“Prostitution in The Name of An Arranged Marriage.” Deepika’s Story

Below is a heart-rending life story from one of our readers, Deepika. I thank her on behalf of all of you for sharing it with us.

I had an arranged marriage five years ago. We had a nine-month long period of courtship.

Falling in love

It bears mentioning here that through most of my twenties, I’d been in a relationship with my best friend from college.

The relationship was great in every other respect, except that my “boyfriend” and I could not agree on issues of children and our careers.

He expected me to put my career on hold and become the standard IT spouse. I wanted children, he didn’t. No room for negotiations.

Long story short, we broke up months before our wedding. I was heart-broken. I had never considered a future without him. He’d been an integral part of my life since college.

Falling out

I felt as I was missing a limb after we broke up. Did I mention that we belonged to different communities and castes?

It had taken us three years to get my parents’ approval. Yet, here we were, unable to get past the issue of children.

“What kind of man doesn’t want children?” My parents exclaimed in utter bewilderment.

Anyway, we broke up and I moved back to live with my parents. I couldn’t bear living alone; I was completely devastated. I had lost my best friend and not just a boyfriend.

Long story short, I took two years to recover emotionally, and at 29, I was past my shelf life. I created profiles on the matrimonial websites, hoping to meet someone I’d begin to like.

I met men in their 30s who were either looking for a quick fling or men who just wanted to get married. Anyone would do.

After a couple of years of countless dead-ends, I was getting desperate. My clock was ticking loudly and I had always wanted kids.

An arranged marriage?

At the age of 32, I was looking squarely at a childless future. My parents suggested the arranged marriage route.

arranged marriagePhoto by Mr. Seb

I had always been against arranged marriages. I have two aunts who had terrible, abusive arranged marriages. I didn’t want to end up like them. Yet I wanted children, and there wasn’t enough time to build a slow, gradual relationship.

It was out of my desperation that I agreed to meet a prospect. He was extremely well-educated, with a PhD in engineering from a top British university. He was very successful professionally and came from a similar socio-economic background.

Apparently.

After checking for “hygiene” factors, we decided to get married. While I wasn’t attracted to him sexually, I hoped to develop some kind of affection for him over time.

The arranged marriages around me lacked passion. But they seemed to have a time-tested, easy bond of familiarity around them. Much like you and your favourite, worn-out cotton pajamas.

Before marriage, I’d once asked him why he was always on edge, tightly wound up and fiercely on his guard. He’d told me he suffered from social anxiety, that it took him some time to let his guard down. He was shy, he told me. “Give me time,” he said.

Is that what it looks like?

Reality struck the day after our wedding day. The measured, soft-spoken man I had married morphed into a critical, severely controlling, chronically suspicious, angry and hostile stranger.

Nothing I did pleased him. Every action, gesture or word was criticised harshly.

I also discovered that his closeness to his mother and sister bordered on the abnormal.

Our marriage didn’t have two people in it, it had four people. “You’re not married only to me,” he said, “You’re married to my family”. I asked him, “Does it mean that all of us should have sex with each other?” The absurdity of it made no sense.

Every intimate detail of our marriage, including our failure to consummate the marriage, was discussed with his mother and sister.

A bit of friendly motherhood advice

My mother-in-law called my mother and said to her, “Your daughter won’t sleep with my son. Haven’t you taught her the duties of a wife?”

In that family, sex between husband and wife was reduced to an entitlement, a privilege, a right.

Sex was something you did, in darkness, silently, quickly, without affection, without regard for each other, without emotion. Prostitution in the name of marriage.

arranged marriagePhoto by Johan B. Lindega

That was my marriage. An impersonal transaction based on power and privilege. No warmth. No empathy.

No humanity.

A joyless, loveless, humourless meeting of bodies, but not of hearts or minds.

Oh no, all arranged marriages are not like that.

In conclusion

Long story short (OK, not so short). My only advice to young women is: DO NOT marry a man for his education, bank balance or family background. You will wake up every day next to this person.

For two years, I’d wake up next to my ex-husband and want to weep.

