The Arranged Love Marriage

“Madam, I have draped the sari like mermaid! It is giving you very young and slim look!” The beautician bent down to fix Bittu Kumari’s sari pleats, pleased with her work.

“I am young! I am 26!” Bittu Kumari frowned.

“Oh! I thought you must be in 30’s! Was wondering why you are still bachelor!”

“I am not! A bachelor is a man who is not…”

“Bittu, you are still not ready! The boy’s family has arrived!” Bittu Kumari’s mother stormed into the room. She looked at her daughter from head to toe. “Shabnam, I had asked you to make her look thin!” she said disappointed.

“Aunty Ji, I have given her slim look only! This is mermaid style sari! My world-famous style in Saharanpur! She is little healthy no, what can I do!”

“Leave it! No time now!”

Bittu Kumari was dragged to the living room.  A lean, dark, young man, his mother, father and possibly his brother who looked like a rounder replica of him were seated on the three-seater sofa.  Opposite to them, were Bittu Kumari’s father – Mr. Mishra, and his teenaged son, Sonuraj. Mrs. Mishra’s sister and husband had also been invited for moral support. Bittu Kumari sat next to her brother.

“Mr. Pandey, this is my daughter, Bittu Kumari! She has completed M.A. in English literature.  She teaches English in St. Mary’s high school! Convent! And herself educated in English medium convent! Throughout topper!” added the proud father.

“That is great!” said Mr. Pandey with an approving nod. “Lallan also wanted to do B.Com. But after Matric he joined my business. He completed PUC through correspondence.”

Sonuraj giggled. Bittu Kumari was horrified. She looked up to confirm if she had heard correctly. Her eyes met Lallan’s. Lallan smiled at her, beaming.

“All that is okay! Doesn’t matter!” Mrs. Pandey seemed to have read Bittu Kumari’s thoughts. “For a boy, what matters is how well he is earning. Our business is flourishing. Lallan is handling it single-handedly now! And what matters for a girl is how she looks!” She paused, giving a sharp stare at Bittu Kumari’s bulging stomach which Shabnam’s Rs 1500 mermaid style draping could not hide. “My elder daughter-in-law Chhaya is so pretty! Even after having two daughters, she has maintained herself like a stick!”

Bittu Kumari raised her head again to look at Lallan’s brother’s paunch, trying to imagine him with his stick-like wife.

What does Chaaya do?” asked Mr. Mishra, visibly annoyed.

She is a housewife!” Mr. Pandey stepped in. “We wanted a working girl for Lallan. Actually, we wanted a housewife. But Lallan wanted a working girl.”

Lallan blushed.

“Working, not working is not main criteria! We want a fair, slim, beautiful girl.” Mrs. Pandey clarified. “Your daughter is very healthy. At this age, she is healthy! After a child, she will bloat even more!”

Mrs. Mishra shifted in her chair uncomfortably. Her fear came true. This was the fifth time the boy’ side had rejected her daughter for being “healthy”.  This time, Bittu Kumari did not look up. The words seemed to have pierced through her heart and created a hole. How is it possible that for all these years, she had heard it all – healthy, fat, moti, bhais, elephant, yet it hurt her each time? Shouldn’t she be immuned by now?

“Mrs. Pandey, I think you should let Lallan and Bittu Kumari talk once. They are the ones who have to get married! Let them decide.”

“We would have let them talk, Mr. Mishra. We are very modern. That is why we got Lallan. He was keen on your daughter’s profile. But… sorry to say your daughter looks nothing like her pictures. You must have edited them and sent to us. She seems 20 kg more than we had expected!”

Mr. Mishra looked at his wife accusingly. She had gone to the biggest studio in town to get her daughter’s pictures photoshopped. What was she supposed to do?  Those who saw Bittu Kumari’s real pictures rejected her even before meeting her. She had to give her daughter a fair chance!

