Single And Unapologetic.

To start off, let me share with my readers what prompted this post.  There is a post on facebook by an Indian novelist Usha Narayanan giving a link to a newspaper article with the same title.  In fact she is quoted in the article.

I have asked three single lady friends their opinion on the subject.  I really don’t know if they are happy about their single status as it is not something that we have discussed.  I however know of  a few cases of young ladies in careers desperately trying to get married and a couple where they did in haste and repented too.

On the other hand, this is a topic often discussed among men about advantages of being single men.  In my case, this has increased somewhat since I became a widower five years ago.

In India, whether you are a man or a woman does not matter.  From one’s mid-twenties, family and friends start asking one about one’s plans for matrimony.  It is very rare to find Indians unmarried beyond the age of thirty.

It is in this background that articles like the one quoted describe the new phenomenon but to the best of my knowledge, no one bothers to write about single men.  The fact of the matter is that women are under the magnifying glass for just about everything that they do and not so much the men.

I want to address the issue from a man’s point of view and since I do have a number of women readers, their views will be very welcome indeed.  Just a small rider before I proceed.  I am deliberately generalising with broad sweeps whereas reality is usually full of nuances and finer differences.  Please accommodate those for the sake of some intellectual kite flying.

There are bachelors, happily married men, unhappily married men, divorcees and widowers like me among males.  Many young bachelors with normal hormonal problems desperately try to get married and suffer till they do.  Since most of them in India do not know how to go about finding themselves a mate and are unhappy with what their parents find, it is very frustrating indeed for them till something clicks somewhere and they get married.

Next comes the happily married men and there is nothing to discuss about them.  Lucky sods.

The unhappily married men are the ones that need society’s maximum sympathy. Unlike the unhappily married woman who gets a lot of sympathy from everywhere, her male counterpart does not.  If he can afford it, he does find alternatives but that is such a minuscule minority that it is not worth writing about.  The long suffering husband stuck in an unhappy marriage due to financial or familial reasons is worthy of sympathy.  In a patriarchal society like ours he mostly gets ridicule unlike his female counterpart who gets sympathy.

The divorced men are admired by the unhappily married men and encouraged to stay that way.  The happily married men however take it upon themselves to advise them to get married again at the earliest and will even offer to find divorced women.  That the divorced man and divorced woman both want to experience matrimony again is simply too obvious when one peruses the weekend classified ads in our newspapers for second marriages.  There are so many ‘innocent’ divorcees that one wonders what the word means. And one also wonders why they would want to get married again if they are divorced!

Now comes the widower.  Here, I speak from personal experience as I have been one the last five years.  While my late father was alive, he felt it necessary immediately after I became one to take it upon himself to find me another wife.  He tried to get the help of my son who flatly refused saying that I am quite capable of finding one if I wanted.  The point is that even at that age, I was 66 when I became one, parental pressure was possible.  A couple of friends tried to impress on me that I should get married again but did not pursue the matter too much seeing how uninterested I was in the matter.  Two unhappily married friends were the only genuinely happy fellows to see me become a widower and they made it clear that they were happy not at my loss but at the prospect that such an eventuality is a possibility in their lives too.

And, if my dear reader you want to know what I feel, let me tell you, that  solitude is what I feel.  I  realise that I am now too set in my ways to find another mate who will find it difficult to adjust to my ways and I to hers.  So, I have got used to my single status and doubt very much that I will ever change.  I enjoy my solitude.

single

Mulla Nasrudin’s friend had to attend a funeral for the first time in his life. Not knowing the protocol, he approached Mulla for advice.
“Where should I be in the funeral procession, Mulla?” he said. “At the back, in front, or on one of the sides?”
“It matters little where you are, my friend,” Mulla said, “as long as you are not in the casket.”

 

 

Fertility.

fertility

“Before God we are all equally wise – and equally foolish.”
~ Albert Einstein.

I have been wanting to write on this since Nick wrote his post – Childless.

In the exchange of comments that followed there, we had this to say to each other. Apart from this exchange, the other comments and responses from Nick are worth a read too.

Me: Nick, to be an infertile woman in India is worse than being a zombie. I know of women who were blamed for not producing children and subjected to tests of all kinds till it occurs to some moron in-law to get his son tested. No one talks about male infertility and I think that is something that needs to be addressed too in childless but wanting children couples.

