Equal Partnership 

Sometime last week, I went to Klang for saree shopping. My friends and I were admiring and exclaiming over gorgeous pieces of cotton sarees. Jokingly, we sighed and told the assistant if only we could afford all the sarees. She definitely understood our dilemma and instantly provided a solution, “You girls need to find a rich boyfriend/husband”. It felt like an insult.

Few days later, I was watching a talk show which discussed the demands of women in a marriage. In a nutshell, it was evident that the role of a breadwinner was cast on men. These narratives are not new, it has been perpetuated since men settled down and started working on land. Prior to this period, women were providers too. They gathered half of the food that was needed for consumption.  With change in the lifestyle, men worked the land because it required manual labour and women took care of homes. As lands prospered, so did the dominance of men. Men explored, gained knowledge and excelled. However, majority of women were left behind to support the ambitions of men in their lives. Then education happened, feminism took off. Women pursued their education, went to work and few even became leaders in their fields. Even with all that progress, we are not able to shake off the stereotype that women are supposed to be good at homemaking skills and men as primary breadwinners.

We live in a time where many women are on equal footing with men in terms of education, opportunities and financial independence. Sadly, we still stick by the same standards that our forefathers did when choosing a partner. We still prescribe to the same yardsticks in choosing a partner instead of going by emotional compatibility. In the Indian community, marriage is viewed as a major achievement, especially for a woman. There is a pressure to marry because society thinks it is ‘the right time’. Parents consider marrying off a girl as a paramount task. Parents still protect the virtue of their unmarried daughters by curtailing their choices in terms of dressing, behavior and movement to ensure she remain desirable for the marriage market.  Men also suffer from this pressure but this does not affect their lifestyle much.

The irony is that we live in a time where women are at their peak, but instead of striving for equality in partnerships, we are holding on to age-old conditioning. Marriages/partnerships are perfectly fine. Love and relationships are hardly the enemy here. It is only wrong when gender stereotypes are enforced in shaping the role of men and women in relationships.

This simply means that men should not expect women to enter a relationship and automatically assume the role which is traditionally associated to women, like cooking, cleaning and maintaining a home. Women on the other hand also have to stop expecting their partners to play the role of a provider. These tasks are not gender-specific, so within a relationship, the parties can iron out what works best based on their dynamics. The purpose of a relationship should be an emotional one, it should not be one that is utilitarian. As long as it remains as a functional one, people would get into it expecting the other party to fulfill their material/physical needs.

Women have a huge role to play here, especially educated women. We need to stop encouraging the idea that men are our providers/protectors. We need to voice out when stereotypes are thrown upon us. We need to stop allowing our ambitions to revolve around marriage and family. Now, there is nothing wrong in making that choice but not when that decision is due to conditioning that enforces gender stereotypes. It is empowering when educated women recognise that their potential can extend beyond their home. That recognition is empowering, even when she has to stay at home as she will be equipped with the confidence that she is capable taking care of herself and her dependents. Empowerment is also when women enter marriages for emotional reasons and not for financial/physical security. When that happens, the institution of marriage may possibly begin with an equal footing.

As women, it is important that we take responsibility of our own empowerment, especially women who are educated. We have to be willing to imagine dreams that are bigger than what society projects on us. We need more women to come out and reach higher, so that we could inspire women who are less privileged to fight battles that we no longer have.

 

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European Adventure (Barcelona, Spain)

“Barcelona – It was the first time that we met
Barcelona – How can I forget
the moment that you stepped into the room you took my breath away
And if God willing we will meet again, someday”

-Freddy Mercury-

Barcelona is a dream. One of the major cities in Spain, capital of Catalonia, situation in the Northwestern side of the Mediterranean Sea. This was definitely our favourite city in Europe thus far. Unfortunately, we only stopped over for about 4 days before heading to Italy. Barcelona is incredibly tourist friendly and is fairly affordable in comparison to top-tiered European cities.  Due to our short time in this city, our tips and recommendation are confined to whatever we had time to see!

Where to Stay

 

barcelona

It is definitely recommended to stay closer to where the action is in Barcelona, in our case, it was the Gothic Quarter. We loved our stay here as it was very close to La Ramblas and the neighbourhood had some charming back lanes.

Getting Around Barcelona

Barcelona is very well-connected by the metro line and buses. If you stay somewhere near the city centre, then you find that most attractions are close-by and walkable. Only a few, like the Sagrada, Parc Guell and Camp Neu are a little further.

From the airport, you can catch the Aerobus to the city centre which would cost about €5. This would a cheaper option in comparison to the train or a taxi.

