An email – “Divorce by Mutual Consent: How to protect my child’s interests?”

Sharing an email, please help with advice and information. 

Dear IHM,

After almost eleven years of a passive abusive relationship, I have finally decided to go ahead and seek judicial separation, however I am concerned about my 7 years old daughter’s future considering I have nobody on my side of the family. I have no siblings and my mother is 70.

I am highly qualified but not working due to mental health issues (depression) and some medical issues.

My husband is apparently in a relationship with someone but he has never admitted and I have no evidence to prove it. How can evidence be collected for adultery?

What all conditions must be put in a mutual settlement agreement for the safety of my little girls’ future? Her father owns no immovable property, only monetary savings etc.

He is in a private sector job which he is about to quit (seems to avoid paying alimony/maintenance.)

What should I do?

Related Posts:

An email from an anonymous Indian Liberated Wife.

Response and a Question from the Anonymous Indian Liberated Wife

Should women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable property?

Three reasons why women deserve a share in inherited property

The ugly truth about Indian divorce: Why the new cabinet law is important  

Divorce on the rise in India, but archaic laws leave women cast aside

Division of Property after divorce

For Indian Women [and children], Divorce Is a Raw Deal

Should couples’ assets be treated as joint property?

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

Cabinet clears bill: Equal rights in Marital property, Easier divorce.

The traditional arrangement is equal in distributing the responsibilities?

Indian women and their Easy Wealth.

“Nobody has more right to live in this country than me, and I am not going to leave. So shut up”, says Shah Rukh Khan

Indian Homemaker:

This is how I felt while living in Maharashtra (etc). I did not intend or care or feel the need to learn the language or culture of anywhere in India to live there. Being a law abiding citizen of India was enough. There was nothing to prove to fellow citizens no matter which part of the country they lived or ‘belonged to’.

Originally posted on Hille Le:


Shahrukh Khan, during a Twitter townhall with a leading media outfit, said that he is open to the idea of  giving up his award as a symbolic means of protest against extreme intolerance in India.

“Yes, as a symbolic gesture I would give it up,” the actor said, referring to the spate of other film personalities, artists, writers, scientists and others who have returned awards as a measure of protest in recent months. “I do think there is intolerance. There is extreme intolerance,” the actor added in a hard hitting statement.

Shahrukh Khan, when asked about communalism in the country, reiterated the importance of India’s secular fabric. When asked about his identity as a Muslim in India, the actor said: “No one can question my patriotism. How dare anyone?” adding that the biggest mistake a patriot could make was to go against secularism.


Actor Shah Rukh Khan, celebrating his 50th birthday…

View original 545 more words

An email: “I cannot stay in this marriage for society anymore. But I’m so so scared of what people will say.”

Sharing an email.

Dear IHM,

I’m writing this letter mainly to pour my heart out. I’m broken and I don’t know who to speak to.

I’m on the verge of filing for a divorce. I got married in 2012, when I wasn’t even 23. I’ve given more than three years of my life to this relationship and I have nothing left.

I’m tired of taunts, insults and indirect demands by my in laws. My husband does not support me. He does not earn anything as he is involved in his dad’s business, and we depend upon his father financially. Their business is not doing well at all and at the time of marriage, they lied to my family about their income.

My FIL taunts me all the time and my husband has the audacity to say that taunting suits his dad’s personality. My FIL has asked my dad for money a few times but I never let my dad help.

I’m tired. My husband is a spineless fool and I cannot stay in this marriage for society anymore. But I’m so so scared of what people will say. Please help me.

Related Posts:

Is it possible that the ones whose disapproval is dreaded the most are those who are most likely to express disapproval (and occasional approval)?

Is your relationship healthy?

How much does your neighbours’ third cousin’s uncle’s opinion matter to you?

A daughter in law’s legal rights in her in law’s house are the same as her husband’s rights. Whatever is his, is hers.

“Now I just think of marriage as contract to go serve some stranger family. He made it clear that I could have ended in a much worse situation.”

Should women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable property?

When a newly married Indian woman gives up her career, what else does she give up?

Can dowry ensure happiness and security for a girl?

Can dowry be compared to inheritance?

