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Day 8: For the love of it! What the heck!


Oxymoron is sort of jilted. Pretty much like red wine spilled on the floor and mistaken for blood, wherein a little intensity mistaking it for love. Relationships are too much adoptive these days, pretty much like the dreaded word effortlessly flitted these days F for fuck, not literally, course. I mean, the L for Love. The reluctance to get out of our comfort for the fear of being zoned out to click the push button, saying Yes, we wanna explore with the relationships we make, the break-up phase and unloving to love again. You see, it’s an itsy bitsy like learning and mate, we need skills to love or being in a relationship.

Image credit: Google.

Everyone is on Tinder, nowadays! What the heck! Ok! Cupid! Speed Dating and right, not everyone but many of us swiping right and left for we are looking for something. A momentary kinda fling kinda one-night stand. Conversation over romance or relationships, any takers?! Everyone is bored of existence, job, routine sex-yeah you read this right, getting over an ex-looming at the back of the brain and desperate moment to tie the knot for whatever reason. You see, this comfort we prefer sink in and insecurity. I say, why marriage and not a live-in relationship, a love thrill adventurous journey ever ready to face yourself in the mirror, living on the edge, the cusp of love, serious relationship or a harmless thing, all interwoven.

It’s not about February 14 and read it in reverse for you to make the joy of moron capitalism, marketeers and malls selling you fake bullshit Valentine tale. Hey! I ain’t saying it coz am forever single, confused about ready to mingle and 10,000 silly questions raging in the mind. Am I look for a relationship? Hell! No! I am just incredibly blown about that thing called love which exists in various forms. Like Karan Johar would say, What the Love! I mean, where you find it! Not sold in the market place! A natural thing to put barriers and protect us from this virus. It’s Love and not Corona, baby. How many among us would leave everything and gobble free air all for the sake of love! I am not even making a point but wondering about the various shades of love. This heartbeat exists in many forms and except, we are not aware. Friendship is love, holding hands is love, intimacy is love, one-night stand is love. Yeah, don’t be such a prude.

The many ifs and buts have commonplace. What if it doesn’t work out? So, what! The next one might! Or, take it as an experience of the many relationships making the person, learning from the hurt, shed tears and walk out of it. No guarantee you shall walk out or be confined in a relationship unscathed. The shadow might lurk for a long time and ghosting emotions about unrequited or terrible breakup and praying to get out or fucking moving on. Is it worth it! Honestly, I don’t know about the perks and changing equation of a love affair. Perhaps, overthinkers should just close their eyes and brains to go with this flow of romance. But, please, no over romanticism, ideal sexualism and swiss alps romance and happy ending the Yash Chopra way.

I honestly feel that we make too much about love, pretty much like Karan Johar, the Chopra and SRK have screwed up love, not to say Hindi films. Nor is love Kabir Singh espousing beating a woman. Since when violence is alluring and sexy. Toxic can never be a sign of love. Why get in a relationship peeling our respective identities raw! And this entire compromising or kinda I love him and he will change coz loves me is all fucked up emotions.

The dichotomy of feeling and pent up emotions complete the love, wearing blinkers at times and the free flow of expressions seems choked. Like the mirror on Indian bikes, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. Love is often like this mirror we choose to see things. It’s our perceptions on the relationships we make or imagined in our minds. Valentine or not, there is no rush to get into something, unconvinced at times. Better still, just go with the flow. Such feelings can be half baked and pretty much like marriage or dating with everyone getting into the bandwagon. Just because the crowd is getting into something, I say just chill to go with the flow.

 

Love

V

 

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Day 6: Veiled love! Hail our imperfections in ‘perfect’ relations


Only if love could save us and sparkle magic in our contradictory thoughts! Love is no Valentine when everything is not about letting the hair down to pain the town of February red. After all, it’s the month of love.  How we overdo love that shall disappear in a couple of months or a year, loosening up and compromise we make in the name of this oversold emotions!

Image credit: Google/Her Interest.

Don’t get me wrong! I am a firm believer in love and as was speaking to a filmmaker friend during an interview this week, her reflection lent some perspective on how we need and should question the entire concept of perfectness. She also made a short film on the theme. An obstinate obsession to make our relationship work and the innate fear that nothing on earth should go wrong, portrayed on the outside how flawless our relationship is but behind closed door, fights get the better of us. Call it veiled love. Not that compromise is a bad thing or perhaps it is when we lose our individuality where external relations suffer and closing the door on everything or everyone just to be with the one.

Such love takes a toll on our relationship and cannot be called healthy. We are zoned out pretty much like the cramped space in Mumbai.  I see many among us who lost their individuality which is an extension of the self just to make the partner happy, unwilling to have sex when we don’t want, sacrifice the call of the long time’s friend or doing things to make the other happy.

