If I am in your situation, I would try to compare my problem with the problems that our grandparents have faced…

So an email writer shared this dialogue on facebook:

Mard khana banaye to kala hai, aurat banaye to uska farz hai — courtesy English Vinglish

What do you think of this response?

I have highlighted the parts that form a regular part of Standard Advice for Indian Women (from Family Elders and random strangers etc).

“I would suggest you should ignore such dialogues as those are inevitable in movies or real life or work place… Instead, you should watch the movie for the dialogue in the movie climax… It has reminded me about the main purpose of Gauri Devi pooja and why it is performed before marriage… I am sure you would aware of its purpose, but if not check with your elders or lemme know and I can identify the video for the details.

I know you are a strong person and do not want to debate much on this topic as I can understand/agree with your point … Ideally, one would not like to hear such comments at home or outside, but the question is, is it possible to control everyone? If not, what can you do to yourself to overcome such situations so that you can keep yourself happy most of the time and also try to bring +ve change in such people mindset with time?

If I am in your situation, I would try to compare my problem with the problems that our grandparents or parents have faced during their lives (as at least we have the opportunity to learn from their experiences) and assess to know whether it really make sense to worry about such comments or to ignore them so you can move forward in the life and accordingly build the required strength….

I know this conversation would never end and so would ask you to just enjoy the movies if your time permits :) … Let us allow the Time to clarify whether a woman should think or not that they are born to serve (i would say care) men and her kids when she get old and/or weak and when she is taken care well by her men and kids when it is very much needed… also, please inquire any single women who is in 50s to know her true feelings and then decide whether it make sense to live alone without having to serve anyone or to have a small family even if it requires some compromise.”

46 thoughts on “If I am in your situation, I would try to compare my problem with the problems that our grandparents have faced…

  1. Someone needs to tell this person (the person who replied to the original comment) that he should take his own advice and not try to control what people say or think. He also should not try to tell them what to watch for and ignore in movies. To give out this rubbish gyaan to everyone, such conceit!

    I can tell him/her now that I was not born to serve men and children and bloody well don’t need them to serve me in old age or whatever! Someone needs to inform him that women live longer than men (even in India) and thus even in old age it is women who end up caring for men. They probably wouldn’t end in frail condition if they didn’t have to thanklessly slog all their life anyway.

    Such people’s regressive bhashans have no impact whatsoever, because they are evidently self serving. ‘I am being totally noble and asking you to serve me all your life. You should thank me for the privilege’. I would probably tell him off and then not give him a minute of my time. That’s the only way to fight such things actually, if you don’t like how someone treats you then don’t put up with it. This applies to marriage or random Facebook replies for me.

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      • The person making the comment is probably a man who’s been raised to believe that such selfless fawning adoration, sorry, *care* is his birthright. I haven’t seen EnglishVinglish but isn’t the movie’s message the exact opposite of what he’s trying to imply?

        I thought the film validated homemakers’ experiences and endorsed their right to respect, care and attention. Since I haven’t seen the movie, I can only surmise that this was the movie’s message.🙂

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  2. I would rather compare it with equal partnerships that occur in west and refuse to be super woman taking care of everyone.

    Its always give to have a support system that helps you at the times of adversity ,but that support system not necessarily has to be husband and kids . why not friends , your siblings , adopted kids , neighbors , why not have a helpline , invest in medicare and pension etc so that you can even have a full time professional help in your last years . Why not marry to share life and love , why not have kids because you want to bring in new life and can provide a good life to someone .There is some twisted logic around marriage as a sole provider of love , sex , kids , security , companionship , finances here . Why seek everything from one relationship ??

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  3. What a ridiculous response. Someone needs to tell this person to stop ‘forcing’ other people to care for him.Care comes from within. You cannot force someone to do it for you, no matter what type of relationship you share. Grow Up, is all I can say to the person who wrote all that bullshit.

