The legend of the frustrated, old, spinster / divorcee

This is going to be a confused post.

Even before you start reading, I would like to apologize that I have started writing, but I do not have my thoughts organized under one subject. Basically, this post is about women’s views on other women, their choices and lifestyles.

1. Widows are humans and have needs

I stumbled upon an article recently. A widow with a grown up son writes about how she has “needs”. She says that she may choose not to remarry for various reasons but does that necessarily mean that she does not have any desires also?

I absolutely loved her brave and honest article. At first, I thought that it would be some anonymous post, by an author who is hiding her identity and yet talking about empowerment. But no, it was from a real person – a courageous woman who said what so many would not have guts to say. If we have more people like her, maybe our society will change.

Another woman’s views on widows having needs

I also started reading the comments on the article. One lady commented the following:

“Yes its ok to have physical intimacy but With a willing partner for a widow taking due care it doesn’t destroy any home if the wife comes to know of that. I have a widow doctor friend who had same needs but she has broken three homes of her male colleagues by having extra marital affairs……

I have strong views on infidelity. It is completely unacceptable. I would never get into an “affair” with a married man. Nevertheless, I would like to say this to the lady who has commented:

The widowed woman did not break the homes of her three male colleagues. She was not having an extra marital affair. She was single. (No I do not support what she did). But the point is, it is the MAN who was married, who made the choice to cheat on his wife and sabotage his relationship. So, stop blaming the other woman!

Her second comment was as follows:

“……If sex was destined to be there in the life of this writer, God will send her a partner who will marry her, else there r so many risks involved in having that With multiple partners or unknown men.”

Her views reminded me of an episode of the TV series, Balika Vadhu. Sugna (one of the characters in the serial) had become a widow at a young age. Her Dadisaa (grandmother) was forcing cruel and inhuman rituals on her. When Sugna’s parents pleaded her to have mercy on the poor girl, the grandmother said that this was her fate…If God wanted her to be happy, he would not have taken away her husband. God destined to make her a widow, it is not like she (Dadisaa) was making this happen.

Sadly, a lot of regressive, controlling people feel that they have a right on somebody’s life as if they are carrying out God’s plan. No, God did not want her to be unhappy. People did!! Ordinary mortals who like to control other people’s lives!

2. The frustrated old spinster / divorcee

The other day, my friend was telling me that I must get married. She said that women who remain unmarried / divorced / grow into “frustrated, old, spinsters”. She gave me an example of her neighbor, a 55-year-old female professor who is always angry.

This is not the first time that I have heard stories about the “frustrated, single, old woman.” These legends are passed down by other woman. Personally, I see a lot of married women, and women with toddlers who seem very irritable all the time. I see them tired, exhausted, and perpetually yelling. Nobody says things like “Married women are so frustrated. Women with little children are always yelling.”

We accept that as normal human beings, they have a right to be angry sometimes. They have justified, valid reasons for their emotions. But single women? Their very existence probably makes them angry!!

3. I don’t want to be unmarried by the time I am your age

Last week, in office a young girl (21-22) year old joined our table (group of women in late 20s). I don’t remember how the conversation started about age, but she randomly mentioned how none of us are married despite being much older than her. One of my colleagues laughed and said thanks for reminding us. The young girl went on to say that she would get married in the next couple of years because she does not want to be “like us” – old and married.

I asked her why does she feel so. Is marriage an achievement? She said yes. My other colleagues then told her that I am a writer and that she would probably get featured in my next article!! This made her guarded and she quickly changed her statement. But the damage was done…

FYI this young woman has no professional qualification, nor does she intend to opt for further studies. Yet, she felt that it is okay to insult women who are much more well educated, and successful than her because they are still unmarried!

I ended the conversation saying that I don’t know what is the future of the country, if this is how young girls think.

Moral of the story

I really wish that the society would stop being so unkind to women who are widowed, unmarried, divorced – single for whatever reason. For some, it is their choice. For others, it may be circumstances. Either way, it is nobody’s business to judge her. Yes, she may be angry sometimes. Because she is human. Not because she does not have a permanent man in her life. Please don’t judge her lifestyle – whether it is her drinking, smoking or “affairs”. Yes, judge her smoking out of concern for her health, not as a benchmark of her morals and character. The alleged, immoral “affair” also takes two people. Don’t just blame her.