“If she was slightly healthy also, we would have tried to adjust. But she is obese! Young girls exercise! She is probably lazy too! Or maybe she has some illness. And moreover, daughter-in-law’s beauty determines the looks of the children also. If we get an obese daughter-in-law, she will give birth to obese daughters, and then we will have to worry about their marriage also!”

“Ek minute Aunty, you have gone too far!” Bittu Kumari finally spoke up.  “Who said I wanted to marry your son!”

“What! Then why did you all call us!” Mrs. Pandey frowned.

“We were deceived too! We thought your son had completed B-Com. But now we know he never went to college. I did not know I was signing up for a college dropout! Just like you did not know you were signing up for a fat daughter-in-law. But you know what Aunty, fat women make completely decent homemakers. Look at you!”

“Such a shameless girl! Doesn’t know how to talk to elders! And I am fat now! When I was your age, I looked just like Hema Malini! Come Lallan, let us go.” Mrs. Pandey got up, grabbing her son’s hand. Her elder son and husband also got up almost in a reflex. “We don’t need a fat and proudy girl.”

“It is proud Aunty, not proudy!”

Lallan looked at Bittu Kumari. He paused. He wanted to say something. But his mother pulled him away.

And just like that, the entire Pandey family was gone. Mr. Mishra put his hand on her daughter’s head and smiled. “Bittu beta, we don’t need them! You are a diamond. These people don’t know your worth.” Mrs. Mishra went back to the bedroom to pay Shabnam who was locked up in the bedroom, waiting for the boy’s side to leave. Mrs. Mishra’s sister and brother-in-law left rather unceremoniously. Everything went back to normal.

Two days later, Bittu Kumari received a text message.

‘Hi Bittu Ji. I am sorry for finding your number. Got it from the school.  I am sorry for the way my mother talked to you. I know how you must have felt. Four girls have rejected me because I am dark! One was educated and English-speaking, and did not want someone like me. I know my profile says that I have done B.com. If talks would have progressed, I would have told you the truth. My brother had edited my profile so that people at least express interest. I may not be that educated, but I do manage to run my business well. I may not be good-looking, but if you give me a chance I will take care of you. I know what it is like when people judge you without getting to know you. I really liked you. Would like to be friends with you, if it is okay with you.”

Bittu Kumari was shocked. No man had ever showed such interest in her. Without telling their parents, Bittu Kumari and Lallan started chatting. Bittu Kumari realized that Lallan was no different from her. He was also looking for a decent partner, while struggling with his own insecurities, and cruel judgment of random people. He was running a growing business, with hard-work and sincerity. He was not as stupid as she had expected. Rather, he was quite intuitive and witty. He was also very sensitive and mature. She grew quite fond of him.

Bittu Rani and Lallan have decided to get married. Mr. Mishra is insisting that Lallan completes B.Com from distant learning. Mrs. Pandey has agreed provided Bittu Kumari loses 10 kgs. Mr. Pandey is happy for the children. Sonuraj is preparing a solo dance performance for the wedding.

Mrs. Mishra is grateful. To Shabnam. And to the photographer.

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Why Do You Even Want To Get Married?

Received an email from a woman who is single and has been searching for a guy for a long time. She has a full-time job, good friends and a good life. That does not change the fact that she is looking for someone for marriage. She is in her early 40s. She also wants to have kids. She is a happy person. But when she tells people she wants to get married, they start saying so many annoying things.

The first question is ‘But why do you even want to get married!’

I can relate perfectly. How many of you are single? When you tell people, you want to “un” single, do they judge you? It is not like you are saying that you are desperate or unhappy or incomplete. You just wish you had someone. Many people who say these things are actually married themselves.

Here is a short list of some of the things people say to single people who are looking. Feel free to add to the comments.