Love should be free in my view if we truly love or else it’s just a compromise, cowered under fear to go silent when the other shouts. A question to people in serious relation, Will you have sex pressurized by your partner telling a refusal means you no longer love him or her? Blackmail is a term to describe such chemistry. There are insecurities and fear to fail among such relationships where growth is fettered. A healthy relationship should be about addressing the demons affecting both and hitting a dead end of it with frustration looming large. I honestly feel such an equation should be questioned, not necessarily called off where one partner or both should take a plunge on what’s not working. No! Intimacy doesn’t really solve the problem for there is always tomorrow right. It whittles down to psychology. While momentary orgasmic pleasure may work temporarily and not necessary all the time which should propel to question the relationship or choices made.

Our individualism and freewill reflected in the personality make for a successful equation. It’s not just about a single person but how we deal in our relationships, equipping the other with innate strength for two makes a team, isn’t it! In my book, individualism to nurture and develop character encompassing, health and successful partnership. Debates and dissent must be encouraged that helps to see various perspectives to help bridge distance to make partners grow closer to each other. That’s how the foundation of a successful marriage is built.

Over time, it’s only but natural for two people in love to see the side of the other coin, albeit conflict leading them to drift apart. That’s alright. At times, it’s okay to take a break from each other and come back strongly together. What’s the point of not experimenting and saying yes to every whim and fancy when our own mental health takes a toll not being able to express displeasure or conflict! Talk, talk and talk brings a sane solution on the table which, of course, refrain from making personal tirade but gently broaching the issue, pointing at things or lacuna that can help to weather the storm and give a new touch to relationships, hinging on a huge ground covered.

Listening matters more than anything and often couples only speak but hardly listen to the other’s perspective. Gently explain without getting hyper on how important it is for each one of you to assert their freedom and it goes a long way to create mutual respect for a relationship that cares always need to make way for individualism rather than one-way traffic. There is no point in sticking like glue where there is no space for dialogue and this whole perfection surely kills the spark between a couple.

With Love

V

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The Fuck It List!


Scrap the travel list! Screw the To-do list before I die. Anyone will die someday and you are not doing anything better or worse. Bucket List! As blase as those kinda lists sounds as if conquering the world or climbing Mount Everest or selfie with arms thrust wide open at Niagara Falls, it just doesn’t help and looks like a chimera of love and lust unfulfilled.

I need Fuck-It-List. Someone just wrote on Twitter and think it makes perfect sense as we grow younger in reverse. The things that we keep inside and speaking diplomatically not to offend someone who might be an ass coz someone’s someone relation is cool. Get read of all the fears boiling inside us. I was just watching Osho’s Video on fear speaking on how we let the mind enslave the heart. A concept easy to dissect, I guess. The mind plays it safe while the heart wants to speak the truth.

Speak Up has never been my forte and if it does, I place a limit on it. The time has come for us to express who we are as a person and putting a diplomatic front shows our deep insecurities and eludes away from who we are as an individual. We become incomplete as a person. How we run away from the individual and live up to deep fake, albeit wearing a social mask in real. Trust me, the Fuck It list is needed more than ever and the more we bottle things inside, the more it afflicts us, the pent up anger and suppression.

The taboo subject you wanna speak, clamor for it loud and clear. Something I’ve been doing on social media speaking about sex, something that a part of me would hesitate doing and wondering about people tag! But, then, people don’t own our lives. Surprised at how people can suppress energy, we are sex and sex is you and me. Why choke the real and brush it under the carpet with log kya kahenga, tauba tauba or shame. Own up to beliefs. And those who can’t handle the truth, just fuck it.

I am an irreligious person. I love the festivities. There are differences between the two. Rituals play no part in life, though a part of me makes the Maa who is very religious happy and takes part in the ceremonies conducted at home. One thing that gets to me is prejudice, racism or discrimination against others. Be ready in owning up who we are as a separate entity.

One thing I need to work up is about being too conscious of what others think about me as a person and it whittles down to self-validation sought. Small efforts are made but a huge chunk of work must be done to fuck it. The good boy image needs to be flushed out and ever ready to speak about caste discrimination and crime in terms of our attitude to homosexuals, gays, and lesbians. Taking a stand is very important in today’s life not only for us but for others.

Fuck the world. Be a rebel not just in the literal sense but real to live life on our own terms. Something which I always wanted to do and did to a certain extent but caught up with as we age syndrome. You know the shit of responsibilities, crap about life taking over us and hesitation screwing the mind. Defending our rights to be who we are and triumphing above ways of the world. Now, I say something that will shock! Who says that when you are past mid 30, the 40s and even 50s, cannot go back to college, take a new degree, party and date again! What are the odds of doing it and not actually! Still voices of society scaring us. You got the answer in case you still thinking and that voice of doubt larking inside the head.

Take risks and experiment with life. Let the fear pass within and take a breath. Travelling has always scared me. What if I am stranded without money. Fuck it. I repeat, once, twice and a thousand times. My life doesn’t belong to you for it’s mine solely. So what, I am without money! I shall be on an adventure spree. In my entire life, I never gave a hoot what others think about me and shall nod in agreement on bullshit but deep inside, listening to the heart. I believe in taking risks and slowing down somewhat, wondering whether I am doing things the wrong way. Hello, society! You always conjure risks. Don’t you! Personal growth doesn’t sit well with you, right!  Truth is society and folks are scared about us slaying and taking the world heads on.