And lastly, life changes constantly. I want to ask the women who are so judgmental of these single women, what if they (God forbid) are ever on this side? Can they imagine their life in such a situation?

Please stop spreading the legend of the angry, frustrated, single, old woman. It is as stale, absurd and regressive as the witch tales!

Husbands are a liability for working women

A married, working mother of two has asked me to write an article on how husbands have become more of a liability for working women. Based on her experience, and that of most married women she knows, she has sent me a list of ways in which her life and her husband’s life has changed after marriage. I have tabulated her list below.

Even before you read this, my apologies to the good husbands / fathers out there. I personally know a lot of men who share all the responsibilities. So please do not get offended by this. It does not apply to you. For parents of such men, you have done a good job raising your son right. And finally to the wives of these husbands, I am happy for you!

Now for all the men who are described as below, please read this and be considerate to your poor wives!

[table id=1 /]

I had ended this article here originally. But seeing the comments on Facebook, I thought I need to write more in order to make it balanced.

I know that not all men / women are the way described in the table. This was based on the reader’s experience. The problem lies with the expectations of the gender roles in India. I would like to share the experience of a close friend of mine who was struggling in her new marriage, managing home and office simultaneously. She was being judged by her in-laws, her husband being absolutely insensitive to the pressures she was facing. Her husband’s salary was now being spent exclusively on the home loan that he had taken before marriage. Her salary was spent on paying for rent, and every other household expense. She would come back home to a grumpy husband and in-laws who felt she focused “too much” on her job and did not take care of their needs. Her mother-in-law told her that she is being “allowed” to work for her “social life”, that does not mean she can neglect the household work.

The girl went to a counselor, to seek some help in saving her marriage. She told the counselor that it is unfair that both the husband and wife are sharing the finances and only she is expected to do the household work. Sharing the the exact conversation that took place between the girl and the therapist.

“Why do you work?”

“For my financial independence.”

“So, if you were a millionaire, you would not work?”

“I would probably still work, because I like to. For my own confidence, intellectual stimulation etc.”

“So you are working for yourself basically. Your mothers, grandmothers did not work. It was their primary responsibility to take care of the household. Your husband and in-laws are allowing you to work, for your own enjoyment. The least you owe them is to ensure that their needs are taken care of. You can work as long as you take care of the house and them. I am also a working woman. If my husband wants food at 3 am, I get up and cook for him. From where did you get the idea, that if you work in office for your ego, he should also work in the house?”

And this was a certified therapist who does marriage counselling!! We can only imagine the mentality of an average household. A woman who works is made to feel guilty or grateful. A man who does household work or takes care of the child is applauded for “helping”. It is because of this inequality, that I feel compelled to share these articles.

I only feel resentment towards my in-laws and husband. There is no love left..

A distraught reader has shared her story. Although this article is inspired by her e-mail, I have written it in first person, and it includes my personal views.

I had a love marriage. We both belonged to different castes. I really liked him. I thought since he likes me enough to convince his parents for the marriage, he would support me all my life.

Some things went wrong here and there in the wedding, as we did not know the rituals of the other caste well. This caused constant disapproval and taunts from my in-laws who ensured that my family and I were made to feel worthless about the incompetency of organizing a wedding. Whether it is a love marriage or an arranged marriage, a newly married couple is trying to adjust to each other. Living with a person is difficult, and we were just getting started to get used to each other’s likes, dislikes and lifestyle. I wish people understood this, and left us alone instead of sabotaging our relationship from Day 1.

Nobody likes to hear things against their family. If somebody in school, college, office, streets spoke ill of my family I would have felt like punching them, and shut them up. But this is marriage, and I am a woman. So, what I must do instead is smile at them, remain quiet, polite and calm, serve them, take care of every need of theirs and not show any sign of discomfort and complaint. My parents are ignored and insulted as per the likes of my in-laws. My husband never calls my parents, unless I force him to although my life revolves around taking care of his parents.

I follow a daughter-in-law manual customized by my mother-in-law. It includes getting up at a certain time, cooking to the tastes of different individuals, praying to a certain idol, washing hair on a certain day and any other ritual which they may consider necessary for survival. Yes, I say survival because if I deviate from any of the above, it may result in threats to terminate the marriage!!

My husband is currently working in another city. Should I take up a job in that city and move with him, or continue living in my hometown are all decisions that are taken by my in-laws. It feels awful to be continuously controlled by somebody else. When I try to say something, I am shamed for being disrespectful, rebellious, for overreacting and being too sensitive.

