Friday, January 15, 2010


I was writing a kite-flying post for my other blog, Past Continuous, where I mentioned the manja - the sharp paste containing powdered glass that is coated onto kite-strings to give bite and edge to cut the strings of competing kites.
In Bengali, when a girl dresses up in all her finery, people (especially older male relations) often comment in jest, "khub manja merechhis toh!" (You've put on a lot of manja).
Presumably, it means that adornment (dress, make-up, et al) is like a weapon with which the woman arms herself (like the kite's weapon is the glass-edged string). If life is a battle of sexes, then it is only logical to step out armed with a suitable weapon.
For whom, though? To cut other kites, or females, out of the competition? And, is there an underlying assumption that women are like playthings in the hands of men, and they can pull us along like kites? Ahem, ahem!!
But the manja is a double-edged thing. It can cut other kite-strings...and also cut the palms of the inexpert string-puller. So, men beware!!! If you persist with making inoffensive but double-meaning comments to prettily-dressed members of the opposite gender, remember that your palms may get badly slashed, especially across the heartline.