Make no mistake. I have seen such folks and the moment I assert individuality, tricks in the book pulled to put me down and fetter my personal growth. Truth be told. The insecurity in such individuals shows and percolates for there is a sense of inferiority in them. My life is suddenly belonging to them. Fuck the world. They don’t wanna my personality to come alive and an inherent fear that bold decisions will make them redundant, reduced to oblivion.

The buzz word: The world will never want you to be You! Last question: The M fucking word is Marriage as if it’s a kinda trophy and end of the world. Armageddon being replayed in your life. I am resisting pressure from all quarters to getting hitched. You don’t owe anything to the world. It’s your money, savings, screw-ups, and fuck ups! For some, marriage is the end of the world and staking a claim to the jackpot of life. Marriage is not an end in itself. It’s all about your life and not about society’s bullshit they call marriage or living for the fact in a mirage of sort. Ask them, what happens after marriage! I bet, loss of words and throwing this entire conservative bullshit.

Time to give fuck ups to dim wits. We are growing old. I call it, getting younger in reverse. Time to put our Fuck it list and not the only one. Don’t give a fuck for it’s my resolution going beyond NY shit and all.

 

Love and fuck up

V

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Interview of author, Dr Rachna Arora: ‘Laws are not enough to protect rights of women…’


Dr. Rachna Arora is the co-author of the hard-hitting, thought-provoking and socially relevant scholarly book ‘Indian Women and The Shaadi Conundrum’ along with Deepika Sharma which discusses role and importance of women in marriage, challenges faced in a patriarchal society and how to make a marriage work as a two-way traffic. A psychologist in private practice, Dr. Arora is the founder of the online platform focusing primarily on women empowerment, yourcounsellingcorner.com. She also hosts several platforms on Skype video/voice chat and mail. She has been at the forefront to empower women which gel with her profession and believes that women should assert themselves to make empowerment a reality. Passionate about poetry on her personal blog, Dr. Arora writes self-help articles to empower, motivate and inspire women.

She is an inspiration to many and me. It’s very rare to come across such a gem of a person and in this interview done via e-mail, Dr. Arora discusses at length on burning topics such as equality, sex in marriage, rising divorce and what makes a successful marriage where she makes insightful observations.

You can check the book here. Along with Deepika Sharma, Dr Arora is also behind the website The Happy Women.

A woman should know her rights, be confident and empowered to voice out her opinion in a more assertive manner: Dr Rachna Arora

Dr Arora

  1. Your book, ‘The Shaadi Conundrum and the Indian women’ offer an in-depth analysis on various issues facing women such as the bride to be, caught in a patriarchal setup and longing for the husband’s unflinching support for equality in a marriage. What are the factors preventing women from getting an equal foothold in married life?

 There are many factors that prevent women from getting an equal foothold in married life. Ours is a patriarchal society, where women are constantly struggling with the issues of gender discrimination, inequality, bias, and stereotypes in all aspects of their (personal as well as social) lives. The expectations from men and women are very different where the latter are always stereotyped, judged and discriminated on the basis of gender.

 In our society, girls are conditioned from birth to be subservient to their future husbands and his family. It is taught that the ideal daughter-in-law is the one who takes care of everyone in the family and makes them happy. The culture of a bride coming to live in her in-law’s family is rooted in patriarchy, and all it does is to force the DIL to conform to the habits and expectations of her in-law’s family. She has to assume all household duties and domestic responsibilities and fulfill the role of a caregiver. Whether a woman is working or not, the household chores are deemed to be her duties, while nobody cares if the same is expected from a man.  There is always a pressure on her to adjust, follow, comply and obey everything that the in-laws and husband demand while ignoring and suppressing her likes and dislikes. Post marriage adjustments and pressure to fit into the image of ideal daughter-in-law eventually forces a woman to compromise on her self-respect and lose her identity, that further result in her lack of control in daily life with little or no involvement in decision making.

 Other reasons are low financial independence, expectations of dual responsibilities and depressed status in the family. In a family, women get second class treatment that makes them think that men are superior and it is a woman’s duty to serve men. Women do not get the same respect as men even if the women are highly qualified or are in a top class profession where they take critical decisions that impact the company’s operations. There are unjust expectations from women that result in a loss of independence. They cannot go out or meet friends and family without the husband’s or marital family’s consent. They are expected to sacrifice their career especially in a case where husbands work outside the city or country.  All these reasons give way to unequal footing for a woman in her married life.

 Moreover, the surrounding society mandates a woman’s obedience to her husband and her in-laws. Any disobedience would bring disgrace to both, the wife herself and her originating family, and might lead to the woman being ostracized and neglected by even her very own family and in her own home. This always makes a man superior and a woman submissive and never allows a woman to do things her way. With all these societal pressures, it becomes impossible for women to have an equal foothold in married life.

 But, here, I would like to add that now more and more women are taking a stand for themselves. Women are also moving away from the oppressive gender roles which required them to cook, clean, and shoulder every responsibility of the entire household. Now, more and more women are voicing against that regressive mindset. They don’t see their husbands as superior beings but treat them as equals. With education and awareness to back them, women are now breaking free of the rules that told them to stay quiet in front of a man. More and more women are becoming financially independent and don’t rely completely on their husbands, or anyone else, for survival. With this financial independence comes a stronger sense of self-confidence.