  1. No one can complete you!
  • When did I say I was incomplete?
  1. Be in love with yourself first!
  • Main meri favourite hoon….?
  1. You will find him once you stop looking!
  • Does he know I am looking for him, and therefore hiding? Shh…he might hear us and hide back!
  1. When you are happy you attract people…
  • Been happy… attracted people.. Now what?
  1. If you feel lonely alone, you will feel lonely in a relationship too.
  • What does this even mean? Did they think so much before getting into a relationship?
  1. Your spouse could die. And you could not have a child. So, marriage does not guarantee that you would not die alone.
  • Wow…what optimism!

I guess when people mean it is better to be single than married, they mean to say it is better than being in a bad relationship. I agree. If you see your friends desperate and unhappy in a bad relationship just for the fear of being alone, please go ahead and help them see reality.

But if they seem to be happy and doing well, yet searching then it is a normal thing to do! They do not need to justify anything! Isn’t it natural (for some people) to want love, romance, marriage. kids?

I am a feminist. I do not believe that marriage is the ultimate goal of life. It is a personal choice. It is okay to be single.  It is also okay to wish for one.  It does not mean that someone is weak. Single people do know relationships do not work sometimes and that marriage requires a lot of work.

Let us be a little kind to our divorced friends, and the ones who are older yet single. Let us not decide that it is better for them to be alone! Let us not tell them that marriage is this reward they will get once they have attained the above checklist! It is a well-meaning thing to say but it does not help them!

 

 

 

Just Another Day Of Her Life

Jyotsna woke up, determined to go back to sleep. It must be 6 am, she thought. She looked at her watch. It was 8! She jumped out of bed. Why didn’t her alarm ring? Was it the am / pm mess again? Never mind! Who has the time to figure out now!

She layered a generous amount of toothpaste on her toothbrush, and stuffed it into her mouth as she entered the kitchen. Tea on one burner, bread on the other. Another burner was turned on, as she took out the dough from the refrigerator.

The door-bell rang. Rupa, her house-maid entered. Jyotsna did not have the energy to argue with her for coming late. She was just grateful that she came.

“There is some bhindi in the fridge. Can you please pack it in Bhaiya’s

tiffin.” Jyotsna said.

“Didi, there is not enough bhindi for two people. What will you carry today?”

“It’s okay. Just make sure you pack for him. I will eat something at work.”

By the time Jyotsna got dressed, Anand was back from yoga. She grabbed a slice of bread, and rushed to catch her office cab.

Jyotsna sat next to her friend, Nidhi in the cab who was her only solace in the one-and-a-half-hour commute. But today, Nidhi did not remove her head-phones, and ignored Jyotsna. She pestered her to talk. Nidhi burst into tears.

“Kunal dumped me!”

“Oh I am so sorry dear! What happened?”

“He said he got engaged to a girl, his mother found for him. When I accused him, he said he cannot possibly marry a woman who is on Tinder!”

“That’s ridiculous! He himself is on Tinder!”

“I know right!! Bloody hypocrite! He said we could continue seeing each other. But I told him to get lost. So, I dumped him, technically, right?”

“Oh yes of course! Good for you! We deserve better! I mean you deserve better!”

Just before lunch break, Jyotsna received a call from her mother-in-law. She was getting late, but she knew this was a call she had to pick. She still remembers the ruckus from the last time she had missed her call.

“Namastey Mummy!” she tried to sound cheerful. There was silence.

“Hello?”

“Jyotsna! I can’t believe you gave yesterday’s bhindi to my son for lunch! And bread for breakfast!! Why are you so lazy?”

“Mummy, I had got up late today. And Rupa was also late. He had really liked the bhindi last night. There was little left so just for today, I gave him that. And he loves bread! Especially when I put cheese spread on it!

“What option does he have, poor boy! Keep neglecting your husband! I never say anything. I am such a kind, understanding woman. You are lucky to have me as a mother-in-law. And a husband like Anand. When I got married, I used to get up at 5 and make sure…..”

Jyotsna was tempted to disconnect the phone. Her mother-in-law went on for half an hour. By the time she reached the cafeteria, it was fully crowded. She looked at the queue. Then at her watch. She had a call in 10 minutes. She had no option but to skip lunch.