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  4. “I would suggest you should ignore such dialogues as those are inevitable in movies or real life or work place… Instead, you should watch the movie for the dialogue in the movie climax…

    > Why can’t we watch a movie the way we want and interpret the way we want?

    It has reminded me about the main purpose of Gauri Devi pooja and why it is performed before marriage… I am sure you would aware of its purpose, but if not check with your elders or lemme know and I can identify the video for the details.

    > Erm, what is this doing here? So pointless? Are you implying India worship women?

    If I am in your situation, I would try to compare my problem with the problems that our grandparents or parents have faced during their lives (as at least we have the opportunity to learn from their experiences) and assess to know whether it really make sense to worry about such comments or to ignore them so you can move forward in the life and accordingly build the required strength….

    > great to take their experience but is it not better to live in the now. Our ancestors did not have computers. Why should we compare their lives and ours? Why can’t we work on improving the present?

    Let us allow the Time to clarify whether a woman should think or not that they are born to serve (i would say care) men and her kids when she get old and/or weak and when she is taken care well by her men and kids when it is very much needed…

    > really, so all women should become manipulative people who look after their family so that they will be looker after in old age. nice morals we have here.

    also, please inquire any single women who is in 50s to know her true feelings and then decide whether it make sense to live alone without having to serve anyone or to have a small family even if it requires some compromise.”

    > so give up your dreams, what you like, your personality just to live like a shell and be taken care of by your family who do not want to but do it out of a sense of obligation. Nice life choice, you want it, go ahead jeez

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  5. I always thought the average indian will have a lotta learning to do from movies like English Vinglish, like recognizing the talent in a woman, respecting her for her skills and not just her coffee making abilities and more so in realizing the fact that if the family doesnt understand the abilities of a woman, someone in the outer world not comprising of her family will, just like the french cook who did recognize Sashi’s abilities and gave her confidence to believe in herself! I find the opposite of everything I said here, in this e-mail! As for a woman needing to get married, there are many women who chose to stay single and/ or adoptive mothers and are happier than their married counterparts! And that is not because marriage would not have worked for them as it worked for their peers! These are choices, each to themselves, for some marriages work well for some they dont! For some compromising is too much to have a family and for others it is vice versa! Don’t know when will the Indian junta understand the meaning of choices for a woman?

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    • While watching the movie with my family, I could easily identify myself with Sridevi and I hoped that my family would change and stop belittling me and putting me down every now and then for minor reasons but my hopes were dashed to the ground within five minutes of coming out of the hall. I just hope that they will try to put themselves in my shoes one day and try to realize the situation.

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      • I just want to encourage you to think of whether their is something you can say to them to stop this behaviour? I think it serves families well to take the mother/wife/DIL for granted because you benefit hugely from the stuff they do for you, but don’t have to provide any recognition in return. They might watch the movie, realise they’re doing the same and then forget it because it still works and they’re still getting what they want. I’m not saying their knowingly mean, they might be doing this without bad intentions. It’s just that we’re all selfish.

        So maybe ask yourself, are you allowing yourself to be taken for granted and treated poorly? Is there a way you could stand up for yourself? Refuse to do all the house-work/ cooking/ whatever for no recognition or something like that?

        We aren’t going to get better treatment if we don’t demand it. If you settle for less, there is no reason for them to give more.

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      • tell them what they are doing wrong, tell them they are belittling you and ask them to stop. — else they will never learn, when they are not the ones on the receiving end why would they put themselves in your shoes??/

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        • Charvaka and Radha, do you think that I have not tried to tell them? You know, sometimes it’s of no use to make someone realize something. I have tried so many hit and trial methods and the only one that seems to work so far is to be quiet and stop responding or reacting but it’s not easy every time.

