My Namesake Crisis

A lot had changed since I last posted on my blog.

I changed countries, changed my status from single to married, changed jobs and I even changed my last name.

It’s a given however, that by being married into an Indian family, a woman’s last name is bound to change; although rules and families now are less restrictive compared to back then and women are moving to hyphenated names (maiden-married) and even keeping their maiden names for professional reasons.

But my name sake crisis has always been with my first name. Since the time I can remember, I have hated my first name. My first name Dipti had a beautiful meaning to it, it meant light but apart from that I found the name too common, too boring and more importantly not so feminine (I could’ve sworn a bald-headed man named Dipti once added me on face book). So luckily for me, I was born into few of those cultures in the North Indian family that believed in changing a woman’s first name after marriage. My mother had changed hers and my mother in law had changed hers too. It was something that most modern women would dread! “What change my first name as well as my last name? Are you kidding me?!” Imagine going from Peter Parker to Clark Kent (those sound like two separate superheroes (duh)!) However I considered this something to look forward too, I had started planning my new name years before I had even met my husband; I couldn’t settle on a good one though! Should it be something exotic and different or something which was easy to pronounce and had a great meaning? I would recall countless discussions on the dinner table when I would announce to my parents how I hated the name they had given me and couldn’t wait for the day I got married to change it into something else. I never once noticed my father’s forlorn look when I would carelessly make such statements; he always looked hurt. It was much later I found out that it was my father who had chosen and kept my name with much careful thought for the meaning it held (and also because one of his favorite actresses had the same name!) and because of that my name and I had always remained close to his heart. That reason unfortunately though was still not good enough for me to keep my first name. I was lacking the connection to my name and my father’s fondness to it was just not good enough.

When I did get engaged, I tortured my fiancé into calling me with a variety of new names and although not a big fan at first, he gave into my long-held desire and his family traditions and was content in eventually calling me by a different first name after our wedding.

While the wedding preparations were in full swing, I was spending hours trying to figure out a new first name to go with my new last name. I would spend days trying to register new names on Gmail and looking them up on Facebook (because lord knows if you don’t have a Gmail account and are not on Facebook then you most likely don’t even exist). I was looking for a unique full name and since my new last name was too common, it was getting harder and harder to find one. We eventually shortlisted a few names but I could tell my heart wasn’t set on any one of them.

When the day of my wedding finally approached, I prayed silently in my heart and asked the one person I thought who would know the answer to this question –

Myself.

In reality though, I prayed to God. I asked him – Drop me a sign & funnily he did. Except it wasn’t really a sign, it was an interpretation of whatever I would make of it. I could interpret it to – No don’t do it! Or yes go ahead. At that moment, for the first time in my life in 27 years I felt I knew the answer all along, for the first time I felt attached and a sense of protectiveness towards my name. My identity – the name given to me at birth by my parents (possibly the only choice related to me they ever had), the name called to me fondly by my friends, the name my husband fell in love with and the name that kept me climbing the professional ladder. There was a reason I couldn’t connect with any other name because for the first time in my life I felt I didn’t want to part with my name at the very least.

It was weeks after the wedding when I asked someone why does this tradition exist in the first place? I was then told that it was believed that when a woman left her house she would leave everything and everyone behind to enter into her new family. She would leave her belongings i.e bring new ones, she would leave her parents and her siblings behind to find a place in her new family, she would forget her old friends to make new ones and she would leave behind her name to start afresh to create a whole new life for herself now. When I heard the reasoning behind this tradition I secretly smiled in my head because I knew then that the interpretation I chose to make was because I was of the thinking that being married would mean bringing my identity along with me and not leaving it behind to become a new person, it would mean not forgetting old friends but creating a whole new social circle as well and it would mean not forgetting my family that gave me life but accepting a new family instead.

& so I broke a tradition that didn’t make any sense to me and instead kept my first name where it finally belonged – close to my heart.

A lot had changed since I last posted on my blog but my name sake crisis was finally resolved.

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Thirty one. An Indian. A woman. Still unmarried.