Jyotsna and her boss dialed in for the call. They waited patiently for five minutes. After 10 minutes, somebody joined.

“Hi. This is Rahul from Leela’s team. Leela would not be able to take the call today. Her baby is sick so had to rush home. But I have prepared the report, and if we turn to page 10…”

“You see this!” Jyotsna’s boss muted the call, visibly infuriated.

“I hired Leela last year! She never bothered to tell me she was expecting at the time of interview! Enjoyed her paid maternity leave, and now she will come to work as and when she feels like! Lucky women!!”

“Her child is sick! I am sure she will log in from home in some time…”

“Just a minute, my wife is calling.”

Jyotsna was interrupted as the boss stepped out. But she could still hear him.

No I obviously cannot buy a present for a five-year-old kid on my way back! Just let him attend the birthday party without a gift! Big deal! He can gift later. Don’t disturb me at work for this non-sense! I have better things to do!”

He came back to the room, intuitive that Jyotsna had heard him.

“Sorry. My wife was insisting I buy a gift for a birthday party my son got invited to last minute. She is saying she cannot step out because she is busy! I was like busy with what? You are just a housewife! Anyway, let’s get back to the call…”

After a long day, Jyotsna reached home. Hungry, tired and irritated. As she went to cook dinner, she received a call from Rupa.

“Didi, I can’t come tomorrow!”

“What!! Why? This is your second holiday this week!”

“Sorry Didi. My husband and I had a huge fight. The Didi from 103 had given me her old jeans and kurti. When he saw me in jeans, he got mad and slapped me! He said no need to go to work and seduce men!

“So what! Now you will never work? He doesn’t earn anything anyway!”

“No no Didi. Tomorrow is end of month. He will ask money for alcohol. That time, I will say, I have no money left. His drama will not last. I am not educated like you na Didi, what to do?”

Jyotsna wanted to scream, but refrained. Could the day get any worse?

Jyotsna began having dinner after serving Anand.

“Mummy called me today.” Jyotsna decided to play with fire. “Apparently, you discussed the menu with her, which upset her!”

“Don’t be so over sensitive. She casually asked what I was eating, so I mentioned. Anyway, check this out. She sent me pictures of Rhea on WhatsApp. Just look at her!”

Rhea was Anand’s cousin’s wife. She had delivered a baby boy eight months back.

“Look how slim she is looking! She did aerobics and gym. Lost all that weight so soon!”

Jyotsna knew where the conversation was going.

“I mean just look at her! So pretty and slim! Who would guess she is 35! Some girls take such good care of themselves. They look so young and beautiful. You know Mummy was saying that maybe you should try to reduce too. I mean you are only 29. We don’t even have a child yet. You will only put on more from here on!”

“Excuse me!!”

“I knew you would get offended. It is so difficult to talk to you! What did I say wrong? You know men like their wives to be attractive.”

Jyotsna threw the bowl in her hand. Anand ducked, almost in reflex. He then realized it was just a fragile, steel bowl incapable of causing any damage. Embarrassed, he yelled.

“What the hell?”

Jyotsna stood up. Her big, kohled eyes were red, matching with her the red bindi. She looked very intimidating.

“Shut up!! Just shut up! What the hell, you want to know? Yes, I know I am fat. I would have loved to work out. But I don’t. I prepare your break-fast, tea, lunch and supervise the maid while you go for your yoga. In the evening, again I can’t go to gym because I have to cook dinner for you. I have not even had my lunch today. Did you even bother to check if I did?

You are a 33-year-old man-child who cannot even manage to take care of himself and complains to his mother about what he is being fed!
You know why Rhea is so pretty, because happy girls looks prettier. And you know why she is happy? Her husband is not a jerk like you! She has got a full-time baby sitter, and a cook. So, she can afford to spend time on herself. I can’t!