I’d married a PhD, a man who made a tidy sum, but who had no empathy, no capacity to feel joy or love. I’d married an emotional void. A repressed man who could feel no emotion but anger.

Compatibility is elusive, but critical to the success of a marriage. That shared laugh, that quick squeeze of the hand, that familiarity, trust and understanding is extremely important.

Be careful who you marry.

It’s the biggest decision of your life.

Are All Arranged Marriages Bad?

I was having the good old love vs arranged marriage debate with a friend a few days back (Yes. Again.) His point was – isn’t dating similar to arranged marriages? A modern arranged marriage is about meeting different people shortlisted by your parents based on certain preset criteria, getting to know them over a period of time and finally selecting one of them. How different is that from inputting certain criteria on a dating website, meeting people based on these and selecting one of them finally?

Not very, I conceded.

But that’s not the image that comes to my mind when I think of arranged marriages. I’m reminded of young girls forced out of jobs and into marriages they weren’t ready for. I’m reminded of young couples forced out of their existing relationships into marriages they never wanted. I’m reminded of incompatible matches made on the basis of castes, religions, gotras and kundlis.

Clearly he and I couldn’t possibly be talking about the same thing even though we both thought we were describing “arranged marriages”. That’s when I realised we need to reclassify marriages.

So what are the different types of arranged marriages?

arranged marriagePhoto by The People Speak!

#1. Guided marriages

In this case a man or a woman willingly allows their parents to look for possible matches for them, at a time when he or she is ready for marriage (not at a point of time chosen unilaterally by the parents). The parents then shortlist a set of possible matches as per criteria jointly decided by the parents and the child (again, not unilaterally dictated by the parents). The child then meets and spends time with the selected people over months/years. They start “dating” the ones they like. Eventually they get married after a year or so of knowing each other, if everything goes as per plan.

A minuscule but increasing proportion of modern, ultra-urban arranged marriages are done this way nowadays. As you can see, this is a win-win solution for everyone. This doesn’t, in any way, sacrifice anyone’s freedom and no one – leave alone me – can possibly have anything against a spontaneous exercise of free will by every individual concerned. I’m all for guided marriages.

#2.  Forced marriages

This, on the other hand, is a decision  on a person’s marriage taken unilaterally by their parents and extended family. Usually it’s the family which decides the timing of the marriage. They select a set of potential matches. The final selection might be made by the guy/girl themselves. But the base criteria for selection are laid out by the parents (including caste, religion etc.).

Sadly, forced marriages often involve coercing a guy/ girl OUT of an EXISTING relationship into an unwanted marriage. It can also involve getting a daughter, or even son, married off at a much earlier life stage than they’re ready for.

Now this, as we all know, is a kind of marriage that doesn’t recognise the concept of individual freedom. By failing to take individual choice into account, this sometimes sacrifices the happiness of the new couple.

wife sex before marriagePhoto by VishalSinghx

Unfortunately, a significant proportion of Indian arranged marriages end up going down the forced route. I’m sure you’ll agree – no rational person in their right mind can support such coercion of innocent individuals into a life they never wanted. Neither do I.

Have you had an arranged marriage? Have you observed one from close quarters? Was it guided or forced? Share the experience with us by leaving a comment. 

Q&A:My Girlfriend is Still Not Over Her Ex’s Death

Q: I have been in a relationship with a girl for the last two months.

The thing is, her ex boyfriend died two years back. Now, I’m willing to handle this. But of late she’s started feeling like all of her feelings died with him, that she can never truly love anyone ever again. I really care for her. What should I do? 

- Anonymous

Should I break upPhoto by Love is the key

A: When a couple breaks up, it’s because something went wrong between them. That itself gives both the people a good reason why it couldn’t work – a starting point for moving on. It might be entirely one-sided, that is – it might be just one of them who fell out of love. But even in that case it at least causes pain to the other person – gives them some reason to not want to go back.