When wordpress sent me their annual report on new years day, I couldn’t help but glance at the statistics of my blog posts last year to notice one particular article soaring the charts with the maximum number of views during the year.  I guess I never did actually realize how many 30 unmarried Indian women are out there.  It made me want to write about my thoughts on one year later but what has really changed? (Original blog post – http://wp.me/p16Ayv-L)

A few years ago, I made a list, I wrote it down on a piece of paper with a pink marker and the title was “Things to do before I turn 30” (a less depressing bucket list if you will) and no 14 on that list was “Marry an amazing man”. I am sure many women (and men) have that up on their mental list even if they don’t jot it down on a piece of paper like me. When I made this list many years ago, I was that type of person who would plan a lot, I wanted to graduate by a certain age, own my first house by a certain age, get married at a certain age, and have babies at a certain age and pretty much die at a certain age too. Years of mistakes and changing my mind umpteen number of times later, I stopped making plans revolving around my age. After all, what was the point? Will turning the big 3 O actually make me sit up and realize that oops I haven’t fulfilled no 14 on my list and I must cross it out hence I’ll marry the next man that walks in (even if he isn’t so amazing). If it does then well, what was the point of waiting this long in the first place?

But what age does really mean to a person I wonder –

Why do they say finish high school at 16?

Umm, because everyone else finishes high school at 16?

Okay then what about people who go back to high school to finish in their mid twenties/thirties/forties?

Oh they are losers.

What about the biological ticking clock for women then?

Well now thanks to modern medicine, women don’t have to get married before 30 just to have babies!

Yes but who wants to have babies in their 40’s and look like a grandmother while watching their 21-year-old son graduate from college?

Oh Well.

One of my favorite author, Jane Austen, has always revolved her books around the central theme of finding a spouse – how to find your spouse, when to find him, where to find him, why to find him and well you get my point. Sure her books were written in the 1800’s but I don’t agree much has really changed since then; while Jane Austen thought the ideal age to get married back then was 15-19, right about now its 25-29. So two centuries has brought us 10 years of time but then again it all boils down to age again doesn’t it?

It’s not easy to keep hearing from your friends and family that don’t rush into a decision because of your age but then again reminded in that same breath “But it’s high time now don’t you think?”. On one hand you think, no its wrong so what if I am turning 31, I still look under 25 so I still have a lot of time on my hands and on the other hand, you know there is a little grey root tucked sneakily behind your hair waiting to spring out reminding you of how old you truly are. But if not age, then what other better measure of time is out there? What better measure reminding you of all your achievements and all your failures at a particular point in your life. Why else do people go crazy at 50 and buy a brand new Ferrari or a brand new Rolex on their 30th birthday? It’s all to add to their list of achievements at that point in time. But then again, buying something materialistic is a lot easier than deciding to spend a whole life time with someone (duh).

At the end of it, you can choose to look at your age the way you want to. You can look at your age and brood over the achievements you didn’t manage to make that many other people did or you can look at your age and swell with pride with that glittering new Rolex you were able to afford or by celebrating with friends and family who love you. You can look at your age and realize there were some things you didn’t take as seriously as you should have or you can look at your age and realize that you wasted your younger years looking at everything so seriously that now it was time to just kick back and relax because in the end everything does turn out a-okay.

So one year later, I stare at the number 1 next to the number 3 on my birthday cake (because let’s face it 31 individual candles gets too crowded on a cake) and scratch off the title of my list to rename it “Things to do before I turn 35” because after all I look at age for what it truly is – just a number.

Ain’t it?

Jab we Met

This may sound like an ordinary story but this is my story and as someone once said, the greatest stories ever told are the ones that are your own.

Once upon a time, there became four best friends namely Serena Vander Woodsen (S), Tenchi  Noike(Chi), Anne Trevena  and Debbie Johnson (DJ).  These weren’t just any people, they were the extraordinary kind for they possessed the powers of witchcraft and wizardry, and yes indeed they were magic folk. It was four years ago, when the soon to be awesome foursome received their welcoming letters from one of the top Big 4 Magic schools in the country, namely Dogwarts with a green dot. Their parents oh so proud sent them off on their very first day of school with their eyes glittering with pride and filled with hope for their little ones.