 If a woman encounters a relationship where she is told to conform to these archaic gender roles regardless of what she wants to do, she has to make the choice to say ‘no.’

  1. The issue of adjustment often crops up when the woman is the one to pull the plug while the husband seemingly faces no such thing. So far, why educated women cutting across social classes fail to adopt a practical outlook when her individuality is snatched the time she becomes a wife and daughter in law or her personal space is infringed, thus treating women as inferior beings?

 As I mentioned above, ours is a patriarchal society, where a majority of women are brought up and conditioned according to the stereotypical images and roles that discriminate between men and women. A woman is often raised up with the mind-set that once she gets married, she will have to adjust and sacrifice her needs in order to nurture and take care of the family and husband.  This gender-based discrimination creates a sense of fear and insecurity in women, making them psychologically weak. It also leaves a deep imprint upon a woman’s self-perception. They tend to internalize what society believes, imposes and dictates which results in low self-esteem. Due to these negative effects on their psyche, women feel incompetent to deal with unrealistic demands and expectations that are based on gender discrimination and stereotypical roles. A woman tries hard to fit into the mold created by society and refrains from going against those pre-defined roles due to the fear and insecurity of being rejected and disapproved. 

 All these reasons prevent a woman to take a practical outlook and refrains from voicing out for equal treatment and rights in marriage. The other major factor is the thinking of log kya kahegein (what people will say). Society plays its part by labeling a woman as a failure when she pulls the plug to marriage. She is scared of voicing out her opinions and expectations, as she believes that if she says no or expresses her opinion, she will be portrayed as bad bahu (daughter-in-law). That’s why most of the women try hard to fit into the image of good bahu and keep living life as inferior beings.

Other factors like the lack of support from parents, and society make it difficult for women to stand against unequal treatment. Our society looks down upon a woman who speaks her mind or expresses her opinions. Many women want to challenge this mind-set but the above-mentioned reasons and many more factors hinder her from adopting a practical outlook even when her individuality is at stake. Even well-educated and financially independent women go through this and are forcing themselves to live with it.

 3. You have referred to the Nielsen survey which is telling on how 87 percent women are prone to depression and 82 percent lack the time to relax. Moreover, the different case studies sadly show how women have very less say in decisions regarding their lives and on being made the scapegoat and the decisions taken by the groom are often tilted in favor of his family regarding her career choice. Do you think it’s the right time to bring a law to prevent such atrocity or the woman should be more assertive putting things in perspective before marriage or is there more to it?

 Definitely, a law will play a very big role in preventing any unjust treatment that women are subjected to, once they get married. Despite there are several laws in place in reference to women rights in India, the majority of women suffer in silence.

 So, what I feel is that only laws are not enough to protect the rights of women, rather it is the women who need to be more assertive to communicate before and after marriage. A woman needs to voice out what she wants from her life and communicate the same to the groom and his family. Parents need not make marriage a goal for daughters and women should also refrain from pinning all hopes from her partner-to-be.

 Parents should be mindful and conscious while raising their daughters so that they will grow up to be confident and empowered women, who will be aware of their rights and responsibilities and will not try to fit into the stereotyped image created by society.

 An approach to deal with this problem is provided in our book. We have dedicated an entire chapter, “Before You Say Yes”, in which we have suggested things that every woman need to consider before marriage and how the woman should go for marriage. A woman should know her rights, be confident and empowered to voice out her opinion in a more assertive manner, both in pre and post phases of marriage.

 We have also given tips and suggestions for women to cope up with the challenges of the married life and to self-empower themselves to live a happy and fulfilled life.

 4.  Sex remains an important factor for a healthy married life as rightly pointed out in the book. But, the dichotomy lies in the fact that in many bedrooms there is often a lack of sexual communications among couples that should go beyond having children. Also, how do you see recent surveys such as India Today special issue pointing out at how women demanding more in terms of pleasure or sexual experimentation can help in making a marriage blossom in a beautiful manner?

 Sex definitely plays an important role to make a healthy married life. Lack of sexual communications among couples is mainly due to lack of sex education and the topic itself being a taboo in our society. Women often refrain from taking initiatives. Even the educated women think that it doesn’t look nice if they talk more openly about sex. As mentioned in our book, “Many women in India seem to be in a denial mode when it comes to their sexual needs and preferences. They do not feel empowered to demand that the partner should provide pleasure in ways that they prefer.”

 I definitely see the survey as an eye opener for women, as sex is a necessary pillar of a healthy relationship, it makes the emotional connection stronger with their partners. So women should learn to embrace and express their sexual desires. Discussing and taking initiatives will definitely help a marriage to blossom in a beautiful manner.

 5. In our country, women are often treated as outcasts looking at female infanticide or sex selection at birth which should worry us all. Moreover, something which I feel very strongly and close to my heart is how women are treated badly during menstruation period where she is not allowed to participate in rites, for instance. Drawing on your professional experience, what do you think should be done to overcome such issues in modern India and how can we raise awareness where the odds are stacked against women?

