Saturday, October 28, 2006

The singles dilemma

“So how come you are single?” this is a query guaranteed to make me slap someone, one of these days. What pisses me off is the absurdity of this question. And I do tend to snap when someone asks me this question. Not because it is personal but because it is so stupid.

Yesterday a male colleague asked me this question. Normally I would have given a deliberately vague answer but I am a little fed up of the frequency of this question since coming to this company and so turned around and counter questioned him sarcastically.
"So how come your sister is single?”
He got the point and mumbled an apology.

What irritates me is the fact that I have to give him and others an example to drive home the point. Can’t they see that having a boyfriend is not common but uncommon for an Indian gal…even in the Metros. I can count on my fingers the number of gals among my college mates who have boyfriends, and these are long term relationships. Then why do they ask such questions? And it is not just me, but lots of single gals who complain of the same.

This incident set me thinking of this whole GF/BF thingie. For most of us girls, getting to know a guy and in the event that you hit it off with him, then going in for a steady relationship is not as simple as it seems. For most of us (please note the emphasis on ‘most of us’) a BF is a potential life partner and hence we tend to look for people from within our community or religion. This rules out 90% of the guys we meet. The remaining 10% are scattered and the chance of bumping into someone on your own is slim.

For guys the above-mentioned aspect may not be a consideration at all (or maybe yes, please correct me if I am wrong). There are a few gals who will get into a relationship just for the heck of it, or because it is cool and because you can go for a movie together etc. Quite ok if both parties are not serious. But for the rest, it is not that simple. Our society rules state that a girl should have a good reputation(whatever the meaning of the stupid term) in order to qualify for the post of wife. And since most Indian gals have to get married, it sort of puts a dampner on any hopes of having a relationship that may not work out (read as 'past history').

Besides we have parents to think about and touchy brothers too, who would not like to be informed by their friends that they saw their sister with a guy at the theater unless he is her steady/fiancé/husband/classmate/known colleague.

A few creeps also spoil the party for the good guys. These and a lot of other factors, makes girls vary of dating or having a boyfriend. Which is why so many young people are single today. Most of them are resigned to it, while many especially guys miss having female companionship.

Among my colleagues who stay in PG digs or away from families, many date regularly, chiefly because the fear of being caught or seen by the family is absent. Dating is slowly becoming an accepted thing, but the hesitancy to be seen together unless the couple is very serious is still the norm. There is hope yet. If not our generation, I am sure the next generation will have things easier on this front.


Anonymous said...

How True Silver !!!
But there s this class of annoying guys/ gals tooo who wanna know if u are having an affair with "so and so" bcoz u had a coupl of coffees with him... Ah.. Nosey parkers ...
Waiting for ur next post

Mind Curry said...

the whole problem is that guys and girls are not allowed to be together because of our own closed up mentality. our "communities" simply dont allow a guy-girl friendship for what it can be, but instead read many lines in between it. so what you have said is so true..

and like every action has a reaction..its because of this suppression that guys and girls who want to be normal also end up getting frustrated and going overboard in their you said, it will perhaps take our generation to become parents, and then our kids might be able to live more normally..or maybe not..

well this is purely my we have seen in SK, people just seem to have different views.and its surprising to see how even young people like to proclaim one thing, and sound very open-minded about things, and then go and do something totally different when it comes to their own lives.

quills said...

Shucks! I typed this long long comment and it disappeared. Just my lucky day!:(

Anyway will come back to comment soon. Good post silverine!

Brijesh said...

The concept about dating is changing in India and as you said in another 2 decades it will become a norm.
When I read this what I remembered was about my marriage. I went crazy explaining about the concept of "arranged marriage" to Americans. I met my wife on the day of engagement and got married 2 weeks later. My Professor and all cannot understand this concept of arranged marriage and kept on asking me “How can it work?” some times it is so annoying. Every time I have to tell everyone about the horoscope and that stuffs. It was real pain. Now after almost 2 years into marriage and when these people see both of us they tell “This way also marriage works”.

alex said...

