Tying the knot

In India, did you know that there are more places of worship than schools or hospitals? Did you know that religious pilgrimage accounts for a sizable percentage of the total tourism every year? Did you know that studies have shown that the more educated we get the more the fundamental aspects of religion appeal to us? You may not have been aware of all that but you do know that everyone from cricketers to celebrities to politicians give generously to temples and other places of worship in the hopes of successfully bribing God into assuring them a good sporting series, movie or term in office. Right? So, does religion matter to us Indians? I don’t think I even need to answer that question…

VNY_4999Moving to marriage now, it’s a big step. It’s one of the most important responsibilities that a good number of parents believe they are entrusted with – making sure that their offspring are well settled so that they always have companionship and love in their lives. Most parents believe that that love will come only if the other person shares the same religious beliefs as their child. Perhaps, in a way, they’re not wrong. Any married person (unless they are really lucky) will tell you that marriage requires some amount of hard work. Even if you have matching horoscopes or have said the same prayers to the same God all your life; you’ll still have days when you want to wring his or her neck because you just can’t seem to agree on anything. It’s normal (I think). But, when you add religious differences to the mix, things can get dangerous. Remember, wars have been fought in the name of religion.

Being in love is beautiful. Finding someone who can make you happy and is there for you when you need them is a surreal feeling. I doubt that until things get really serious, religion even plays on your mind. But, when it does, suddenly knowing that there will come a day when you won’t enjoy the freedom to go to the place of worship you’ve gone to all your life seems like a frightening reality to me. The idea of having to compulsorily take a bath and perform a small religious ceremony before entering the kitchen in the morning, or having to wear a burqa and never venturing outside without a male chaperon, or eating with people who have no qualms about what kind of meat they are consuming or how the animal has been slaughtered becomes a very real future and one, which if it was me, I don’t know if I could handle. But, that’s just me.

Perhaps, all of it can be overcome if the couple is strong enough to face whatever or whoever opposes their union. Liberal enough in the way they think to adopt a lifestyle which is perhaps more spiritual than religious, in the conventional terms, and accept that their children will by default be registered with the same faith as the husband. Be willing to make compromises of a degree that I don’t think other marriages normally require, especially in our pretend-secular-tolerant India. Finally, to be so in love that the idea of being without each other is unfathomable. Without all of that, to my mind, the outlook of inter-caste/faith/race/whatever marriages succeeding in a country of such high religious fervour is not that bright.

So, I don’t think the concept of inter-faith marriage is entirely taboo. But, I feel that for it to become accepted as routine or normal, we need to abandon being religious and become spiritual instead.

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Written for Indispire – 25 hosted on Indiblogger. – “Inter-religion marriage still taboo among Indians. You’re take.”

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UBC20: Following that dream

When I was about eleven or twelve, I started keeping a diary. But, I didn’t write about my day. I wrote poetry, short essays, stories and scripts instead and when I was fifteen, I printed them all and spiral bound them in something I called “The literary works of Preeti Farias – Part 1” ( Fancy title don’t you think 🙂 ). Even though my parents thought I had a decent bit of talent and I was encouraged to write; the idea was to treat it as a hobby, never as a career. It was looked at as something I could do when I was forty-five, had earned a fair bit, and had chosen to retire early from a regular job. The regular job for me (since I had no interest in medicine or engineering) is a finance one. So, I write on the side.

Today, parents are a little more accepting of “alternate” careers. Photography, journalism, anchoring TV shows, music, writing were all career-390757_1280supposed to be hobbies when I was growing up. But, it’s changing. These days, a lot of people with insistent parents end up pursuing professional courses only to start doing what they are passionate about once they are through. They end up having the added benefit of having the more “acceptable” degree to fall back on in case it doesn’t work out like they want.

True, it might be a while before just about any child of Indian descent can walk up to her/his parents and say s/he wants to be a chef in a restaurant or something like that but, there is hope! The tide is turning and I honestly think that the drive to follow dreams is thriving in the new generation.

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Written for IndiSpire on Indiblogger as well as for the Ultimate Blog Challenge

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UBC11: We just met

Yesterday, the husband and I got into a taxi to go to the mall. As we got in, the driver; a middle-aged local in a crisp white kandora extended his hand to my husband asking him about his day and his stay in Bahrain. He kept up the conversation, asking about India and talking about his trip to Bombay, all the way to the end of our journey while I sat in the back both amused and amazed.

On the way back, the experience was repeated. This time, with a little younger driver, the conversation veered towards the football world cup – who would win, if Bahrain ever had a chance of making it to the world cup level and why India with its huge population doesn’t have a competitive team.

It was such a change from India, where the moment an auto rickshaw driver opened his mouth I whipped out my phone ready to contact someone for help if he took an uncalled-for detour.

I think I’m going to like it here…

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Written loosely based on The One-Minute Writer prompt – Meeting Someone New

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Is it hard to be a boy?

So, I was on my way back from work today and I was thinking about how so many women are still oppressed and suppressed. Then I started thinking about men and I began wondering if in today’s world, it’s actually hard being male too. I mean, I know it’s difficult being a woman…our challenges are endless…and most people I know believe that all men have it way too easy but maybe that isn’t entirely true.

We live in a country where there is a huge hullabaloo made about the girl child and female foeticide and such. I wonder whether parents who would like to have a son can declare their preference openly or whether they will be met with scornful gazes and looked at as people who are gender-biased.

We live in a country where a lot of women look at men they don’t know with a whole lot of suspicion. Thanks to the media, the characters of men have been permanently tarnished and all the male species that exists outside the circle of those we trust are regarded as probable criminals.

Men have a hard time when it comes to deciding their futures too. Although nowadays women who sit at home only are looked at with a lot of shock (take me for example), if there is a man who is sitting at home and not out making money, how tongues wag! It is almost like a weird kind of pressure that’s put on them to get out there as early as possible and make a living. No father wants to give his daughter’s hand to a boy who hasn’t got a steady job…and that’s the bitter truth.

Plus, boys are harassed, molested, abused and raped too, and not enough people give a rat’s tail about it. We only talk about the female population who is undergoing that trauma but hardly ever do we acknowledge that there are men who have gone through the same ordeal and need the same sort of support we talk about for female victims. In this case, as usual the minority is male and his issues have got shadowed by those of the majority…girls.

And what’s up with the thought that a boy who cries is weak? I mean…how sad is that if a boy can’t cry because men are supposed to be able to control their tears. How horrible it must be to grow up with the idea that “crying is for sissys” ingrained into your brain??

Poor men….maybe you don’t have it all that easy after all…

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Free Write day on Write Tribe…this was my take in fifteen minutes 🙂

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