My in-laws and husband are not happy with me. They feel that I talk to my mother much too frequently and that I have not truly considered them my own. I wish my husband understood that for me to feel included in his family, I must first feel included in his life. And that will not happen unless he shows some support and affection towards me.

Ever since I was little, I was told that getting married is important from my security. That a girl cannot live her life alone in this big bad world, and she needs someone to protect her. I guess I am secure, I live with people, so no outsider can come inside the house and attack me. As secure as a bird in a cage, or a criminal in jail.

But what is my crime? No matter how much I try I am told that I am a miserable failure. If my parents treated my husband the way his parents treat me, he would have never seen their faces again. But, here I am being ill-treated yet running after all of them and struggling to make everything right. But they are what’s wrong, so nothing will ever change.

I only feel resentment towards my husband and in-laws. There is no love left.

If Grandma could choose

My story that won ‘Muse of the Month’ on Women’s Web:

The cue for this month was from the movie Queen, in which Kangana’s reel granny tells her that instead staying back in the hotel and watching TV and feeling bad for herself, she should go out and meet people, go sight-seeing…who knows she might find someone interesting too!

Read more:

I never promised to marry you!

It was a regular night at Hard Rock Café. Ashish and Rehan were hanging out. Every Friday these two would catch up here (except ofcourse when they were with their girlfriends). Ashish had been dating Sanaya for the past 10 months.

She was a single mother with a nine-year-old daughter.

“So where is Sanaya this weekend
,” asked Rehan.

“She is travelling to Delhi for a wedding.
” Said Ashish.

“Oh, so no action this weekend!”
winked Rehan. “When are you telling her about Avanti?”

“I will now, once she is back”.

“Hahha, hope she doesn’t get clingy and start blackmailing you,”

“Nah, I never promised to marry her! If she expected something more, her fault!”

For the first time, Ashish’s life was going perfect. He was settled in his career, and had just been promoted to Senior Project Manager. Ashish was always the geek in school and college. He envied other guys as they went out with the hottest girls with the shortest clothes in the biggest cars.

It took him a decade since then, but here he was living the dream! A good house, a good car and a girlfriend his friends drooled at. Somebody has said it right, women are like wine, they get better with age. At 41, Sanaya had the body to die for. Ashish had joined the gym to get in shape to impress women. But how did he get lucky enough to woo the gym owner, the most sought after Sanaya Sarin, his friends still wonder?

Ashish’s parents were visiting from Dhanbad. He must get married by the end of this year, his mother had announced. He was turning 32, high time. Ashish had told his mother he wanted a girl who is fluent in English and well-educated but not career minded. She should be able to bend as and when required for family. Avanti was perfect. Fair and slim, 23 year old with a degree in sociology. Avanti and Ashish had been talking on the phone for over two months. When he had met her in Dhanbad along with her family, he knew she was the one. Young, innocent, pretty, traditional small town girl just the way he liked. Always marry a girl who is much younger, so you can mold her your way, his mother would say.

The Roka had been fixed for November. It was still three months away! Ashish had been showering Avanti with presents. He loved pampering her. Avanti never confessed her love for him, though. Must be shy, he thought. Unlike these confused, Westernized city girls with no values!

Back in Bangalore, Sanaya had been hounding him with her phone calls and texts.

“Please Ashish, come back. I really love you!”

Ashish had never promised to marry her. Where did she get the idea that this would be something long term? All women are the same, he thought. He did not want things to end so nasty with Sanaya but she was behaving like a needy psycho now.

“I am not the first man in your life, anyway so don’t tell me you can’t handle this!”’
He texted back after some more ugly exchange of messages.

Sanaya was eating up so much of his time and energy that he did not even get time to buy an outfit for the Roka. He selected a blue sherwani, Avanti’s favourite colour. He also bought a necklace for her.

Finally, it was the big day. Even though it was not such a big function, some of his friends had still made to Dhanbad. Ashish was looking just like Hrithik Roshan, his mother said. His friends were already drunk and dancing. Avanti’s family was late much to their surprise. The girl’s side is supposed to host, how can they arrive after the groom?

Avanti was not picking up her phone. She must be still at the parlour. Ashish’s father got a call following which there was a lot of commotion. Ashish’s mother almost collapsed. What the hell was going on, did something happen to Avanti?

