The Tea Time

“Would you like something to drink, sir?” the flight attendant asked with a polite yet firm voice.
“Some tea please,” he replied in a monotone voice.
“Ice tea or hot tea?”
“Oh, I mean hot tea.”
“Do you want anything in it – Milk or sugar?” The attendant inquired again as she poured the tea from a steel jug into a paper cup.
“Both – milk and sugar…”
“Is half-and-half okay?”
“No, I want only a little bit milk in my tea…”
She handed him two tiny cups of creamer, with label- ‘Mini Moo’s, half-&-half’.
“Oh, that’s what you meant by ‘half and half’…!” Before he could finish his sentence, she had already moved on to the next row of passengers.

After deboarding the plane, the passengers collected their luggage and lined up in the ‘Immigration and Customs’ section. Upon his turn, an immigration officer asked him all kinds of questions.
“When were you married?”
“Two years ago.”
“How long did your spouse stay with you in India?” His eyes glued to the computer screen as he continued the inquiry.
“Two week.”
“Is she the one sponsoring you?”
“Yes…sir”
“When was the last time she visited you?”
“Last year”…..
Finally, after a few more questions, he got ushered to a small cubicle where a white female officer with short red hair greeted him
“Welcome to Canada!” She said with a smile, shaking his hand and offering him a seat.
She told him about different facilities available for the new immigrants; she explained the job search options and how to apply for Social Insurance Number, and so on…
Finally he was guided to gather his luggage and follow the ‘Exit’ signs. Continue reading “The Tea Time”

Double Standard

She had big dreams, her ideology was based on truth, honesty and kindness. But that was a long time ago, that was when she was seventeen. She thought she was special; she was born to do great things; she was born to make a difference. But then again, that was was when she was in high school. She barely new the world out there. She never knew that the rules of kindness, love and truth apply differently beyond the walls of her house.

Somewhere along the way, somewhere in the process of growing up, she left her house to encounter the real world. She was no longer shielded by her family and her loved ones. It was part of her society, it was part of the traditions to move out. She got married; her family tied her knot to an educated man from Canada. Not because they knew him, or she loved him; they married her in the hope that life would be better in Canada. That is what everyone thought, and that is what they believed – she will be better off in Canada, far better off.

But then again, people are not what they appear to be. In the real world abroad, things are very different. The real world is far different than the one based on dreams; the real world where ideology is often talked about but seldom practiced. Most of the people talk big but do little, she soon learned.

In no time, she was exposed to the double standards as she left her father’s house. She saw hypocrisy first hand – day in and day out. The lies, the deceptions, the compromises – everything was at play on her new stage of life. Continue reading “Double Standard”

Plight of a woman in the NRI Marriages

“Indian men are the most ugly men on this planet. Their hearts so ugly that u can not even imagine. I am Indian married to an Indian, the pain and the suffering he has given me and continues to give me, is crazy. Why?……. Indian men in India may be good, Indian men who come to the west are ugly ugly men…may god give me courage to remove this painful lump( my husband) out out of my life forever.. ” Says Katiyani while commenting on this article.

Many parents in India prefer to marry their beloved son or daughter to NRIs.  Their main hopes and wishes for their kids are to see them will settle abroad and prosper. A common man still looks up to the other countries as the ultimate salvation for their offspring.

Yes, arranged marriage is still the most common way to matrimony in India, especially when it comes to marrying abroad. With very little knowledge about a ‘funny dressed’ visitor from the west, people are willing to wed their son or daughter overnight. They don’t want someone else to steal their opportunity – the opportunity of a golden ticket to go abroad.

Marriage is supposed to be a sacred bond, based on mutual love and respect. However, NRI marriages are fundamentally based on greed. It is the greed that results into lifelong headaches for many couples, and heartaches along with it. Continue reading “Plight of a woman in the NRI Marriages”

The night before Babbu’s wedding

A sea of beautiful brown skin. Some bare-feet, others testing their newly bought shoes on the dance floor, dancing away with Kesha’s ‘Tick Tock’ song blaring through the whole house. The young, the old, the guys, the girls – all mingled up in the mood for a party, setting up their own pace. Loud music, louder commotion. Kids running all over – a complete chaos. Everyone is lost in the moment.

Every now and then, a car pulls up to the front of the house dropping off new guests. Tomorrow is a big day for the Gill family. Their only son Babbu is getting married.

By the time the sun touched the western horizon, the house is all packed full – to the limit. More guests trickle in – from as far as India, London and Vancouver. For a two story bungalow, the full blasting air-conditioners cannot subside the heat and smell – the smell of perfumes, sweets, masala, incenses and liquors… all mixed together.