Slowing Down

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

Do you feel you are “always on the go”?  As soon as you finish one list, another one appears?  I feel like I’m running all the time these days and I need to stop.  It’s not that I don’t prioritize.  I do the most important things on any list and let many things go.  The problem is that there are too many lists.  I don’t know which one to let go.  There’s lists of things to do for work, home, kids – all the necessities to make a living and run a home and get basic meals on the table.  The dishes keep coming and coming – they seem to take a life of their own when you have 2 teenage boys with voracious appetites.  There’s all the fun lists – books I want to read, hills I want to hike up, pictures I want to paint.  There are kids’ lists that are partly fun (cheering them from the sidelines) and partly work (the endless driving, the immature phases).

There are good friends.  Not giving time to friendship makes it wither away.  Since the people I can genuinely connect with are fewer, I feel like I must treasure those relationships, give them time and interest.  There is writing – which  sometimes feels like a fundamental need – it’s this need to express myself and explore my feelings until I come face to face with who I really am or who I’m becoming.  And yet, I’ve been neglecting it lately.  There is the support group.  I want to help, I really do, I find it immensely rewarding to help someone get over a hump or watch them take control.  But I must also learn to draw the line and say, look I need my space and time, I can only give so much, I can’t get drained.  There is Ryan’s autism.  A journey that is both challenging and rewarding, frustrating and exhilarating.  And then there is marriage – with all it’s complications and nuances.  Even when both people are decent human beings, they must work at their relationship, because they are evolving/growing and must either grow together or grow apart.

And so, I’ve been thinking about slowing down lately.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot.  I was not sure how to.  I love all my activities.  I’m wired to be active.  I take on a lot willingly.  Pretty soon, I end up biting off way more than I can chew.  Lately, I’ve been longing for a break – empty space, if you will.

I started thinking about walking.  I’m a runner and I thought – why not try to literally slow down.  What is it like to just walk?  With no destination in mind?  Where I can pretend to be, if only for a few minutes, a child, free of responsibilities and ambitions, free of accomplishments and setbacks, free of history and introspection, full of lazy curiosity, aimlessly going whereever my legs take me?

Long before people consciously exercised, they walked.  From one village to another to sell their produce.  To the river to fetch water.  To buy groceries at the corner store down the street. I wonder if these people ever enjoyed their walks in the way we do in modern times.  Did they notice the blue sky above and take grateful breaths of the fresh air?

My father often told us many anecdotes from his childhood (he had a most interesting one) and one of them was about him and his brother once deciding to walk to the next town in search of a girl.  She had come to their village for a festival and they were enamored of her. They decided to go to her house and say hello and pretend they were “just passing by”. They set out early one morning, when their mother was out of town, skipped school, and loaded their pockets with some rare coins to impress her.

I don’t quite remember how that story ended.  Just imagine the freedom of simply dropping everything (school/job/kids) and deciding to go walking to the next town. They probably sweated in the sun and got dusty and tired. Maybe they did not realize that this simple freedom to follow a whim was a luxury in itself.

I tried to bring up the subject of walking with my hiking friends and they launched into a discussion of which app is the best for tracking miles and setting goals.

Most people I now know take their fitness seriously. I have friends who work long hours and still hit the gym at 9 pm. Perhaps we take fitness too seriously, in modern times? Or perhaps it is the physical part of fitness that draws most of our interest and energy.  I wonder sometimes. In a recent conversation at my book club, one woman was talking about taking up mountain biking. Others joined in sharing their own “pushing yourself to the limit” adventures. The women in the group range from those in their 30s through their 50s.

I think it’s wonderful that older women are more into fitness and strength training now. Physical fitness does translate to more confidence and self-reliance.  It is also a positive thing that many of us (women 30s and beyond who in the past dedicated themselves to the needs of others) now set aside time to focus on ourselves.

Although I agreed with most things that were being said, there was this nagging thought at the back of my head. What about the forgotten habit of walking – something people took for granted in the past, and something most people don’t seem to have the time for these days. Maybe I should call it strolling. It is not exercise. It has a gentle pace. It is simply going from one place to another using your legs.

Remember my thought about LITERALLY slowing down?  So one day, in the evening, after all the work was done, (and especially the dishes done, so the kitchen’s clean and welcoming for making coffee the next morning!), my work email cleaned up, and the kids’ homework was done, I went for a walk at this small lake (a large pond really) in my neighborhood.

