Category Archives: Guest Contributors

Why Be A Mom?

“How many issues?”

A seemingly married woman is likely to be asked by every second aunty. For the uninitiated that translates to,

“How many children do you have?”

So,

“How many issues?”

Note the connotations there. Not only are you assumed to be married and have had a child, the question also implies that you HAVE to have had more than one child. I know, I know, it comments on the lady looking old enough to have had kids too. But, we had already given up on being polite when we started calling our children, ‘issues’.

Here’s a tip for the aunts from the first sentence. You want more women to have kids? Then leave them alone, don’t judge them for not having any. The last pressure, today’s independent woman needs is your disapproving scan. If anything, she’ll delay her decision just to despise you. Okay, okay, she’s much too mature for that. But, your well-meaning inquiries have lost meaning for all practical purposes and soon we shall conquer our conditioning and successfully learn to not let you annoy us.

And let’s not get into the matter of why this curiosity is never targeted towards the husband.

I took a good, long four years before getting pregnant with my first child (yes, out of choice, nosey aunty!) So, you can imagine my plight at social events, especially those related to family. Imagine the cultural shock that the above-mentioned aunts would have gone into, if I told them,

“I’m not sure I want to have one.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to have one. It’s not that I had aspirations for an awesome career (now, there’s a brilliant joke!) nor was I doing something dramatic with my life, that precluded children. I just wasn’t sure.

I wasn’t sure why people have kids. The most common answer I’ve heard is that they would be of support during old-age. What a nauseating thought! Let alone a reason to bring another human being into the world. In this day and age, when all self-help books tell me to minimize my expectations even from my closest ones, I’m laying down expectations from a fetus? About what he/she will do 30-40 years from now. Mind-boggling. Bizarre!

There are others who want someone to call their own. That sounds like someone making a buy  vs. rent argument for a house. Then there are those who think children will improve their damaged relationship, like super-glue fixes broken furniture. And of course, there’s the ‘That’s the next thing to do.’ statement to make. ‘Post-graduation. Check. Handsome job. Check. Awesome husband. Check. Getting bored now. Let’s make babies.’

Maybe these are wonderful reasons to grow someone inside you. But, they sound exactly as ridiculous as I just made them sound. The only argument, that I sort-of, kind-of haven’t had a reaction to is, ‘What if I repent later, when the biological clock has gone past its expiry date?’ Now, that’s a valid fear and there’s no answer to that. Even with the stock market you know you are going to feel sad if you lose and be ecstatic if you make profit. But, how will I feel if I don’t have a baby to cuddle 10 years from now? How is one supposed to know? You know for sure you are not going to miss the poop cleaning and the terrible twos. But what about the gratification of having raised a good person? Will I not be able to share my friends’ happiness when they announce their child’s accomplishments because I haven’t a similar anecdote to relate?

So, why should we want to have kids? I don’t think there is a 100% –clear answer to that one. I don’t think there is a set of sub-questions that will lead you to your eureka moment. Like most important things in you life, you feel it in your gut and you take the leap.  You feel like nurturing and burping a baby. No kidding. The romanticism attached to seeing your baby’s first steps, hearing their first syllables is absolutely valid. It is as real as the frustration of making sure they don’t get themselves into trouble by tripping and falling or the insurmountable irritation of hearing the words, ‘mamma’ attached to this, that and everything, way too often.

Deep down you think you are ready. I don’t think you ever know for sure that you are ready, you feel you are. That’s just how the ball rolls. In the mean time, let’s just challenge ourselves to come up with witty ones to,

“Have you started trying?”

* If you liked this post, also read Meetu’s earlier post titled ‘Mom-me‘.

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Mom-Me

XX Factor welcomes a longtime friend (of mine and of this blog) as its newest guest-contributor. Many of my insights (on relationships and on relationships) have come my way, courtesy conversations with her wise, funny, fun self. If you’ve been following the Indian blogosphere (especially the Pune troupe), she’ll be no stranger to you. As it goes, I’ll let her introduce herself.

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“You look like your mamma”

my daughter is told often. She invariably makes a face that leaves no doubt about how she hates being told that. And of course, she is asked, “Why? You want to look like papa?” or “You don’t like to look like mamma” or something of the sort. And her reply was as instantaneous the first time as it is now, after many years of repetition,

“I look like me.”

I try to hide my pride every time this seven-year old, tiny thing does this. Of course, I haven’t coached her (it’d take away all the charm from HER line, wouldn’t it?). It just feels good to see such confidence, clarity of thought and articulation at this age. My, my what a woman of the 21st century she’s going to be!

