Monday October 23, 2017

Life in Saudi Arabia from the eyes of Majd Abdulghani, a dynamic young woman

"I want to prove that being a Muslim Saudi woman who wears a headscarf doesn't stop me from becoming a scientist", says Majd Abdulghani

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Smiling Saudi women. Image source: Wikipedia Commons
In a world that has progressed immensely in the societal domain, where society strives to shrug off the remaining bits of misogyny and male chauvinism, it is dispiriting to observe the status of women in Saudi Arabia. Women require the permission of their guardian men, mahram,  to perform the simplest of tasks, like opening a bank account. At the same time, ironically, there is a stronger presence of women on university campuses than that of men. However, in a kingdom that is under the choking grips of staunch senior clerics, there is little space for the progress of women.

Saudi Arabia
Image Courtesy: fastcompany.com

Majd Abdulghani, a twenty year old girl living in Saudi Arabia, provides us with very insightful episodes into her life. As she records on her microphone for a Podcast by Radio Diaries, the deep sense of passion and hope in her voice is quite palpable. Majd is different from the other girls. There is an innate sense of questioning the norms that her mother and the rest of her family seem to have easily accepted.

Being a country that has no minimum age restrictions for the marriage of women, Majd started receiving proposals from men since she turned 19. As a bachelor’s student in King Saud University with a brimming with a desire to study and make a difference to the world, though, Majd confessed she had no intentions of marrying anyone so soon.
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Majd shares a pretty casual relationship with her four brothers and her parents. Her work in the university genetics lab involves interactions with men, which, according to her, is a little strange, but not unnerving. There are certain rules she has to follow, though, like completely avoid shaking hands, or any other form of body contact. Her family has accepted this as her field of work, so they don’t have a problem.
Karate at the female gym in Saudi Arabia is her passion. She refers to it as The Fight Club. Taking Karate classes is very unusual for girls in the Arabic country, something her father had picked on. He had already expressed he wished her to discontinue with Karate, since it makes her less feminine. But her parents fail to understand that Karate is more than just physical training for her – its an art, its something she can lose herself in, and not think about anything else at that time. They want her to start getting accustomed to the kitchen, so she could fulfill her responsibilities as a wife and keep her husband happy in the future. That is how the society looks at women and marriage in Saudi Arabia – performing wifely duties and taking care of home – something that seems illogical to Majd.
It is mandatory for women to wear an abaya, a long black over-garment, and a niqab, that is worn over the face so that they don’t “show off their beauty”. Her brother believes there should be an opening for only one eye in the niqab, so that a maximum area is covered. While it is again unfair and misogynistic, Majd looks at this custom with a unique set of eyes. She says the prospect of walking down the streets fully covered from head to toe is quite exhilarating. In the university, which houses separate campuses for men and women, Majd can roam freely without the abaya, and wear make up, and truly be herself, which is a more liberating experience.
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A year later, studying at King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST), Majd received another proposal from a boy, who is well-mannered and polite, according to her parents. Agreeing to meet with him and bearing just a one percent chance of saying yes, she traveled back to her hometown from her dorms in the University.
On the day of the meet, Majd saw “the guy” asking her hand for marriage, and found him pretty handsome. And like all couples that always start with their first awkward and nervous conversations, Majd and the man shared greetings and introduced themselves. Majd was content with his answers. Anmar wanted to come up with an invention to change the way energy is used in Saudi Arabia, and he didn’t seem to mind that her interests were Karate and genetics. But the one statement that he said stuck with her: “We’ll push each other to the top.”
Since her marriage with Anmar, Majd has been accepted into a masters program in genetics, and is well on the way to achieve her dreams. Even the shackles of society hasn’t held her back in being fulfilling everything that she believes in, and this helps her stand out as a paradigm for other women in Saudi Arabia.
-By Saurabh Bodas
Saurabh is pursuing engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: saurabhbodas96
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Checkout Ten Must-Read Books For Women

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Must reads for a woman.
Must reads for a woman. Pixabay

Nothing in this world can give you the feeling which books do. Some stories, some word just touch your heart and end up giving you the greatest lessons of life. Books can be inspiring at times, and help you make the toughest decisions of life. Below are ten must-read books for women:

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns

The book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, who has also authored ‘Kite Runner’ revolves around the lives of two women, Mariam and Laila. The beautiful friendship of these two and the things they go through is mesmerizing. The book’s subtlety puts it under the category of must-read books for women.

2. Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson

The Millennium series has three books- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and “The Girl who Played with Fire”. The lead character of the series, Lisabeth Salander, is a confident and bold woman who never follows the old norms of the society and leads her life differently. Her rebellious nature can inspire the girls out there to stand for themselves.

3.  Pride And Prejudice

Must-Reads for women
Pride and Prejudice. Wikimedia.

The classic by Jane Austen teaches you to distinguish between the essential and the superficial. It makes you come across a way of looking at women, which is not judgmental. It teaches you to stand up for righteousness. It is definitely ones of the must-read books for women.

4. The Book Thief

Th novel, “The Book Thief” by the Australian author Markus Zusak gives out the inspiring message that no matter what the situation is, women can come out of it strongly on their own.

5. How To Be A Bawse

The Book, “How to be a Bawse”, by the Canadian YouTuber Lily Singh is a beautiful guide on tackling tough situations in life, supported by the examples of real-life situations. Lily’s classy and sassy video style has already been loved by a lot of women out there.

6. The Hunger Games Trilogy

Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games Trilogy is one of the must-read books for women out there as the book’s lead character Katniss, makes you feel proud of being a girl. Her character motivates you to be your own hero.