"emphasis on ‘most of us’"

Good you mentioned;)
I was about to object!

I agree with what mindcurry says. Its because our community doesnt allow this kind of relation which is disheartening

Alexis said...

The question made you angry enough to slap someone :-)

But what should I do, when I am asked the same question? My only option other than slapping is to tell my story which is kind of boring after so many repetitions :-)

So now I have invented a fictitious wife and 3 kids (all of them dead)when I had the accident. People seem happy to hear that.

So I think the basic intention of the question is annoy and irritate (and in my case to make me remember the whole episode of my accident). There are people who take some sadistic pleasure from these kind of activities.

quills said...

I think our culture is such that people are inherently nosy. We have no notion of privacy.Most folks are more curious about what goes on other peoples' lives than even their own at times. I am not generalizing here, but the majority of people are like that. I also maintain a fervent hope that things change with the next generation. But sometimes I wonder if it would, coz even if we all say and speak against the norm,ultimately we all end up conforming to society's expectation of us, however much we deny. And because we have been brought up that way, perhaps we won't have changed much either, by the time it comes to our own kids, although I am sure convincing them to conform to traditional tried and tested methods may not be as easy. Not that they are rebels or anything, but just that they may just have a different perspective of the whole thing. This is just my opinion. Not sure if it makes sense. :)

silverine said...

Vaish: It's people like these nosey parkers as mind curry mentioned who aggravate the situation.

mind curry: Very true! I have seen couples forming in the office among people who live away from families and these people are under no pressure and hence go on to make good judgements and informed decisions.

brijesh: I can truly appreciate your predicament because the expats in my office have a hard time too to understand arranged marriage :) And it takes many many explanations to get them to undertsand :))

Alexis: "So I think the basic intention of the question is annoy and irritate (and in my case to make me remember the whole episode of my accident)."
I wish these people go to hell!!! Actually...they are in hell! Only unhappy people try and make others unhappy!

quills: You are right...but I still think that our generation, will be better parents. And the reason is the changing mind set and empowerment of women.

poonaji said...

even if dating stuff becomes popular, i hope "arranged marriage" stuff continues! else it will be very difficult for atleast some to get partners :)

i had a singaporean chinese colleague.. who was slightly fat and was not getting BFs.. she was complaining that like india her mother does not look for her future partner, and she wished she was in India..!

Dhanush said...

Well. You have pointed out some of the reasons for me being single. But who said you are the ones who get irriated by questions on singleton status.
Last time I went home one rel asked "Enna ini ninte kayyill ninnu sadya kittuka" and another distant granny said .. "Alla eeyentha sanyasikan pokuvaa..". Since a lot of guys are employed at a young age these days, it seems people have no other job other than asking "Why Single?".

Good Thought :).

Anonymous said...

From what I have seen, South Asian men are very hypocritical on this subject. Most, from any background, will be fine with themselves dating and even with relations borderiing living together. But if their future wife were to say that such an incident happenned in her life, it would be thought of us cheating. That's the male brain for you.

On a personal level, I have a difference of opinion with Mindcurry's "and then our kids might be able to live more normally"... Films seem to portray that every guy in college is their for girls and that all girls want is for guys to tease them etc.

We are living in an increasingly West influenced world. What is normal for them, may not be for us. Just because we don't change ourselves to suit their mentality doesn't make us abnormal. I find nothing wrong(abnormal)with arranged marriages as long as the bride and groom to be get enough time to talk and learn about one another.


P.S. Better to be single before marriage then to become single afterwards:-(

It's a hard and biased world out there. The best thing for girls to do is to educate and empower themselves so that they are not wholely dependent on someone else financially and emotionally.