Having spent most of my life in the 20th century, I come with my share of insecurities and inhibitions. At times, I do catch myself trying to figure out who I am. Am I a movie reviewer or the ‘deadly’ CA-cum-MBA combination? Am I a 15-years-and-counting aspiring good bahu (daughter-in-law) or am I a liberal ‘live and let live’ friend to one and all? Am I a mother of two or am I me? Or the scariest possibility – all of the above?

*Image via Ambro on FreeDigitalPhotos

When IdeaSmith and I talked about me being a regular guest here, we discussed the identity I’d have, the voice I’d be. I’ll be talking a whole lot about being a mother of two and everything that goes with the territory. Yet an identity called “mum2two” or “mommy” didn’t feel right.

Not because I’m more than just a boring “mom”. Maybe, I’m not. Who knows? We’ll figure that out.

But because being a mother is more about not being motherly all the time. Because not being mommy-type makes me a better mother. And an irony it is, that I have to remind myself of this every day, day-after-day for it’s the easiest thing, to let go of everything else and focus your entire existence towards your children.

Of course, we’ll know if this theory works as the kids grow older. (Where is that self-assuredness when it is needed!?). But, let’s start here –

As narcissist as it may sound, we are going to start with I am me, I am meetu.

Getting Divorced in India

* Image via Wikipedia

is this a self help group, or a legal practice...

Image via Wikipedia

So a couple of weeks back we had our first hearing at the court.

If you want to get divorced in India – make sure its mutual. If its not – then my lawyer says,

“The only party who benefits is the lawyers.”

Sooner or later – and egos ensure it is later – you will realise it is not worth the trouble and wish it was mutual.

It was around 7 months ago that we realised that our decade long marriage couldn’t be salvaged. It had been on the rocks for four years and while there was no cheating or extra-marital affair – there were the little things that were actually the big things. The value differences. The expectations. Whoever says that love conquers all hasn’t really tried marriage to a person with a very different value system.

Back to the subject of the post. A friend referred me to a lawyer and we both met him. He was pretty cool. Said that he’d have to say  that we had been living apart for a year at least – and then we’d have two hearings in front of the judge – 6 months apart. And that was something he couldn’t influence. The Supreme Court has that as an order. Yes, the law can be an ass.

So we went to the judge one Saturday morning. Surrounded by other couples – not all of them going through a “mutual separation” – heard accusations of domestic cruelty and of one spouse turning up and no word from the other.

When our turn came – the judge only spoke to our lawyer (for the purpose of the hearing we needed to have separate lawyers – and our lawyer had got an additional lawyer before the hearing – and got him to prepare what is called a “vakalatnama”) and then much anti-climatically he looked at the papers then enquired about the address proof and then passed it to the clerk to give us the next date after six months.

That’s it.

I discovered that unlike Hindi movies lawyers don’t call Judges “Mi Lord” – in NCR they call them “Janaab” 🙂

So that was it. I was semi-divorced (or semi-married) as I signed the court papers – and will be until the next hearing.

The Modern Man

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Here’s welcoming XX Factor‘s second guest-contributor. He’s as smart as the next man but he’s still perplexed by the complicated world of women. He brings his brand of wry musings, politically (in)correct observations and gender role confusion to this blog as the ‘Armchair Philosopher‘. Over to the chair.

– IdeaSmith

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Hello everybody. The unicorn’s here. The phoenix, the Bermuda triangle, the Loch Ness monster. The modern equivalent of a mythical creature no one has seen but everyone seems to talk about- “the Modern Man“.

So who is this creature? What does he look like? Is he human? Or has he been sent to Planet Earth by alien feminists? Is it his mission to spread his subversive propaganda about how a man ought to be, in order to ruin it for male chauvinist pigs all over the world?

Can a Modern Man be comfortable with a dominant woman, a woman who has her own life and friends and does not fit any of the gender roles he has been raised to accept as gospel truths? Can he really? Or does he just train himself to make all the appropriate responses? Or worse still, is the only way he can be modern, by assuming indifference?

The Modern Man is a myth because of the sheer relativity of his existence. A Modern Man has no real features of his own. A Modern Man is simply a man who can complement a Modern Woman . His modernity is defined by his responses to the modernity of the Modern Woman.

And therein lies the greatest problem of all. The Modern Man does not know who he is because the very reference point of his existence, the bedrock of his existentialism is the Modern Woman herself. But the Modern Woman does not know who she is either!

Stuck between Superwoman complexes and conflicted between her instincts and her principles, the Modern Woman is a mess. The Modern Man grows up with the naive principle that we are all equal. But when he lives with the Modern Woman, he realizes there is nothing equal about how she is treated. Landlords and electricians address him but ignore her. Waiters at restaurants offer you the bill even when she pays. And let’s not even get started on the great Indian family.