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        • Radha, in my experience telling them to stop won’t make these people stop. They don’t see it as belittling. Again, they will say “It’s just a joke! We’re ONLY teasing you. Lighten up!” (I am using again to refer to people who make jokes about rape)

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        • @Shalz, There was no reply button next to your second comment, so posting here.
          I feel for you– I’ve seen too many women stuck in the same situation and it makes me bloody angry. I am not sure what might be the best way to deal with this, since different things work for different people, but I do feel that ‘being quiet and not responding or reacting is not going to help. I wish you’d yell bloody murder every time they belittle you–maybe then they’d think twice before doing that again? You must attach a disincentive to such behaviour.

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      • You need to put your foot down or be happy taking shit. If you are waiting for them to somehow realize by miracle that they are not treating you as you would like to be treated and change their behaviour, you will be waiting forever.

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    • Oh women are allowed choices. We’re allowed to choose the colour of our sarees and accessories aren’t we? Don’t we choose the menu everyday? Such power!😉

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  6. I really do not understand why people start giving out gyan on Facebook. If I need gyan, I will read self help books. I would not take it from a stranger who might be completely fuc*ed up himself.
    I had a heated discussion around the role of Khaps on Facebook a few days back with two complete strangers. One was a guy and other a woman (!!!) who were trying to defend Khaps. The guy was of the view that marriages in the same community are the same as incest! I was shocked that such a guy actually knew how to use Facebook.

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  7. “please inquire any single women who is in 50s to know her true feelings ..”

    I found this statement interesting. Many years ago when I was in college in Bangalore I stayed as a paying guest in a Coorg lady’s home. She was in her mid 70s and though both of us had deplorable Kannada skills, we got on really well and had long conversations in her little room.

    She had lost her husband a year after she married when she was one month pregnant. She had a son, stayed with her sister’s family for a short while and then lived alone for the rest of her life.

    She refused to stay with her son as she couldn’t get along with her daughter in law. There were no grandchildren to serve either. When I asked her why she never remarried earlier in her life she replied “Who needs a husband, when you already have a child”.

    So thats a perspective from a single old lady.

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    • I think person (the fb commenter) should also be asked to speak to a 50 year old woman who has spent her life in thankless and forced servitude to the in-laws to find out her true feelings. He might be surprised with what he finds!

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      • True, but I think many such women are frequently in denial of their own feelings. They’d rather die than admit that they wasted so many years toiling thanklessly. It is very, very difficult to make them speak up about their true feelings😦

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        • I agree , my mom used to feel proud that even when she is sick she still can cook and clean and look after perfectly healthy adults . My dad often tell her that she need to relax as she aint getting any medals . It has changed in recent years , she wants to do something for herself now that she has realized people wnt treat you better if you dnt treat yourself better.

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    • Your anecdote reminded me of my aerobics instructor from a few years ago, coincidentally also from Coorg.

      She was in her mid-fifties and a grandmother. She’d been widowed in her 20s and had never remarried. When I asked her why she didn’t remarry, she said because she didn’t feel the need to.

      She lived alone, ran the Mumbai marathon every year, and was fitter than many 20-year-old men. The majority of divorced/widowed women I’m acquainted with, seem to lead happy contented lives.

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      • That’s true! They also seem to be more independent. My mother’s aunt is highly independent and even takes trips alone all over the world. The only reason she is able to do the things she does is that she has no husband. Sad, isn’t it?

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  8. MY boys came home for a 2 day break and after reading this i sat them down and gave them a lecture on CHOICE !!! poor things, i read stuff in IHM and they bear the brunt of my ire – or should i say my CARING.. Caring for the future of their wives , caring for their mental growth🙂
    As for the writer — born adn raised lisetening to BS — i don’t see any hope for that family line, oh well we win some , we lose some.