“Beta, Avanti has eloped with her boyfriend!”

________________________________________________________________________________
Three weeks had passed. Ashish was back to Bangalore. To say that he was shocked was an understatement. How could she? He was so good to her… If she did not want to marry him, why did she talk to him, meet him, and agree for the Roka? She was playing with his feelings all this time. He was heartbroken and humiliated.

He had been wanting to contact her, but had restrained himself. But today as he saw her whatsapp DP, smiling as if nothing had happened, he could not hold himself back.

“You, bitch!” he typed and pressed send.

He kept waiting to see when the ticks would turn blue but she did not come online. He does not remember when he passed out, the drinks were too much.

Next day at work, there was a flash on his phone. Whatsapp message from Avanti:

“Mind your language, you idiot.
And FYI, I never promised to marry you!”

Ashish was fuming. Look at the nerve this woman had! Another notification came. What else does she want to say?

It was a message from Sanaya.

“You are such a loser! I deserve better.

Why there was nothing holy about this matrimony

This is a true story although names have been changed.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

How much is your budget? asked Mr. Prakash.

I can arrange for 4 wedding functions, expenditure on arrangements 30 lakh, additionally I would give jewelry to my daughter worth 15 lakhs, replied Mr. Kashyap.

Mr. Prakash: Okay. We are very liberal people. We don’t believe in dowry. We just want grand wedding functions. After all, we have some status in society.

Mr. Kashyap: Yes, ofcourse, it is our pleasure and pride.

Mr. Prakash: You could give 6-8 lakhs cash also, or a car. After all it is for your own daughter. We are not those dowry types. We don’t want anything….

This was the first meeting between Mr. Prakash, father of Akash and Mr. Kashyap, father of Kriya. Six months later, Akash and Kriya were married.

Akash and Kriya were the youngest in their family and had been spoilt badly. Kriya had to move cities and change jobs to join him but Akash and his family were brutally insensitive to the what she was going through. While Kriya was trying to transform herself to a good homemaker, and manage a new job in a new city, Akash was too oblivious to her struggles. He wanted a good looking, presentable, intellectually stimulating and earning partner (the exact opposite of what his mother) who should behave and treat him like his mother.

A man like Akash had never had a long- term relationship in life and was not capable of being in a marriage. But the advantage of arranged marriages is that everybody ends up getting married! Even people who would not even survive an entire date.

Akash was the youngest brother who at an age close to 30 was showered with money from his elder brothers and parents and in return he used to obey everything they said. Kriya practically got married to a 14 year old man-child. The wife of Akash was also expected to an obedient servant who would pay her salary to her in-laws for providing her services. Her mother in law could have been a caricature like the evil, exaggerated ones they show in television. But she was not fictional. She was very much real, and unfortunately the dictator of Kriya’s life.

Akash and Kriya never got along. Akash along with his parents and brothers abused her verbally throughout on her failure to be a the ideal bahu (doormat).

Kriya was not the subservient kinds and was vocal about what she felt was right. Akash who was initially verbally and emotionally abusive soon became physically abusive too. His family did not care about Kriya but they were afraid that Kriya and her family could file a case of dowry and domestic violence against them at any time.

The family thought of a plan. They went out of their way to send their useless, good for nothing Akash to do Masters in the US, hiding the plan from Kriya until the last minute. The first part of the two-fold plan was to leave Kriya all alone for a year and a half as a punishment. Second part was that if the couple gets settled in the US, Kriya who would have been miserable and alone for a year would become financially dependent, away from her family and friends’ support system and therefore would break down and be easily controlled.

Kriya asked for a mutual consent divorce immediately. She did not file any criminal cases because Akash and his family had threatened to prolong the divorce process. She did not take a penny of alimony. While she was taking this step, people warned her that marriages are made in heaven. Once she is married, no matter what she has to make things work out. There is no other option. And how will becoming a divorcee help her anyway? She thankfully did not listen to anyone and was strong with her decision.

Kriya is divorced now. She is happy after getting rid of the garbage from her life.

Kriya’s marriage was not made in heaven. It was made by a Mr. Kashyap and Mr. Prakash whose conversation started with “How much is your budget.” Mr. Prakash for whom his son was an investment, and his greed was a privilege he was not interested in forgoing. Mr. Kashyap was following tradition and was mentally prepared for this moment since 25 years ago when the doctor had announced “It’s a girl.”