So what do you do when you see that the equality of gender you took for granted was a lie? What do you feel? Guilt and shame for being a man in a world that beats down someone for having a vagina? But when you believe something your whole life, it is never easy to accept it as a lie. So you try and convince the Modern Woman of the ‘equality’ she is blind to. Convince her it’s all in her head. And we all know how well that goes.

This post might seem like a rant of questions but that is the life of a Modern Man. So many questions. And anyone who says they have all the answers is lying. Till then, we shall all chase that elusive unicorn. And till I figure it out, I’ll still open the door for her. I will still carry her bags and buy her chocolates. Because I like how she smiles.  That is the only thing I can really be certain about. Everything else is just questions.

Flirting on Social Media

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

This post was inspired by a comment on my previous post. Apparently these days social media is a great way of meeting women (see slide number 25 in this ppt) .

So since I am out of touch with dating – I went ahead and opened up a Twitter account. Here’s where you can follow me.

And of course, I have a Facebook account too (who doesn’t?) so I got a little active there too.

So here’s the big discovery – it’s damn difficult to build a following on Twitter if you have an anonymous account. Nobody wants to follow me. But interestingly, a couple of women have been flirting with me – two have actually admitted that they believe in polyamory. Yes. There is justice in this world. One actually DM’ed me her email id and wanted to know my name – and even came on Gtalk. By the way, if you’re interested to connect with me on gtalk my id is marriedsingleagain 😉

On Facebook, there have been a few queries about my ‘relationship status’. And I guess it’s to do something with perceptual set. You know, the feeling when you buy a car and suddenly start to notice lots of cars of the same brand on the roads? Suddenly a lot of divorced/separated women have started noticing me. They pop up on FB chat or message me their number. Some of them are damn good looking – and it confuses me. Should I read anything more than sympathy in those messages? For example see these messages I get on Twitter.. why do women have to be so infuriatingly complex 😛

I was talking recently to a female friend who got divorced some time ago and she shared that the number of people who hit on her after knowing she got divorced is like almost 90% of the men she meets, and that men somehow think “a divorced women probably wants sex all the time cause she’s not getting it”

Some people suggested I try out a dating app called Zoosk on FB, and a dating website called BeNaughty – but they seem to be money making rackets – specially when a female in skimpy clothes (in the DP, no not that DP you dirty mind!) suddenly wants to chat with you as soon as you open an account – that’s fishy! And of course they want you to pay, for accessing messages sent to you :O Hello, this is the internet, peepullz !  So stay away from those crappy sites

So I’ve decided that social media is not really going to get me a date… and I am not going to make a pass on any woman using Facebook and Twitter… maybe a little flirting, being a little naughty online… but a relationship? Nah… Not until my divorce comes through and I resolve myself psychologically…

Yes, I do think I am not fit mentally to get into a relationship anytime soon. But flirting should be ok, right? 😉

XXFactored Sep11: Geek Girls & Romance In Current Times

So another month draws to a close and we’re nearly at a year of link-love on my blogs. Do drop me a line and tell me what you think of it!

XX Factor‘s first guest-contributor, The Single Married Man has been bringing this blog a whiff of freshness with his own brand of relationship musings. This month he talks about getting back into dating. There’s more to come from him and in the meantime, you can also catch him on Twitter.

There’s another guest-contributor coming up sometime this month but I won’t tell you anymore for the time being. Any suggestions on the kind of perspective you’d like to see here at XX Factor are welcome!

And here’s the month’s features:

At Pere Lathuille, 1879, uses the same suit jacket

Image via Wikipedia

  • Yes, I’d imagine this would be ridiculously funny…except that I can’t imagine a man actually going all the way to this. ‘A Post Gender Normative Man Tries To Pick Up A Woman At A Bar‘ (via McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, link courtesy GautamGhosh)
  • LOL @ Personal strength no.2!!’Romance Resume‘ (via McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, link courtesy GautamGhosh)
  • A Guide To Geek Girls‘ (via OldBoysNetwork, linked to by GautamGhosh)
  • I was ROFLing all through and then I saw the last one and I pretty much fell out of the window! ‘21 Things We Secretly Suspect About The Opposite Sex‘ (via Cracked)

Getting Back Into Dating

As I wait for the divorce to come through (maybe I’ll do a post on the complications of divorce in India someday) friends have started asking,

“So have you started dating again?”

The question used to make me recoil with horror. Because while I am attracted to confident and beautiful women, I don’t feel ready for a relationship. And I really don’t know if I ever will be. A divorced man (and woman) is seen as flawed by members of the opposite sex and society as a a whole.

So I don’t really know what they mean when they ask me if I will start dating again. Do they mean I should start dating other separated and divorced women or women who are spinsters over 35 and are desperate enough to marry a divorced man paying money to his ex-wife for child support?

