Friday, July 20, 2012

Shades of Illusion



Just when the classic romantic hero was gasping for breath, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ infused a new life to the fast diminishing tribe of rugged, sadist and macho heroes. Even though the genre is called ‘mommy-porn’, ‘chick-lit’ enthusiasts are feasting on all the shades of arrogance, mystique and masochism.

A friend rightly pointed out, “What’s next after mommy-porn? Aunty erotica or Granny smut?”

In the book, when Mr. Money Bags, Christian Grey, whispers to Anastasia Steele, a college girl, “You. Are. Mine. Come to me baby,” the blindfolded girl melts like a Swiss chocolate in Delhi heat. Besides this Grey guy makes women wistful. Imagine a lover who will upgrade your plane tickets and buy the seat next to you as well so no one else sits there. Irresistible. Right? The debonair tomcat then alternates between showering the girl with flashy cars and whipping her to indulge in some riotous power play. Never mind the pedestrian prose, the purpose of EL James is served admirably.

Now don’t chew me to bits. I read one chapter on my Kindle and did not feel the urge to buy the book. Not yet. The intention is not to spoil your kinky party. Take that hot cuppa , revel in the pitter patter of the rain drops, indulge in some hedonism. A slow romantic number in the background will add to the experience. Good luck to those who feel that this novel is a celebration of women’s sexuality.

So what exactly is bothering me? Well, two things. First, the trend of urban women emerging as money grabbers and exhibiting appalling greediness.

Second, impressionable minds being swayed by romantic fantasies. So if you are a young girl just like the heroine of this bestseller – take a breath. Among all the irresistible shades of power and riches, the indispensable shades of humility, trust and respect form the back-bone of any long term relationship.

I felt the need to write this after a friend confided that her daughter had rejected two good marriage proposals simply because the prospective groom was ‘not exciting enough’. Not exciting enough? In real life there are no eligible bachelors with yachts, Mercs and wineries across the world. Even Sid Mallaya is broke!! Yes, Salman is there. I know he recently gifted an SUV to Katrina Kaif. But then Salman and Katrina have been friends for almost a decade and most importantly, Katrina is no ordinary college girl. She is in a position to throw some SUVs here and there herself.

Agreed, one should not take romantic fantasies too seriously. Hopefully young girls are conscious of the fact. But more often than not, books and movies blur the fuzzy line between reel and real. And by the time the vision clears, the scenery disappears.

As if on cue, I recently read about this new website called ‘Miss Travel’ which claims to help women fly around the world in style, all funded by stinking rich men who have everything in their lives except a committed relationship. The men pay for your business class airfare, stay and shower you with expensive gifts. All the women need to do is show up and look pretty. What happened to all the blah blah about equality? According to the website, it is a once in a life time opportunity to find the man of your dreams; a generous doctor, rich lawyer or a wealthy banker. Good. But what about the perils of traveling alone with someone you just met in cyberspace. And imagine the give and take involved? There are no free lunches.

For the growing tribe of Poonam Pandey-ish women, such opportunities are a blessing. Several British women, I am told are signing up for such websites to test the waters. For all the millions of hard working, self respecting women who are trying to make it in a man's world, some find the easy route via someone's wallet. Be it the heroine of Fifty Shades of Grey or the women who sign up for MissTravel.com, accepting expensive gifts in lieu of something else is an exhibition of greed.

Take Valentine’s Day, birthdays or anniversaries, it is assumed that women look forward to expensive gifts. And there is a sense of competitiveness too. The myth is purported by novels, movies and advertisers. Yet, if a paid holiday fascinates you, go ahead and book a ticket on http://www.misstravel.com/

Don’t forget to carry ‘Fifty shades of Grey’. The book will keep you in the mood, even if the billionaire is an arrogant masochist philanderer who wears dentures.
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46 comments:

  1. The punch line of the article is the last one. ending with three powerful words "who wears dentures". There are all shades of people in this world - may be the proportion of this shade could be on the raise, for whatever reason, it is certainly not the dominant shade!

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    1. Yayyyy....thank you for reading. Yes, there are all kinds of people and this new book is plain erotica.....only young impressionable minds get carried away by the skewed portrayal. But girls today are smart. They know what they want.....and money is important in times we live. Lifestyles have changed.

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  2. Wow...i am not from the same sex but i wanted to write the same opinion.More people will support your view except the new urban stereotyped & skewed fair sex..

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    1. Welcome here. Girls are smart today and they know what they want...a true loving equal relationship or a casual fling and some good time. To each his own. Sometimes these books create a false impression on young college going teens and they get swayed by what they read or see in movies.....money is important but so is self respect.