Kriya got no alimony. Yes all the men who cry about women getting alimony, please increase your general knowledge. Hindu marriage act does not grant any automatic alimony. Cases have to be filed, and litigation goes on for years if there is no agreement between parties. A lot of women choose to walk out with zero alimony because they don’t want to prolong the litigation. They don’t care about money, and are just happy to get their life back.

Abusive men and their families can go to any extent and their life revolves around planning things to torture the victim and yet keep themselves secure legally. Please get out of such relationships immediately. It is not worth even though society may tell you that once married, you should “adjust”. You can choose to remarry or stay single, your choice. But why let yourself be treated this way and put up with such horrible people who don’t deserve you?

Self-love is the most underrated love. We are never taught about it. It is something we learn when we live with people who are beneath humanity. We may not punish them legally. We don’t know if karma works or if God will ever punish them. But what we can do, is not punish ourselves.

She saved her marriage. But what about her life?

Would like to share the story of a family friend, changing the names for protecting their privacy.

Mr. and Mrs. Agarwal arranged the marriage of their daughter, Purvi to Anil. It was a lavish wedding, just the way we like it.

Within the first year of marriage, it was detected that Purvi had a cyst in the ovary. Anil and his parents complained that they had been deceived into marrying a ‘defective’ girl who was not good for doing any household work. Purvi along with her parents were taunted for hiding her condition prior to marriage. Her parents explained that they themselves did not know. Why would they not treat her daughter and instead marry her off, if they had an idea. She was their beloved princess after all. But it was of no use.

Purvi was operated. But she continued to be in pain. Few more visits to the doctor and some tests revealed that she was suffering from cervical cancer.

Chemotherapy started. Purvi was in terrible pain. She used to wash her own clothes, cook, clean and even go grocery shopping. She was just like an any other Indian daughter-in-law, the expectations, the taunts, the humiliation were not spared. The fact that she was suffering from cancer did not matter. Empathy and care was too much to ask for.

Her parents would come to visit at times and stayed with her. Anil’s parents had a list of grievances from the good for nothing daughter in law – how she sleeps too much, is always tired, does not cook and clean well. They were also disgusted with the fact that her parents came and stayed with them shamelessly during the chemo sessions.

Purvi’s parents were also not able to understand how grave the situation was. They were hoping their daughter would get better. One of their friends suggested that they bring her daughter to their home, in another city for the treatment. But the thought of the married daughter not staying with her husband was unthinkable. They did not want her marriage to break-up. It was a new and delicate relationship and they did not want to aggravate the already tensed situation by hurting her in-laws.

Finally, Purvi’s mother mustered some courage to have a candid chat with her doctor.

“When will my daughter fully recover?”

“There is nothing that can be done now Ma’am. I am sorry.”

Purvi’s parents took her daughter to their home, by humbly requesting her in-laws that she has become a burden on them, and that they volunteer to take care of her.

Purvi died within six months. Her husband and in-laws did not bother to visit her at the time of her death or at the funeral. However, Anil received the sum under the life insurance policy in Purvi’s name. After all he was the lawfully wedded husband. Till date, Purvi’s jewelry is still at her in-laws’ home. Her parents feel that they don’t care about materialistic possessions when the most precious part of their life is gone.

When I imagine Purvi struggling from cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and trying to please her husband and in-laws, physically torturing her already weak body, I feel pained. She was trying to save her marriage, more than she cared about saving her life. Nobody could save her from cancer probably, but she could have lived the last couple of years of her life in peace with loved ones, and not inhumane and greedy people who just viewed her as an incompetent maid.

I do not understand what is this pressure in India for girls to stay in absolute horrible marriages. Why do we bring up our daughters with the mentality that marriage is the sole purpose of their life? What kind of fear / hesitation / respect stops parents from protecting their daughters from such evil people who think that their cancer suffering daughter should mop the floor more neatly? Because these unkind people happen to be her in-laws / husband?

Marriages are not made in heaven. They are made right here on earth. Purvi was not married to a God. She was married to a selfish, undeserving human – who did not love her or care for her.

It is okay to end a chronic marriage. It will not be the end of a daughter’s life. Sure, it will bring sadness. But not for the whole life. For some time. She will recover. She may find happiness.

As long as she is alive and healthy.

