“Babe, you’re so smart, talented, and beautiful, and you know I’d do anything for you. You’re just like a sister to me.”
Translation: Don’t get any ideas, I’m not really interested in you (at this moment). I think you’re cool, but I’d like to keep playing the field – see what my other options are.
“Babe, you know, I am ready to settle down. I wish I could find a Desi chick just like you.”
Translation: My ammi promised me a rishta prospect who looks just like Ash Rai, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed she can cook and won’t spend all my money!
And you know five months… six months… a year later – when the 5’2”, 95lb. DAP (Desi-American Princess) has left; when the Ash Rai rishta prospect turned out to be anything but; and when you’ve completely forgotten about him, he’ll be back saying…
“Babe, I’ve always said you’re so smart, talented, and beautiful, and you know I’d do anything for you. You’re just not like all those other Desi chicks. I am ready to settle down. My ammi loves you. I love you.”
“Babe, I’ve always thought you’re so smart, talented, and beautiful, and you know I’d do anything for you. You’re just not like all those other Desi chicks. I was scared before. But last week I was in the hospital with the most horrible stomach pains. As my life flashed before me, all I could think of was you. My ammi will love you. I love you.”
And if you’re really lucky both guys will have these breakthrough epiphanies within the same week, because guys (very much like us girls) PMS at the same time. This is a scientific fact. But that is another topic, to be covered at another time.
Why, oh why, do Desi (Muslim) guys insist on using the sister line? It is insulting. It is demeaning. It is basically saying, “I don’t see you as a woman, but you’re a fun distraction for the time being.” Ultimately, it always backfires. The relationship gets complicated. The line between virtual incest and actual romance becomes less and less clear. Sooner or later someone gets hurt.
Out in the real world, outside of the Desi bubble, it is not as common for a guy to arbitrarily call you his sister. Non-Desi guys are fairly straightforward…
“Babe, you’re so smart, talented, and beautiful. You know I’m not really looking for a relationship right now, but right now I’d really like to fuck you.”
Translation: No analysis necessary.
*sigh* Damn morals. But the honesty is appreciated.
I’m not buying it anymore. Desi/Non-Desi – they’re all the same. The next time a Desi guy tells me I am like his sister, I am calling it out for what it is – a pickup line. After all, if I am to be his 43.7th sister in a society where boy-girl relationships are of the strictest taboo, and we are all ‘brothers and sisters in Islam’ – I say virtual incest is in.
“So, how you doin’, brotha?”
How can the country that gave the world the Kama Sutra be so prudish? It’s a longstanding cliche to note that India has produced both the world’s most famous guide to love and erotic pleasure and some of the most conservative social rules this side of Saudi Arabia on such questions as kissing in public. That paradox was on display once again this week in the firestorm that swept India following a seemingly innocuous — and obviously staged — celebrity kiss on the cheek at an AIDS-awareness event.
The nationwide furor began when Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty appeared together at an AIDS-awareness function in New Delhi last Sunday. The event was supposed to highlight the risky sexual behavior of truck drivers, who have some of the highest rates of HIV infection in India. At one point in the proceedings, Gere embraced Shetty, bent her back in an exaggerated kind of dance hold and kissed her on the cheek. If it looked slightly awkward, Shetty said later, that’s because it was unexpected. “Richard does not understand Hindi,” she told a press conference. “All he knows is that Bollywood is all about song and dance. So, he decided to give a dance pose with me to entertain the crowd.”
But it may be more than than the Hindi language that Gere did not understand: His dance move and smooch on the cheek went way beyond what is acceptable, at least according to India’s Hindu nationalists who claim that Shetty has dishonored her culture. Protestors burned Gere and Shetty in effigy, and now plan to lodge a complaint against Shetty with the police. “How much can you degrade yourself because you are being paid money to make an appearance?” asked Sumit Mishra, of the youth wing of the Hindu nationalist BJP party in the state of Bhopal. As a foreigner, said Mishra, Gere could be excused. “We are not bothered about how many times he kisses how many women in Hollywood. We are troubled with Shilpa’s behavior. When the man was being outrageously indecent before a large gathering, why did she keep giggling?” Mishra railed to the Times of India newspaper. “That encouraged him more. Why didn’t she protest?”