S and DJ connected almost instantly, they had a lot in common and their ice broke the minute S informed DJ about a certain ritual in Dogwarts which every first year must embark on known as ‘sorting’. So these four strangers then headed out towards a faraway land known to the common folk as Antalya.  Once, they reached Antalya, guided by their strict headmistress Mrs Sea Square, they realized they weren’t the only magic school in the country; the entire place was flooded by young wizards and witches from all over, all of whom had come to the place for one purpose only and that was to be sorted into their destiny’s that lie ahead. The four main houses to be sorted into were Audipuffs, Fasenclaws, Consullindor and ERSlytherin. None of the four wanted to be sorted into ERSlytherin because they knew that the students who graduated from that house were classified as dull and landed up with boring jobs mostly related to something they heard sounds a lot like Information Technology (bazinga!) But little did they know what destiny had in store, for all of them at random were selected to serve three years in the Audipuff house. Now they were forced to hang out even if they didn’t want to and get to know each other better. S and DJ found Chi kinda cute and the two walked off giggling and wondering where he was from (with a name so unique to them, they couldn’t tell).

When they returned from Antalya, they were introduced to their immediate supervisor– Mrs Daisy, who they thought looked so pretty and would be an absolute delight to be supervised under. Boy, were they wrong, not only was she the assistant to Mrs Seasquare but she also carried with her a magical vuvuzela which  made a piercing sound when any of the students were doing something wrong. They said, she had eyes at the back of her head because of a transfiguration gone horribly wrong a long time ago; the awesome foursome were terrified of her. Many sword fights and disarming spell competitions later, we get to know our friends a little better. While Chi was the silent and strong types, S wasn’t the vocally shy type with a highly opinionated and fiercely loyal nature. Anne was the kind always looking forward to extracurricular activities more than her actual courses in school and her professors were honestly fed up of trying to get her to actually sit quietly and pay attention in classes. She had very different ideas, she wanted classes to be conducted outside in the open instead of indoors and she wanted Broom Flying 101 to be a course available to first years as well (because she desperately wanted to learn to fly). DJ was quite well rounded and seemed to be a mix of the three; for she not only expressed her opinions and dared to dream but at times she learnt to shut up as well.

Finally, they entered their second year in school, with just about another year to go for graduation they thought they needed to do something different this year. They were tired of their Audipuff professors and constant routine of classes that started at 8 am and ended at 6 pm and sometimes being forced into detentions till 11pm. They wanted to get out and experience the world like normal children and so they did, they spent 4 days in the wild camping and telling ghost stories, they hunted crocodiles and ate them too (except Anne, she is pureblood so she doesn’t eat meat). When they returned from their trip, they become famous and everyone at Dogwarts wanted to hear their stories.  Anne ever so proud of her photography skills managed to submit them in her photocrafty class and won a prize too.  Meanwhile, Mrs SeaSquare and Mrs Daisy were torturing our awesome foursome with crazy detention hours and a lot of home work to do during their free periods. But the four of them decided to stick together because as they say misery Loves Company and so they decided they needed to create an intervention. Every week they decided to get together and do an outside school activity which doesn’t involve any magic and which common folk do in their pastime as well, for example they would attend film festivals, tennis matches, concerts and occasionally rent out cottages in faraway places only for an excuse for a road trip. S would constantly suggest they should make a trip to a place she had heard being described as heaven and was called ‘heels before meals’, unfortunately for the other three it was always meals before heels so they never did land up going there. They would make a big deal of each other’s birthdays especially for Chi since he was the only boy of the group (and also because they secretly still had no idea where he was from). Sure there were the occasional bitchy glares and snide remarks on the side but at the end of the day, four of them knew that they were always there for each other and always made one and another feel special.

Their final year in Dogwarts started with much anticipation and a bit of anxiety as well. Anticipation to finally graduate and anxiety for change was coming. And even though change is always welcome and something they look forward to but deep down it is also the one thing they dread the most.

However after a couple months, one fine day, Anne woke up for her 8 am classes as usual and realized she couldn’t do magic anymore. She just couldn’t. However she tried to swing her magic wand, clockwise or counter clockwise and tried different accents for all the kinds of spells she knew, she realized after a while that all the magic from her blood was absorbed and she just couldn’t produce another magic trick.

In an instant, she dashed to her three besties who were horrified to hear the news and knew she had to leave Dogwarts immediately. Without a doubt, they stood by her side and ensured her that everything happens for a reason. They convinced her that the reason she can’t do magic anymore is because there is a greater cause out there for her. They had no other logical explanation for the sudden disappearance of her ability to perform magic. They knew this was a common happening for they had seen it happen before to many of their fellow students but they never once imagined it would happen to one of their own.