      Thank u for spending time.

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  3. I agree with you that there are many females who get swept off their feet by expensive gifts by a male. I've personally known instances where (even level-headed) girls have nodded their acceptance after being showered with expensive gifts.

    As you rightly observed, many times, it doesn't feel 'exciting enough' if a guy doesn't appear to be promising a flashy life in the future. Though it would be wrong of me to generalize this for all females, but it does happen with many.

    Being on the receiving end of a gift or present is something everyone would like. But where such females lose the plot is about when they start comparing cost with emotions. As if, costlier the gift, more the love, more the excitement.

    They fail to understand how the cost of the gift affected the giver. A business tycoon wouldn't think twice before throwing a SUV or two as gifts to a girl. Likewise, an unemployed man would have hours at stretch to spend with a girl. But the value of these very things changes dramatically if a business tycoon is able to extract quality time from his busy schedule or an unemployed man spends his hard-saved money on a gift.

    But like you pointed out, many times females take money, love and excitement to be directly proportional. But surely, they would realize the difference some time down their lives.

    A great post from you as usual ! :-)

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    1. By and large girls know what they want....and they go for it. But it would help to keep in mind that Mills &Boon heroes are fictional and not always good life partners....lovers maybe but not good husbands.

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  4. Alka, it may be good fun to read erotica and escapades but the classics of 'The Love Story' by Erich Segal and 'The Gift of Magi' genre will always stay to inspire the true love and pursuit of the same, by those who know what stays in long run!As always your writing is faultless and inspiring:)

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    1. Yes, now they are tweaking classics to increase the reader base..... A reflection of the times we live in. Who knows they might introduce a photoshopped lip lock in MughleAzam and re release the movie.

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  5. Alka, yours is one of the very best Indian blogs today and I continue reading it for the same reason I had started to. The topics are never out of place and the words find their mark unfailingly without having to play to the gallery and yet maintaining such high standards in content and style. This one reiterates the belief and here's to wising that we soon get a book from you that will set new benchmarks for Indian writing!

    The subject of this blog post is a worrying one and as your friend found out, girls indeed are increasingly expecting the illusory 'violins and roses' feeling to envelop them when they look at a man, in order to decide that he is their dream man. And the chicklit fiction that is parading today as literature is giving credence to it. And equality? Don't you know that the wheel has turned a full circle and women are now the mistresses, pun unintended?

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  6. 'Not exciting enough' -this phrase excites my neurons more than enough to rattle them out of their network.As you rightly mentioned,each girl is looking for ready made riches,none wants to experience the process of building together...At a very young age,many girls have seen and experienced all the 'excitement'there is to a new relationship so no wonder they are looking for more excitement to begin a relationship.
    I could not progress beyond few pages but now my daughter wants to read it. Will wait for her reaction .I hated it.

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    1. Sharmila now I am wondering if age has something to do with erotic literature...I am not sure. I loved Mills and Boon as a teen but then I outgrew them as they were a fantasy..very unreal.

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  7. I loved the post, very thought provoking. You are right, Alka. But, somehow I feel that women were always encouraged to look for "prosperous" grooms. In olden days, when most women were expected not to work, it made sense for parents to find a guy capable of earning well to keep the daughter and family comfortably. Later, as consumerism exploded, the same trend was extrapolated to gifts and seeking material things from their partners even though the girls are now perfectly capable of buying things themselves. Look at the hefty settlements which wives of celebrities expect and get. It is almost a universal phenomenon and with stray exceptions, I see it continuing. About erotica, well I've heard enough about "Fifty Shades of Grey" to never pick it up. I have nothing against porn or soft porn reading, but there is a fine line between crass and class in writing.

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    1. Yes, Rachna we cannot deny the importance of money in the times we live in.

      Only young teens with impressionable minds should not get carried away. As far as young mommies are concerned they can have a good time while their husbands surf porn.
      The fine line which you are referring to matters to a mature reader and not perhaps to libidinous teen.

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    2. You are absolutely right! I am scared for the younger generation too. The role models they have and the negative influences that they are bombarded with might end up completely destroying their outlook to life. That website I think is a front for prostitution. It is scary!

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  8. Alka, Fifty Shades of Grey or MissTravel.com are just the tips of a sinister iceberg. Indeed, the book is just the first part of a trilogy (does that make it a XXX!!?) but expect fifty thousand imitations to flood the markets soon. Ditto for MissTravel.com. Amazing, how low can the humans slip! Somewhere in between you post, you have dropped priceless pearls of wisdom, "the indispensible shades of humility, trust and respect form the back-bone of any long term relationship."