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  9. To the person who has tried really had to explain how she (or he) is also able to relate to our arguments and issues.
    I don’t believe you.
    1. Irrelevant or Inevitable? Inevitable – Meaning eventually people will say pointless things like these so we need to listen to some ‘important’ lines like the climax dialogues?
    2. FYI, I decided (with full knowledge of Gauri Devi Pooja) that I will not be one of those financially dependent wives hoping for the long life of my husband who is my only source of income and family support. (Since parents or siblings wont like to sponsor me)
    3. “Ideally one would not like to hear such comments at home or outside” – I am totally lost here. I was very proud and glad that Hindi cinema industry has finally started making realistic and sensible movies. The script was well written for a lay man (who would not like to change from his comfort zone) but these lines could have given him a chance for a second thought to his way of life. These lines need to be said aloud!
    4. “Control?” – Did you decide to ignore the dialogue “I am NOT looking for love, just a LITTLE RESPECT” from the same movie? No one is talking about control, why is there no ‘understanding’ ‘independence’ and ‘personality’ for wives?
    5. How can we expect positive change in the mindset of people without saying things out aloud? (Even then some people ignore it as ‘Inevitable’ you know!)
    6. If I am in your situation… I’d also like to remember my children who will have to go through the same fight, argument and conversations (Like me, my mother, her mother and so on) just to be who they are. Atleast I have the opportunity to make it slightly easier for my children.
    7. “Building the required strength” to grin, bear and compromise? Isn’t that a lovely hopeful life you offer to your girl?
    8. So by asking questions it means that we don’t enjoy the movie, and so we are rebelling for every little thing to prove a point? That we don’t have a life apart from having a blood boiling conversation like this?………..‘Move forward???? From what?!!?!?!?
    9. “Time” for the last 65years has allowed my grandmother, my mother and myself to THINK that we were not born to serve or care for my grandfather, father or my husband and son. When there is pride, there is respect.
    10. Indian system has been about parents caring for children so that they are cared for in their old age and choosing younger wife to support the husband on his death bed and so on. I have no time to waste my energy arguing about this. But if a woman was taught or allowed to be independent, a 50 year old single woman will not have the need to ‘serve’ or ‘care’ for anyone. She may need just some company to enjoy life.

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  10. What’s sad about that email is that the writer probably thinks that he or she is progressive.

    As for whether women are “born to serve” or not, it’s instructive to look at the difference between Indian men and Western men. While Western men still don’t do as much housework as women, and Western women are often faced with a “double shift” (a full work life, plus the bulk of the housework when they get home), Western men don’t sit around like sultans and wait for another human being to literally put a cup of tea into their hands or food on their plates. (As for the writer’s idea that this service will eventually be reciprocated, how common is it for a traditional Indian husband to serve his wife tea or food?)

    Sometimes I think Indian domestic servants have a better deal than Indian wives. Servants are at least paid regular wages, and a lot of them manage to manoeuvre themselves into an advantageous position through shrewdness and force of personality. Wives, on the other hand, are expected not just to serve without payment, but also to be grateful for the privilege of serving!

    I’ve often wondered at the shameless and grotesque sense of entitlement that Indian husbands and in-laws often exhibit towards wives/daughters-in-law, and I think I’ve found the reason behind this attitude. I recently read a biography of Marie Antoinette, and the nobles at Versailles used to fight among themselves for the privilege of performing menial tasks for the sovereign, like handing her her chemise. If you strip away all the rhetoric a lot of Indian marriages are like that – a starkly feudal relationship between a superior and a subordinate.

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    • A traditional marriage with its attendent responsibilities and obligations is a no-win situation for women. A woman marries into a household, then makes one-sided adjustments to her lifestyle, diet, religious practises, behaviour and life-goals.

      She is expected to treat everyone with courtesy and consideration but cannot expect the same in return.

      The husband may or may not love her, respect her or provide sexual pleasure. She has to love him, respect him and be available for his sexual needs at all times, with a 100-watt perma-smile.

      The husband may or may not provide for her — she needs to bear both circumstances with the same.

      He may belittle her, mock her or criticise her in public; she has to smile indulgently and stay silent.