Jiby said...

wow...thats a cool reply u inflicted on that guy...he must have been trying to be friendly but what a stupid question to be asking. i keep getting asked this single or not question all the time...and if i joke saying there's a gal the questioner's face turns all serious and wants to know all thats happening!

i had a girlfriend once and it was such a tough time, hiding it from my parents, goin somewhere with her, all that stuff only to find all hell breaking loose when i broke the news to all lasted exactly one month and i've since decided i am most happy being single!

and u know the funny part...they dont mind letting me choose my partner...but the conditions they set are most has to be a malayali and from that a christian and from that a catholic and from that a good family, they generalize that the two people involved in the relationship will be compatible when all pre-conditions fall in place...away from kerala what are the odds of stumbling on a person like that!

abhishek said...


Wow, i can't believe you were asked that. Not just is that inappropriate, but that can be taken as sexual harrasment. Take about being gauche and nosey!

I am worried though about Kerala. Bangalore is probably very ahead in these matters, but just judging from the blue film posters that are splayed all across Kochi and Trivandrum, I wonder what goes on through our youth's minds these days. And while you can hold them responsible for their actions, I wonder why things are so different for our society versus other states.

I think part of the answer lies in the fact that there's no open discussion of these matters. Parents are unwilling to take their responsibility seriously and teachers are totally embarassed to talk about sex. So, you have an overall societal disapproval of dating. The outcome is that males have a lot of just really bad ideas of what girls want and vice versa. The reality is arranged marriages or otherwise, unless you get to know the other person well before marriage, you are unlikely to have a happy life. But what constitutes how long it takes to reach that point? Any period of time, ranging from two or three days to a year or more. The problem though is that our society isn't ready to accept this reality and would rather go for cookie-cutter pennu-kannal and nischeyam solutions.

I remember a story told by a friend where she was riding on the pilion of a scooter with her classmate, who happened to have short hair for a girl and was wearing a helmet.

Her mother got a phone call from a "well-meaning" relative that her daughter was seen riding with a guy.

Needless to say, the mother and daughter had a good laugh over the subject.


i agree with you chances are slimmer than anyone on this board into running into a mallu randomly...

I sympathize man. The lack of awareness about "arranged" marriages is astonishing. People seem to equate it with "forced" marriages. Nowadays, if someone implied that, I would just tell them, tongue-in-cheek, "Ya, I was forced into it because I am uneducated and don't have any free will. Will you rescue me?" So-and-so gets the idea and moves on.

silverine said...

Poonaji: LOL...but I don't think arranged marraiges will completely die out.

dhanush: I is soooo irritating.

kajan: The change is coming from girls themselves. Like I mentioned in a previous post, women are rapidly evolving and I think that will lead to some positive changes in the society.

Jiby: I am in the exact same situation. So we, i.e me and my bros have decided not to rock the boat :) And I don't mind cos I don't think I will fit in, in another community.

abhishek: The gist of the question was how can a modern girl like me be not taken :)They think girls who wear pants and speak English well are somehow not of traditional mindset. In college the demure traditional girls had BF's while we who looked the type to have BF's had none :p What you say about Kerala is so true. Kids learn about sex from porno movies when they should ideally be counselled by a professional. Lack of information from parents and teachers will drive them to satiate their curiosity elsewhere.

Abhishek said...

"If not our generation, I am sure the next generation will have things easier on this front."

This is a loop which never makes the loop!!!

Anonymous said...

I really do hope that things will change for better.. Another concept which people cant tolerate is if a gal has been in an affair earlier... I ve been in an affair before and then i knew that it was not right for me .. i was in a terribly confused and panicky state then...Most of my frens ,however broad minded they appear to be, wud not approve...not that i need their approval but ... Now Am off with that relation and I regret having got into it...but there a lot of issues I face from even frens...

iyer education said...

AND that precisely is the predicament

when you ae single people come to you asking if you are single or not and feel bad for that...

and when you get hooked up the same people come to you for consoling you for being different than when you were single and they feel bad for that too...

and finally when you get married the very same people come and pay condolences on your doom...

i suggest we keep away from such people...

Abhishek said...

