Mumbai journalist and popular columnist Nandita Puri has touched the inevitable landmark ' a destination desired by most hacks. It took Puri all of three years to put together a collection of short stories Nine on Nine, released in Mumbai this week. The nine stories revolve around the lives of women protagonists against the backdrop of urban India. 'The stories border around the protagonists' struggle for survival,' she says.
Puri had intended to draw up a novel based on the lives of the women, but as she says, her commitment to the 1500-word per column regimen every week, aborted her endeavour. 'I found myself lost in the middle of a sea, and then decided to swim in a lake instead. The form of the short story gave me a better grip where I could confidently express myself,' she says.
Puri's favourites in the collection are an 80-plus piano teacher who has to give lessons to an uninterested bunch of students, and another one, an autobiographical account, of a pair of cancer-stricken friends who are simply waiting to die.
The Liberal Democrats have come to the rescue of women shoplifters in the UK. According to their latest plan, women are not going to be jailed for shoplifting. This step is more in the interest of the family. The Lib Dems think that imprisoning such women put their families at risk, especially children. So what's the alternative' Community punishment, in the opinion of party leader Charles Kennedy. The emphasis will be on rehabilitation, rather than incarceration. Which is all very well, we suppose, but that does imply the families of men who go behind bars feel no deprivation'
It's time to break the Napoleonic Code. And France is all set to do it. In a bid to prevent forced marriages, the legislature is planning to lift the minimum marriageable age for girls to 18 from 15, bringing it into line with that for boys. Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, the senator who introduced the bill in the French Parliament last Tuesday, wrote in a daily that up to 70,000 girls in France may be in marriages forced upon them. These marriages are often contracted to provide French citizenship for the foreign husband, she wrote. (Reuters)
Now there are studies for everything under the sun. A recent one suggests that well-nurtured girls turn out to be good moms. A study of 200 New Zealand families (by an international consortium of researchers) indicates that girls raised in lenient households with a cohesive, positive environment during pre-school and middle childhood years are more likely to engage in a 'warm, sensitive, stimulating parenting style'. So what else is new' Surely it was clear to the meanest intelligence, that that was the case all along'
In red and white. And staring out of windscreens in people's faces. Thanks to a Prasar Bharti initiative, all auto-rickshaws and taxis in Mumbai are soon going to sport slogans on education for the girl child. The regional transport office is seeing to it that each of these vehicles displays at least one out of 11 approved messages. The campaign may just spread across Maharashtra, which, according to Prasar Bharti, is one of the worst-affected by gender disparity. So for now, it's 'Shikshit mulgi, surkashit bhavishya (Educate the girl for a secure future).'
Overheard' that men and women do not react differently to emotional advertising. Another recent study suggests that when in private, males enjoy ads that are related to 'love, warmth, tenderness, and sentimentality'. Ad-makers, pay heed.