An Indian daughter-in-law is labeled uncultured and rebellious – Here is why

Experiences shared by several readers, friends and some memories from what seems like another life have compelled me to write this article. In India, a lot of daughers-in-law are made to feel rebellious and uncultured because they do not blindly follow tradition. In-laws get a lot done in the name of “culture” and “respect for elders”. The husband rarely supports the wife and sides with his mother. A Daughter-in-law (“DIL”) has shared the following ways in her mother in law (“MIL”) has exercised control in her life. This has resulted in a lot of unpleasantness and disharmony in her marriage and fights with her husband. Here is what I think about it.

1. Deciding when and for how long DIL visits her parents

Not letting a woman visit her own family is cruel and inhumane. No good can come out of this.

2. Taunting or forcing the DIL to pray

Nobody can pray on demand. A person who believes in God feels connected and does not need to practise religion. They may do so by their choice. Or not. The whole purpose of praying is to attain inner peace. The “religious” MIL who is constantly creating discord in the home by scolding the DIL for not praying proves the point that religion does not teach right from wrong!

3. Deciding what the DIL should wear

Especially at her own wedding or any other important weddings in the family. Again, nothing but control. No adult should be told what to wear.

4. Deciding which days DIL can wash her hair and the appropriate time to cut her finger nails

There were all kinds of traditions in the past which may have some logic at that point of time. Personally, I do not understand why I cannot wash my hair on a Tuesday or a Saturday. I respect everybody who does believe in this. I do not have a problem with those who do. My problem is with the people who force others to following illogical traditions and judge them as being rebellious for questioning it! Not washing the hair and not cutting finger nails in purely unhygienic! And NOBODY should tell us what we do with our bodies.

5. Deciding the name of grand-children, and whether or not they can attend western dance classes

Where does the interference stop?

I honestly do not see any logic in any of the above. What is sad is that the MIL tells her son that her sentiments are being hurt as a result of the DIL not respecting her wishes. The husband is happy to side with his mother and yell at his wife for not following his mother’s orders.

Wake up Indian men! What if YOU were asked to do the above by your MIL?

And no the DIL who refuses to accept the above is not uncultured or rebellious or lacks respect for elders. She is a normal human being with a brain of her own and not a robot who is programmed to follow instructions.

To all DILs who have been humiliated for not following tradition. Please don’t let yourself be bullied and put down. There is nothing bad about you. Your MIL is a control freak and your husband is spineless. Don’t let your parents ask you to “adjust”. There is nothing wrong with you. It is your husbands who needs to change and stand up for you. Husband may say that he cannot change his mother because she is old and set in her ways, so you should change. Again, there is no sense in this. She still seems strong enough to control you and ruin your happiness and wreck your marriage.

When will the MILs realise that they are ruining their children’s lives for the most immaterial things? They need to back off and stop poking their nose in their adult children’s lives. I understand they may have been treated like this by their MILs. And they may even consider themselves “too nice” compared to them. I have news for them:

Times have changed. DILs have stopped taking shit.

Disclaimer.

I know that a lot of MILs are not like this. And I am glad to know that. I am not trying to generalize. This article is based on a certain perspective shared by some readers.

Subsequently published on Women’s Web: Link

Present day matrimonial ad

tanu

Image source

We are looking for a very “adjustable” handsome “Biba Munda” (docile boy) for our lovely, confident, well accomplished and beautiful daughter, working as a senior executive in a reputable company. The boy should have been well schooled in Indian culture and should treat all elders in the family with respect. He should not have been involved in any relationships before his marriage, and his first should be to our lovely daughter. He must also enjoy a good reputation in his mohalla (neighborhood). After marriage, our daughter will not ever see her current boyfriends again.

If the need arises after marriage, the boy should be willing to give up his career and take care of the wife and children and bring up the children as successful people. With our daughter’s permission, the boy can occasionally go out for men’s only night outs, but only after finishing up all the household work and cooking dinner for the family.

Expensive gifts from boy’s parents to our family members are most welcome and actually expected on certain festivals. We shall welcome the boy to our family with open arms and treat him like our own son. All we ask for, is that he be subservient to us and never disrespect us in public or in private.

In our society, we do not appreciate the boys talking to strangers, especially ladies. We do not think that boys from good families should “mix’ with girls except for our relatives.

To respect and serve his in-laws will bring him good luck and prosperity since our aashirvaad (blessing) is very powerful. On an everyday basis, the boy should only go to sleep onlyafter all the family members are satisfied and have gone to sleep. My daughter is used to getting bed tea in the morning, and that is the first thing that the boy should do after getting up early in the morning. The boy should also attend all parent teacher meetings at school and help children with their homework.