But were the protests generated by real indignation or were they just a ploy by the BJP and other nationalist parties to bolster their support. Sudhir Kakar, who has written a novel based on the Karma Sutra and one of dozens of new translations of the ancient text, says the answer is both. “The people who protest want the masses to be offended by [the kiss],” says Kakar, a psychoanalyst and a former senior fellow at the Center for Study of World Religions at Harvard. “They want people not to go down the road towards erotic freedom. There’s a struggle going on for their votes actually.”
This Indian version of America’s “culture wars” is at a much earlier stage than its U.S. equivalent. The upper middle class that Kakar says is finally becoming “free from the sexual conservatism of the past” is still quite small, especially in comparison with the hundreds of millions who remain culturally conservative, if markedly less strident than the Hindu hardliners Indian newspapers dub “the moral brigade.”
It’s this silent majority, says Kakar, whose anger the extremists are trying to arouse. “The main thing is family, so they see any kind of sexuality as a threat to the family,” he says.
Shetty believes those protesting the incident are missing the point. “It is such a small issue,” she told reporters after the Gere brouhaha exploded. “Actually, I think it is not even an issue. There are bigger issues like AIDS in our country, which no one seems to be interested in talking about.” As politicians around the world know, though, it’s always easier to exploit controversy than tackle the difficult stuff.
Saw this on BBC today. Good to know the Indian government is recognizing spouse abandonment as a problem.
“The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs says women who are divorced or deserted within two years of marriage will be entitled to legal and financial aid.”
Click here for more
An interesting perspective off of Sepia Mutiny I think most of us can relate to:
**RaisingDesi production –
A friend sent this article to me and I thought it was pretty interesting. I don’t think the rushing into marriage without thinking is specific to just Muslim communities.
Excerpt from the article:
“Divorce is on the rise in the Muslim community, especially in the West. According to a study conducted by Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus, a sociology professor at State University of New York, the overall divorce rate among Muslims in North America is at an astounding 31%. The state of California ranks highest with a 37% rate of divorce and New York, Ontario, and Texas follow closely with a 30% rate. Compared to the overall rate of divorce in the U.S. (49%) and Canada (45%), the increasing rate of divorce among Muslims is cause for alarm”
What do you all think?
Networking sites aren’t just an American trend. We came across this tidbit on BBC today.
Arranged marriages are adapting to the hi-tech era.
Love-seeking Indians head online
By Sanjoy Majumder
Sandeep and Sowmya are very happy with their arranged marriage
India’s rapidly growing economy has led to a transformation in the lives of its middle-class – but how well have the country’s long-standing traditions stood the pace of change?
The city of Bangalore is India’s Silicon Valley, home of the country’s booming IT industry and employing hundreds of thousands of young Indian graduates from across the country.
It is one reason why it is also India’s most cosmopolitan city, a buzzing metropolis dotted with bars, cafes, trendy restaurants and glitzy shopping malls. But scratch under the surface and you still find traditional India.
Sowmya and Sandeep Kulkarni represent the face of modern India. They are both software professionals, IT graduates in their 20s who, nevertheless, found it natural to get married the traditional way – and have it arranged.
“I don’t see any flaw in arranged marriage – it was good enough for my parents and so it is good enough for me,” says Sowmya….[more]
Um…some interesting scientific data on condoms being too big for Indian men? Also, Ash is busted for an onscreen kiss!
1) “A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.” What do our guys have to say about that? Read more on bbc.
2) Who knew there is a law against kissing in public in India? Apparently it’s considered to be an obscenity.
“Bollywood megastar Aishwarya Rai, described by Julia Roberts as ‘the world’s most beautiful woman,’ committed the egregious sin of kissing her leading man, Hrithik Roshan, in her latest Bollywood movie, ‘Dhoom 2.'”
An Indian tribe has given its consent to a lesbian ‘marriage’ in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.