 Even in modern India, women are still struggling with these age-old taboos and practices that are demeaning to them. The most important thing is to educate the society about such issues and bring awareness to common masses. To educate people about menstruation and eliminate the myths surrounding mensuration is very much needed. There should be an authentic source of information otherwise people will keep on passing the misconceptions and myths to the next generation.

 In the absence of proper educational material, girls get confused and become hesitant to talk about it. The taboo nature of the subject only makes the situation worse. So the most important step is to properly educate young girls about menstruation. It is must to provide accurate, accessible, and clear information.

 So what I feel is that we can overcome such issues and raise awareness in modern India through social campaigns. Social media has a great role to play in spreading awareness about menstruation. We need more social media campaigns to educate and challenge the stigma and taboos around menstruation.

 Empowerment of women through education and increasing their role in decision-making can also aid in overcoming the cultural taboos.

 6. One of the most interesting things in your book is the Dos and Don’ts for a happy and successful married life. Why do you think there is a lack of dialogues in a marriage where things are done from the point of view of the groom’s family when the irony and fact remain that a girl has left her family space to adapt to a new ‘social environment’?

 It is an irony in our society that a woman is expected to leave her home and things are done from the point of view of the groom’s family. The reason is somewhere the same, ours is a patriarchal society that gives this benefit to groom and his family over the bride and her family. Most of the people prefer to marry in a traditional way, with the consent and involvement of parents. Courtship periods are very minimal. In all this, girls are by far the most vulnerable party in a marriage, whether it is a fully arranged or a love marriage.  Their parents and elders take the decision of choosing the partner for them and they have to cooperate and marry a person who is a stranger in most of the cases. The less educated, poorer, and rural Indian women are the ones that are subjected to a fully arranged marriage and they have no or minimal voice in choosing their husbands. Marrying this way is associated with lower levels of communication with the husband even on trivial things as how to spend the household’s money or big decisions like when to have children. They have very little autonomy and need to take permissions for most of the things, even to visit their parent’s home.

 7. How do you explain the rise in divorce rates in our society and do you think couples should think well before taking the call to get married? When we speak about compromise in wedlock, it should be a two-way traffic, right?

 There are social as well as personal factors for the rise in the divorce rate in our society.  An increase in the rate of divorce is an indication that this social taboo is being challenged and the stigmas attached to it are being broken. Earlier, many people chose to stay in the marriages even if it is a loveless one and continued to suffer in silence because of the stigma associated with divorce. But, not anymore. Living in a loveless marriage is not advisable, but where the differences are trivial and can be sorted out without compromising the individuality, it should be the way forward.  Earlier, people believed more in fixing the relationships, rather than breaking them completely. Nowadays, people believe that they are capable enough to live by themselves, or without their spouses. In a fast-paced society, people have become more self-centred, lacking patience and are reluctant to compromise. With the advent of globalisation, people have become independent. The lessened influence of family also results in a greater reluctance to compromise. Many times, when couples enter into the institution of marriage their main focus is on what they get out of it rather than what they will give.  So when something goes wrong or not happens according to expectations, they get disappointed as the real picture is different from the imagined one. In today’s generation, intolerance is increasing and they want instant gratification. They put their personal interests before each other and instead of working out little differences, or put more efforts into a relationship to fix the issues, they prefer to move on. There are also many couples who give up on their relationships after trying for a very little period of time.

 There are more serious reasons for rising divorce rates like marriages were arranged with the giving of fraudulent information, dowry demands after marriage, abusive relationships, one partner is drug-addict. Nowadays women are becoming more aware of their rights and have stopped taking abuse (in any form – mental, physical, emotional, social) as ‘normal’. This is something that I feel is good as now women are finally standing up for themselves.

 Yes, it is an essential that couples should think well before taking the call to get married. It should be a must for couples to consider all the important aspects, discuss all things, have an authentic, and detailed conversation and communicate their expectations about married life before tying the knot. Realistic perspective towards marriage is a must. Otherwise, when a woman or man enter into a relationship with unrealistic expectations and build some fancy view of marriage they are surely going to get disappointed when they get to see the true picture of how marriage really looks like.

 And definitely, when we say compromise it should always be two-way. It takes both of the companions to adjust, sacrifice and compromise when the need arises.

 8. Recently celebrity author, columnist and former actor Twinkle Khanna publicly said that before getting hitched to Akshay Kumar she did a thorough research on his family’s health history. Considering that a celebrity couple has endorsed the need for tests, do you think couples in India is ready for such a thing before getting hitched which is a step towards positive, healthy and modern outlook to marriage?

 Yes, definitely it would be a step towards good health and a modern outlook with respect to marriage.  Health screening should be essential for every couple before marriage as it helps in preventing a lot of health conditions that may arise in future.

 However, in our society people enter into this lifelong union without adequate knowledge of their partner’s health status. There are many instances where women contracted HIV through their husbands which could have been prevented if people had known the importance of getting an HIV test done before marriage. Premarital tests may help in this regard. The knowledge of the future partner’s health status gives a choice to make informed consent and it also enables a couple to seek proper medical care early to prevent unnecessary stress and burden after marriage.

