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.


Vineeta said...

Wow! Good answer to all men :P Full marks to this post :D

sujata said...

that was good, I never like this comment though its an oft repeated phrase in Calcutta, I have always felt it to be derogatory. Happy poush Shankranti!! Pithe banale?

Swaram said...

Awesome! I so wish more and more men read this one ;)
As Vineeta said, cent percent :)

Nu said...

Perfect message :)

Aparna said...

No matter how much manja i put on, i still look the same :(
I also feel the comment is more of a taunt than a compliment, may be because the Bengalis never pay much attention to good looks and most feel that being intelligent is better than being good looking. Good for me:)

MyBestKiteGuy said...

As a kites-mad male from another culture, here's my interpretation of that male comment:

'You've dressed so well that you will cut through the competition, being more attractive than the others...'

Very positive! ;-) just my 2 bob's worth.

Ugich Konitari said...

Moons ago
she swayed
in the breeze,
her dress crackling
in the wind of youth
the strings
her to float
within the control
of the Manja ....

seasons of hesitating,
being yanked,
and released,
floats tiredly,
clouds of doubt.

His hand
has bloodied,
cut by the
incisive abuse
of the Manja,
and she twists,
and cuts her past aloof,
free as a kite
into the future;
but away from him,
and safe....

Anonymous said...

Ha ha...Good One....
Hey ...Happy New Year

PURN!MA said...

very well said!! :D :D

Shaswati said...

Good one!

Onkar said...

Good post.Good reference to manja.

Vivek Patwardhan said...

Interesting, Liked it.


nsiyer said...

All languages have the cutting stuff. My take is many a time the important thing is ' who makes the cutting comments.'
Your comment on 'double edged' seems to be today's cutting edge.

Meira said...

Hear hear :)

manju said...

Ha, ha! Well said! Manja, Indeed!

Babli said...

Very nice and interesting post. You have conveyed very good message through this post.

Anonymous said...

God never shuts one door but he opens another...................................................

Anil P said...

What a fine analogy you drew in the post. Enjoyed reading it.

The only difference I see is the manja maker in the analogy.

This is the first time I've heard of the use of manja as a metaphor.

Hip Grandma said...

women dress up to feel good about themselves and that's it.happy new year, sankranthi and basant panchami.all belated tho'.

Tomz said...

very thought provoking the same time ironic..and was philosophic..

but it a long time since u visited my blog for the last time..

Roshni said...

you said it!

Anonymous said...

A lot of compliments given to women are equally offensive, like calling a girl a 'mast cheez'. Being basically offensive these can easily become taunts.

Anonymous said...

A lot of compliments given to women are equally offensive, like calling a girl a 'mast cheez'. Being basically offensive these can easily become taunts.

Anonymous said...

A lot of other 'compliments' to women are also offensive... like calling them, mast cheez. That's why they become taunts so easily.

Vinoo John said...

very interesting thoughts..I like the manner in which you have conveyed the message..EXcellent!

Anonymous said...

You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.............................................

Sayani said...

great 'manja' post :)
I hope you are doing fine.

(An irregular blogger)

ARUNA said...

Lol that was a good answer!!!