      Any criticism she has of him has to be sugar-coated, thoughtfully delivered at opportune times, preferably after sex; as he snores gently.

      We’re not done yet — we bribe the husband and in-laws with gold and gifts to be *allowed the pleasure of being such dutiful hand-maids.

      And then they say that marriage benefits women. Sure, that’s what I said.

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  11. Anyway, the Gauri Devi puja that the author referred to is a puja that is supposed to be performed by unmarried girls so that they can get a good husband. Poor Shashi, if only she had performed the Gauri puja, she could have ended up married to a nice guy instead of an entitled jerk. Really, she shouldn’t blame her husband, she should blame herself.🙂

    I think the fact that there are so many fasts and pujas that women perform on behalf of men, while, as far as I know, there isn’t a single one where men fast and pray on behalf of women says a lot about the status of Indian women.

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    • Wow, I didn’t know this. Thanks for explaining. Can’t believe this person presented this as the ‘solution’ that the OP should have focussed on in the movie.

      No only have I never performed a fast or a pooja to get a good husband (I was busy winning competitions and doing well at school, thank you), I will also never perform anything like karva chauth. These are ritualised ways of treating women as secondary through religion and attaching any romantic value to them is foolish of us.

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  12. /// is, is it possible to control everyone? If not, what can you do to yourself to overcome such situations so that you can keep yourself happy most of the time and also try to bring +ve change in such people mindset with time?

    If I am in your situation, I would try to compare my problem with the problems that our grandparents or parents have faced during their lives (as at least we have the opportunity to learn from their experiences) and assess to know whether it really make sense to worry about such comments or to ignore them so you can move forward in the life and accordingly build the required strength….
    ///

    Whatever gave this person the impression that if we put feminist comments on FB, we are frustrated in our lives? It just means we have identified the problem that makes 50% of the population unhappy. Identifying and accepting the problem is the step zero for finding the solution. Step one is creating awareness. That’s what Facebook helps in doing. Sometimes, we can even find answers right then and there through discussion. Being a feminist gives me strength. Even if I talked to my grandparents (they have all passed away), they would tell me to grab all opportunities they never had. They would live their lives through me.

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  13. I’m going to tell a story – ( sorry ihm again) i was visiting a freind in the US – quite happily married 2 kid and i’m also friends with an american couple – same happy married 2 kids couple.
    here’s the diff i saw.

    Both husbands help with about 25% housework, they are more interested in lawn , trash,grocery type job🙂 the indian hubby did a bit more- dishes🙂
    and he actually made chai int he weekends for his wife. both men are quite capable of taking care of themselves and get their own breakfast etc., so good.
    The biggest diff i saw was int he evening, the
    american man ate what the wife tossed at him, he even managed to russtle up junk for the kids or at the very lease order carryout, the american family got carryout/thaw /heat/eat stuff 3 times a week sometimes more..
    whereas the indian family ate homecooked ( wife cooked meals during the week) yes it took her only 45min but she works and drives like crazy andhas a gazzilionthings going on, YET husband expected home cooked meals – of course granted it is the healthier option and best for kids.

    but i suggested to her if youa re tired why don’t you give everyone some frozen food/pizza etc., and her husband was aghast, ‘ ohh it takes just a short time’, ‘ we just ear maybe roti and subzi’ , ‘ we are not fussy’ etc.,

    Why can’t the indian hisband eat takeout or if it’s so imp cook one day when she’s tired. oh he’s very loving and caring… but there is an implicit command that no matter how hard your job is , you MUST provide a simple mealfor your family — caring you see.
    inturn he asked me if i ate out weekdays and i said never, so he smiled, so you cook daily for your family na?? ehhhh no we eat in healthy food daily and not just dinner, but breakfast ,lunch and dinner because i have a cook. someone is paid to cook whatever holds our fancy , even make chai whenever it strikes our fancy. so i had to remind him this, he said well yes she does a bit more at home, but i earn a bit more than her !!! aha therein lies the issue i make a bit more so you work a bit more🙂 unfortunately for you i don’t pay you for that extra work with the extra i earn!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • If the husband is so keen on home-cooked meals, why doesn’t he cook them himself once in a while?