Death, however, is a shocking end to a relationship. It doesn’t let you say your goodbyes. It takes you away from each other when NEITHER of you wanted it. That makes it excruciatingly difficult for the surviving one to feel anything but longing, yearning and pain for the departed one. They miss them forever. There’s no closure for them.

Hence your case is particularly challenging. She’s still reeling from the shock and pain of not having said her goodbyes to her departed boyfriend. Two years is a long time. Since she hasn’t moved on yet, her wounds seem really deep. I think she needs help. Why don’t you help her see a grief counselor and connect her with support groups of people recovering from similar experiences? Given her situation, these are very important steps in her healing process.

At the same time you have to control your emotional involvement with her at this stage. She’s not completely ready for a relationship yet. If you do decide to help her, make sure you can do so without expectations. You should also keep your own options open by continuing to date. And you should be open to her about it. Help her more as a caring friend and because she needs it, rather than because you want commitment from her in return (as I said – she’s not ready for it).

 

Your How-to Guide to Info on The Fly: Guialis

It was a cosy Saturday afternoon. The hubby and I had been to an art exhibition with friends. By the time we left, our hearts were full with the satisfaction of a Saturday well spent. Our stomachs, however, were far from it and kept pushing us towards the idea of a good old round of tea and snacks, holiday style. After a wild goose chase for the perfect coffee shop of about 20 minutes, we turned to the Wise One – Grandpa Google.

Guialis

Wow. That’s a lot of search results. But erm … well, not exactly what we were looking for.  

We wanted some place small, quaint, not crowded, and not flashy. On to search results beyond page 1 (gasps!) … and there they were. A couple of places which fit the bill – as per their listing descriptions. But when I clicked on the relevant link and landed up on their profiles, I realized I didn’t have to go by the owners’ testimonies. I could read reviews by real people who’d been their guests! … For a long time we’d cherish the perfect relaxed afternoon we enjoyed that Saturday sitting at a tiny, quiet, old-world tea-n-snacks place – exactly as I wanted.

I felt grateful. I was curious about the local search directory without which we’d never have had this awesome experience.

The site was unfamiliar. “Guialis”, it said – a brand new online classifieds directory of local businesses and services. I was surprised. I didn’t know such a site even existed! Its cool, clean mobile interface impressed me the moment I landed on the its homepage. Simple and direct. With a searchbox and none of the clutter that’s usually part of web directories. (Come to think of it – web directories like this should be especially mobile-friendly. When you search for the nearest eating place, movie theatre or shopping mall, it’s your small, rectangular electronic lifeline that you’re likely to be hanging on to for support, right?) On Guialis, I hardly felt like I was on my mobile.

Guialis

Even as you search (think “restaurants in Oshiwara”), autosuggestion options keep helping you refine your search continuously (“Chinese restaurants in Oshiwara”, “cheap Chinese restaurants in Oshiwara”…)

Guialis

Finally, a cool, neat, no-clutter results page with stunning quality of text and image display.

Guialis

I browsed through. From restaurants, apparel, shoes and beauty to weddings and even personal loans – Guialis features it all. But so does every other major local search service provider. What’s the big deal?

Nothing, apart from the fact that it’s 100% free – not just for end-users but also for business-owners. Yeah that’s right. All you need to list your business on Guialis is to register on the site for free. No need to contact the local search provider – like some websites require. And no need to pay for anything. No, not even an “upgrade”, ’cause your free business profile is already the best. ;) It not only allows you to upload an unlimited text description of your business, but also an unlimited number of images. We know a picture speaks a thousand words. And in case of web-based promotion of businesses, pictures also give you a thousand times more page-views and popularity to the 21st century ADD-afflicted web surfer.

Guialis

That’s not all. I discovered Guialis is one of the very few web directories of India which allow users to create entire profiles for their favourite restaurants, hotels, spas, beauty salons etc. and share the good news. This requires no intervention from the business concerned. I was really impressed by this feature as it puts user feedback at the very centre of how popularity works within the directory. This helps increase the reliability of the profiles and makes them more meaningful to the entire user-base.