Not being smart, sexy, modern, is a problem. But we should not be too much of it either! We should be the right amount! Right enough to satisfy your ego, but careful enough not to hurt it!

You can be on Tinder! But we can’t! Wearing jeans is a problem! Leaving office early to tend to a sick child is a problem! Not embarrassing your child for attending a birthday party without a gift is a problem! You know who is the problem! You!!! Live a damn day in my life! Do the chores that I do. Manage house work with office! Listen to the taunts of an interfering and controlling mother-in-law! Come home to an unattractive husband! Yes, the feeling is mutual! If you get judged the way we do, you would not be able to survive!”

Jyotsna stormed out of the room. Anand had never seen her so angry. What is wrong with women? He thought. How did she find out he was on Tinder? When has he forbidden her to wear jeans? And what was that whole thing about presents, and sick children? They did not have any! It is probably that time of the month for her when she gets all crazy.

He would surely call Mummy tomorrow and ask her to counsel Jyotsna on PMS.

Note:

This story was written for an online contest where the cue was from the movie ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’. I am aware that not all men are the way described in this story. This story has been written with the cue in mind, as a tribute to those who have made some of the Indian goddesses very angry.

Bindi or Blazer: Look Beyond The Stereotypes

“You must wear western formals on your first day,” said the HR executive while handing me the appointment letter.

“Can I wear Indian formals? It is part of the dress code as per company policy.”

“You can, but not on the first day. We want a proper, formal look for the first day.”

Read the full article on Sheroes.

13 Reasons Why – Suicide Prevention or Suicide Manual?

The latest show that is creating a lot of controversy internationally is Netflix’s original series – “13 Reasons Why”. It is about a high school girl who commits suicide, and leaves 13 audio tapes about the reasons why she did it. (No there is spoiler yet. This happens in the first episode).

The tapes are sent to the people who in some way or another have contributed to her suicide. There are serious issues shown in the show such as bullying, rape, cyber bullying, and of course suicide. The show is based on a book. The intent of the show was to create more awareness about suicide and the importance of being kind and sensitive to others. It sounds like a great idea. But I did not feel that the show manages to achieve this. I felt it glorifies, rationalizes, and justifies suicide.

1. First of all, nobody can call out from the grave. In the show, Hannah Baker reaches out to people after her death through the tapes. The very premise is unrealistic. The show supports the thought that once she commits suicide, people would sympathize with her and finally accept that they did her wrong. It is like a revenge strategy. The people who did her wrong in this case were her classmates. Why does the show make us believe that people will care about us after we are dead? Even if they do, does it really matter once we are gone? The only people who will suffer endlessly are parents, siblings, immediate family members, who do not deserve to suffer. The rest of the world (including classmates) may care for some time. Then they will forget and move on.

2. Hannah tries to get help from the school counselor who is not of much help. Why could she not reach out to her parents? Her parents are loving and do care for her. What kind of example is this setting? That there is no help whatsoever and suicide is the only logical option? I know that this does happen.People do not believe or support the rape / assault survivor or undermine the feelings of somebody who sounds depressed. But they could have shown her atleast put in some more effort to fix things for herself. That would have set a better example. How would assault / rape survivors / bullied teens feel after watching this show? That killing themselves is natural? Something that is expected of them?

3. Throughout the show, there are a bunch of high school kids keeping secrets in an attempt to “honour” their friendship. I found this very annoying. Some of them have supportive and approachable parents who keep asking them what is wrong. Still, none of them reach out to any responsible adults. It would have been more balanced if at least some character had sense of right and wrong.

4. I don’t even want to get into the graphic suicide scene.

5. The show puts the responsibility of Hannah’s suicide on so many of her classmates (not just the rapist) who received the tapes. “We all killed Hannah!” Does she ever mention her suicidal thoughts to anybody? Is she suffering from a mental illness? Sure, they could have behaved better with her. But were all they supposed to just know, and help her?