      I don’t think that all the pampering and mollycoddling that Indian men get is to their benefit in the long run. My maternal grandmother waited on my grandfather hand and foot; basically, she treated him like a small and helpless infant (and all-too-often, he reciprocated her care by acting like a petulant infant). He died of heart disease at 69. The last ten years of his life were tremendously difficult. He was barely mobile by the end.😦 Indians already have a genetic predisposition towards diabetes and heart disease, and the notion that even the mildest physical labour should be shunted off onto subordinates makes matters worse. Is a guy who can’t serve himself his own meal going to get off his backside and go to the gym?

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      • Supposedly these are not practices taught to guys right from childhood! Practices like doing the dishes, cooking and washing clothes to every domestic chore is taught to a girl but not a guy! That is why guys are mostly dependent on momma dearest for their needs or if they live in the hostel they depend on eating joints and laundry when mom is not around! They do try to make it happen on their own under very rare circumstances! So somewhere, the mother of a guy is responsible for raising a dependent son who after his marriage expects his wife to cook, which was a role earlier performed by momma! It’s high time Indian culture learns to raise self sufficient sons!

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        • I had the same opinion at least for ten years after I got married because my husband would hardly do any household work and even if I requested him to help me, he would get irritated. I held my mother-in-law responsible for his behavior and I would always think that my son will not be like him because as a child, my son used to listen to me but as he grew up (he is seventeen years old now), he started behaving like his dad. After all, he was being benefited and moreover he also had his dad’s support. Now I don’t believe that a mother can always be held responsible.

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    • Well, why doesn’t he just cook himself?

      Saying that he earns a bit more is a moot point if they work the same number of hours. The work load and pressure is exactly the same on both, and she probably earns enough that she contributes significantly (if not equally) to household expenses, even though she earns a bit less. So how does it matter?

      I’ll tell another story. Forget american men. My Indian husband does a solid 50% of the housework including cooking. He does actually earn more than me (he had a headstart as I’m younger) but we work the same number of hours, earn in the same ballpark and I contribute 50% to all our expenses. So there. Both genders are perfectly capable of sharing responsibilities equally. If his wife didn’t just make all the meals for him, the man in your story would cook too. Why bother when your wife is conditioned to believe it’s her duty? Women need to stop putting up with such behaviour and men will quickly discover how ‘gharelu’ they can be too!

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      • I want to stress that even if we didn’t earn in the same ballpark but worked the same hours, I would expect him to do equal housework. If we’ve both worked 10 hours in the day, it’s only fair that we share the cooking time and relaxation time in the evening too.

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        • Radha, the wife must have taken leave for the birth of her kids? Doesn’t that affect her career in terms of promotions lost, salary hikes missed? I have seen this happen with colleagues of mine.

          One girl got pregnant just as she became eligible for promotion. She lost one year and she also didn’t get the annual salary hike coz she went on Maternity Leave at that time.

          Another girl took time off from work (about 3 years) to stay at home and look after kids. When she decided to get back to work, she had to join at lesser salary and the new Company deducted some experience due to break in career.

          It’s really not fair to say that he earns more than her. That is totally irrelevant to the issue.

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        • I don’t know why e doesn’t cook. But he is not the first person I have heard this logic from. Many Indian men seem to have this idea even the so called liberal ones.

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  14. He talks about asking grandparents and their experiences and I found it a little amusing personally- one of the was a widow (grandmother) with a child who later married an atheist (grandfather).

    They did this back in the 40s and yes in India. They would simply laugh at this idiotic excuse of pleasing grandparents and parents.

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  15. Pingback: If I am in your situation, I would try to compare my problem with the problems that our grandparents have faced… | On Point of Inquiry

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