Oh, and did I mention providing ratings and reviews is a piece of cake on this site, requiring nothing more than a registration? I believe this is a very important feature, as an easy rating and review process draws more users to participate, thereby increasing the overall quality and authenticity of site content.

And we all know it’s absolutely essential to compare notes on everything in the world with our friends on Facebook and Twitter, right? Guialis knows that too. That’s why it allows you to share all your profiles, ratings and reviews on social media. :)

Guialis

All in all – I have my Guialis profile created. I like to use it not only for info on the fly, but also for helping people like you and me by contributing my views on the products and services I use.

What about you?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Of Cupcakes, Lethargy & That Distance That Grows Longer

You close your eyes. You take a deep breath. You turn your thoughts to cupcakes, the countryside and other good things of life. You wish the real world would magically disappear from in front of your eyes.

Or at least your exam results would.

Or that email full of “feedback” from your boss.

You know the feeling, don’t you? That moment when you keep avoiding reality believing it’s somehow less disastrous if you don’t know it exists?

Me too.

Yeah … The Shameful Silence

This is how it happened. I stopped checking my stats. I stopped logging in to WordPress. I even stopped opening this website altogether, in case I catch a glimpse of the last date I posted! I don’t know how long it has been. Two months? Three months?? Six months???

And Alexa rank? What’s that?

The SilencePhoto by HiCe

Sure, I wanted to post.

Or so I told myself.

I planned to “write more” …

“When I’ve “settled down” in the new job.” (Did I tell you I switched jobs in between? :P)

“When I’m a little less busy”.

“When I’m “feeling like”, ’cause with weeks this crazy, weekends are meant for “relaxing”.”

You see the problem? These were my real challenges bulls**t excuses.

If that sounds familiar, you’re like the 99.999…9% of us “normal” people.

You see, that’s what we do. We like easy. We like escape-routes. We hate looking problems in the eye. We like to hope and dream and fantasize about solutions falling on our heads from somewhere “when the time comes”.  

That Phone Call …

Could you be doing the same? Like … right now? With your career, your new weight-loss program, or your relationship with your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/parents/children?

The DistancePhoto by phantomswife

“I’ll make that call tomorrow. Today I have a lot of work piled up.”

“I will apologize to him/her. Just not now. Some other time.”

“May be we can work through our distance if we try. But I just don’t have the courage to get my hopes high again.”

“I need to tell him … what I feel like, but every time he calls we just talk about how’re-you-how’s-life-what’s-up-at-work. I just don’t have the energy to bring up all that stuff… What’s the problem if we can get along just like this?”

Some relationship issues are deep. The kind of deep that makes you try to avoid them forever.

Doesn’t matter if it’s with your significant other or a parent or a friend or anyone else. Whatever it is, postponing dealing with it won’t make it go away. Distances don’t reduce over time. They only increase. If you’re hoping a really big disaster will bring you together like in the movies – yes it might happen. But if you’re like the 99.99% of us, it won’t.

Make that phone call now. Write that email now.

Yes, it’s not easy. But it’s necessary. 

Q&A. My Boyfriend is Obsessed with My Past Sexual Partners

Q. Sulagna, I am facing serious problems in my relationship now which are affecting the relationship and also both of us.

A few details on our background:
My boyfriend is also my colleague. He is a Tamil Hindu living with his parents.
I am a catholic from Mangalore, Karnataka. His is a very traditional and orthodox family while mine’s quite liberal.

Our relationship has now become a torture for me.

It is almost a year that we’ve been together. I was in a relationship before him which was more of a Friends with Benefits type. After 4-5 months of being together he found out about my past relationship from colleagues and started making enquiries about it. I realized it’s better to put all the truth on the table now rather than a few years later, which might cause disaster. So I told him the truth, minus the details. That’s when it started.

Past Sexual PartnersPhoto by Geórgia -

For me it was pure shock. I watched as my partner metamorphosed into the kind of typical backward-looking misogynist Indian male I don’t want to be with. Every single day he would remember some bit of my past history and ask for minute details, then abuse me if I refused to answer and abuse me if I did. Once he even caught hold of my neck in a moment of frenzy.