7. Daughter By Court Order

“Daughter By Court Order”, by Ratna revolves around the story of a woman who has been disowned by her own family. The woman is fighting against money, power, deceit, and for her right to be recognized as a daughter. She has to handle everything on her own.

8. To Kill A Mocking Bird

The book is written by Harper Lee and is an all-time classic. The book revolves around a six-year-old protagonist who is a feminist and refuses to accept the societal norms and always challenges them.

9. The Diary Of A Young Girl

Must-Read Books For Women
The Diary Of A Young Girl. Wikimedia.

The novel by Anne Frank is set during the time of Nazi invading Netherlands. Anne Frank shares her feelings with her diary while she was in hiding for two years. The emotions and struggles make it one of the must-read books for women.

10. The Palace of Illusions

The book Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni shows the epic Mahabharata, through Draupadi’s eyes. Her problems and shortcomings are shown, along with the fact that how ego can lead to a battle.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. She can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya

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4 Zodiac Signs Women Fall For Easily

These are the zodiac signs which all women are attracted and fall for easily. All these men are quite the catch. Read to Find out more.

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Zodiac Signs Women Fall For Easily
Astrology. Pixabay

Oct 08, 2017: Haven’t you sometimes thought that there are some guys you just instantly fall for? Well, it is not your fault honestly, it is just their stars that make you fall for them. Astrology is known to have defined a person’s interests, personality likes and dislikes and can even predict the unknown future. Here is a list of the Zodiac signs that are bound to promptly score points with the ladies. These are the zodiac signs women fall for easily. If you are a guy and belong to any of the below-given zodiac signs, you should consider yourself lucky and extremely gifted.

Here’s the list of the Zodiac Signs: 

Leo

Leo men are mostly known for their masculinity. Born between July 23 and August 22, they are the one who will never back down, regardless of the situation. It’s actually their strength and their determination that makes grabs the attention of the ladies. The Lion slowly calms down, puts aside his ego. They are very warm and cordial, are never scared of approaching a girl and most important they are extremely passionate and romantic.

Gemini

Gemini men have a very gentle nature. They have the power to understand both the genders. Born between May 21 and June 20, they know very well to use all their qualities to their advantage. Women swoon over their adoring and compassionate personality. The Gemini man is quite the seducer and it is difficult to keep your guard against him.

Capricorn

Capricorn men are ambitious and are always aiming to get the best. A sense of warmth and outgoingness is always around him. He understands his priorities well and keeps up his commitment. Women love such reliable men. Having their birthdays between December 22 and January 19, they are bound to make their to a woman’s heart by their mesmerizing talks. Another exciting fact about them, they are extremely good looking.

Libra 

A Libra man is what every woman wants. He is quite the catch. Being shy in nature, he has a unique aura around which separates him from other men and intrigues the women around him. He is the perfect gentleman. A Libra man will treat with so much love and care by showing romantic gestures. He is the combination of romantic and intellectual. The intellectual talks with him will brighten your day; he will make you never want to fall out of love. Being born between September 23 and October 22, he is the perfect partner for any woman.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha of Newsgram

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Miles to go: Anushka Sharma on her journey “Full Interview”

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Anushka Sharma
Miles to go: Anushka Sharma on her journey

New Delhi, Oct 5 : After stepping into Bollywood in 2008 with superstar Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” to producing films and now owning a clothing line, actress Anushka Sharma has been on a roll. She says she has more ambitions to fulfil and hopes to develop her business ventures with a vengeance.

Anushka ventured into film production in 2014 and earlier this month, she launched her clothing line Nush.

“I feel happy with what I have achieved so far, but I have miles to go and more ambitions. I hope to develop my entrepreneurial ventures further,” Anushka told IANS over email from Mumbai, when asked about her career graph.

She says she wants to continue entertaining her fans.

“I want to continue working in roles and films that entertain, engage and are viewed in posterity as creatively qualitative. I haven’t achieved it all, there’s more to do in the years to come,” added the actress, who had her first modelling assignment for designer Wendell Rodricks in 2007.

The “NH10” actress, 29, who has worked with Bollywood’s three Khans — Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir, says rather than looking back at her journey and contemplate, she prefers to use the learning to do better.

“I prefer to take learnings and acquired understanding from my years in the film industry. Experience teaches you patience, consistency and persistence. I hope these will always define my work,” she said.

What has been more daunting — being an actress, producer or an entrepreneur?

“None of it is daunting, all of it is very enjoyable and exciting. I love doing all of it, and wish there was time to do even more,” she said.

Anushka describes her clothing line Nush as “accessible high street fashion”. She says she wanted to create “everyday clothes for everyday events” and that it is “built around Indian needs and sensibilities”.

The line caters to all sizes from small to XXL.

“It caters to women and girls from all age groups and also to all senses of styles,” she said.

“We have been working on creating an apparel line for over a year’s time. Now that we are confident about the product and our distribution across India, we have decided to go ahead and launch it,” she said.

On the film front, Anushka’s next is “Pari” and she says the role was challenging.

“Let’s just say the role challenged me and the film will hold up what we aim to do at Clean Slate Films — tell solid, engaging stories on cinema,” she added.

She will also be seen with actor Varun Dhawan in the upcoming film “Sui Dhaaga – Made in India”, touted as a story of self reliance aimed to connect with every Indian.

“It’s very early to talk about ‘Sui Dhaaga’, but I am excited about the film, and look forward to shooting it.”

To be directed by Sharat Katariya and written by Maneesh Sharma, the film will go on the floors from January next year. The film will hit the screens for Gandhi Jayanti 2018.(Interview Conducted By Durga Chakravarty of IANS)