Occasionally, guests will come to live with us and the boy should keep all of them very happy at all times. Our daughter likes to go to the gym and he should make energy drinks for our daughter and give it to her before she goes. The boy should also be very well versed with all the religious rituals and often visit the temple with his mother in law. Trust us, if the boy obediently does all this, we will bless him and he will “Doodho nahao, falo and phoolo“.

Believe us, he can do much more, because our daughter is the one who will work after marriage and the boy will just “sit at home” and he will “just” be a house husband. So, he can take care of all the shopping etc. Since we also want our daughter to pitch in, she can manage all the financial matters in addition to keeping a job where she will be forced to have coffee every one hour and chat at the water cooler because of work pressures. She will be very tired by the time she comes home because she will have to use her brain the whole day.
Expecting to hear back soon with a photograph of your son.

P.S.

Sounds ridiculous and unfair?

If you do not like the above ad, pause for a moment and think about the sacrifices which women make to keep the men folk happy. Let us be fair to women and have realistic expectations!

About the author:

Sunil Kakkar, an IIT graduate and a Computer Engineer, is passionate about writing poetry in his spare time. He writes romantic as well as social issues based poetry in Hindi, Urdu and English. Here is a link to his Facebook page.

Arranged marriage dating – the latest fad in India!

A dear friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, has written the following article – her views on arranged marriage based on her personal experience. I could relate to it completely. Hope everybody enjoys reading!
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AM Dating – Arranged marriage dating, is of late a fad among many Indian youths! The arranged marriage system is what makes Indian culture and tradition so unique. Over the years it has changed a lot and now it has become more westernized with the element of so called ‘dating’ being involved.

The word dating has a whole lot of connotations, construed differently by different individuals. This article is not women centric and its purpose is not to malign individuals of a particular nature. The reason I have written this article is to share my musings on this topic of arranged marriage dating as a person in the market myself.

My main source of inspiration has come from the guys I have encountered in this process and also from men and women who have faced similar characters and situations. My intention is not to find my better-half through this blog, but it will be a pleasant surprise if that happens! This article is for both men and women out there, who are seeking their soulmates.

From a high-level, the process of arranged union today, from a middle to upper middle class perspective can be described as follows:

Step 1: Registering on a matrimony site

There are many sites to choose from, the top ones being Bharat matrimony, Shadi.com, community matrimonials etc, counterparts of western sites e-harmony.com and match.com. But the principles of western dating are not applicable to Indian arranged dating. There is parental involvement and pressure, time factor to take ‘the decision’, horoscope-matching, auspicious timing for every milestone of the relationship, virtual reality of the game, the perception of the thin border between narrow and broad mindedness and various other limitations.

Step 2: Liking profiles and photos of suitors and matching horoscopes

The market has a lot to choose from. I call it the market, because choosing a spouse with certain attributes can be likened to choosing a car or a dress with X, Y, Z features for an occasion, except that the occasion is lifetime. The more the choices the more is the laid-back nature of the shopper as he/she may feel if it is not this one, there will be someone else. These choices unfortunately get limited by horoscope mismatches. Different astrologers and astrology software provide different matching criteria and results so the best matching case for me may end up being the worst for my prospect!

If I like Mr. X and he likes me and if both our astrologers give us the green signal, we move onto the next step that is dating! Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, blogs and other websites are great stalking tools that talk volumes about a prospect, something which even phone conversations that last for hours cannot provide. Birds of a feather flock together, so a prospect can be judged through his friends, family and relatives.

Step 3: Phone and other virtual modes of dating — the biggest flaw of our system!

Telephone is technologically the most useful device and I am grateful to Mr Alexander Graham Bell for inventing it! Phone connects and brings people miles apart together. This phrase has got stuck in our sub-conscious minds to such an extent that we try to achieve everything over the phone!

Mr. X, I who I AM dated on the phone sometime back, said he felt awesome chemistry with many girls over the phone. Then why didn’t he end up with one of them? Why is he even considering me? I secretly thought. He went on to say that he is wired to sense chemistry and compatibility over the phone even before meeting me. They say some men are pillars, others caterpillars. Mr. X was indeed a pillar and a caterpillar. Pillar, because he had most of the attributes I was looking for. Maybe he was a pillar too high to mount! A caterpillar, because he was way too slow in his approach and communicated just over the telephone, his favorite method. He was just not ready and did not feel comfortable to meet me or even Skype with me despite conversing for several months. He wanted it all on the phone. Alas! We parted ways!