6. People who have appreciated the show have said that it will help start conversations on suicide, being such a tabooed topic. No, I don’t think we are still at that point in time where we should applaud each other just for initiating conversations. We should not have such low standards. We should work towards finding solutions, helpline options, feasible support groups.

Teen suicide is a very pertinent issues in the US. In India, so many students commit suicide because of academic pressure. Female celebrities have committed suicide after a break-up. Suicide is horrific and the biggest pain for the surviving family members. Recent live streaming of the video of a young man jumping to his death on a social networking site death was extremely disturbing. It was a call for help. But no help can be delivered after death.

Some people may be suffering from serious mental illnesses and their actions may not even be in their control. They need professional help.

The last thing people should be made to believe is that if they kill themselves, finally people who ignored and hurt them will realise they were in pain all along. And this would be their justice.

Arranged! Before society deem us apart…

Sometime in 2002-2003

I was in junior high school in the United States. The English literature class was going on. I do not remember the exact context, but the teacher was asking for the “Reasons why people get married.”

The creative class was coming up with all kinds of reasons – procreation, money, security, pregnancy among others. One guy said “for love” which was followed by a mocking “Aww!” in chorus. One girl said, “Pressure.”
The teacher’s eyes brightened, as this seemed the most interesting and novel reason so far.

That’s right.” She said. “In medieval times, some people were forced to get married.. Sadly, it is still happening in some parts of the world. It is called arranged marriages.”

I was completely offended. I wanted to raise my hand and correct her. No. Arranged marriages are not forced…. My parents, uncle, aunts, cousins are happily married. All arranged.

But I did not have the courage to speak up. I was afraid everybody would make fun of my accent, or even worse, my thoughts.

After the class ended, I brought up the topic with one of my classmates who was of Indian origin. She was the closest to a “friend” to me. She ensured to tell everybody that she was born and brought up there and was “one of them”. Although, her looks gave away her roots. She never seemed too pleased when I tried to associate herself with India. This time was no exception.

“Arranged marriages are ******. How can you marry a stranger?”

I tried to explain to her that all my relatives had arranged marriages. They are happy. Ultimately, marriage is about committing to each other and making it work. Every marriage is a risk no matter how long you have known each other. I also brought up the low divorce rate in India as a testimony to our wonderful marriages.

“Well, you don’t even belong to our generation.
” She snapped.

In my defense, I was only thirteen.

Cut to 2015.

I am now a writer. I am having a discussion with one of my closest friends (also a writer) on how arranged marriages have ruined our society. Our personal experiences, and that of many close to us have completely transformed our fundamentals. We are together working on an article titled, “Why arranged marriages should be banned in India?”

We ask some men who are in their late 30s, early 40s. They got married early in life, when their personalities had not even evolved fully (in their own words). Their wives are of their parents’ choice, who take care of the family well. But, they badly regret their decision. They were too young to know what they wanted then. Over the years, they have realized that they don’t have much intellectual compatibility with their spouse. (They don’t mind discussing other compatibilities / lack of it but we restrict the conversation. This is from the men’s point of view, I am sure their wives would have their side of the story. Or maybe they are too busy taking care of their kids and in-laws to give their views on marriage to random women…).

Some excerpts from the draft of our article:

1. Arranged marriages promote the archaic caste system. One of the main reasons parents want to arrange their children’s match is to ensure that they marry someone from a similar culture background – caste, community, language.

2. Arranged marriages do not leave any time for people to date and get to know each other. Some arranged marriages may work. But is that logic enough to do something as illogical as marrying somebody you barely know?

3. Do arranged marriages actually work or people stay in them because they are stuck and have nowhere to go to? The reasons these marriages work may be the same for which they happened in the first place – social / family pressure.

We even thought that just like dowry, there should be stringent laws that punish people who arrange marriages.