Nick: Ramana: Yes, I’ve often read that being a childless woman in India is a serious stigma. And you’re right that the possibility of the man’s infertility is often overlooked. Though I think that’s less the case in the UK, where nowadays the man is routinely checked along with the woman.

What prompted this post however is the latest story from a friend of mine in Coimbatore who had rung me up to give some good news. His grand daughter Meena got married in 2001 to a scion of one of the South’s wealthy and well known trading families. I have known Meena since she was a little baby in arms but could not attend her wedding as I was preoccupied with other matters in Pune. The couple went off to live with the family’s estate in the Nilgiris immediately after marriage. After five years when no child was forthcoming, Meena was subjected to all kinds of taunts and ill treatments and was asked to undergo various tests and treatments. It was presumed by the family that she was responsible and not her husband. Eventually, Meena could not take it any more and came away to her parents and started a career as a teacher, got formally divorced and started a new life. She got married again in 2010 to a classmate from school days and moved to the USA where her new husband has a flourishing medical practice. My friend just now told me that he has become a grand father to twins. I could not help asking him about whatever happened to the husband from the first marriage and he chuckled and said that he got married again and continues to be childless!

Obviously, this is a clear case of the man being infertile but the woman facing the brunt of criticism and condemnation. There are other similar stories too that I know of where the husband is infertile but the wife goes through a tough time. Such is our paternalistic society.

On the other hand, I also recently came to know about another couple who got divorced after many attempts to get the wife to become pregnant through IVF protocols failed. The husband got married again and has just become a father of a baby girl.!

Strange are the ways of nature!

Matrimony II.

I feel like kicking myself!  This is an aspect that I am aware of but did not cover in my earlier post on Matrimony.

It may not be such a big deal in the West but in India, it is expected that men get married when the time is right to the girl chosen by the parents as are the women.  No one bothers to find out if either is interested or not and many marriages flounder because of this single factor.  There is also a lot of ignorance about homosexuality which translates into further problems as can well be imagined.  I am glad that at least now these matters are being brought out in the open and discussed.  The laws needing to be changed is something that has been agreed on but with the change of government has delayed the process.  I believe that now that the Supreme Court has said it’s for the “competent legislature” to take a call our Parliament should remove Section 377 from the Statutes.

personaltrainer

Another new whammy!  I know of a young lady who is a student in the Pune University who eloped with her gym trainer and informed her family after the event that she will continue to live with them at their expense till her now husband can afford to take her to a home and finance her education.  What chutzpah!  But this development was asking to take place too!  With subliminal messages constantly being sent to women to be thin and different from what they are, gyms are flourishing and hormones and testosterone  are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

Now to add some mirchmasala (Condiments And Spices, for the clueless) to the whole issue of matrimony here is a news item that is, to say the least amusing!

The Inimitable Shobhaa De.

Shobhaa De is a popular writer of novels and columns. She is a versatile personality and her biography is as interesting as her writings. Like many other Indians, I like to read her as she is usually very entertaining,

She has now taken a totally different take on the causes for divorces/failed marriages and I think that she deserves a wider audience through my blog.

Her article, Terminal Boredom that appeared in our weekly magazine The Week this week is a classic.

I am sure that this will provoke some serious thought and perhaps discussions.

Tiger Woods

I cannot but feel sorry for Tiger Woods. Just read this story about his own feelings of remorse. I personlly wish that I had been a close friend of his to advise him when the s*** hit the fan, with him ramming his SUV into a few trees. Had I advised him, he would not perhaps, be in the predicament that he is in today.

Just Swing it!
Just Swing it!
With Sania’s tennis career at an all-time low, golf may be the way to go for a reasonable afterlife. With Kapil Dev as coach, prospects couldn’t be brighter. Of course, Tiger Woods will only be too glad to help if Sania is serious. At a recent cancer awareness event, the tennis sensation did exhibit a penchant for swinging the club.

The above news item is from the “Gliterati” page of one of India’s popular weekly magazines. Kapil Dev is an icon in India’s cricket loving world as a great cricketer who after retirement has become a scratch golf player. Sania Mirza is a tennis icon whose looks and tennis have floored India completely.