The funny thing is that the bard was right when he wrote, 'world is a stage'
Today, with parental pressure, the peer pressure, the stage has mutated into 'slots'. A slot in life, where society expects you to conform to 'certain way of doing things', a certain way to lead your life. And when you consign yourself to that slot, taking your dreams and aspiorations with you, then other slots are pretty much 'the right fit' :-) and so does the life progresses...No external motivations are needed after that.
I havent quite reached the age where slots become uncomfortable, but I am sure, a time would well come, when I would question the slots, their sizes and then inevitably their purposes..

Why should any one need a slot?

Jeseem said...

sounds like u r all set to kill the next guy, who asks such a question . but hey ur counter question was superb:)
yeah, things r a bit difficult, if ur bro or parents r around( we r not that openminded yet) maybe u can try groupdating. another way is to move to a different city.
For some guys, I don't think family n community is a big consideration, partly cause they know family finally comes round to accepting it and partly cause finding right person is already difficult without these to add.
Now I know why girls ask a long questionaire, starting with are u a christian, hometown, where u want to settle etc etc. :)

Kusum Rohra said...

How come you are single if asked by people in or around my age get uber hilarious replies from me, and when I loose my cool, I get very sarcastic, it's only painfull when those pesky ungles and aunties whose mission in life is to see me happily married with a millinaire, and live misserably ever after.

What you say is so true and sad too that our society doesn't accept the *seeing each other* thing.

It's hilarious, ours must be the only country where marriage is universal but falling in love is a tabboo.

Cherian said...

I have got ultimatum from all my achayan uncles and aunties not to bring a firangi bhaabiji home!! ;)

Forget firangi am sure they gonna make a helluva noise if I bring in any one remotely outside my district!!!..

abhishek said...


"The gist of the question was how can a modern girl like me be not taken :)They think girls who wear pants and speak English well are somehow not of traditional mindset. In college the demure traditional girls had BF's while we who looked the type to have BF's had none :p"

Yes, people love to psycho analyze...very often they're just perceiving things so that they can just reinforce their prejudices.

silverine said...

Rakhi: That is really sad, but true. But a gal has to be careful about the kind of guys she is seeing!

Iyer Education: Hear! Hear!! lol
But what you say is so true. People will keep interfering no matter what! First wedding enquiries, then babies, then another never ends!

abhishek: Slots it is, tiny narrow constricted slots ready made for all of us from day one!!!

Jeseem: Girls ask such questions because for them dating is never casual at least of most of us :)

kusum: We are like a genetically engineered society!!! What you observed is spot on, weddings are the norm but falling in love is much more cold and impersonal can you get ?!!

cherian: I tried to click on your blog link but landed up nowhere. Are you mathew?

"they gonna make a helluva noise if I bring in any one remotely outside my district!!"
lol same here and both parents think that people from their side of town are the best of course :p

abhishek: Absolutely!

mathew said...

oh yeah..seems like blogger is behaving weird these days!!

pophabhi said...

Nice to hear it from a lady :)
Irritating it is. As Dhanu told, males also get the questions often. I started getting it from my new company's colleagues...My answers ranged from "I have AIDS/ If I need to suicide, I wud better use Indian Railways/ I am divorced 5 times, but not yet done as its my 7th marriage today evening (I need to divorce my 6th wife today afternoon)/ I was cursed by Kummatti (the magician), and I turn into a werewolf every Friday the 13th" :))
But jokes apart, I think many people consider it as a intro question/getting close/background question and they might not be meaning a lot of harm with it. Its true that resistant people like us do get irritated with it, and the best way is to deal it with sarcasm just like you did.
Excellent Thoughts, Silver!!

silverine said...

mathew: Weird indeed!!!

pophabhi: ROTFL!!!!! I am borrowing your replies :p

Thanu said...

When I was 22 I had this conversation with my parents

Me: Dad and mom, do u think it is ok if I had a boyfriend
Dad: It is OK as long as he is not a casual boyfriend, but someone who you would consider marrying
Me: OK
Dad: He must be well educated and should treat you well
Mom: He has to be Malayali, Chrisitan
Me: How am I supposed to find a Malyali chrisitan here?
Mom: (Winks and smirks - she knows she said Yes which meant NO)

silverine said...