And all of summer, I’ve been going for this lovely aimless walk.

I don’t take my phone and have no way of telling the time. I do not count the miles or the rounds. I just …. walk.

There is something different about walking in the evening. I usually go running early in the morning when the weather is cooler and I can enjoy nature’s beauty and silence.

But in these summer turning to fall evenings, I notice the people more. I see people winding up their dinner, chatting with each other at kitchen windows, the smell of their cooking still in the air, even after they’d eaten it.

From a little corner house, there are always the sounds of piano at a certain time – beautiful notes floating out of the window and drifting away into the trees and beyond. I love passing by the piano house. After a few walks I realize who it is that’s playing so beautifully. It is Leanne, a girl in my older son’s class from kindergarten – she is gifted in music and has given many performances at school. I remember coming here and talking to her mom about some PTA meeting. Leanne also has a singing voice that would make your eyes moist with pure joy. Oh, she must be a teenager now, I think, passing her house.

There is an old Chinese man, probably in his 80s who walks determinedly everyday, his back slightly bent, but his chin up, looking straight ahead. He has a slight limp and uses a walking stick. The interesting thing about him is – he is both determined and relaxed, at once, both purposeful and calm.  And somehow I can’t help feeling inspired when I see him. I too should toss aside all my aches and pains, my sciatica and my RLS, my troubles at work and home, push my chin up and just walk, I tell myself.

There is a teenage couple who usually stroll, completely absorbed in each other. One day, as they walk even more aimlessly than me, or rather glide, looking into each other’s eyes, they go straight into a hedge and fall rather awkwardly. I try to stop laughing but can’t. They sheepishly join in my laughter without getting up. I try to think what it is like to be 16 again and your whole life awaits you – an uneven bundle of hopes, promises, adventures, experiences, mistakes, learning, friendships, possibilities, all tied together clumsily with the impatient hands of youth ……. But wait, I tell myself, that is still possible. At any age. Even if my adventures are a little time bound, and they happen around ponds rather than lakes, I can still try new things, still enjoy the unexpected.

I run into my irritable, opinionated neighbor Patrick who somehow manages to have a hearty wave for me when we pass each other while walking. Patrick is so handy, he cleans his own roof, repairs the plumbing, fixes his car, and messes with his lawn mower – all this at age 75 or so. He often gives me advice – how I should’ve bought the other car, the one with the better gas mileage, or we should’ve opted for a different sprinkler system, or why our fence needs fixing before it comes crashing down on him. I would wonder if Patrick could ever talk to me without giving advice. But after living next to him for over a decade, I know that this is just how he talks. It is part of him. I nod and let it go. He’s been a helpful neighbor in many ways. Why is Patrick smiling on his walk, I wonder. He seems transformed. And I think of all his helpfulness over the years, as I wave back to him, saluting our up-and-down-but-overall-pleasant neighborly relationship.

I run into Indian parents visiting their children here and nod or smile to them. I run into people with dogs, especially the blonde lady with the golden retriever. Oh what fun it is to watch her toss a ball and see the dog leap into the air to catch it! They have a strange resemblance – the lady and the dog – longish, pleasant faces, golden wavy hair, warm energetic personalities. Another strangely similar human dog couple is a quiet bulldog and a short, squarish man who walks him with a tight expression.

And finally, as I round the corner leading back to my house, I hear the familiar thump. The thump of basketball from the lone player who comes after dark, after all the teenagers have left. She practices alone. I watch her wield the ball expertly and toss it in one smooth motion into the hoop – in that instant it feels as if the ball and her are indistinguishable, flowing as a single wave of energy.

I come home with a lightness. A subtle glow.  I haven’t really talked to a single person on my walk but why do I feel so connected? I no longer have a clue what I need to be worried about for the next day, what problems need solving, which people are depending on me to deliver, and who needs which report ASAP. The entire walk feels like one long deep breath, a huge letting go of a lot of things building up, weighing me down, crowding my mind.  It’s a wonderful feeling of just being. I know it’s temporary but it’s all I’ve got.