And so with a truckload of tears (a few shed by Mrs Daisy herself, who knew?), a gazillion cherished memories and some tougher times left behind, Anne bid farewell, standing on the platform like a little girl she once was and waving over to her three best friends who she knew she would never sit with in class again. She knew that she might be just an ordinary girl now but she also came to realize that the time spent together with the three of them had been nothing less than magical.

Becoming Jane’s Fan.

I recently entered the world of literature created from the feisty imagination of Jane Austen herself. The first copy I grabbed to start reading five years ago was in fact Pride and Prejudice (no guesses there, everyone has heard of this book). I’ll be sincere; it took me six months to finish reading this classic. Maybe it was because I didn’t appreciate literature back then or maybe it was because the writing style was quite different and beyond my grasp. But it did actually at one point in time, to put it lightly – bore me to death.

Ergo enter the year 2010, this year I was gifted two books – Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park. I also managed to finish most of her other books including Emma and my personal favorite Northanger Abbey. I am yet to read the Persuasion, however, I am quite certain I will start and finish the book before we hit New Years Eve making this a 2010 accomplishment.

Ironically enough, I entered the Jane Austen book club in the same year it was discovered by Oxford academics that Jane’s work was vastly edited by William Gifford, a poet and a critic of her era. Analysis of her manuscripts came heavily down to the conclusion that Jane couldn’t spell and had bad punctuation manners; also the Hampshire accents described in her book are anything but real. But none of this really mattered to me or to hard core Janeite’s (a term coined by Rudyard Kipling) I am sure. Because nobody reads her books for her flawless grammar usage or her perfect punctuation marks. Even the spellings of words used in her time won’t do us any good in this era. People read her books for her well developed and intricate characters which are so complex and far from perfection but yet make us yearn to be like them or with them in their social setting.

Austen manages to draw a line between good and evil, whether it’s from Mr Darcy’s (Pride and Prejudice) arrogant behavior that makes you hate him at first to his sudden declaration of Love for Elizabeth which then makes you fall in love with him. Or if its Edward Ferrers (Sense and Sensibility) betrayal towards Elinor Dashwood when the readers find out he has been engaged to another woman to how you eventually learn to appreciate his integrity and honor to stick with his decision thus exemplifying the gentleman code of loyalty. A person can be good and bad at the same time and that is exactly what Jane Austen brings to your attention with characters of people that are real, because that’s how the world really is, even now. So even though Mr Darcy is conceited and arrogant; his refined personality, his undying persistent love for Elizabeth that brings humility within him, his intelligence and his forthright nature makes him a good person and a suitable match for the protagonist of the book at the end of the day. Similarly, Mr Ferrers may not be handsome or dashing, he may instead be timid, awkward and dependent on his mother’s income to support himself but he is also benevolent, sympathetic and has a good sense governed by fair judgment and understanding which is what Elinor Dashwood remains attracted to the most.

But it’s not just the male characters that are misunderstood in her books, the female ones are an equal mystery as well. For example, Fanny Price (Mansfield Park) who secretly harbors feelings for Edmund Bertram (who is in love with another woman), and continuously rejects the charming and rich Mr Henry Thorpe. Despite his persistence in continuous courtship and flirtatious behavior towards her, she gets confused and accepts his proposal only to go back on her word the next day. Or our favorite heroine, the quick witted Elizabeth Bennet who is prejudiced against the handsome Darcy and constantly battling her emotions towards him while alluring and leading Mr Wickham on at the same time only to eventually fall in love with Mr Darcy herself. Or if it’s the slightly spoiled and meddlesome young woman named Emma who is determined to remain a spinster all her life but wants to play cupid and specialize in match making services with everyone else around her all the while refusing to face her own deep feelings for a certain Mr Knightley who is not only her best friend but her biggest critic as well. Or if it’s the obsessed by Gothicism, Catherine Morland (Northanger Abbey) who makes crazy ludicrous assumptions by suspecting the General of murdering his wife only to manage to look like a fool in front of the man she loves the most, the ever so fine Mr Henry Tilney.