Thanu: Absolutely same here :p

riggs said...

So Silva, let me ask you, how come you are single?


Add this onto the list of other stupid questions.

For eg :-

Someone calls you at home and asks 'so, where are you?'

Someone on the phone asks you 'kahan se bol raha hai?' - I always answer 'mooh se, tum kahan se bol rahe ho?'

Bump into someone at a movie theatre/ airport/ railway station etc and they ask you 'arre, what are you doing here?' - My favourite response to that is 'Buying smokes, you?'

When I used to be married I had irritating relatives come up and ask either me or the ex-missus 'so, how come no kids yet?'. I once shut up a nosy old aunt by saying that the plumbing was out of order. In those very words. She still never asks me anything. Hehe.

And yes,, I get the 'how come still single, dude?' - I just say I'm Double.

I don't if you get this as well, but someone always asks in a tone that swears they are dying to know why, just because they have all the tricks of the trade to help you. Terribly condascending!

silverine said...

Riggs: ROFL!!! Those were very cool rejoinders...

Puchu said...

Been reading this space for sometime now. Nice posts.

Ah!!! the debate always continues. But then, I beg to differ with abhishek who said "The reality is arranged marriages or otherwise, unless you get to know the other person well before marriage, you are unlikely to have a happy life. But what constitutes how long it takes to reach that point? Any period of time, ranging from two or three days to a year or more." I am not sure whether getting to know the person well or the time involved in getting to know each other matters at all. If so, we would not see so many marriages breaking apart after many years of marriage. I think it has more to do with the willingness to work for your marriage to work, the height of one's ego and your ability to forgive and forget.

Also, here's another irritating incident that happened to me... I happen to have a cousin bro is of the same age. Guess our parents had previously discussed the topic of marriage. So his dad comes along and here's how the conversation went....

Me: Hello Valliacha !!!
Uncle: ah Hello !! ninde penn thedal yellam engane inde...
(my skin is peeling off but I put on a wry smile )
Uncle: We are looking for Rajesh too. Lets do one thing.... if we come across someone that does not work out for us, we'll pass her on to you. And you can do the same.
Me: (try to laugh but then.... its tough to laugh for this one...)

silverine said...

Puchu: Thank you :) What Abhishek says makes sense. Nowadays when girls have deifinite opinions of their own it is better that a gal and guy know at least something about each other. Gals are not willing to be the only 'working' partner and all accepting sati savitri's anymore. I mean if I were to marry and find out that my husband has bad personal hygiene or is a bigot then the marriage is doomed from the start. Simple things can really get to a relationship. On the other hand I agree that one has to work in a relationship...but for that you need two people willing to work towards it, and this too can be found out if you know something about your future partner.
If marriages are breaking apart it is because they were arranged or in the case of love marraiges, interference and lack of support from both families leads to break ups.
The incident you narrated was really funny :))

Puchu said...

Oh !! I totally agree with you, both the concerned people need to be willing to work. (I never mentioned that only the sati savitri's need to be willing to work.:)

I agree, you probably wont be able to figure out about one's personal hygiene without staying with them. But then if he/she is willing to change even that, what more can you ask for ?

You could get to know so many things before marriage which you feel is bearable. But what if years down the lane the same thing haunts you. And you just cant live with that one aspect. Would you quit ?

I guess that is why I feel "the willingness of both partners to work for their marriage to work" is most important. :)

silverine said...

Puchu: What I am trying to say is that marriage is not the end of the road anymore for girls. Divorce is not a dirty word anymore too. In such a scenario one cannot take marriage for granted anymore. So it is best that the girl and boy know a little bit about each other that will help them decide on tying the knot. After which they can work on their relationship! But in the absense of a launch pad (basic things that both agree on), things will be difficult.