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    1. I only hope young girls refrain from taking this image of the quintessential M & B hero too seriously. There are no such men. Even if there are, they make for good lovers and not husbands.

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    2. Also this site is just a cover for prostitution...my hunch.

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  9. Hehehe....you told it so beautifully...I haven't heard of this book until my cousin says on the ph, " aren't you reading xyz shades of grey?". I am like, What? Then he goes, it seems it's the best seller...blah blah...I know he was pulling my legs. Anyway, pls tell your friend's daughter that there aren't any exciting guys out there, ESP when she wants to get married. Guys are only exciting as friends n bfs..And the website, OMG!! Can't believe it...hmm anything is possible...I have heard of a term 'gold diggers ' here in the US..ESP california..your post reminded meow them...Neat and nice...enjoyed reading it.

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    1. Hi,
      My sis-in-law in Chicago told me about it 3 months ago. Indian women are lapping it up now. Random House which is distributing the book here has run out of prints. So it is clear that erotica has a loyal fan base. The trend is cyclical....and in times of recession men with jets do sound interesting...ha,ha .
      But no one talks about the flip side..... of emotional hurt when such relationships based on money and arrangements fail.
      Glad you liked it.

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  10. This exciting new genre has a new name - clit lit. Women's erotica is here to stay and I'm looking forward to a better specimen than Christian Grey. Perhaps a struggling writer who seduces his lady love with biryani!

    Or a whimpering toy boy who has the hots for his boss in Chanel.

    Btw...feel free to borrow my copy of 50 shades, any day!

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    1. hahaha, clit lit and whimpering toyboys

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  11. Now this sounds exciting enough...yes a role reversal.

    Women's erotica just got a new life with this book. Yes, it will stay as women I guess prefer reading erotic stuff than watching porn.

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  12. Oh my...thank God, i did not get the good luck to read Fifty shades. As for the girls of today, we have to agree that self respect has already gone to dust. All they care about are sexy SUVs and dumb males:P As for MissTravel.com, the trend is alarming:(

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    1. Arrogant, rich mysterious men are good for casual flings ....but life partners? I doubt.

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  13. It might be easy to classify "today's girls" as materialistic and "how self respect has gone to dust". I would tend to disagree. Today you have more women working than ever before. A friend of mine, from a rich family, she can choose to not work. But she does. Women who have flourished on "free gifts" have been around for time immemorial. Why single out "today's girls?" And men today can be just as shallow. I know friends who have rejected marriage proposals just because the girl was "fat". I am no supporter of "travel" sites like misstravel.com, but don't just condemn the women - there are men who are funding things like this. There are abhor-able things going on society today. Men and women are equally at fault. Let's not single out "girls of today".

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    1. I suggest you read the post again.
      One can never generalize....The article was not meant to classify all girls. It is amazing how girls are outshining in a world which makes every attempt to pull them down.
      This post is about a breed of urban modern women looking for short cuts to enjoy a good life.
      Both men and women have become materialistic. It is a reflection of the times we live in.
      And Misstravel .com is perhaps a front for an escort service. No sane girl will sign for it.
      What do you have to say about the portrayal of the heroine in Fifty Shades of Grey who accepts gifts and agrees to be treated badly by the hero?

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    2. That's exactly my point. It is not about just a breed of urban modern women looking for shortcuts to a luxurious life - my point is that such women (and men) have been around for centuries. There will always be a class of people who choose short cuts to enjoy a good life. This is not a phenomenon of modern society, in my opinion.

      And about Fifty Shades of Grey - I would not have a preference for such books, not because it is erotica, but because of the extreme nature of erotica. In my opinion, I don't think the heroine sees it as being badly treated. It is an exploration for her, a different taste of life... Again, it doesn't appeal to me but I believe 31 million odd people do! :)

      As far as MissTravel.com is concerned, you won't find me supporting that under any circumstances.

      The only contention I make is that this is not a phenomenon restricted to (a breed) of today's women. It has been around for centuries and will continue to be so, whether we like it or not.

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    3. Hi Shrisha

      I wonder why you are taking this personally. I am sure I wont find you supporting MissTravel. Neither do I. But the fact that such a website exists and is doing good business says a lot about the times we live in. Yes, gold diggers and money grabbers have been around for ages...both sexes.
      It is good to have a strong opinion and articulate it. I respect your opinions. We can always agree to disagree on some points. :)

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  14. Alka,

    At times it makes me sad that how the world is changing, not that I do not like change but only in equality and equal opportunity for all without any bias and no KHAPs.

