Sunday, 6 April 2014

Awkward Comments in India

You know my biggest phobia?

Socially awkward situations.

But I'm getting over it. You know what they say- 'Face your fears'. Well, life in India is so full of these situations, that you either get over it or emigrate to a more politically correct part of the world. I'm not going anywhere, so I've just been learning to accept the fact that conversations are not always going to be as smooth as I would like, and that it doesn't mean I have to lose my cool, be discomposed (insert dead body pun here), or uncomfortable at all.

In fact, I've gotten so good at them, that I often get picked to have necessary awkward conversations with people.

Sometimes the situation itself isn't awkward. But the comments and questions are just... special.

So in recent months one of the most wonderful conversations I've been having with EVERYONE is about how much weight I've lost. I meet people I hardly know and the first thing they say to me is 'Sue, you've pulled down!' (which in India means lost weight,or look haggard, probably both).

It's not just that they say it once. They say it every time we meet. They ALL say it, from people I work with, to aunties who have known me forever, to awkward guys who I hardly know. The phrase 'personal comments' is unknown.

"You're taking too much tension!"

"Why are you so thin? Aren't you eating?"

"What happened?" (ominous head shaking) "You have definitely lost."

It gets to the point that all I think people can see is my emaciated frame. But other people get it worse. We were in a group talking about how sometimes in the summer we don't feel like eating as much. My friend BA said, "I eat more when it's hot. I wish I ate less, then I would lose weight." (Wait, she brought it up first <--- pun alert, in case you missed it :-D) And then the person we were talking to said, "No, no, none of you need to lose weight" he paused, "except for you, R" We all looked at him, shocked. R is the healthiest member of our team, but she isn't stick thin... so she gets this. "You have a tendency," he said."You'll have to be careful."

Oh. My. Gosh.

So, yeah, weight. Favourite topic of all Indians.

But wait, there's a bigger topic! (<----Double pun alert, don't miss 'em!)

And that is of course, marriage.

Did I mention that I'm 28 and single? And Indian? Yeah, I thought so.

So my older sister texted me a few days ago. 'I just read an article about people asking personal questions like why you're not married. They said a good response is to ask them 'Why do you ask?' I thought you would find that helpful.'

Boy, would I.

In the next few days, I had not one but about three conversations with different people asking me about my marital status.

"Are you getting married?"

"How old are you?"

"Do you like Indians or Americans? Which is better?" (This, in the presence of a very embarrassed male American team member.)

"What do your parents think?"

"Arranged or love?"

"When are you getting married?"

And that oldie but goodie...

"Any good news?"

I also go some great advice about marriage: "Don't make ANY conditions. Don't be so picky."

Because the important thing is to be married. Because the worst fate for a woman in India is to be single and 28. The horror.


  1. Boy I've enjoyed reading this one like anything! I have faced the same situations ample number of times and I've churned out my favorite responses as well...
    1) is it going to benefit you in any way?
    2) I'm planning to elope

  2. I'm not sure of about how you or girls in general feel when they are not married - but i get an idea from what you wrote... But for guys like me it turns out probably worse...or maybe i think so... Everytime i see a relative (usually with my folks) the topic usually gets down to 'Settling down' and then 'Family Name' and then at times there is a look as if they think i'm gay because i hang around with guys most of the time... And then i revert (sternly) that its none of their business and if God wills, He will do the needful.

    PS: I've a very very very bad relationship history (not for blog)