But if you ask a girl you may hear something radically different. I guess, in India, marriage impacts girls in a way that guys can't understand very well. In our country, a girl definitely seems to undergo a lot of lifestyle-related changes in the post marriage phase. If I should guess an analogy many guys can to relate to, it must be something like moving to a foreign country/new place, and starting life on your own for the first time. A better analogy or even a slightly crude one would be this. A girl getting married is like a heart transplant into a body. She is that vital to the body. When it comes to marriages in India ( 80% of the time), the heart is part of and controlled by the body/brain, which represents, metaphorically, the husband. The heart(as an organ) will / has to go where the body/brain takes it and will be forever be directed by the body/brain. Any person who thinks this is not true and believes that "today's women" have a lot of freedom and independence has a pretty limited view of life and also is pretty deluded. And I have talked to very deluded people in my life that its become kind of boring to discuss this topic. I have come to believe that the upper middle-class people(this includes women too) have a very superficial knowledge of reality and in their eagerness to project Indian Women as truly emancipated, often mis-represent the truth.
The pre-dominant truth in today's India is that a woman ( I dare say in 80% of the cases I have encountered) is still a second class citizen in her new family. I have seen too many women crying back on their visits to their mother's house to believe the opposite is true. When the boy's family are nice to the girl's family, it is projected as if the boy's family are doing the girl's family a big favor. Being nice is like a bonus, a gift or even a boon. The boy's family expect the girl's family to be surprised (and sometimes they really are) and extremely grateful because the boy's family turned out to be swell guys. The behavior of boy's family, in reality, is that condescending or that patronizing. I could never reconcile to this attitude. But on the other hand, if the boy's family were nice and made that niceness appear normal, several girls/women I spoke to thought (a) the boy had a defect or something he was trying to hide, (b) they were secretly asking for dowry, which the boy is trying to hide. This is the level of cynicism present in today's world. and that too this cynicism is commonly present among married women. To continue with my analogy, the girl, although she occupies the role of a "heart" is made to feel that she is an "appendix". She is predominantly presented an environment where she has to work her way up the corporate ladder. I am not saying she is treated like the way old B & W movies potray. But she is certainly made to feel that any privilege is "given". There is a subtle difference in something being "given" and "taken for granted". And that subtle difference symbolizes the difference between the parent's home Vs post-marriage-in-law's home.
The advantage of growing up in a large, large ( a very very large) family has allowed me to see a broader spectrum of how marriage works in India. My view on this is more skeptical and even critical at times. Most of what I am mentioning in this blog is not what/how I expect women to be treated but more or less a commentary on how I see them being treated. I'll agree that to an extent times have changed and woman are nowadays treated with respect and sophistication that is expected in an educated society. But it has not completely changed. Factors such as Caste, location, religion, economic and more importantly, education, determines how a boy's family welcomes a girl's family after marriage. So in many ways, I completely admire women who have strained, sweated and made a career and a family work. I am indeed grateful to know such women. I also completely despise women who claim to have done "hard work" or gained "more maturity" purely (and only) because they gave birth to babies. I reserve nothing but biting sarcasm to such women. In my opinion the latter section insults the former.
Why do women find this post-marriage change difficult. I have a theory for this. I guess each house has its own rhythm. Every family has it's own music. I call it the native tune of that particular house. This is the reason why people find it hard to adjust in an uncle/relative's house if they are forced to (or if they choose to) stay there for a prolonged time(say for a year or two) to study or work. While growing up in your parents house, you are an instrument that plays to a specific tune. The tune of your house. It is a different beat unique to your house. To adjust to the music of a different house is a complex and slow process. Sometimes it never happens. The new-entrant constantly trips over other house in-mates and the conversations does not flow smoothly( like - when A talks B is distracted and not listening and vice versa or view/opinion conflicts) There are million small habits that the new-house members (for a newly wed girl it would be the boy's family) have that is ingrown, esoteric, idiosyncratic (GRE word list anybody :-) ?) and familiar to members of the boy's family. Until the new-entrant recognizes and plays according to that tune, she is going to be out of sync and out-of-harmony with the house. While the first few days the house will play simple tunes that any new person can fit into, as days go by and regular routine sets in, the house begins to function like a full blown orchestra and the new-entrant has a tough job keeping up. So there ends my brief stint as K.Balachander :-). Then there is the question of the boy's role. I would re-iterate that a typical boy's behavior is much like the one I mentioned in the parent's blog. In the real world-India, from my observations, if the boy and girl live as equals, it only means that the girl moved up from a lower status to an equal status, and never vice versa. In a joint family this kind of equal status rarely works. In many castes, equality is seen as an irritating development. It causes so many problems that it is so difficult to encourage a girl, even if I believe that she has the potential, to go the distance. About 70% of the women in India cannot postpone having a baby even for a couple of years to advance their careers. In about 3 months after marriage they are asked the "vishesham" ("any special news" ?) question. It is a completely different scenario, if the boy wants to delay the baby scenario. Then it is perfectly acceptable, but never (okay rarely) the other way around.
So, in conclusion - yes! A women's life is certainly more complicated. I have a lot to say on this topic but unfortunately do not have the time to spare for it. Maybe some other blog. I had 20 minutes free time (which itself was totally unexpected) and decided to write this in a single go without any editing. Anyway the blog that I read was by a person called Swarnamukhi. This is an innocent sweet blog. Does not contain any of the serious stuff, I mentioned above. And I can't stress that enough. It is actually a cheerful blog of a person trying to make the career-newly-wed life balance work. If you scratch the wafer thin melancholy on the surface, you will find the real modern-Indian woman standing really tall. And that certainly makes me happy. I started to write a small blog appreciating her blog and completely digressed into this big blog. It is almost heartening and comforting to see such a wonderful expression of post-marriage life by a new blogger. I mention her because, I am so humbled by her talent and the way she expresses her thoughts so beautifully. I believe she has the potential to become a very good writer. And I strongly encourage her to do so. Her thoughts come out so very well and the words flow in such a style that makes you feel that the blog "blossoms" like a flower as it goes along. Simply wonderful. If you met her, you wouldn't believe so much talented resided in this introverted person. This is again one of my pet peeves about Tamil Nadu. There is so much latent talent but there is even greater shyness. Tamil Nadu seems to produce more people who prefer to be back-benchers that any other part of the world. I hope that changes one day! So here is a gem among blogs. Good work Swarnamukhi.