How about you? Have you tried to slow down? Have you gone for a stroll lately? What do you see? What do you hear? How does the walking make you feel? If not walking, what new slowing down experience(s) have you been up to lately? Please share how it’s going.

(P.S. This post was written about a month ago when we had the last of those long summer evenings with late sunsets.  Now in October, it gets darker earlier and I don’t see as many neighbors any more.  Soon, the wind will pick up, temperatures will drop, and most people will stay indoors at this time of the day. But I think I’ll continue walking.  The stars will keep me company.)

Jungle ka Dastoor, Dadri Lynching, Beef Ban……..

Originally posted on I love life... so I explore.:

Mob killed Akhlaq and severely wounded his son in Dadri over allegations they had eaten beef. Meat sent for forensics, sickening! Don’t know what is hurting me more, lynching of a man in the name of religion or police sending the meat for testing, whether it is beef or some other meat. What, if it was beef, will the rest of the family be handed over to the mob, they had also eaten the meat. If it was not beef  will there be an eye for an eye kind of justice or by some magical religious powers Akhlaq will be brought to life. Law of the land doesn’t permit this, how can this be justified? Might is right is usually called the jungle ka kanoon. I would not like to insult the animals or the jungle. Reminds me of this beautiful poem by Parveen Shakir-

Suna hai junglon ka bhi…

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“I am perfectly alright with being ‘unattractive’ to a majority of boys – love is not some job interview where you try tailor yourself to someone’s needs.”

Sharing an email.

Dear IHM,

Please do publish this on your blog if you see fit – I would like some opinions from your readers.

I’m am a 28 year old woman living in Bangalore. I am built rather small – I’m skinny and flat chested. I have short hair and don’t wear make up or jewellery. At the workplace I wear formal shirts and trousers (minus jewellery) when requires. Otherwise, I’m generally dressed in T shirts and jeans/shorts. At the ocassional wedding that I do attend, I wear ethnic clothes but this rarely happens more than once a year.

I like the way I look – I have no desire to change my appearance. I feel unnatural and uncomfortable in dresses/skirts/salwars/sarees/traditionally female clothes. I identify as female and do not have gender dysphoria. I simply enjoy dressing casual. No personal hygiene issues, my clothes are always clean.

However, I’m perpetually at the receiving end of comments from my female friends /co workers/ acquantainces/ relatives/enemies/ etc regarding my appearance.

Typical examples of comments:
“Why are you like THIS? ” (gesturing at my body)
“When are we going to see you in a dress?”
“Why don’t you try some lipstick at least?”
“You look sleepy” (I do not wear makeup, my eyes look like anyone’s normal, unlined eyes)
” Have you ever had a boyfriend?” (said in patronising tone)
“Maybe guys don’t look at you because of your small breasts” (my own sister, flesh and blood)
“Why don’t you get a push up bra?”
“Do you think anyone will want to marry her?” (obnoxious co worker.When I asked her what she meant she said that I looked too “careless”. When I asked if she meant that I looked like I do not cook or clean, she responded with ” No not that…other things.”)
” Come lets go buy you some good clothes” ( gracious offers by random people who think I need to be “taught” how to dress)
” Grow up sometime, be a woman!”

All these comments are generally thrown at me out of the blue – when I’m talking about something else entirely, when I casually mention that I need a new pair of jeans or sometimes just after I’ve complemented someone on their appearance.
They are not presented as suggestions – if i say something like “I like how I look/ I dont want to wear other clothes” , people act like I’m being unreasonable.

Ironically, I’m always the first person to compliment someone on their new clothes or hair, or reassure them when they are needlessly fretting about their weight. Corny as it sounds, I never think people LOOK ugly.. I only see ugliness in behaviour, actions etc.

I understand having to dress a certain way for the workplace – I think it is an unavoidable evil. However I simply refuse to change the way I look in casual settings.

I am perfectly alright with being “unattractive” to a majority of boys – love is not some job interview where you try tailor yourself to someone’s needs. If this means that I am single forever, then so be it – the thought does not bring me the slightest bit of sadness.

However, what is suffering now are all my female friendships. Talking about clothes and appearances seems to be requisite in these, barring some special, rare few.