At this point we realized maybe we should not publish this article…

Present day

Dating is on rise in India like never before. In my previous office, I hardly knew anybody who had an arranged marriage. On the other hand, there are others who want a love marriage, but cannot find anybody. Or their relationships don’t work out and they get tired of trying.

Relationships not working out or not finding anybody is nothing shameful. Rather, something natural and universal. I remember the episode from Friends, where Rachael turns 30. She is already depressed because she is getting old and still single. To add to it, Chandler gives her a card calling her grandma. She then decides that all she needs is a plan, and comes up with a reverse calculation:

“I should have the first one (kid) by the time I’m 35.
Which gives me five years.
If I want a kid when I’m 35, I don’t have to get pregnant until I’m 34.
Which gives Prada four years to start making maternity clothes.
But I want to be married for a year before I get pregnant.
I don’t have to get married until I’m 33.
That’s three whole years.
Wait a minute, though.
I’ll need a year and a half to plan the wedding.
And I’d like to know the guy for a year, year and a half before we get engaged.
Which means I need to meet the guy by the time I’m 30.”

We Indians take this calculation pretty seriously. While Rachael had calculated the age where she wants her first child to be 35, we probably take it at 25. And the countdown begins…

The other view – in support of arranged marriages

Why wait for something that may or may not happen when we can arrange our destiny? What if it gets “too late”? Too late meaning inability to have kids. What if there would be a dearth of single people in the opposite gender as we age – so we may lose out on that precious chance of finding any companion. Plus, who will remain single in India after a certain age? Only people with previous marriages?

So, in order to prevent such a “disaster” in the lives of their loved ones, well-wishers arrange their matches. Compatibility, attraction (What’s that got to do with marriage?) are theoretical concepts that anyway fade with time. It is all about compromise, right?

(PS: I do not support this view)!

Dating and arranged marriages

Modern India seems to be enjoying both sides. People are dating. If it doesn’t work out, there is always have a “back-up” option.

Dating is complicated to begin with. We don’t know where it is going. But in India, to add to the uncertainty of the relationship working out is the possibility of the boyfriend / girlfriend conveniently getting into an arranged marriage the moment clashes / boredom creeps in.

A man may allegedly dump his girlfriend to marry someone who is a more appropriate “caregiver” fit to his family, caste and language compatible. A woman may find an arranged match who may be better suited to make her more secure financially. These are ofcourse stereotypes. Sometimes, people just don’t have the heart to go through the pain of another break-up so they just give up on the thought of “looking out” completely. They want to make sure this time around marriage happens. Either way, modern day arranged marriages do involve some amount of dating, and getting to know the person. A lot of them are facilitated through matrimonial websites.

Can I really judge them, in the age of dating apps?

How do people in other parts of the world survive without well-meaning family members, distant relatives and neighbors finding them a match?

If as a culture we were into dating (and not arranged marriages), wouldn’t we end up finding someone or another? Or atleast continue to look? If only there was no make-believe time bomb ticking away…

I don’t really have a conclusion to this post. I did not publish my original article “Why should arranged marriages be banned in India”, as I felt it was too prejudiced, and offensive to most people I know. Plus, if something is working for someone, do I have a right to judge?

I just wonder sometimes, how our society would be without it..

Where we are not told that we will end up alone and miserable, if we don’t marry ASAP..

Where we could date, with no age barriers and judgment…

Where companionship is not about producing healthy children together…

Where we are given time to really figure out what we want from our lives…

But What About Men? Not All Men!!

Every time I write an article, I receive some personal messages and comments from men:

But what about the men?

Your articles are biased…Not all men are like that.

One guy I know even went to the extent of saying that he feels “discouraged” to be good to the women around him – dropping girls home after a party, not passing lewd remarks on scantily dressed girls in a pub, because he felt that men no longer get any “recognition” for being good in India, thanks to the “feminist wave”.

When women send me their stories and experiences, they are very elaborate and specific. They tell me EXACTLY what it is that is bothering them – whether it is pressure of getting married, struggle to manage home and work along with expectations of in-laws, lack of support from husbands etc. When men send me messages, they are usually just one liners – What about men? Not all men!!