    Take care

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    1. Striking contrasts...on one hand we have khaps banning jeans and mobiles and on the other we have girls like Sherlyn Chopra demanding a Bharat Ratna for featuring on the Play boy cover.

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  15. I know it seems like a stereotype , but trust me I have encountered such women and it is not a pleasant sight to behold. Sure, they may be the minority or one in a million or whatever, but believe me - it is really something to come across an woman unapologetic about being a gold digger. As in the concept of '50 shades of grey', here too you dont mind debasing yourself for the sake of the riches it brings.

    I guess there are no exceptions to any rule... all types of all people exist , dont they ?

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    1. This new book purports the idea that once you shower a girl with expensive gifts, it is okay to treat her like a toy. Since women are not complaining, they are accepting the fact that money plays a much more important role in a relationship. There is no denying the fact that money is important but at the cost of self-respect? There is competitiveness too...where your boyfriend/ husband took you for a vacation, what gifts he gave you on your anniversary and so on...
      But then it is a free world. To each his own. As you said, all kinds of people exist.

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  16. The thing is, these arrogant "macho" novel heroes always turn into good men in the end, and the they all live happily ever after :/ .... ah, if only that happened in real life. Imagine willing marrying a man like christian grey! I read 100 pages of the book and found it hilariously silly!!

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    1. It is plain and simple erotica...some will enjoy it some wont. Only impressionable minds should not mistake such a portrayal as reality.

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  17. Alks, I had heard so much about the book-but of course a twisted version, that almost made me look forward to pick this one after a long hiatus but then thankfully you broke the myth.

    Yes, as if Bollywood was not enough to screw my head-I better stay away from this one :-)

    I too feel the acts girls like Sherlyn Chopra n Poonam Pandey are turning innocent minds stupidly-It's not their boldness that should be checked but their influence on making gullible minds opt for easier ways too...

    Very well said, Alks :-)

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    1. Suru dear I wrote this post because as a young girl, I was too warped in the notion of a Mills and Boon hero that I almost rejected my husband...he never gave me any gifts, he was too sweet and polite...no mystery and no machismo and no bike.
      FSG is plain erotica and serves the purpose admirably.

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  18. its sad to see most of the females go for materialistic things values don't matter ..no wonder why there are so many issues ..and marriages break..
    is it the lifestyle that responsible?an urge to be rich overnight..
    ...well written!!

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    1. True, a reflection of the times we live in.

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  19. I somehow doubt that most modern young women will either be fooled by macho men with money on Travel dot com or in 50 shades. To me one sounds uncannily like a wolf – young, old, married or unmarried - in sheep’s clothing and the other, a bully with pots of money and no capacity for an emotional connection with the women he has relationships with. Hopefully, many women have started defining the meaning of success and fulfilment as dependent on their own actions, their own goals as well as their own circle of friends, family and people they look up to. As for the young girl refusing someone because he didn’t sweep her off her feet, I feel she is simply not ready to tie the knot just yet or she’s already found someone else and there are complications. Great post, Alka.

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    1. As an erotic fantasy for young mommies (Thats what the genre says) it does serve the purpose admirably. Most girls are smart, they know what they want and how. The only thing to remember is that there are no short cuts.

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  20. What can i say , I am sure you know what I say on my space and otherwise too..

    hypocrite is one word that comes to mind ..

    I better start stocking up on the gifts and all you never know what "SHE" might ask for he he he :)

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  21. I've heard that the book "50 Shades of Grey" isn't that great...There are so many people talking about it that I think I do need to grab a copy and see how it really is!

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  22. I have been hearing a lot about '50 Shades of Grey', but am yet to see the book or even read the blurb. As for that site Miss Travel, I have not heard of it. It sounds kinky stuff to me.

    Btw..how are you finding reading on Kindle?

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  23. Your posts are kind of 'news' to me...really, i've been hearing all of this but did find the time to gauge through. in that sense, I get news as well as your views on it!

    now about the website, sounds crazy yet its a reflection of the society we live in..remembered Page 3 character of Mrunal. BTW, my friend creates content for a website started by a woman - its a dating site for married ppl! Yes, when you bored with dal, you can have a little chicken outside from time to time:)

    Its a very sad degradation of society and talking about equality of the sexes is pure wastage because women themselves are in it, for the short terms gains (greed)

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  24. I m yet to read that book though! Hope to read it soon.

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