 But I really don’t think that our society is ready for it yet, as it is still entrapped in age-old norms and customs. People in our society do not understand the importance and necessity of getting health screening before marriage. People get offended by the very idea of it. But at the same time, it is very much needed as I really feel that everyone has the right to marry a healthy partner. And, it will also help the couple to better prepare for the future that lies ahead. In recent times we have seen progress in our society and our younger generation is more aware and progressive in their thinking. I am hopeful that with awareness our society will embrace these healthy practices soon.

 9. Considering how legally complicated it is for a woman to take the husband’s surname after marriage and the fact that wearing mangalsutra is a personal choice, what makes us self-appointed guardians to decide what is morally right for a couple?

 Ours is an intrusive society where everyone has the tendency to keep giving bits of advice and suggestions without even being asked. Here, people are more interested in others’ life and everyone has suggestions on how the other person should live. People have questions and advice for not only couples but for everybody, be it a single, married, sportsman, businessman, student, teacher or parents. Even the people who do not have any prior experience or expertise have advice and suggestions to offer. Our society is filled with such self-appointed guardians who are naturally inclined to offer unsolicited advice. So, it is the mentality of people that we cannot change and we have no control over it.

 So, what I recommend to all couples or anyone who gets unsolicited advice is to simply choose to ignore it if it is something they do not believe in or if it goes against their values. It is very much in our control on how we respond to unsolicited advice that actually is bothersome and stressful at times. But the recipe to save from unwanted suggestions is to be yourself, we should not get too much bothered by what others have to say, as we are not here to make everybody happy. As long as couples are happy and satisfied with whatever lifestyle they want for themselves, and do not allow people to intervene in their lives, society eventually loses its power on them. 

 10. Finally, what makes a successful marriage?

 A successful marriage takes hard work and strong commitment from both the partners. When people enter into the institution of marriage they should have a clear perspective towards marriage. It is not something like it is projected in the media. Life after marriage is not only about happiness all the time, rather, in reality, it also brings with it many challenges, responsibilities, struggles, ups and down. So, to make a marriage successful, a couple needs to work on it so that they can go through life’s challenges without negatively affecting their relationships.

 To have a harmonious relationship and overcome the hard times’ couples need to be willing to work through the challenges of life together. There are many factors that make a marriage successful but mainly it depends on deep friendship, mutual respect, trust, and gratitude. Both husband and wife should be sensitive to each other’s feeling and needs.  One should not try to overtake the other. Unless they maintain mutual respect for each other and be ready to discuss vital issues, they will not find a solution. So, to have realistic expectations from each other is a must. One should be willing to accept what he/she can’t change and accept their partners for who they are, which is essential to make a marriage work.

 According to renowned psychologist John Gottman, there are three things that work for successful marriages, treating your partner like a good friend, handling conflicts in gentle and positive ways, and being able to repair after conflicts and negative interactions. 

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Drawing the strings


Human nature and the uncanny emotions to pull or draw the strings of love shuv, holding on to the ex and changing equations of varied relationships with lovers, sibling and, of course, parents. At the end of the day, it whittles down to a personal choice and free will rather than being someone or someones acting out of compulsion.

Relationships are tricky to understand and the more we try to make sense by drawing upon logic or understanding, it gets more complex. The way we have been wired in society is often the result of social and cultural construct where we are made to feel guilty due to the dogged beliefs. We end up holding to ‘promises’ which is more about being at the mercy of remote control held by someone else rather than our own. It’s a choice that we often have to make whether getting married, to be with someone throughout life trampling on our decisions or killing our aspirations just to fulfill a silly promise made around the fire. It’s our choice to be married or not, staying single or to be in a live-in relationship with someone.

At some point or the other, we have a choice to make and in doing that, it is legitimate to vouch for our human space and to live life on our own terms. For instance, someone may choose to remain a bachelor or spinster throughout his or her own life, follow a particular sexual life read orientation as a gay, lesbian or metrosexual and sapiosexual, whatever that may be or the choice to procreate. Don’t you think, it’s something personal? Our life belongs to us. We are not a prized ownership of our parents or our so-called extended family of bhaiyas, bhabhi, chachu, chachi, mama or bua who think it’s their birthright to barge into our personal life to dictate its course. No healthy relationship can be a prized ownership based on ego, false promises, illogical expectations or control. The truth is that we are slaves to the archaic rules and its ambassadors.

Go ahead and date a woman or man much older than you are, announce divorce without consulting your extended family, elope or marry someone of different faith or caste. Well! All hell will break loose as if you have committed a gruesome murder. People feel that it’s their right to be offended for not involving them in your decisions. The choice to involve the extended unit in your marriage or other cultural ceremonies is personal. It’s the time when a bunch of intolerants will swarm to cry hoarse on how you have ‘bruised’ their ego.