The house in Brampton is a short drive from the Toronto airport. Raj – Babbu’s cousin, has been to the airport three times already, picking up the relatives as they arrive from all over the places. He is the most excited about his fourth trip, however. His three cousins from England are arriving next, the cousins he has not seen for a long time.

As the dusk turns into an early night, a black stretched limousine pulls to the front of the house. It is a part of the night-out planned for the groom and his passé. One last time, Babbu is going to enjoy his ‘single’ status before shackling down into the married life. The limo driver steps outside the driver seat, polishes the already clean windshield with a black cloth, like a ritual. Then he lights up a cigarette, while some of the elders watch him with a look of disapproval.

The groom and his passé of five friends get to the limo. Continue reading “The night before Babbu’s wedding”

IPC 498A – Harassment or cruelty to a woman

Indian Law against harassment or cruelty to a woman, and dowry abuse

“Section 498A I.P.C. was introduced with the avowed object to combat the menace of dowry deaths and harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband or his relatives. Nevertheless, the provision should not be used as a device to achieve oblique motives.” ~ Justice DK Jain of Supreme Court of India

Many people from India, especially those living abroad, don’t know much about Section 498A of the IPC (Indian Penal Code), nor do they know what to do when a 498A case is registered against someone.
Section 498a of the IPC is a criminal law in which the wife and her family can charge any or all of the husband’s family of physical or mental cruelty. While there is a lot of debate about the use and misuse of this law, the scope of this article is to outline the law.
Here is the famous or infamous – depending on your experiences and views – IPC 498a wording:

Indian Penal Code – Section 498A, IPC
Introduced in the Penal Code by Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983
(Act No. 46 of 1983)
498A. HUSBAND OR RELATIVE OF HUSBAND OF A WOMAN SUBJECTING HER TO CRUELTY:
Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation: For the purposes of this section, “cruelty” means
(a) Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman;
or
(b) Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand. Continue reading “IPC 498A – Harassment or cruelty to a woman”

‘Happily Single’ – Growing trend of marriage-free single lifestyle

All young women begin by believing they can change and reform the men they marry. They can’t. ~George Bernard Shaw

Some things never change; human mentality for ever-lasting freedom is one of them! 🙂

Growing Trend of staying single and marriage-free
According to the United States Bureau of the Census, the fastest-growing household type since the 1980s has been ‘the single person’. There has been a similar increase in single person households in England as well. If we look around, this trend is probably true for most of the free societies around the world.
Surprised? You should not be. The institution of marriage has been under attack for a long-long time. This attack is coming from the marriage itself – the attack from within!
Now, what are these attacks from inside – from the marriage and married life itself? There are too may, you name it:

  • Unhappy marriages – there are plenty of them to go around;
  • Incompatible marriages – Not made for each-other;
  • Marriages with different expectations – ‘I never thought we will end up like this’
  • Drifting away over time – ‘I didn’t know we could grow apart over time’,
  • The past – ‘I miss my freedom of good old single days’
  • The grind – ‘I am doing this for the sake of the kids…only for the kids’
  • Regret – ‘Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock’
  • The dead End – All the way to something like ‘I hate your guts more than I hate you’
  • …and many worse endings…

This should not surprise anyone, right? We all have seen this in our society, in our neighborhood. Day after day, there are examples of miserable or failed marriages playing out in our own back-yards. But somehow, we all have found a way to justify and isolate ourselves from those troubled relations.
“That couldn’t be me. I can never be miserable like this”. Many have made this kind of promises to themselves. These self-declarations may not mean much down the road. Continue reading “‘Happily Single’ – Growing trend of marriage-free single lifestyle”

30 Tips on planning and hosting a wedding

30 Commonsense ideas on planning and hosting a wedding

A weddings is a beautiful occasion. Be in India or overseas, Indian or non-Indian, a wedding brings festivities, celebrations, joy and love. However, along comes the responsibility of hosting – planning, decorating, arranging, rearranging….The Weddings and the wedding parties are fun, business and responsibilities – all combined in one.

These commonsense tips can be of great help for planning for a wedding, as well as in alleviating the pain of hosting one. Please note that this is not a complete wedding planning check list; you can find many of those online.

1. Season and weather: The summer is the main wedding season in America and many other Western countries. Consider a wedding during the months of moderate weather – spring or autumn. The off-season wedding is also lighter on the wallet.