These women seem deeply confused and that is the one parallelism we draw from these characters and the modern day women. It’s fascinating to know that it’s not just this generation’ women that are messed up, Jane Austen created these characters way back in the 1800’s. What a relief for us isn’t it? We were under the impression that it’s because of today’s advancement of women and the development of technology that has given us so many more choices which has made women of our generation hasty and quick in making assumptions and passing judgments only to be stranded in a portal of confusion, but it’s not just that; it’s an innate quality that comes imbedded in our chromosomes from generations earlier that makes us that way. Or perhaps Jane Austen never did write and inspire from real individuals in her time and instead coughed up these main characters all from her imagination, but even if she did, her imagination for back in the day would have been considered wild and absurd but it wasn’t, hence justifying the truth beneath these qualities.

I admire Jane, for choosing a path that wasn’t considered suitable back in the day; she didn’t choose to marry although I am pretty certain she wanted to, considering all her book themes revolve around the same, she didn’t choose to specialize in knitting or learning to play piano. Instead she chose to drive down the road of a writer, a profession which hadn’t received its due credit and high regard back in the day. After recent developments I admire her more because it was discovered that her writing wasn’t perfect which makes her an almost normal person like most of us. But most of all I admire her for influencing us with the characters in 1800’s brought to life through her books and reminding us that we are not alone in this mess of a world of emotions.

Why do women need Superman?

If you have seen the last superman movie that came out in 2006 – Superman Returns, Lois Lane is said to have won a Pulitzer Prize for her article written in the Daily Planet titled “Why the world doesn’t need superman?” But for the life of me, I can’t imagine what the content of her article must have been let alone visualize a good enough rebuttal to actually win a Pulitzer. It seems impossible for me to think of even one good reason why the world doesn’t need super heroes.

Here, I am going to tell you exactly why the world needs superman, and why the women of the world need Superman.

Last week, my friend Penelope and I went to watch the latest Night Shyamalan movie called Devil. The movie was honestly a bit scary but then again we are known to be hopeless romantic movie lovers. So after much debate and contemplation, we decided to swallow our unexplainable fear for the horror genre and headed out to watch the movie. Past the entire nail biting, holding each other’s hands, covering our faces and wondering why the hell we agreed to come for this movie in the first place we still weren’t at rest until the movie ended with the last dialogue hovering above the audience – “If the devil is real then God must be too” and we need superman exactly for the same reason we need God.

We need someone to watch over us. Even though the movie had a profound effect on both of us and we swore never to take an elevator again (or to ever go for another horror movie) we still left the movie feeling a bit hopeful. That just makes you realize what a strong word hope is, and no matter how many number of movies are made about it or how many songs are written on it, the word hope never manages to take away the spirit it ignites within us. And that’s exactly what Superman stands for – Hope; above all other qualities such as truth, justice, and humanity. The “S” symbol may have been created by the imagination of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, but it stands for more than just Superman.

The world out there is filled with too many critics; food critics, movie critics, book critics, and you name it. Even blogging is a form of venting our opinions and criticizing the world and the injustice that we experience in it. Women in general nag a lot and what is another word for nagging? Yup, criticizing. It’s just easier to lay our views on someone and tell them what’s wrong out there rather than suggest solutions on how to fix it. The world has more critics than leaders. And without leaders, we won’t have followers and without followers, well we just won’t have our world heading in any direction. But having leaders isn’t important here. Having the right leader is important, which is what the Red and Blue Blur stands for. Sure he is from a different planet and has super speed, x ray vision, super strength and so much more. But he is someone who is dependable, loyal and good-hearted and people look up to him and want to be like him. It’s no wonder that every 8 year old kid owns a superman costume and every woman secretly wants to own one. They just need someone to follow and Clark Kent leads the way in the right direction.

To tell you the truth, I am in love with the superman and YES it helps that hotties such as Tom Welling and Dean Cain land up bagging the roles of the bumbling, geeky, mild mannered reporter Clark Kent and the clean cut, baby faced, fiercely strong superman at the same time. I guess in a way it’s the two shades of character in a man that is the most appealing to women – one who is completely helpless and emotionally available and the other who is literally out of your reach with the ability to fly. Women in general want someone who is not just emotionally available but who can take care of them and protect them at the same time. These two character shades of Clark Kent and Superman represent two sides of a coin, and if all men were like that then I can assure you that all the women of the world would have a lot of pennies to spare.