He never trusts me. He wants to dictate every aspect of my life from what I can wear to who I’m allowed to talk to. And to top it all – he makes me swear all of these things on some family member.

But – and this is the embarrassing part – I can’t think of him as just another petty misogynistic abuser. He’s a wonderful person inside. Every time he misbehaves he comes back to me and begs for forgiveness with tears in his eyes.

Here’s the thing Sulagna. We love each other. For real. But my past is something he’s not able to cope with (the fact that I’m the first real sexual encounter of his life makes things that much more touchy). But I can tell you this much – I’ve never really loved anyone before.

I want to be happy again. Tell me what I should do.

-Meredith,

Mumbai

A. One of the golden rules of a happy relationship is: NEVER try to change who you are for someone you love. No matter how much you love someone, you can never live your life under a forced disguise. It will eventually get to you and cause stress in your relationship, if not an eventual breakdown.

Your boyfriend has a very high need for control in a relationship. This approach might have worked with someone else (or in some other era), but given the person you are – this is going to cause disaster because you’re not going to be able to take it lying down forever.

Now since you haven’t left him already I assume that in spite of his interference in your independence and other unwarranted actions, you care for him and want to work through this. So that’s what I’m going to help you do.

The first step to bringing a problematic relationship back on track is to start drawing boundaries. 

What are boundaries?

A relationship is a mutual agreement between two people. Boundaries are terms on which this agreement is based. These are rules which both partners are to follow if they want to stay in the relationship.

How do you come up with these rules?

For that, you need to have a calm, mature discussion with your boyfriend. The objective of this discussion is to come to an agreement on the rules. Remember it’s you who’d be initiating the discussion. Hence you cannot afford to lose your cool, even if your boyfriend does. The key to creating balance in your relationship is to set its terms in the most calm and mature manner. Your boyfriend should realize that this is NOT a blame game but an honest attempt on your part to make the relationship work.

Past Sexual PartnersPhoto by leannaphotographs

So where do you start?

Enumerate clearly which specific behaviours of him hurt you. For example, you can tell him something like, “It hurts me if you 1. Tell me what to wear 2. Make me swear over simple things 3. Ask for details from my past.
These actions and behaviours of yours are causing me intense pain and stress. I know you care for me and you don’t want to hurt me. Hence I’m sure you wouldn’t want to continue these behaviours, now that you know how painful they are for me. So let us please agree on which behaviours you’re going to stop or modify so that our relationship can become happy and deeply fulfilling, like it was. Also, I’m more than willing to listen to and act on anything about me that’s bothering you. Let’s please talk about it.” 
This way you serve two purposes:

1. Lay down clear conditions of what is acceptable to you and what is not. Your mature and calm tone should convey your firmness to him.

2. Open him up for sharing his feelings with you. Through such dialogues, you convey to him that you’re that you’re willing to help him get over whatever is bothering him.  
 
Sex before marriage is an explosive issue in India, with emotions running feverishly high around it (just check the comments section here and you’ll know: Q&A.My wife had sex before marriage! :D) Hence, if your boyfriend is one of those guys who’re really particular about their wives’ virginity, you might have to reconsider your relationship. But before that, give yourselves a chance. If there’s true commitment, it’s possible that your boyfriend would change his views in order to accept you.

All the best. 

It was Me

I was there behind the glowing sun.

Wrapped in secret winds,

The unborn future of a dormant seed.

Veiled by vibrant butterfly wings

Perhaps it was me.

Perhaps it was me in the skies

When the clouds swam by.  

In boundless deserts,

My thirst buried in sand –

You never knew.

I was the name of the nameless text,

The untold desire of your desolate heart.

The slave legions in the Emperor’s kingdom – there I was.

You never knew.

I was the fragrance of wild blossoms.

I was captive

In a riot of grass and dewdrops.

You never felt – I was there in the essence of cryptic verses.

You never felt – I was there in the said and the unsaid. 