The point of this post is not about Kapil Dev or Sania Mirza, but the quip about Tiger Woods in the story. Tiger Woods is also an icon in India among the golfing fraternity and the sports crazy Indians who follow all global sportsmen.

I think that Tiger has completely mishandled the situation.

Had I been Tiger Woods, this is what I would have done.

1. Hold a press conference immediately after the discharge from the hospital to admit to whatever had happened to give me the bruised lips and cuts.
2. Explain the reason behind the happening.
3. Admit to women voluntarily chasing me to have affairs with me whenever the opportunity offered and my agreeing to have such affairs whenever the opportunity arose.
4. Advise all concerned that I would sort out the differences between me and my wife in my way and no one need to be concerned about it.
5. Be out on the links practicing or playing tournament golf without any further ado,

Why would I have done that?

1. The media actually envies me for my peccadilloes. To maintain otherwise is hypocrisy.
2. Most men, given the chance would do precisely what I did.
3. Most women of the type that follow celebrities around would want to have affairs with those celebrities.
4. Item 2 and 3 is natural and part of our deepest instincts. Women will go after alpha males and males will go after attractive women. I am of course talking about heterosexual people here.

As long as I am willing to own up publicly to what had happened and openly inform all concerned that I shall handle the fall out with my wife and sort out the matter to her complete satisfaction the matter should be treated as closed. I am entitled to my privacy and if any one did not like that aspect of my personality, he can stop being a fan.

Had Tiger Woods done what I would have done in his place, I think that he would have come out of the whole affair better than he has. His sponsors might have hemmed and hawed for a while but no major hiccups would have taken place. His male followers and admirers would have adjusted their admiration a couple of notches up. His female fans would have decided to take their chances too whenever the opportunity arose.

That leaves the wife. Not being a woman, I am unable to figure out what she should have done. I of course admire her for going after him with a niblick. Should she do something like what Heather Mills did with Sir Paul McCartney? Unlike Heather Mills, Elin Nordegren dropped out of public sight after their much publicized marriage. Perhaps one of my lady readers would like to offer some ideas!

Marriage, Divorce And Just Being Single.

My blog friend Jody wrote a robust post in her blog which coincided with two other separate articles about the change that is taking place in relationships. One from the USA and the other from India. The institution of marriage is certainly undergoing change and I am musing about it in this post.

I was married to the same wife for a little over forty years. We knew each other for eight years before our marriage. Our marriage, by any yardstick was a highly successful and rewarding one. It had its ups and downs like all marriages do, but bar one occasion when Urmeela decided to go away to her Mother’s place, the marriage worked and stayed afloat.

With that background, when I discuss the current trends of divorces, messy separations and people having relationships without the formality of marriage, I find it extremely difficult to understand the break down of the institution itself as an important aspect of human relationships. The older friends agree with me, and the younger ones call me an anachronism.

My son and daughter in law, after being married for five years decided three years ago, that they would rather be friends and got divorced by mutual consent. Both of them are in different relationships with other partners. Neither is planning on marriage again. They continue to meet each other regularly, and out daughter in law is very much part of our household with regular visits to me. I have got accustomed to this relationship but I have not understood it.

Delayed marriages, live in relationships, just being single etc are all part of the modern world and so apparently is the institution of marriage counseling. In our times, we sorted out our grief ourselves, or at best someone from within the family knocked some sense into our heads. Marriage counseling has become a good business and I am seriously considering going professional after a recent burst of young people seeking my counsel. I shall be writing about two of them shortly from a different angle, but shall leave my readers with the following story to lighten up the post.

After 25 years of marriage, a husband and wife came for counseling.

When asked what the problem was, the wife went into a passionate, painful tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the years they had been married.

On and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and unlovable, an entire laundry list of unmet needs she had endured.

Finally, after allowing this for a sufficient length of time, the therapist got up, walked around the desk and after asking the wife to stand, embraced and kissed her passionately as her husband watched with a raised eyebrow. The woman shut up and quietly sat down as though in a daze.

The therapist turned to the husband and said, ‘This is what your wife needs at least 3 times a week. Can you do this?’

The husband thought for a moment and replied, ‘Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays…, I go fishing.’