So there you have it, the three most important reasons why women need superman, women need hope (ok ok so do men but I am biased!) Without hope we are just little girls at heart lost in a big man’s game.  Women need to believe in leadership, they need to take control of where their lives are heading. Enough of the saying ‘Behind every successful man there is a woman’. Don’t let her be behind. Let the saying be ‘With every successful man there is a successful woman’ (see I am not that biased). Finally, women need to believe that there is a possibility that the men in their lives may be disguising more shades of emotions apart from what they portray and that their fathers, husbands and sons might just be a camouflage of the red cape underneath.

As for me, I haven’t given up hope. He’s out there, fighting crime and leading a double life. He is struggling to strive for peace in the world, as well as bringing home take out for Lois Lane. I never want to doubt it, that hope exists and so does Superman.

Thirty. Unmarried. An Indian. A woman.

I am a 30 year old unmarried Indian Woman and I enjoy writing as a hobby, however I am too shy to show my work to everyone because I am afraid that even though I am clandestinely proud of what I write, I may not be good enough for the world to praise. But to my utter astonishment, my mother absolutely loved my latest piece – Another Cinderella story. She read it on my blog and was super impressed by it (But in no offence, she teaches kindergarten and her English is as good as ABC). As soon as she finished reading the article, she spent the entire day calling magazines to find out where she could publish it. To be honest, I was secretly swelling with pride but managed to find my feet on the ground and appear half amused. With a wide grin on my face, I turned to her and said “Mom, you are absolutely adorable but seriously I have a long way to go before I can even start getting noticed”. She looked at me and said “Nonsense beta! Imagine the number of marriage proposals we will get for you from rich families once they see your name in newspapers and magazines”. I sighed. It all comes down to that one word – with a capital D – Doom. Did I say D? I meant M – A big fat M that points the cupid arrow straight through the hole in the number zero of my age.

For Indian parents, it starts and ends at the big three zero. Women at thirty in our culture don’t stay unmarried for so long, because it inevitably brings about the question – What is wrong with her? Nothing. Absolutely nothing is wrong with her. She is beautiful and talented. She has a professional career and she has her heart in the right place. But they persist – something must be wrong with her. Because why isn’t she MARRIED YET?!

Could it have occurred to them that perhaps the same woman is now choosy about her groom? She is taking her time to pick the right man. Perhaps 30 years of her life’s experience has taught her that maturity comes with learning to be patient and not to rush into things. But nope, all they wonder is, how could she have rejected the proposal of a well settled boy in Seattle from Microsoft who makes $120,000 a year (after taxes mind you and not including bonuses).  When said to them, “but mom we just don’t click!” she responds, “Hain?! Click! What do you mean by click?, he will keep you in a nice big house with perhaps a spare bedroom for us when we visit!”

 My mum always says “Pyaar Ho jaayega” (Love will happen) as opposed to you will fall in love. I rather like it when she says that actually, I mean, nobody really wants to use the word ‘fall’ in Love do they? Let’s just make it happen shall we. But nevertheless, the arguments continue and the various boys come and go. Someone is too tall (6’3!), someone is too boring; someone doesn’t want to have kids (seriously man! The alarm on the biological clock is the number one reason women want to get married). Of course, after all the rejections, my parents come up with one conclusion – “Dear Lord, there is some external force blocking the mind of our daughter and this is a fate we simply cannot afford to accept”. Fate rather Destiny is an excuse made up for when we have no other explanations for the things not going our way in our life. Similarly, my parents cannot understand that I am simply being picky about spending the rest of my life with someone but instead they resort to cursing the pseudosciences such as astrology, numerology and the time of my birth for such hindrances. But what is the one thing you know about Indian parents on a mission to get their daughter married? Yes, that’s right. They never give up.