A priest belonging to the Kandha tribe led the ceremony between Wetka Polang, 30, and Melka Nilsa, 22, in Koraput district recently.
Both the women are day labourers and now live together in Dandabadi village.
Same-sex relationships are outlawed in India. The 145-year-old colonial Indian Penal Code clearly describes a same sex relationship as an “unnatural offence”
..but Don’t Call It Dating?
So, this article made it to the front page of the NYTimes. Thoughts? If you can’t login we’ve posted the text for you here:
It’s Muslim Boy Meets Girl, but Don’t Call It Dating
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR
CHICAGO — So here’s the thing about speed dating for Muslims.
Many American Muslims — or at least those bent on maintaining certain conservative traditions — equate anything labeled “dating” with hellfire, no matter how short a time is involved. Hence the wildly popular speed dating sessions at the largest annual Muslim conference in North America were given an entirely more respectable label. They were called the “matrimonial banquet.”
“If we called it speed dating, it will end up with real dating,” said Shamshad Hussain, one of the organizers, grimacing.
Both the banquet earlier this month and various related seminars underscored the difficulty that some American Muslim families face in grappling with an issue on which many prefer not to assimilate. One seminar, called “Dating,” promised attendees helpful hints for “Muslim families struggling to save their children from it.”
The couple of hundred people attending the dating seminar burst out laughing when Imam Muhamed Magid of the Adams Center, a collective of seven mosques in Virginia, summed up the basic instructions that Muslim American parents give their adolescent children, particularly males: “Don’t talk to the Muslim girls, ever, but you are going to marry them. As for the non-Muslim girls, talk to them, but don’t ever bring one home.”
“These kids grew up in America, where the social norm is that it is O.K. to date, that it is O.K. to have sex before marriage,” Imam Magid said in an interview. “So the kids are caught between the ideal of their parents and the openness of the culture on this issue.”
The questions raised at the seminar reflected just how pained many American Muslims are by the subject. One middle-aged man wondered if there was anything he could do now that his 32-year-old son had declared his intention of marrying a (shudder) Roman Catholic. A young man asked what might be considered going too far when courting a Muslim woman.
Panelists warned that even seemingly innocuous e-mail exchanges or online dating could topple one off the Islamic path if one lacked vigilance. “All of these are traps of the Devil to pull us in and we have no idea we are even going that way,” said Ameena Jandali, the moderator of the dating seminar.
Hence the need to come up with acceptable alternatives in North America, particularly for families from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, where there is a long tradition of arranged marriages.
One panelist, Yasmeen Qadri, suggested that Muslim mothers across the continent band together in an organization called “Mothers Against Dating,” modeled on Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If the term “arranged marriage” is too distasteful to the next generation, she said, then perhaps the practice could be Americanized simply by renaming it “assisted marriage,” just like assisted living for the elderly.
“In the United States we can play with words however we want, but we are not trying to set aside our cultural values,” said Mrs. Qadri, a professor of education.
Basically, for conservative Muslims, dating is a euphemism for premarital sex. Anyone who partakes risks being considered morally louche, with their marriage prospects dimming accordingly, particularly young women.
Mrs. Qadri and other panelists see a kind of hybrid version emerging in the United States, where the young do choose their own mates, but the parents are at least partly involved in the process in something like half the cases.
Having the families involved can help reduce the divorce rate, Imam Majid said, citing a recent informal study that indicated that one third of Muslim marriages in the United States end in divorce. It was still far too high, he noted, but lower than the overall American average. Intermarriages outside Islam occur, but remain relatively rare, he said.
Scores of parents showed up at the marriage banquet to chaperone their children. Many had gone through arranged marriages — meeting the bride or groom chosen by their parents sometimes as late as their wedding day and hoping for the best. They recognize that the tradition is untenable in the United States, but still want to influence the process.
The banquet is considered one preferable alternative to going online, although that too is becoming more common. The event was unquestionably one of the big draws at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual convention, which attracted thousands of Muslims to Chicago over Labor Day weekend, with many participants bemoaning the relatively small pool of eligible candidates even in large cities.
