Thursday, April 20, 2006

Liberated Desi Female

In my town, there are more Indian women at the workplace and the desi grocery stores than there were seven years ago. What's more they are of a very different stripe as well. A lot of them I can tell have arrived fairly recently from India and are working onsite for their clients.

The girls from the bigger metros are smartly turned out and at perfect ease in their surroundings. More often than not they have worked in the US and elsewhere in the world before. Typically in their late 20s to early 30s, these women are largely single and seem to be enjoying it. A lot of them tend to be conspicuous spenders. Its heart-warming to see how far the desi woman has come along. Back in the day all one saw was the hapless H4 wife that followed her H1 husband mutely wherever he lead her devoting her energies to finding "good deals" on everything that her household needed or desired.

Given the abundance, one would imagine the desi guys would be spoilt for choice when their thoughts turned to matrimony. Yet the four week vacation to India for the engagement, marriage and honeymoon combo package is very much in currency with no signs of slowing down or stopping. I find that bewildering to say the least.

"Not quite" opines my friend S. "Why not ? These are educated, well groomed, attractive women and already in the US on their own. Why on earth would a man pick up a random photograph his mom selected to go marry in India when he can find someone compatible right here. It makes no sense." I say.

"Sure, they are all of that. Would a desi guy date them ? Sure. Shag them ? Absolutely. Marry them ? No way." he informs me. "And why the hell not ?" I ask. "Because they are not the type guys get married to" he tells me.

"So how do you know the girl back home is any different ?" I ask. "You don't go marry a girl that lives alone in a big Indian city and works late hours at a call center. They are no different from what you see here." he says.

I see S in due season finding himself the coy and demure Indian woman who had her modesty and innocence zealously guarded by her family within the confines of her home. Until then he will continue to date and shag the liberated Indian woman abroad without remorse.

"So do these women know what you guys are after ?" I ask him. "Mostly they do and they are quite ok with the arrangement. They understand they can't be the stereotypical desi wife we require and don't want to either. So what choice do they have ?" says S.

"But aren't these women a lot more interesting than the virgin vegetables you guys go home to find ? " I ask

"Sure, they are. But marriage is about the long-haul. These chicks are just not marriage material. They can get a guy to stray but not to commit and stay. Too bad for them" he responds.

Since we had this conversation I'm no longer sure if I should be excited about the confident, emancipated Indian women who can say "the world is my oyster". I see them look longingly at J. I recognize that look - I used to have it too until I became a mother. If the statistics are to be believed 25% to 40% of modern Indian women don't want children. The rest, I presume, do and hear the biological clock ticking ominously as many false hopes like S come and go out of their lives.

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