I generally respond to such comments with a snarky comeback or tell them to mind their own business, but of late I am getting tired. This has been going on since I was 16. In all these years, I have met a grand total of 2 girls (my best friends) who have never asked me to change my appearance.

I love going out and meeting people, but now I dread talking to anyone because eventually the question of my appearance always comes up. Having to be defensive all the time drains the life out of me. When I’m introduced to a new girl anywhere, I automatically shrink away and stop talking. Being unfriendly seems to be the only way to avoid these comments.

How would you suggest I deal with such situations and the associated emotions?
Also does anyone have similar experiences? Does it get better when you get older?


Related Posts:

How would life be different if you never had to give a thought to how you looked?

What makes a woman look beautiful?

Does beauty really lie in the eyes of the beholder?

Why do Indian women like to wear western clothes?

The way a woman dresses…

“He said my top was not in line with company prescribed code and that it made him very uncomfortable during the meeting.”

Not Just a Pair of Jeans

“So why do we wear clothes again??”

“I gathered all my courage and I have confessed about my relationship with the guy to my parents.”

Sharing an email.

I wonder at the parents’ lack of interest in finding out who their adult child wants to marry. If the parents claim to be so involved (as most Indians parents do) and are so sure they ‘know better’, then how is it that they don’t want to be sure that he is not abusive and controlling?

What if he is an amazing person and someone just right for their child? How is it that this isn’t their main concern?

Also, with so much focus on seeking their parents’ approval, should the couple need to talk to someone, have second thoughts or sense some other issues, what would they do?

Here’s the email.

Dear IHM,

I am writing this letter out of misery.

I have been in relationship with a guy who is out of caste. It’s been three years now and I was always serious about him. My parents have been looking for many matrimonial prospects for me but somehow I gathered all my courage and I have confessed about my relationship about the guy to my parents.

My family is a very orthodox family and none of the guys in my whole khandaan have ever dared to have a love marriage. Everything gets fixed by the parents and once the parents decide the guy and the girl meet and after a meeting or two, when people get comfortable, they finalize the date and everything gets fixed and the next thing you know, you are married.

I have always hated the idea of getting married to a person you don’t know, and when I met this guy, he seemed perfect. I have done my engineering and am working. He has done his B Com and doing his distance MBA and working and earning a few bucks higher than me. He comes from a middle class family and I come from an upper class family. He only has his mother and his brother never keeps in touch with the family and his dad expired when he was little. His mom did all the efforts in bringing up the boys. These guys do not own a home but this guy who has working hard is planning to buy a home about in the 2016 first quarter, and by this I mean a 25 yr old guy is buying a home! It’s a huge thing indeed!

Forgot to mention I am 4 months older to him and a total spoilt brat.. l lived in all the comforts till was living with my parents now that I have talked to my family about him, they don’t seem to like the guy.

1- He is a North Indian and we are South Indians.

2- He is a B Com and I am an engineer (the fact that this guy is studying long distance is not a fact that my people would want to consider)

3- He does not have a home right now.

4- His brother doesn’t live with him… implying that his background is not great.

5- He does not have a financially sound background.

They say that if I forget this guy I could get settled in a family where I would have all the comforts and everything.

So when I came back to my hometown my parents discussed this matter and somehow this lead to a huge fight and and my parents told me that if I marry this guy I would have to cut off all my ties and leave my home, and forget about going away from home to the big city I am working in, as they wouldn’t allow me to go there if I chose him. I have always been professionally committed, so I convinced them that I would do anything they say, so they let me work… so they made all this bhagwan ki samne kasam khao n shit n made me promise that I would do as they say… Now after all this drama I thought that instead of lying to them and going back to this city, I should stay here and tell them that I need to marry the one I love.

I tried convincing them but its of no use… and my dad’s health keeps on going from bad to worse.. and everybody is convincing me that I should do what my parents say otherwise that could make my dad kill himself…

But the point is all the time that we had the discussion all they were interested in was ‘what would people say’ … ” log kya kahenge, thukenge hamare upar,… kahin muh dikane k layak nahi choda tumne…. dhoka diya… ullu banaya” …

Moreover about the guy, he seems to even “likh ke dene ko tayyar hai” (willing to give it in writing) that he won’t hurt me, will keep me always happy… but my family just wouldn’t even meet the guy. They haven’t talked to him ever… all the blames and assumptions that they throwing at him is because of the fact that North Indians people are this and North Indian people are that and stuff.