I really cannot write a full article based on that! I write about women’s problems based not only on my own personal experiences, but also experiences shared by women, both known to me in personal life, and unknown to me, who have connected with me in the blogosphere. If a man would actually send me a personal story, about the injustice that he is facing because of society, I will care to write about it (believe me). I am also very much interested in knowing what are the issues faced by men.

Feminists are not men-hating, bra burning, home-wrecking women, provided we care to understand what the whole movement is about. I am in no way saying all men are bad, and all women are good. But I want to tell the men the following:

I have been groped in a crowded public place..

I know a girl who was abused by her relative as a child.

I know of an educated woman who was made to abort a girl child.

I know a former colleage who suffered sexual harassment at work..

I know quite a few women whose husbands have hit them.

I know of women who have been raped by their husbands.

I know of women who could not do MBA because they were told if they don’t marry soon, they would end up alone..

I know of women who spent most of their late teenage years and early adult life studying hard, but gave up their careers for children (They may still have a job, but not a career).

Many married women I know, are expected to take care of household chores, and cook / clean before and after working hours.

Most of the weddings I have attended, are funded by the bride’s side of the family. There may additionally be a car or cash gifted out of “love” as well.

Please ask the women you are close to, if any of the above has happened to them. Maybe every woman you know, will say yes to atleast one of the above.

So, next time I write an article from a woman’s point of view, please do not undermine it by saying “What about men?” Don’t make everything about men…

I get it. Gender stereotypes damage everybody. It is not benefiting anybody. Men who want to leave their jobs to study or work on a start-up or stay-at home dads feel the pressure of society to “provide”. Men get abused too but cannot tell anybody for fear of being ridiculed..I know that some women are filing false dowry cases, and bringing about shame to the ones who actually need the laws (more on that in a separate article)…

Please share such stories with me, if it has happened to you or somebody you know. I will be happy to publish it. But please don’t just say “Not all men!” Not all men are bad. We never said that!! But yes, all women are suffering, in some way or another, just because we are women. Instead of getting defensive, acknowledge the problem, and work towards making things better.

1. Next time your friend says that she is afraid to take a cab late at night, don’t tell her that the city is safe and she is unnecessarily panicking. It is not. Understand that she lives in fear..

2. Stop forwarding those sexist jokes on WhatsApp! They are not harmless and certainly not funny. Especially the married men jokes that I hate. These jokes only support that idea that women are objects to laugh at. A male friend of mine sent me the following joke:

Jet airways launched a scheme where a husband can take his wife free on their business trip.
After big Success of the scheme.
Jet Airways sent letters to all wives asking about their experience?
99% wives replied
What scheme??
Which trip??
and When was it??

Do married men really have women throwing themselves at them? That women will jump at the first opportunity to travel with men who are not their husbands? Is cheating a joke? What if I edited this joke:

Jet airways launched a scheme where a wife can take her husband free on their business trip.
After big Success of the scheme.
Jet Airways sent letters to all husbands asking about their experience?
99% husbands replied
What scheme??
Which trip??
and When was it??

Is it funny anymore? Do we circulate jokes like this? I guess because women don’t get to go on business trips (sarcasm!)? Or maybe society does not consider it acceptable that wives could cheat on their husbands, and then laugh about it too!

3. Don’t just support women empowerment on social media, or in discussions where women are present. Apply it in your daily life. If your friend is maligning a woman’ s character, ask him to shut up. Even if there are no women around to applaud you.

4. Don’t be proud of yourself because you “allow” your wife to work, or visit her parents or go out with her friends. You don’t have any authority to allow her to do anything. You don’t own her.

5. If you genuinely care about women, and treat the women in your life well, they will respect you and appreciate you. Don’t get offended by every “feminist” article. They are very much needed, and are here to stay.

You continue to be the good person you are..