The next day, I enter my house exhausted from work and I notice that my living room has turned upside down. My mother, making samosas in the kitchen calls out “ Beta don’t worry, I have moved the shoe rack to the balcony.” Say what?! “Oh it’s just that we called this astrologer home and he said we mustn’t keep the shoe rack near the entrance for it obstructs good things to enter the door”. I flared back at her and said “Do you mean it obstructs the rich sindhi families with eligible sons from entering our house?” She chimes back in, “Now, you mustn’t make fun, do not forget this astrologer has been in our family for years and he is the reason why your cousin Renu got married last year in the first place”. That was It.! Last straw, to be compared to my poor cousin Renu whose sole purpose in life was just to find a suitable boy and who never managed to achieve anything else with her life but the art of cooking to keep her in-laws happy and who with after a much rather long job hunt sorry groom hunt landed up marrying a guy based in Chicago only after her father promised him a large sum in dowry.! I sat my mother down and decided to speak from my heart “Mom, this has got to stop, why are you so worried?”  She replied plainly “I just don’t want you to land up alone”. I blinked. I understood now. She was just scared for me that’s all. I looked at her calmly and replied “Mum, look at me. I am not scared because I know everything will be just fine. Just learn to have faith and stop doing these silly things please, you are making my life miserable.” She hid a tear, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear “you’re right, I am so sorry. He will find you when the time is right, I know he will”. I smiled with a sense of achievement and walked towards my room just to hear her call out “But beta before you sleep could you please send me some good pictures of yourself because Yogesh uncle needs to send them to a suitable boy he has found for you in London”.

Oh well. What did I say? They just never give up.

Another Cinderella Story

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who was carrying grocery bags and heading home. Very heavy grocery bags which looked like they would rip open any moment leaving her to collect all the fruits and vegetables on the ground. Then, there was a young man, a good looking man in his twenties who seemed to be in a hurry and walked right ahead of her to open the door. She pauses, she smiles as he reaches to hold the door open, she makes her way through but he beats her to it and shuts the door in front of her face. The unsuspecting victim whams into the door, ouch! Her face starts to reflect the colors of utter shock which highlights into complete embarrassment and paints its way to pure disgust. She wonders, Oh my god that was bloody rude!  Then she looks around slyly, she is embarrassed; did anyone see her run into the glass door? She struggles to pick up her groceries and turns around and pushes the door open. She then ponders – why did I expect him to open the door for me? Uh, how about plain humanity?  Or perhaps she expected him to be a chivalrous gentleman and make her life a bit easier by holding the door open? She wasn’t asking for too much was she? But yet she stood there completely bewildered and a tad hurt. She drills, she analyses, she argues, she concludes. Finally, she goes up to her room, removes her laptop and begins to start writing…

Deep down, this is something known as the Cinderella Complex, which is defined by the urban dictionary as “when a woman (often submissive and needy) spends all her time searching for her prince charming to come rescue her; brainwashed by rosy romantic images and ideals”. This complex was first explored by Colette Dowling, who basically wrote the book “The Cinderella Complex, Woman’s hidden fear of Independence”. The title says it all, she talks about the fact how women hide what they truly feel – Dependent. They are secretly desperate and seeking a man to solely rely on him for their needs and wants (and also to maybe open doors for them!). This concept is derived from the Walt Disney fairytale of a poor little woman named Cinderella who is abused from dusk to dawn and made to work like a slave by her step mother and step sisters and whose life only drastically improves once her prince charming rescues her.

“Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth, her son protects her in old age – a woman does not deserve independence” – W.M Theodore De Bary, Sources of Indian Tradition

BLAH! Did you read that paragraph right? Today’s modern generation women DON’T NEED RESCUE! Or do they? Question is – Is it all talk or do we mean it? Or do some of us mean it and some of us don’t, if some of us do, how do you distinguish between the ones who really need men to rescue them and those who really don’t? Why is no one talking about this?  Why are woman silently suffering the hidden fear of independence? Is it because it is expected of us now? Ask a man what does he want in a woman, and he replies – “oh, I am looking for a woman who is career oriented, smart and who can take care of herself”. In other words – independent with a capital I. Nope, they aren’t looking for women who would rely on them for anything or expect anything out of them. So how do the women respond? –“I am exactly what you are looking for”. In other words, we are women who lack the need to depend and rely on men only because we are expected to display the attribute of complete independence. And because of this expectation built by men and even a few feminists in our era, we mould ourselves and restrain ourselves in behaving the way we normally would if such restrictions weren’t applied or if we felt that our vulnerability would be used against us.

If you ask me, I frankly prefer the modern day version of Cinderella, the one where Hilary duff works her way through high school, gets all the inheritance from her father, manages to score the football quarter back and hottest boy in school, gets into a prestigious program in Princeton University and then runs off to college into an independent free world all on her own. But hey then again – how do u know if I really mean it?