I am so confused. Please help. I can’t lose my job and I can’t lose my parents and I can’t lose my man.

Related Posts:

What would you not change for love?

‘My parents will be ignored and ridiculed. No one will let them forget my so called shameful behaviour.’

Marrying out of caste, Divorce, and Nuclear Families are Social Problems or solutions to Social Evils?

How would you react if you knew your son (or daughter) felt this way?

“Can you people help me on this? I only want to convince my parents that is all.”

Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

“When the time comes to support them, they back out and and blame the children for misusing their trust and freedom.”

LOVE – Is it a Crime?

Against your child’s happiness

An email: I want my parents to know the real me, why do I have to lie?

18 questions for young women (and men) of ‘marriageable age’.

“It was OK for her to say ‘no’ after saying ‘yes’? Saying ‘yes’ doesn’t mean a blanket sanction to any sexual activity.”

A Guest Post by Freebird.

I came across this other post: I Got Raped With My Consent. That Will Always Be The Most Horrible Memory Of My Life

I don’t think consensual sex which doesn’t involve any coercion should be treated as rape at any cost. So I find the statement ‘I said ‘yes’ but it was ’emotional rape” very contradictory.

But what I didn’t understand, and do find disturbing, is this:

In this story, why didn’t this girl ever realize that it was OK for her to say ‘no’after saying ‘yes’? Saying ‘yes’ doesn’t mean a blanket sanction to any sexual activity. It is perfectly right to set boundaries, or ask the other person to stop when she was getting uncomfortable. If he was hurting her and she was in pain, why isn’t it clear that she had every right to tell him to stop hurting her and not engage in things which were painful to her? And the moment this message is conveyed clearly and if he still carries on, it does becomes ‘rape’ (not an esoteric ’emotional rape’). Whether it can be proved or not is a different issue. That doesn’t change the fact that it is rape when the other person is violating your boundaries.

Related Posts:

“Even if the sexual intercourse was forceful it was not forcible and contrary to the wishes and consent of the deceased.”

Rapist said that coming from Afghanistan meant he didn’t understand what ‘consent’ was.

‘Madam so many rapes don’t happen in Germany coz girls don’t refuse to have sex.’

Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor.

Forced intercourse in marriage not rape: Delhi court

Forcible sex with wife doesn’t amount to marital rape: Court

“Girls should be married at 16, so that they don’t need to go elsewhere for their sexual needs. This way rapes will not occur.”

What makes Men Rape? – Do read.

The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them.

A tag: But when a woman sees a hot man, nothing happens in her brain?

Triya charitram, Purushasya bhagyam, Devo Na Janati, Kuto Manushya…

Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex.

‘The woman said she was inebriated when a co-worker took her to a room and raped her.’

So how does Delhi – NCR Police define Rape?

How Victim Blaming confuses rapists, police and the society.

When they don’t even understand crime… 

Why it isn’t enough to raise independent daughters.

 A Guest Post by AlwaysHappyKya.
There is this story making rounds in the internet and has a very positive message.
Although I agree with what the writer has to say, it got me thinking.
Why did the boy grow up to think so chauvinist in that household? A main character should have been mentioned in the story. The boy’s dad.
Although the boy watched his sister growing equal and independent, maybe he still saw the mom doing all housework while the dad really did nothing at home? Maybe the boy believed women are supposed to cook, dress conservatively based on his dads opinion and his moms image? Maybe, he watched his dad slap his mom sometimes and thought that was okay too?
I believe, as long as BOTH the parents show the kids how to live equally, work as a team in society, the kids ( irrespective of girl or boy) will pick it up and progress.
Just thought these thoughts are worth sharing out there.
Related Posts:

I Want To Be A Dad. – Radhika Vaz

“My problem is my wife doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.”

Workplace Equality requires Equality at Home

The Men in Our Lives

Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

Abhishek Bachchan as a Working Dad in the new Idea ad.

“My husband says he can’t go against his family. My father says study but not without your FIL’s permission.”

“Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” Please adjust.