It’s the stigma of relationships that hurt the most. Your personal life suddenly becomes a taboo for the world who suddenly feel that they have the stamp of approval to decide what is morally right or wrong and good or bad for you. I always get that: When are you getting married? What of I don’t! Aha! It hurts them the most. For instance, take divorce. It is a personal choice for a couple but suddenly the whole world gang against them as if they have turned into some dreaded terrorists and hurling this classic accusation on how the kids will suffer on account of a whimsical decision. I think it’s the biggest bullshit argument that someone may come up with. It’s about prized ownership and in fact, they want to control our lives. Since when adults have to turn into toddlers seeking approval from so-called protectors of society’s honor. It’s ludicrous.

It is important for us to not only act but also be confident as grown-ups to take our own mature decisions. Sorry! No emotional blackmail be it from family and someone else should deter us from soaring in the sky, be it leaving the family cocoon to live independently or doing things on our own. As a society, we need to evolve and grow in a tolerant manner, respecting and accepting the choice of others. I am often like, fuckers, who are you to accept my decision. It’s between me and my parents, not some extended family posing as Kings and Queens or monarchs of relationships.

It’s my income that I earn. I don’t owe my life or explanation to anyone else. Making personal choices shouldn’t hurt anyone. It comes to the person who can maturely decide what is good for him or her and face the music when things go awry. He or she wouldn’t have the right to blame anyone else. Respect personal choices.

Love

V

 

 

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Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum offers scholarly, in-depth analysis of women issues


 

Book Review: Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum

Authored by: Dr Rachna Arora & Deepika Sharma

Released in 2016 by Authors press, New Delhi

Rating: Four stars

Introduction:

Today, March 8, the world celebrates International Women Day and it is important to reflect on the place held by women in society who makes several choices that defines their life, career and issues that plague them in juggling family and professional life. The book, ‘Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum’ assesses issues faced by women in their married life which is often dictated by a patriarchal society that treats the ‘fairer sex’ as inferior and roles they are expected to play in society. Often, religion, rites and rituals get the upper hand where women face the ire of misplaced rules in society. The author addresses several themes pertaining to relationships, expected roles for women, stereotyping and equal values which seems to wane by the day. The issues treated in the book is timeless, relevant during the bygone era, the present and the future where it seems dogmatic views has not changed an iota no matter how much we shout hoarse about equality in society. In short, ‘Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum’ serves as guide in terms of practicalities in offering first-hand account and is a small bible that has explored in-depth the role of woman in their married life. Let’s analyze the focal points.

Narration:

“Post marriage, my life has become miserable because of constant interference from the family members. I am expected to take permission from my in-laws before buying clothes for myself. Privacy is an alien concept in the house, as my sisters-in-law walk freely into our room at odd hours.”

Authors Dr Rachna Arora & Deepika Sharma use first-hand accounts in exploring the situation of women who often lack the support of their respective husbands in several instances and points out at the so-called happy and long-lasting marriage. Pride is taken in a society like ours where divorce is taboo. Unfortunately, many of us prefer to evade the grim reality and we proudly wear the veil of seeing everything hunky-dory but had we chosen to look behind the curtains, a box of Pandora would unveil right in front of our eyes. In this book, the right questions are asking on the role of mother in-laws in the way they treat their daughters where honest questions and assertiveness is recommended for the woman so that she is not taken for granted.

The role of extended family is also being addressed and the courtship period where the mandatory six months is recommended before a woman takes the plunge. The authors recommend on the need for a woman to put things in perspective and not succumb to the pressure of tying the knot. Oh! The famous log kya kahenge and if needed call off the engagement off if the ‘stone-aged’ influence of doggedly keeping rituals, customs and traditions arise.

What I like the most in the book is that it has several Dos and Donts, checklist on how to gauge a prospective groom and aspects where a woman can work it out or cannot compromise with in-laws. I think before getting married each and every woman must have a checklist before going ahead. The book has a must have list that addresses pressing issues such as a realistic approach to marriage, knowledge about laws and legal rights and financial security, among others.

The uniqueness of women should be celebrated in all its forms and it whittle down to personal choice. The hair style, choice of jewellery, weight or shopping shouldn’t be a matter of seeking approval on the eve of marriage. These are simple things but something which the authors deemed right to remind women whose individuality are often lost in translation.

The book points out at life post marriage where a woman suddenly finds herself at the cross-road with labels such as bhabhi, devrani or jaithani. A strong message is sent: Treat us like a daughter and give equal treatment. The main points are often on the need for a daughter in law (DIL) to be answerable and boosting the image of an ideal bahu or the fact, she will learn and manage on her own. The authors explore the various issues and discuss communications as an effective tool for a healthy relationship. It’s about the need to engage directly with in-laws and be assertive when things go awry. It’s important to accept new relations which is often tough, taking into account that a girl is leaving her comfort zone and ‘privileges’ at home. It’s a two-way traffic, I’d argue. Be assertive and learn to say No matters above everything else not to crush the self or individuality.

A whole chapter is devoted to patriarchal nature of society where the father-in-law expects his morning tea and owing to the protocol for DIL in India, whose parents never get special treatment. It serves as a great contrast, as the authors rightly figure it out, how women don’t make demands to the Jamai Saab. It’s a tragedy in today’s time how parochial and patriarchal our society is ingrained in rules dating back to the dark age. Or, the preconceived notion when it comes to arranged marriage where the woman is controlling the man and this cliché that she is too independent.

