indira Noorie. So ignore that point of view.

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