Uncannily, thanks to Facebook, I have connected with two old female friends (who I have never considered in a romantic way) and discovered that they are separated/divorced – a fact that changed the way I thought of them. Would they be interested? I think not… but my reaction to their relationship status intrigued me.

Then there are single women who want to chat with you – but knowing that they are 12 yrs younger than you makes you cringe as you wonder

“Are they closer in age to my kids than to me?”

When I mentioned this to a 26 yr old her reply was,

“Come on! 38 is not old! Why are you making yourself older than you are?”

Then there are the older women – 33 to 40 yr olds who, after knowing your status, want to meet for a coffee. My previous marriage was a decision based on a month of dating.. and I am now really scared of people in a hurry in relationships (even myself)

As I focus again on a single life – I hope to figure out the changed rules of dating… and will keep you updated

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The Myth Of Monogamy & The Promise Of Polyamory

Image Source: James Callan on Flickr (via Zemanta)

The Single Married Man says:

Yes, I am back.

So what do we talk about today?

How about the reasons why men cheat? But I am sure there are tonnes of articles and justifications that you can find on the internet (Google informs me there are 4.7 million results when you type that phrase in)

So I thought I’d merely point you to a couple of very interesting articles someone shared online.

One was this review of Stephanie Coontz’s book “Marriage a History” which says:

“Marriage was a way of turning strangers into relatives, of making peace, of making permanent trading connections,” Coontz says. “There are many different languages that call wives the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of the word ‘peace-weaver’.”

The other was a blog post written by Dave Pollard who writes:

Anthropologists have concluded that such settling is unnatural, and that is why the chemistry of love binds us to a single partner only for a brief period sufficient to produce offspring and ensure they are sufficiently provided for until they are weaned.

Personally speaking, I am attracted to people all the time, and I don’t mean it in a sexual way all the time. Today’s generation calls it by new names like “Friends with Benefits” and the needless need to label relationships.

Happiness comes not by defining and putting boundaries around a certain thing, but by expanding it.

In my decade of being married I can count the moments of true happiness and the hours of feeling burdened with expectations and pain and hurt.

Yes marriage is hard work. And while people crib openly about going to work on Mondays and celebrate by saying “Thank God it’s Friday” – no one (at least publicly) says they are sick of marriage.

Commitment. That’s a big word. A word that gets interpreted by different people even if its the same context. Add infidelity to that list.

Women say commitment has to be not just physical but emotional as well. However, every married man doesn’t share everything with his wife. How about bitching about his wife’s habits to the boys? Is that a break of commitment? How about sharing that with female colleagues? Suddenly the lines blur, depending on who the audience is.

“But its the intent” Do I hear you say?

Unfortunately, intent is never visible – no matter how much intuition you go by. What matters is behavior. In offices men and women often end up having “office spouses” – a usually platonic relationship. Would their “real spouses” call that “emotional infidelity”

In the overall analysis, every man and woman has different emotional, intellectual, sexual needs. So why not have different “loves” for each need. And such needs change with time too. People grow apart.

Our parents’ generation did not marry for love – hence they stayed together. If we marry for love at least we should be committed to love itself.

How To Deal With The Single Married Man

Ideasmith says,

Please join me in welcoming XX Factor‘s first guest-contributor. He’s a friend who often has an interesting male perspective to offer on the posts. Meet The Single Married Man and here’s his first post:

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Why does a relationship fall apart?’

I still don’t know the answer to that question, though I suspect its got to do with expectations.

We don’t talk of expectations or values when we are flush with the glow of infatuation. However expectations are what make/ruin a relationship – and they have to be communicated in advance.

A lot of the expectations can be “value” or “condition” based – things like “I want a husband who keeps a steady job and buys a house for me by the time we are 30” – if you can’t meet that, buddy, you’re doomed.

I have been married for 11 years – and I am going through a divorce now…Have seen my behavior – scrutinized it – so here are the top tips for dealing with a married man going through divorce

1. He will hit on anything in skirts/salwar kameez/jeans – As someone who’s been married the guy will try to see if he’s still “got his game” – so he’ll try out all the old lines on all the single/separated women

2. If you’re a married woman don’t tell him about your bad marriage – Divorcing guys hone into married women going through a bad patch. He’ll think you are “fair game” without the baggage

3. What had attracted her to you is the bone of contention – Remember what she found adorable about you – your forgetfulness – your laid back attitude , she will hate you for it. And other women would like you for it. Don’t fall for it.

4. He’ll be teary eyed and emotional – We saw Sanjeev Kumar in “Pati Patni aur Woh” – learn the lesson

5. If you’re single – and are attracted to grey hair – deep voice , stay away

In time the married guy will go through a divorce and be single again. Until that happens, legally – give him a wide berth.

– The Single Married Man

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