There are passages like, ‘The girl is too cunning, that is, why she has brainwashed our son… He chooses a girl he loves, she would not want to live with us after marriage…This boy is married to a girl from the hills. These girls are so cunning and into black magic…He has married a different culture girl, these girls are mithi churi.’ Sounds familiar!

In the chapter, ‘Self-Empowerment: The Key to Happiness’, the authors points at common stereotypes where women grew up with rules such as women don’t laugh loudly, a shame to play sports, your rightful place is in the four corners of the home or a woman is respected after marriage because of her husband.

The authors make a great pitch for parents to instill equal values among girls, urging her to say no, curfew applying for both women and men as well as addressing the much-dreaded menstruation which is treated as taboo. It’s no secret in many homes girls going through menses are treated like outcasts and it’s time to throw out such illogical and ridiculous practice where society, albeit parents are to be majorly blamed. A woman going through menses is a normal being.

The authors devote an entire page in the form of a chapter to in-laws, reminding them of shared efforts in a household which is not the sole domain of a woman, the need for reciprocal relationships, keeping a check on personal boundaries and avoiding comparisons. It’s much-needed tips for parents-in-law in today’s times.

The husband or hubby to be is also urged to take a stand for women and it’s his responsibility as an equal partner to voice out against social injustice or helping during the adjustment period.

What’s Not!

Honestly, I am not going that route in pointing out at flaws in the book since it’s a scholarly product where the authors have used extensive survey, much to their credit and case studies to support their claim on something obvious. It’s a worrying aspect in the way we treat women as second-class citizens after marriage where she is expected to fulfill social obligations without reasoning.

Final words:

The work of authors Dr Rachna Arora & Deepika Sharma in Indian Women and the Shaadi Conundrum must be lauded for their in-depth analysis and critically assessing the position of women in the marriage sphere. This book should serve as a reference point for organizations such as National Commission for Women and the case studies as a guide in drafting legislations to protect women, upholding their rights in society. A brilliantly explored scholar work that serve as a guide to the Government, academic institutions, NGOs and helping to spread awareness, raise mass consciousness and educate. Full marks to the authors for urging us to question rules that discriminate against fellow human beings. Such nonsensical rules should not only be questioned but chucked out. It’s written in a simple and direct language, that makes it easy to understand minus technical jargons. Go and grab it.

PS: The book has been given to me for review by the authors through my good friend, poet and author Soumya Mohanty Vilekar. You can buy the book on Amazon and check out more on Goodreads.

V

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Funny conversation about marriage, society and parents


Vimal:Hey, Hi, what’s up, dude? It’s been long time.

Me: Ya, same here. just came for coffee.

V:What’s been happening?
ME:Not much. Chilling around and enjoying life.

V: Dude, when are you getting married? I mean, you should. After all, our parents deserve happiness? You should make ur mom happy and deep in her heart, she wants a bahu (daughter-in-law) and grand-children.

ME: Excuse Me! It’s my life. I mean, I will decide when or whether to get married or lot. It is a question of my individuality and happinees. I mean, I should decide to get married when I need to and be happy within. I mean, it’s my life.

He is taken aback and tries to score some point

V: I mean we live in this society. We are Hindus and need to abide by the rules of society.

ME: Dude, since when the society rules or being a Hindu came into place. It’s not a question of community or caste but my life. As it is, I do not believe in the religious classification and this crap. (I intentionally brought this up coz I know this guy has a conservative mindset and is influenced by society’s rules.)

V: Our parents deserve happiness and this is what counts the most.

ME: Dude, I am not denying that. Getting married or not is a personal choice and has nothing to do with respect to our parents.

I explain to him deeply.

ME: I respect and love my mom a lot. The decision about my personal life has nothing to do with respect and love for my parents.

He is still not getting it and tries another argument which he later contradicts himself.

V: Then, you may choose to be in a live-in relationship.

ME: Fair enough. I don’t have an issue with that.

V: No! No! Our society can never accept live-in relationship. You are being wrong totally on your own personal outlook on marriage.

I am getting impatient now.

ME: Dude, it’s my personal life and I am solely responsible for my happiness. It is not a question of society but my own self. Likewise, if I am unhappy being in a relationship, I shall be the one who will suffer not my mom or society. Moreover, you cannot say that I am wrong but it’s my own individual perspective and I can say that you are wrong. You are being judgemental and not me. (Earlier, he termed my views as generalizing, negative and judgemental).

ME: Okie, I shall see you. My Coffee is getting cold.

V: Bye. Cya soon.

Hey folks, I had this conversation today afternoon at the supermarket with this dude. Personally, I find this guy’s outlook on life and marriage as quite funny. Personally, I had so much fun in this whole marriage argument and his views quite biased. Certainly, his views are quite myopic and mirrored by prejudices. Your take on this one. On my way back home, I’m like this is icing on the cake and had to share the conversation on the blog to our extended blogging family. I got a story, albeit, post, by going to the supermarket. Who says, visit to supermarket is not fun?!

With Love

V