I shall never forget our visit to this house - it was a colleague of my husband's. She and her businessman husband lived in a large, comfortable house in one of the best addresses in town. I was prepared for some display of wealth and comfort and good taste but what I actually saw was something straight out of inside outside magazine or the television shows on good living.
Everything in the house stayed exactly in the place where it was meant to be, not a newspaper out of place. The sink was totally empty and dry. Did they not even drink water and leave glasses lying around on the table or the sink? And the bathroom? how can it be so fresh and dry? Did anyone ever use the bathrooms in the house or were you expected to wash and wipe it after every use? What about the dust from the roads? Was it also scared away from such perfection that it dared not enter this house?
I thought to myself- "well perhaps it is possible to keep a house like this if you didnt have children". Children have a beautiful way of bringing chaos into ones life and making you accept the inevitability of it. Just as i was thinking these thoughts, in walked two smartly dressed kids, 7 and 9, and wished us. They walked and talked and handled all the crystal and expensive crockery with so much poise and delicacy. And when they picked up something it went back exactly to the same place. They had obviously been trained since birth.

This was just too much - that they actually lived in this hell of super perfection. I wondered what it must be like for them to live with so much order and discipline. Would they grow up into order obsessed people who would crack up at the slight sign of disorder? Could they ever eat out without noticing all the dust and dirt or actually falling sick due to lack of resistance? Was it not the privelege of children to be disorderly, disobedient and messy? was it not an exposure necessary for a balanced personality development? Were the disorderly sides of these children repressed and would it manifest in violent ways somewhere totally unexpected?
Were the parents giving them a kind of life that Siddhartha, the prince enjoyed until his first exposure to all the ugly aspects of life. Would an encounter with reality be a great shock to them when and if it happens?
Anyways, I was very happy to get out of the house without dropping anything on the table or staining the napkin or spilling water around the wash basin although I must admit that I had a secret vicious desire to drop my plate on the ground and check for the reaction from the members of the house!Of course better sense prevailed butI have never been happier to return to the chaos of my life.
In almost all communities, themes and characters in stories have been used as a way to instil some values and as a successful means of character-building in children. These stories are passed by the families down the generations or included in the books as part of their school syllabus. Some of them have actually become dated with changing times and merit a relook. We do have publications in the west of "politically correct" bed time stories and "politically correct" bible stories etc...Without going that far, I can think of a few stories which I have questioned during the process of growing up.
For example there is this story which all children in our family know. It is about this young girl living with her step mother and a wicked (surprise surprise!) step-sister. One day her stepmother turns her out of the house for some minor unwitting lapse and as she wends her way through the forest crying she meets an old woman who is stern but relents to let her spend the night in her hut. Everytime the old lady gives the young girl a choice of boarding preferences (ex: warm water or coldwater for bath? old dress or a new one for changing into? left over food or fresh food?) the girl, as she is accustomed to hardship, chooses the modest option. But she is actually rewarded with the best dress, expensive gifts, a festive meal and of course pleanty of warm water for a bath. When she returns home with all these, the step mother is pleased and the greedy step-sister decides to go to the old lady's house hoping to claim her share of goodies. She is given the same objective choices and ( in spite of the other sister leaking the paper)) ticks all the wrong answers and is sent home with a nice thrashing.
Moral of the story? Greed is punished while humility and modesty are always rewarded.
Needless to say, the modest one was the role model till one went to college. There one met "go-getters" and were told to "hitch your wagon to the star" and that is when one began to question if stories such as the above blunted the edge of ambition and let you be too complacent and satisfied with what you demand from the world. Vaish has a nice post on Casabianca where she raises some good questions too.

Other characters which seemed so worship-worthy on the screen or in books include the ever-sacrificing woman who would burn herself like a candle to give light to others; who would subject herself to exploitation just to save her family from trouble; who would allow herself to be held to ransom for the sake of her love without uttering a word to anyone,even while being aware of all her legal rights. Time was when such women seemed worthy of a shrine but now such behaviour makes no sense to me - it seems that they need a good psychiatrist as there must be something very wrong with such women (sado-masochistic tendencies). Laws are there to be enforced dammit - Keeping quiet when you are raped or abused is not endurance, it is abetting in a crime. What has education taught you?

And then there is the story of men like Jay gatsby where the woman he loves does not consider him good enough for her ( rich enough sometimes) and so he spends all his life proving to himself that he can make it too. Then she eventually returns, and the man , having waited all his life for this one moment, offers himself, all his fortune and his life at her feet (so she can kick him around). So why do we think he is so great for being so spineless? I just want to shake these men and scream: "look around man, it is not like the male female ratio is so poor that there is just this one woman for you! And if she was the last female on Earth you still deserve better!"
And what is worse, I despise these men when they take on the responsibility for some crime the selfish woman commits and actually end up in the Gaol or the gallows.
Seems like these kind of men are better off there!
I think the power of great advertising sometimes lies in its capacity to make you accept something that is so obviously against common sense.
Take this advertisement for Surf Excel which emphasizes over and over again:
"Daag achche hain" ( Stain is good).The whole story is so cute with the big brother ( well, a little bigger than the girl) shadow boxing with the dirty puddle to pacify his sister to whom he is the hero and the kids are so convincing that you are willing to forgive the sparkling white uniforms turning muddy.

It is a different story altogether if you would be willing to forgive the manufacturer if the detergent did not really remove all that stain.
Is there any recourse for the consumer to actually make the manufacturer's pay for false claims in their advertisement?
apparently yes!!
"An advertisement may scream and extol the virtues of a hair lotion or a beauty cream. When that very lotion fails to grow even a single strand of hair or the beauty cream does not impart even a trace of beauty to that not-so-good looking one, the shine in the advertisement disappears.
What does a buyer do then apart from crying aloud, 'This is unfair!'?
Rising to the occasion, the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act and the more recent Consumer Protection Act incorporate provisions relating to unfair trade practices.
Quite often false representations are made, e.g. the goods (like beauty creams, hair tonics, hair dyes, etc.) are of a particular standard quality, quantity, grade or composition. Sometimes, tall claims are even made regarding the uses, benefits, approval, sponsorship or performance of such goods or services. If the goods supplied or the services rendered do not live up to the expectations created by the advertisements in the mind of the consumer, a complaint can be filed alleging that the seller or service provider has adopted an unfair trade practice.
The Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies (Consumer Forums) can order the return to the complainant of the price or charge paid and the discontinuation of the unfair trade practice. They can also direct that corrective advertisements be issued to neutralize the effects of the misleading advertisement and their expenses to be borne by the person responsible for issuing the misleading advertisement."
Read on here

So it is possible to have other remedies than just the proverbial wringing your hands in despair. Does this also mean that the tall claims that people make in their advertisements about magical fairness creams and hair growth lotions and anti-ageing creams is actually true? Or is there a fine print disclaimer somewhere that actually protects them from being dragged to the consumer forum?
Anyone knows? anyone cares? Have advertisements themselves become oases of creativity betweeen mindless serials to be watched for their own sake rather than as means to promote a product that the linkage is actually forgotten or ignored?
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