The Indian Man

I remember reading a review of Honeymoon Travels which described KK Menon’s character as thus:

He isn’t quite a male chauvinist, just an Indian man.

I didn’t quite get that at the time. Then I saw the movie and thought I understood a bit of what the reviewer was trying to say. KK Menon’s Partho is a stiff-necked prude with very propah notions of behaviour (of the Indian woman). He is quite unfortunately (for him) married to a vivacious Milly who tests his patience, shocks him with her uninhibitedness and generally keeps him quite jumpy. Change in the known order and spontaneity are not things that Partho symbolizing the Indian man, is comfortable with.

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend, about the situation of ‘going too far and too fast’. He shared a personal experience of that type saying,

We were on our second date and things happened. That was really too fast. But she didn’t protest at all so I went ahead.

I had to stop him because I didn’t think he realised what he was saying. That perhaps it wasn’t ‘too fast’ for her. And that if it was ‘too fast’ for him, he didn’t have to wait for her to stop; he could pull a stop sign himself. He looked at me as if the very thought had never occurred to him.

Oh well, Indian men. We deplore their ways, we roll our eyes at their habits but we love and live with them. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that ‘Mama’s boy’ is not only a fitting description for every  man of this species but also that most of them consider it a supreme honour higher than the President’s medal.

The Indian man can be sweetly (and not so sweetly) ignorant of the female anatomy. Or he can be a regular Don Juan. But either way, he’ll still be extremely startled when the woman climbs atop him and demands more. The Indian man, no matter how educated, liberated or metrosexual…is completely unfamiliar with the concept of female sexuality.

A lot of Indian men are prudes. Oh right, they may make their lascivious remarks, their lecherous jokes and their elbow-nudging antics may drive us up the wall. But all of that is just bravado, a need to fit in with the peer group, no matter how old they are. At heart, it seems like they’ve all got issues with their own bodies which might be one reason they approach their partner’s body the way a teenager might – tentatively, furtively, clumsily and quickly.

So now that I’ve derided the Indian man’s approach to sex, let me tell you what I do find likeable about him.

The Indian women is definitely the driving force even if she isn’t exactly in the driver’s seat. After all the feminist sirens from Bengal, the women auto-rickshaw drivers in Tamil Nadu, the demure-but-independent nurses from Kerala, the ‘homely’/shrewd Gujju girls all live with Indian men. They have fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. Sometimes I think feminism and women empowerment just manifest themselves in unique ways in India, but exist they do. We’ve perfected the art of backseat driving in a lot of other areas of our lives.

The Indian man, he’s quite green in this whole modern-world thing….but he can be taught. Yes, beneath the sombre pinstripes and the flashy gizmos, our desi Neanderthal man lurks, but with some firm, tactful handling this man can actually be trained to be a worthwhile human being. I think I’d be right in saying that a lot of times our men hold us back. But in some ways, they are our safety valves, our terra firma. After all, they are also our papas who stay distant all through our childhood then run away to sob in silence when we get married, our protective bade-bhaiyyas who will just never learn that little sister grew up a long time back and doesn’t always need a bodyguard, our mischievious but fond chote devvars and well the patis if not parmeshwar.

Quite tellingly, at the end of Honeymoon Travels, Partho in a rare bare-all moment tells Milly that he is intimidated by her, afraid of losing her to her spontaneity, afraid of letting go of terra firma. Hmm, quite touching and sweet actually.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Indian man…he isn’t at the forefront of his kind but maybe we, the Indian women, don’t need him to be.

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About IdeaSmith

IdeaSmith is the digital doppelganger of Ramya Pandyan (intrepid train-traveller and frequent spouter of post-midnight rhymes and rants). As IdeaSmith she battles obscurity and slays boredom with her stories about men, books, digitalia and Mumbai. She performs live and also blogs, tweets, Instagrams, Facebooks, +G’s, Youtubes and Goodreads all as IdeaSmith. Ramya is a blogger, digital storyteller and spoken word performer. She also runs a forum for aspiring writers called Alphabet Sambar. Tweet-bomb her at @ideasmithy.

Posted on August 25, 2008, in Battle of the sexes, I'm An Indian Woman, Media Messages, Relationships, Seriously speaking, Times, they are a-changing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I wouldn’t say that my comments are entirely relevant to the post but after reading it, (and being an Indian Male 🙂 just felt like adding my own thoughts.

    I agree that Most often than not, IM can’t digest the thought of his female counter-part’s being superior to him, but if you look at the overall system of marriage in our society, like Male should be elder to the Female or Financially superior, all this is to make sure that he shouldn’t face the above mentioned complex.

    Once i asked one of my female friend that what does she expect of her spouse, and e’thing she said, pointed to only one thing, she herself wanted a man who’ll take care of herself, with whom she’ll fell safe. I don’t want ot generalize this theory bur till date i have rarely found females who had a different point of view.

    BTW i recently started reading your posts and i’m really impressed with your views, although not alwasy agreeable.

    Its good to know that our society has females like you, who have the courage to say and do what they want.

  2. I guess ideally it should have been a couple of copilots, instead of a driver and a back seat driver isn’t it?..

    you know what I think men have changed a lot ..I am sure there are lots of men who believe to stop pleasurable things when its going to fast..or may be I am under an illusion that there are..

    but I agree with the spontaneity part, it have a feeling that women are more free and open to spontaneity than men..what do you say?

  3. A very intelligent post this is…

    I remember one of my married office collegues telling me that in her family, her husband was the head, but she was the neck and she decided where it moved! 😉

    Smart, aint it? 🙂

  4. This post is neat in its clarity… and a good one too.

    For me, the Indian man is good as long as he doesnt rub himself against me, literally and figuratively also.

    Though all the points in this post are true, I must say that I am yet to come across such men in my personal life. Thankfully, I have been blessed with good men around me.. 🙂

  5. @ Manish: I agree with you. There certainly are enough of women who don’t even want the empowerment we’re getting. I speak only for those like me who are loving every moment of it! And thank you very much. Incidently, I welcome different opinions from mine at XXFactor, all I want is an opinion.

    @ Rambler: So I think. But perhaps that will change with this generation, what do you say?

    @ Nova: LOL…that’s apt!!!

    @ Ms Taggart: These ones aren’t that bad either. 🙂 But I’m glad you’re happy.

  1. Pingback: The Neanderthal In The Nice Guy | XX Factor

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