Single in Mumbai Meri Jaan
Single and Desi? You got it tough, girl!
Let’s say the city is Mumbai. No matter if you’re on the wrong side of thirty or in your early forties, if you’re a (born again) single gal, and traveling in India, be prepared to be judged.
Everywhere you go. Walking down the street, walking into a party, or at a friend’s place for a casual dinner. At the dinner, for instance. You walk in, you are single, you will be singled out. Do not let slip you were once married. Divorcee spells danger. You cannot talk to any man assembled there, without prejudice. By the time you have settled down with a drink thrust into your hand, womenfolk in the room have automatically assumed you are there with the sole purpose of playing “Le Slut”, out to ensnare the nearest male with your beguiling ways and doe-eyed charm…and married Indian women can be spiteful.
Does not matter that the same married woman is flirting outrageously all evening – beyond the limits of social decency – with somebody else’s husband. Talk about a double standard. Meanwhile, the suddenly sidelined husband of this particular flirt-bag, rather than feeling ignored and cuckolded, is more than happy to play along, even when things take a turn for the bizarrely inappropriate, thanks to his alcohol-soaked wife. You get the distinct impression that, biting down on his own feelings, tonight he is playing the modern Indian male to his better half with gusto, for the benefit of the assembled company. You wonder what prompts his behavior and hers for that matter. What kind of conversation will be exchanged within the four walls of their boudoir later tonight!
Love and Longing in India
Your best bet in erasing the awkwardness of social situations of the above kind, is to interact with no one. At the cost of being branded a snob, all kinds of folks leave you alone. Either that, or think about getting a “stand-in” boyfriend, while in India.
Which brings me to that word. Sex. The dirtiest word in the Indian-English dictionary – much worse than “rape” or “murder”. Sex is taboo, you hear. PDA is frowned upon – no, punishable under the law – and yet the customary ease and “normalcy” with which Indian men of all ages, expect to slide into first base with total strangers – with an utter disregard for the third-date rule that binds all Americans to the unimpeachable rules of dating – or home base for that matter – must be seen to be believed.
Call it the double standard to beat all double standards. The concept of safe sex does not seem to exist here in the New Third World. Going by the large numbers of alternate families and children out of wedlock among celebrities, politicians, movie stars, musicians, artists and common folk alike, combined with women of all nature prepared to settle for random fractured, undefined relationships, for reasons unexplored. Secondary families are commonplace – like second homes. Go figure!
So if you’re single and on the wrong side of thirty – unless you want to do some good (the feeling of giving back to society can be very fulfilling, despite the other stuff), and in the process prove a point to the family (Dad) that you can survive (something like that) – you might wish to think twice before including India in your travel plans.
Actress/writer Tori Roy came from across the Pond (England). Now lives in Los Angeles, a SoCal native for over twenty years. She is currently travelling and living in Mumbai, India. A Meisner trained actress, Tori started on the Shakespearean stage, has acted in several modern stage productions and written screenplays. Don’t be fooled by the native British accent, she speaks fluent Hindi and is trained in Classical Bharat Natyam. Little known fact: Indian screen actress Suprova Mukerjee of Jean Renoir’s crossover film THE RIVER (1951) – was her Great Aunt. Tori can be reached at [email protected]