The city has a Barcelona Pass tailored for tourist (access to 15 attractions, ride on Hop On and Hop Off and unlimited use of the public transportation. We did not opt for this pass as we were not interested in seeing that many monuments. Instead, we bought T10 (10 single journey tickets) at a slightly lower price. There are also other options as listed here.

Highlights

Mercat de La Boqueria 

Once we  reached Barcelona after a layover at Orly Airport, Paris, we were exhausted and slept the day away. So, we woke up the next day FAMISHED!

The market was less than half a km from our AirBnb home. We walked into this beautiful market and were met with the bustling of morning crowd buying fresh produce, the smell of food and arrays of freshest ingredients! It really is a paradise for foodies and cooks.

We highly recommend El Quim for their tapas are incredible. So fresh and flavours that makes you go ooohhh and ahhhh. For dinner, we really liked Bar Central (friendly waiters and amazing food!). Ask the waiters for their specialty.

Make sure to walk around and enjoy the fresh juices. We recommend the ones with the coconut blend, so so delicious (only €1 each cup), get those arrays of home made chocolates, varieties of nuts and eat away. Try out whatever that looks good. Forget the calories because the food here is worth every bit!

La Sagrada Familia

When you roam the city of Barcelona, you would see very unique looking buildings. These are the remnants of the famed architect, Antoni Gaudi. The crowning glory of Gaudi’s work has to be La Sagrada Familia which is still under construction since 1882.

The first sight of this architectural wonder would leave you awe-struck. It is simply stunning and looks like something out of a fairy tale. Outside, the gothic inspiration is evident with the carvings, huge doors and statues. Inside, the stained glasses alone would hold your attention for some time. The intricacies is truly mind blowing. This church is built entirely out of donations, so it is really a nice way to be a part of this monument.

We highly recommend reading up before visiting in order to fully appreciate Gaudi’s inspiration in designing this masterpiece. The link above is extremely comprehensive and also has a virtual tour of the Sagrada. We also suggest buying your tickets beforehand before to avoid the crowd, the wait can sometime be up to 3 hours. You can get the ticket from the official website. Unless you want to be part of a tour, we think it is perfectly fine to get the ticket and explore the Sagrada with an audio guide.

Be mindful that there are various types of tickets (the basic one gives you access to only the Basilica). If you want to explore the towers, then you need to pay extra. There is an elevator that takes you up, but you need to come down hundred overs steps using a tight and narrow staircase!

Parc Guell

This is a public park that houses Gaudi’s house museum and two houses that looked like it was out of Hansel & Gretel. The access to the park is free, but you need the ticket to see the structures designed by Gaudi. If you want to see the house museum, you can buy the combined ticket with La Sagrada. The paid section cost about €6. You can get the ticket here. Walking around the park, you will be able to see how he has drawn inspiration from nature. The architecture is very organic to compliment the landscape surrounding it. If you are into photography, you will definitely love this place. Pack your flowy summer dresses!

It should be noted that this place is situated on top of a hill, so the climb is steep. The nearest metro station is 20 minutes away. So, the best option would be to take a bus from downtown which drops you right at the entrance. You would also get a nice view of Barcelona from here.

Casa Batllo

This is also one of Gaudi’s masterpiece. The facade has an almost skeleton-like, visceral quality to it. Gaudi took inspiration from marine life on this piece of work. Definitely a must see for its visual delight. Get the audio guide to ensure you are able to appreciate the architecture. You can pre-book your ticket here.

Gothic Quarters

This neighbourhood used to be a Roman village,so you would be able to see ancient buildings alongside the newer ones. This is nice area to take a stroll with its narrow and winding streets. It almost is like a labyrinth, so get lost. You will find countless spots for photo opportunities. We did not do much shopping in Barcelona, but this definitely looked like a shopping hub. When the night falls, this is where you want to be. There are countless bars and places to chill. Barcelona is a city that never really sleeps. This neighbourhood is the cultural hub of Barcelona and has something for any type of traveler.

Erotic Museum

Barcelona is also home to an erotic museum. It has some interesting things/articles/videos but we would not recommend it if you only have a few days there. Barcelona has better things to offer. Even the kinky souvenir at the end of the day is not worth the €11 you pay. However, if you are keen on checking this out, bring your student card (if any) to avail the discount.

Blogs We love

Apps We love

 

In conclusion, our trip to Barcelona was a super short one and we did not rush to see everything. We however loved our stay so much that we have made the rest of Spain a bucket list. So, we highly recommend you look at the blogs (links given above) for more information to plan your trip.