2. Banquet Hall and venue: Decide on the ceremony and the reception venues ahead of time. Many good banquet halls need reservation many months (or even more than a year in some cases) in advance. As always, planning is the key to execution and the end results.

3. Things-to-do list :This step should also get covered in the planning and the check-list. Make a list of things to do and prioritize. There is a lot to be done. Get organized, you cannot afford the carefree approach of a single lifestyle anymore! 🙂

4. Guest list: Be realistic in making the list of the guests to invite. Take everything into consideration – the size of the party, the budget, the venue …. Continue reading “30 Tips on planning and hosting a wedding”

NRI Tips: Commonsense guide for NRI marriages

NRI marriages tips – Don’t get carried away with overseas marriages

“Now very often events are set up for photographers… The weddings are orchestrated about the photographers taking the picture, because if it hasn’t been photographed it doesn’t really exist.”~Elliott Erwitt

The main reason for so many problems with overseas marriages is that couples and the families are taking too much for granted – before and after the marriage. Here are some of the commonsense tips for marriages abroad:

Don’t rely on online services for matchmaking: While an online site could be a good place to see what people are looking or what is out there, don’t put you full faith into these online services. Take the profile info with a grain of salt; people tend to lie, it is a fact. Even if you initiate a contact online, make sure to do your own investigation and ask the right questions.

Do not marry to the NRI status: As I stated before in the problems with NRI marriages article, many of the families go for a wedding blindly just to marry to an NRI living overseas. The more important requirements of mutual compatibility are often overlooked. And, that’s where the problem really starts. Don’t marry to the NRI status, but to the person of YOUR choice.

Meet your future partners – in person, and for longer than over a cup of tea: The arranged marriages of 1950’s are so long gone. Get to know the other side as much as possible, at least until you feel comfortable with making your decision – one way or another. Continue reading “NRI Tips: Commonsense guide for NRI marriages”

The growing problems with NRI Marriages: A wake-up call!

NRI Marriages gone bad: the issues with the NRI Weddings

“My daughter, who is an attractive girl, has done masters in English and now she is working in a bank with salary____. She is a lovable, cute and calm girl.she has great respect of our tradition and culture. Interested persons can contact us at____ Must be a Non Resident Indian (NRI) with legal and valid residence in US or Canada….”

“She has a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and is just finishing masters in Computer Science; very outgoing, friendly and caring person. She likes making friends and gets along with people easily. Looking for an NRI living in …..”

There is something fundamentally wrong with these matrimonial advertisements all over the Internet and on-line marriage portals. Many of these ads are nothing more than fishing for NRIs living overseas. As you can see for yourself, the primary qualities for match-making are often overlooked. What happened to the need for decent human qualities; may be a search for compatibility, honesty or other values? These advertisements don’t seem like for a wedding but more like a business proposition: would you take our pretty/handsome daughter/son for a green card? The greed is written all over these NRI matrimonials.

Similarly, on the other hand, you can also find plenty of ads starting with ” Looking for a suitable match for a well settled NRI overseas…..” or something like that. Being an “NRI abroad” is the main quality being touted again and again. I guess, as long as people are willing to be exploited, there will be exploiters.

More and more problems are emerging with these NRI marriages. The problem is not just opportunistic NRIs, but also those who put their trust in someone whom they have barely met. The personal gains take priority over any consideration for the long term well-being of the bride/groom. We can blame the NRIs for failed wedding, but the fault lies with both sides. Actually, the blame lies more on those who get married to someone just because he/she is an NRI.
If you are lucky, you may find a decent match; Yes, there are lots of success stories. However, it is too much to be left on luck alone; waging everything on blind trust and chances alone is no wisdom.

There is no wonder why the NRI weddings are getting increasingly negative press. Everywhere in the news and media, there are too many sad stories of NRI marriages gone bad everyday: Continue reading “The growing problems with NRI Marriages: A wake-up call!”

The growing trends of love-marriages in India!

What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. ~ Leo Tolstoy

The love-marriage in India goes beyond the age-old love stories portrayed in the black-and-white Bollywood movies. Some of the earliest scriptures (Rig Veda), books (KamaSutra) and stories prove the fact that the love-marriage has never been a foreign concept for India.
However, these love flings are have been discouraged in the Indian society due to many reasons:

  • Very protective style of parenting- especially for girls,
  • Social stigma against pre-marital relations
  • Love affair are  always looked down by the elders.
  • Cast restrictions and wedding rules don’t go well with love marriages