Response to “Koi Baap Apni Beti Ko Kab Jaane Se Rok Paya Hai”

The father threw the baby on the ground and tried to strangle her with his legs: No case registered.

Feminism Is Good For Society

‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’

Of how men’s masculinities are connected to their wives taking their names.

27 ways in which Patriarchy harms men.

So why do some men compare and compete with other men?

What do men need liberation from?

Emotions, Masculinity and Hierarchies in Relationships: Or making men walk alone in the journey of life.

MIP: Men In Pink

Boys don’t cry. – Starry Eyed

What kind of sons do Feminists raise?

“The sense of entitlement that’s hard-wired into every male child in an Indian household”

Emma Watson to men : Gender equality is your issue too.


I got this email from J1289, a regular reader and commenter here and sharing this with her permission:

(In context of something someone said to her) “…… I feel there are only two options for all of us, be part of the herd and get all the joy sucked out of us where we are miserable, or be happy and do what you love to do and get rejected/ignored by others since your actions don’t fit their mold. It’s never a win-win situation IMO.

Indian culture (or perhaps most Asian cultures) can be very beautiful. There are certain aspects I love about it, however being pressured to be this ideal “Indian girl”, get married, have kids, live in servitude and act like a doormat where toxicity takes over, sucks all the positive vibes about being Indian and makes you have a strong disdain towards it.

Especially the fact that in Indian culture, non-Indians are inferior to Indians, we must “stick” with people of our caste and people from our state only (I HATE THAT!) so that we keep the “culture” alive where it will not lose its “purity”. (Emphasis mine)

I hear this all the time, and it makes you think, can we still keep a homogeneous culture? How come people from conservative places, despite living abroad and exploring the world will not look at any other perspective?

Also lack of equal respect is another factor I dislike about being Indian. I would never show I am superior or treat someone ill because I’m much older than them.  I made it a point for myself that I’ll take a blend of cultures because I have equal respect for all,  (not only Indian) and incorporate into my life. Sure I’ll keep some “Indianness”, but I will also make sure to get rid of some of the toxic aspects (arranged marriages, being a slave to in laws, and be firm when I have to). I will make sure my life is full of diversity and not just one sided.”

My reply to her:

“I think you have the right approach when you say you take a blend of cultures and incorporate them into your life.  No culture is perfect; each one has strengths and failures.  I agree with you on all those unpleasant aspects of Indian culture.  I think we can reject those parts and take the parts we like.  I think that makes logical sense – why should it be all or nothing?  We take what makes sense, what feels right, what makes us comfortable.  We reject regressive thinking and practices.”

But then, when I thought about it more, I was intrigued by this idea of “cultural purity” and “protecting one’s culture”. I could relate to so many parts of J1289’s email because I’ve been in her place many times.

I have often been accused of “becoming too American”.

Because I let my children disagree with me.

Because I let them make choices and decisions that impact their lives.

Because I don’t fall on elders’ feet at weddings.

Because I don’t cook up a feast in the kitchen while the men discuss “important things” in the living room.

Because I sit next to my husband on the couch.

Because I hold his hand when we walk.

Because I wear what I want.

Because I don’t fast or pray.

Because I like to run/hike in my shorts.

Because I read and write and express opinions.

Because I don’t need permission for a host of things.

Because I make choices.

Because I laugh aloud when I’m happy.

Because recently, I told my husband’s aunt who came to the US to visit her daughter, “No this is not a good time to visit. The children have exams. We will come and see you.”

Instead of “Yes, you are always welcome in our home.”

And with the predictability of sunrise, she pulled an Athidi Devo Bhava on me.

We are constantly told that this kind of behavior goes against Indian culture. That it is a betrayal of Indian culture. But then, what exactly is Indian culture? Allowing your elders to control your life – until it’s your turn to control your children’s lives?

More precisely, WHO gets to define Indian culture? Who ARE these dreaded guardians of Indian culture? Why should they be in charge of defining Indian culture and identity? Because what they are defining happens to suit them? Because “tradition” can be a great way to avoid the tough questions and accountability?

I’ve seen other Indian American families struggle with identity. Some (if not all) first generation immigrants keep a little nostalgic piece of India in their hearts. It is a soft-focus, rose tinted picture that ignores the negative aspects of our culture.