James Estrin/The New York Times
At the end there was an hourlong social hour that allowed participants time to collect e-mail addresses and telephone numbers over a pasta dinner with sodas. (Given the Muslim ban on alcohol, no one could soothe jumpy nerves with a drink.) Organizers said many of the women still asked men to approach their families first. Some families accept that the couple can then meet in public, some do not.
A few years ago the organizers were forced to establish a limit of one parent per participant and bar them from the tables until the social hour because so many interfered. Parents are now corralled along one edge of the reception hall, where they alternate between craning their necks to see who their adult children are meeting or horse-trading bios, photographs and telephone numbers among themselves.
Talking to the mothers — and participants with a parent usually take a mother — is like surveying members of the varsity suddenly confined to the bleachers.
“To know someone for seven minutes is not enough,” scoffed Awila Siddique, 46, convinced she was making better contacts via the other mothers.
Mrs. Siddique said her shy, 20-year-old daughter spent the hours leading up to the banquet crying that her father was forcing her to do something weird. “Back home in Pakistan, the families meet first,’’ she said. “You are not marrying the guy only, but his whole family.”
Samia Abbas, 59 and originally from Alexandria, Egypt, bustled out to the tables as soon as social hour was called to see whom her daughter Alia, 29, had met.
“I’m her mother so of course I’m looking for her husband,” said Mrs. Abbas, ticking off the qualities she was looking for, including a good heart, handsome, as highly educated as her daughter and a good Muslim.
Did he have to be Egyptian?
“She’s desperate for anyone!” laughed Alia, a vivacious technology manager for a New York firm, noting that the “Made in Egypt” stipulation had long since been cast overboard.
“Her cousin who is younger has babies now!” exclaimed the mother, dialing relatives on her cellphone to handicap potential candidates.
For doubters, organizers produced a success story, a strikingly good-looking pair of Chicago doctors who met at the banquet two years ago. Organizers boast of at least 25 marriages over the past six years.
Fatima Alim, 50, was disappointed when her son Suehaib, a 26-year-old pharmacist, did not meet anyone special on the first day. They had flown up from Houston especially for the event, and she figured chances were 50-50 that he would find a bride.
When she arrived in Texas as a 23-year-old in an arranged marriage, Mrs. Alim envied the girls around her, enthralled by their discussions about all the fun they were having with their boyfriends, she said, even if she was eventually shocked to learn how quickly they moved from one to the next and how easily they divorced. Still, she was determined that her children would chose their own spouses.
“We want a good, moderate Muslim girl, not a very, very modern girl,” she said. “The family values are the one thing I like better back home. Divorces are high here because of the corruption, the intermingling with other men and other women.”
For his part, Mr. Alim was resisting the strong suggestion from his parents that they switch tactics and start looking for a nice girl back in Pakistan. Many of the participants reject that approach, describing themselves as too Americanized — plus the visas required are far harder to obtain in the post-Sept. 11 world.
Mr. Alim said he still believed what he had been taught as a child, that sex outside marriage was among the gravest sins, but he wants to marry a fellow American Muslim no matter how hard she is to find.
“I think I can hold out a couple more years,” he said in his soft Texas drawl with a boyish smile. “The sooner the better, but I think I can wait. By 30, hopefully, even if that is kind of late.”
So, dear readers, believe it or not, Divanee isn’t actually the only magazine in my life: My full-time gig also has me editing and writing my life away at a magazine here in NYC. So last week, my editor at my day job (ie, not Miral-the-great-Sattar) approaches me to tell me she wants me to write a cover story.
In magazine-speak, this is a HUGE deal.
I’m all giddy and excited, eagerly awaiting more information on my most major assignment yet. I’d never heard of the subject before, but who cares. “She’s a model-turned-author,” my editor tells me, before promising to get me a copy of her latest book to prep before I go ahead with the interview.
So yesterday, she hands me the book. The title? “The One: Finding Soul Mate Love and Making It Last.”
You have got to be kidding me.
Such is my life: a conglomerate of cruel jokes; an amalgamation of ironies. I need some Cheetos.