However, the things have been changing for a while now. The society is becoming more and more tolerant with time. The love marriage is no longer a taboo in Indian society, especially among younger generation. The pre-marital relations are growing into a fashion in big cities, perhaps a statement of progressive thinking.
In fact, the semi-arranged marriages have been evolving more and more into love marriages. While the families try their best to stick with traditional wedding, including controlling the bride/groom selection, the new crop is quickly walking towards the western style of relations.
The semi arranged and love marriages have become a part of Indian culture and customs, just like arranged marriages were in old day. The society as a whole has come a long way to accept the natural evolution. Many social factors have facilitated the acceptance of love marriage very quickly, including:

  • Independent thinking and open-mindedness among today’s youth,
  • The exposure to western culture,
  • Hollywood movies’ wide-spread influence in India
  • Desi flicks from Bollywood that always have tumultuous romance stories with happy endings,
  • More and more acceptance of inter-class weddings by the older generation,
  • Modernization of India in the last two decades…

Continue reading “The growing trends of love-marriages in India!”

Hire a Bollywood star for your party: Aaja NachLe!

Who would you hire from Bollywood for your wedding party?

Madhuri and Aishvarya in film Devdas
Madhuri and Aishvarya in film Devdas

Have money?… Looking for the knockout punch at your party?….
Well, look towards Bollywood.
Everything has a price, they say. For the right price, you can get almost anything.
So, what is the price for the Baadshah of Bollywood Shahrukh Khan to dance at your party? How about Rs 3 Crores to start with. Shahrukh Khan agreed to put up a show at the wedding of real estate giant Kanti Govani’s nephew for this large sum of money.

Who would you hire for your party?

From yesterday’s stars the stand-outs are:

  • Amitabh Bachhan:- I won’t mind watching him perform to the tune of ‘Pag Ghungroo bandh Meera Naachi thi..’ from Namak Halaal.
  • Helen: The queen of dance numbers..’Mehbooba Mehbooba…’ from Sholay is a heartthrob  of many!
  • Hema Malini: The ‘dream girl’, a trained classical dancer….

Continue reading “Hire a Bollywood star for your party: Aaja NachLe!”

The semi-arranged Marriages!

 The semi-arranged Marriages in India

She first met him in the English class in 1994. Not sure what it was, but there was something about him that made her skip a heartbeat. May be it was that young foolish age of daydreaming, but she unconsciously started to include him into her dreams……
Eventually, they became friends, good friends. No family members knew about him except her nosy aunt. Luckily for her, the aunt loved to be a matchmaker, and she took it from there on….
The families from both sides were very pleased with the aunt for ‘finding’ them a great match….The rest is history.. This is the semi-arranged marriage…

The change is a part of the slow but ever-progressing ways of life. Based on the demands of the time, the culture and customs evolve; the traditions change. Similarly with time, the marriage concept has become much more relaxed and less rigid. The new way of life and modern thinking have naturally affected the way marriages are initiated. There is more transparency between the families and the potential couples; the restrictions of old days are fading – slowly but steadily. Continue reading “The semi-arranged Marriages!”

The Arranged Marriage!

The Arranged Marriages In India!

It was early 1948; he had barely settled in the new India after the 1947 partition, after the independence from British Empire. Uprooted from a village near Gujranwala, he had made the treacherous journey with his parents and 8 siblings, traveling from Pakistan to the Indian part of newly partitioned Punjab. He was eighteen.

New place, new life, starting allover from nothing but they were not alone; that was the story of almost every household in Punjab back then.

The family desperately wanted to forget the ugly days of recent past; they wanted some happy occasion to replace their nightmares of last many years. What could be better than the songs and dances of Punjabi marriage; after-all, he was turning nineteen soon!

So, it was decided. There were already offers from would-be brides’ parents. The family started to plan and prepare for this upcoming special occasion – his wedding.

The bride was selected based on the matchmaker’s suggestions; the lucky day finalized based on the recommendation from a psychic palm-reader.

The day came, one fine spring day. He decorated his bullock carts and headed over to a small village a few miles away… to get married. His company included his father, mostly male family members and many male friends.

The wedding ceremony – the religious rite – was arranged at the bride’s home. The afternoon feast was hosted in a haveli – an open air living area enclosed with tall walls and a few mud rooms….
By the late afternoon, the groom and his company were heading back to his village, this time two more passengers on his cart – his newly acquired wife and her family’s maid. During the entire wedding ceremony and the ride back to her new home, she had her face covered with an expensive hand-made shawl that was a part of the dowry she brought with her. He had not seen her face so far but his secret investigation through common family friends and the matchmaker had confirmed that she was very pretty.

Continue reading “The Arranged Marriage!”