But not seeing the truth is unhelpful. This holding on to an “ideal Indian culture” never allows you to take a rational standpoint. It never allows changes. It is stifling, both for them, and for their children, whom they have chosen to raise in a different country.

It is a disservice both to their birth country (to hinder truth, learning and progress) as well as the country they’ve immigrated to (to reap the benefits of another culture while condemning it). It keeps them in a time capsule. India and many Indians living in India have moved on with the times in many respects, but some Indian immigrants still hold on to the past, afraid to let go.

To some extent, I can understand this love for one’s country of birth.  It has a sort of magical pull.

I recently visited India for my niece’s wedding. I delighted in dressing up in kancheevarams and donning jhumkas. I re-watched 3 Idiots and laughed like one in some scenes. I sat on my brother’s balcony, watching the vendors below, as the evening darkened, cups of chai in hand, discussing Indian politics with fervor, knowing very well that governance in India is still a distant dream. I listened to my sister practice her Veena, her hands now faintly aging, but the music flowing strong and confident as ever.

I smelled coconut water and Aarti in the Ganesh temple my mother makes me go to, on every trip. My mother still sticks bits of turmeric to the new clothes she gifts to my children. I visited my childhood tailor, Arif, who must be in his 70s and can’t see well anymore but still seems to be turning out beautiful dresses with his old hands through sheer habit.

On my last evening there, I went to the Old Town – the most neglected part of my hometown and hiked up the highest peak (now I realize it is a small hill) that overlooks a rocky shore. At the foot of the hill sits my old convent school.  I visited the strict nuns of my elementary school, now softened with age, their disapproving looks replaced with welcoming smiles. I sat peacefully in my school’s worn down church as they conducted their Catholic service, not really understanding their rituals, but calmed by the angelic singing.

To me, all of these things are uniquely Indian, or define the part of India I was raised in. Who can take away this Indianness from me?  This “love” is about  people and places and memories.

BUT, why does being Indian have to mean giving up the right to think, analyze, question, discuss, disagree, and express?

You don’t have to feel like you are betraying Indian culture when you think for yourself. Rabindranath Tagore thought for himself. So did Sarojini Naidu. And so did Gandhi. And those 3 eminent thinkers spoke and wrote their original, independent, rebellious thoughts eloquently in Indian languages as well as in English. They looked and sounded and felt Indian, but they were far from being subservient. They were certainly not part of the “log kya kahenge” crowd. So, let’s stop defining Indianness as conformity and fear. It isn’t nor does it have to be.

I love my country of birth – it is colorful, vibrant, unique, energetic, evolving, boundless. I love America too – my adopted country – it is a place of equality and respect for the individual and immense personal freedom. Neither country is perfect, and both have numerous problems. And I love them both.

No one has the right to tell us what parts of which culture we adopt. One’s identity is a complex combination of one’s background, nature, experiences, and influences. It is ever changing, growing, and developing as we undergo new experiences. It is not to be determined by one’s aunt, mother-in-law, neighbor, pastor, or politician. It is up to us to determine who we want to be and how we choose to define ourselves.

And perhaps the same thing goes for India too. Indians should stop defining their country in terms of their Vedic past, the colonial legacy, the Islamic influence, traditions and customs, and other hang ups – these burdens only serve to limit us. While our rich past undoubtedly makes a fascinating study and understanding it is crucial, dwelling there forever is a sad mistake. Maybe if we start looking forward, India can be as beautiful and boundless as she wants to be.

Related Posts:

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When married Indian women (travelling or living outside India) strive to look unmarried.

Why do Indian women like to wear western clothes?

Why do some women see western clothes and being able to flaunt their bodies, without fearing being called sluts, as empowerment?

Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

Proud to be an Indian today…

I am Proud of India Today. Not India of Yesteryears.

Indians invented planes 7,000 years ago — and other startling claims at the Science Congress

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Letting an outsider see or comment upon our imperfections is washing dirty linen in public?

“This is reply to BBC for making video on rape cases in other countries…”

“If we have people of your ilk in Bharat we do not need external enemies at all!”

“I am trying to make a list of soooooooo many advantages a girl can have if she is born in a Western family as compared to being born in india.”