Saturday, September 15, 2007

Over The Hill

Reading this article on been there done that desi dudes reminded me of desi men I have met in the past. Each acquaintance was instructive in its own way. The author may be on to a microtrend here that Mark Penn's eponymous book neglected to capture.

Most of these men were back in the dating scene after a one or two year hiatus. After scouring the market for close to ten years preceding, they had finally found the trophy wife to take home. Unfortunately, the the marital state lasted all of ten months or less before they parted ways. So in their late 30's to mid 40s, with half their net-worth gone in the divorce settlement they are back in the market with some vengeance. They are candid about being "super-selective" and come armed with failure-proof checklists that are as exhaustive and they are exhausting.

One senses a certain pressure to make up for lost time. Career growth and investing are the dominant themes of their lives. A sporty coupe and a downtown loft are typical. They speak of their married siblings with more than a twinge of envy. Their gated communities, Indian association cultural events, PTA meetings are both trite and desirable. They often mention the ages and birthdays of nieces and nephews.

When it comes to relationships, they are determined not to let the horrific experiences of the past kill the youthful exuberance and romanticism of their late teens. Despite running several years late, they refuse to be precipitate and catch-up with their peers.

On the surface that might look like a winning combination - there is this perfect houseblend of ambition, determination, romance and an indomitable spirit. What's not to like ? Plus they are articulate, well-read, and well-traveled.
The long -suffering independent, successful, opinionated, confident desi woman who had despaired of ever finding a partner in her own community is bowled over by this Renaissance man who is as much in his element in a sherwani as he is in an Armani tux. He bakes almond cookies to die for and can toss up a mean green salsa. Tandoori chicken is so passe - he prefers variations on his grandmother's recipes.

Soon thereafter, the cookie crumbles. He wants the woman in her mid 30s, contending with a ticking biological clock, ovarian cysts, baggage from failed relationships and marriage, fighting cellulite and bulge not to mention social pressure to get hitched post haste to pretend she was sixteen all over again.

She needs to forget lessons learnt the hard way - that desi men have completely different standards for girlfriends and potential wives. They will make haste to sleep with the former but wait till the wedding night for the later. At sixteen everything is fresh and innocent, you go with the flow full of optimism and good cheer. Returning to that frame of mind more than sixteen years later takes more than a leap of faith and not many are able to make it.


Desi women routinely disappoint such men and in a variety of ways. She wants to jump right into marriage and we have not even been properly introduced yet. She is way slutty - too ready and much too soon. She is too demanding - i.e. she wants me to be emotionally available for her and stop shopping around for a bigger better deal. She's really nice but she'd not fit in with the rest of my family. She broke up with her ex for the wrong reasons. She is not serious enough. She's does not let her hair down and have fun. The list is endless.

They expect a lot from a relationship while having very little to offer unless you count their yen for being blatantly irresponsible in the name of an eternally "youthful spirit". In not being able to clearly envision the desired life partner, they idealize every last attribute until the end product is an unreal cesspool of contradiction. After a certain age youthfulness is more vice than virtue specially when its application is so selective. Youth is not consonant with an iron-clad prenup, with paranoia about emotional involvement and with being utterly jaded.

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