Dating Mr. Y on Skype showed me our wavelength mismatches. Atleast Skype showed me that this would not work, which proved to be much better than talking to a faceless someone on the phone for an eternity! It might have worked had we met. But Alas! We parted ways!

I met Mr. Z who seemed fine over the phone, but we did not have any attraction but infact had repulsion and arguments over the meeting! He was not the guy which his profile spoke of and he was not the guy who he seemed to be on the phone and Skype. Atleast he was the bravest of them all as he had the courage to come out of the tele-world and meet me! But again! We parted ways! There were others too who did not cross significant milestones.

Step 4: If all goes well meet up, court and marry!

This is the best part- meeting a few times, getting engaged, courting for few months and finally tying the knots! After the ‘yes’ comes in, days fly by so fast making arrangements and preparations for the wedding.

My take 1. Arranged marriages are not for losers!

‘Shudh desi romance’, is a film which portrays the modern day Indian way of thinking about marriage and relationships. The hero in this film gets marriage jitters and runs away from his AM and opts for a live-in relationship. Such films which portray AM as terrifying must be slammed. AM should not be portrayed in this limelight. Many feel that it is for losers who failed to attract the cool ones out there! Nowadays there is less of the element ‘arranged’ in our weddings. It is more about choosing a partner you think you may fall for one day. This does not mean I am anti-live-in. This just means that I, despite the fact that I am a modern independent woman, prefer getting hitched the arranged way.

Education, work and being in the US has made me independent. The reason I am going in for AM is not because I am a sucker who did not find love, but because I consider it as a fun-filled challenge of getting to know an unknown someone from scratch, committing to each other and falling in love later.

It is an ordeal mainly for parents who go through tons of profiles, get them shortlisted though horoscope and various criteria set by us, the AM daters! It doesn’t end there, this is the beginning of talking endlessly to prospects, one after another, saying goodbye to a few, saying hi to the new till we get the proof that we have indeed found our soulmates!

My take 2. It just happens? Make it happen!

Love is not a fantasy. Sayings like ‘A goddess does not hunt for Mr Right, she attracts him’ and ‘Do not seek love, it will find you when you least expect it’, just do not seem to work much in the world of long distance and virtual dating. Prospects need to make a deliberate attempt to know one another, respect differences and overlook flaws. Getting involved and being vulnerable require courage and are not to be looked down upon. Vulnerability is the test that filters the worthy ones from the ones not worth fighting for. Pestering from parents is a major force which either pays off or snaps the so-called budding relationship.

Unless we live continents apart, then we can consider reaching to each other’s hearts through video chats before meeting but not through just phone. Only shallow conversations about day-to-day life, likes and dislikes, hobbies and general world topics can be had on the phone.

The game must move onto the real world ASAP! Live-dates provide the much needed level of comfort and pave the way for attraction, a broader context and deep conversations which can be subsequently had on the phone. Chemistry and compatibility which are proportional to physics are results of attraction. Both, physics and chemistry are essential for creating and sustaining the ‘spark’.

My take 3. Not interested in arranged marriage? Well, don’t register!

A humble request to daters out there – If you are not ready for marriage please stop the process right away! Delete yourselves from the matrimony sites. Shopping for the perfect match does not work when you are not a 100% into it. Do not do it for your parents or because people around you are getting hitched. Wasting time by shopping and trying out a list of people and giving false hopes and expectations is the most immature and uncultured thing of today. Don’t keep people guessing as well. If you do not feel a match would work in the long run, pull the plug on it as soon as such a thought hits you, preferably in the initial stages itself, rather than experimenting for ages.

If you want to be modern, date in-person, like in the west. Do not complicate matters by trying to achieve chemistry, compatibility and a lot more on the phone. A person who is scared to meet up, get involved or reluctant to reveal his countenance on video-chat, is simply not worth wasting time over. Slow, laid back individuals who take no responsibility or make no attempts to make it work must be avoided too. There is always a ‘next please’ in this game! As per Dante’s Divne Comedy, To reach Paradise, one goes through Inferno. Similarly the AM dater goes through many toads and ‘just-friends’ to get to her prince charming or to the princess of his dreams!