It was me

This is a loose translation of a Bengali poem “Ami Chhilam”, by Abhijit Debnath, originally published on the Prothom Alo Blog. Translated and published here with permission.

How to Deal with Mother-in-law: 9 Steps

Oh yes. That eternally perplexing question of married Indian women, “How to deal with mother-in-law?”

Before we dive into this explosive topic, here are a few disclaimers. ;)

Disclaimer 1: This is not about all mothers-in-law. Only the kind which made you google “How to deal with mother-in-law”. :D

Disclaimer 2: If you’re a guy, this is not about your mother but the mothers of all those other married men you know. :P You can skip today’s post – and refer your wife/girlfriend to it instead. ;)

How to deal with mother-in-law – Rule 1. Familiarize

The first and most important step you can take to improve your relationship with your mother-in-law is to spend ample time with her before marriage, both in the presence and absence of your fiancé. I’d recommend you start interacting regularly with her at least a year prior to your marriage. Go shopping with her, watch a movie with her or accompany your boyfriend’s family on a holiday at home/day trip. This will ensure the two of you get to know each other in a relaxed, no-pressure environment and set expectations accordingly.

How to deal with mother-in-law – Rule 2. Detach yourself

Irrespective of how much you like or don’t like your mother-in-law, you may not always be in a position to choose how much you interact with her. In such a situation you need to deal with your mother-in-law in a way that’s healthy to both of you. And the first step to that is to detach yourself emotionally.

  • Do not try to look upon her as your “other mother”. That perspective is guaranteed to lead to shock & disappointment. Not necessarily because of any fault of hers, but because our parents are our parents. Expecting an in-law to be “like them” is unfair to the in-law.
  • Let go of unrealistic expectations from her. There would be aspects of her you won’t like. Do not expect her to change.
  • Look upon her as an acquaintance, a bit like a professional contact – someone you do not need to like as a person but still need to treat with respect.

How to deal with mother-in-lawPhoto by Daljeet Mayn

How to deal with mother-in-law – Rule 3. Boundaries

Define clear boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not, both for her and yourself (if required, also for your husband). Once you’ve committed to certain boundaries, it’s your utmost responsibility to honour your side of them.

Do not discuss these boundaries directly with her – coming from an earlier generation she might misunderstand. Agree on them with your spouse instead.

Boundaries should be objective and specific. For example, “I guarantee I’ll treat her with respect at all times, irrespective of her own behaviour. In return I must have the guarantee that she’d not stay with us for more than xyz days/weeks per year/month.” Note the level of objectivity in the condition. Do not accept a boundary condition from her side that is open to interpretation, e.g. “She should treat me with respect.” 

How to deal with mother-in-law – Rule 4. Show respect

You don’t need to like her as a person but keep your judgements to yourself. By virtue of your relationship, she deserves respectful treatment from you, just as you deserve respectful treatment from her. Maintain your distance but treat her with respect, even if she does not return the favour. Sounds like a typical Indian male chauvinist from the 19th century speaking? :D Read on to find out why.

How to deal with mother-in-law – Rule 5. Safety first

I suggest you refrain from showing anything but respect to her not because I believe that’s the “right” thing to do irrespective of circumstances, but because I want you to steer clear of the consequences of doing otherwise. For example if her verbal remarks hurt you and you retort, she’s likely to talk to your husband about it. When she does, you’ll have no ways to prove that you were “provoked”.  It will become a subjective battle of your words against hers and no one ever wins those. So the key is to not give her any opportunity whatsoever of badmouthing you to your husband.

How to deal with mother-in-lawPhoto by abhishek_815

How to deal with mother-in-law – Rule 6. Don’t be a punch-bag

Does this mean you should become meek and accept everything your mother-in-law does? No. A funny thing about human emotions is that, when people attack others they expect response, and feel powerless if there’s none. If you feel your mother-in-law is deliberately trying to disturb you, your strongest defence is a complete refusal to respond.

This does not mean you patiently tolerate everything she says or does without protest. That will give her the impression that you accept her position of superiority. If she says/does anything so provocative that you feel unable to control yourself, excuse yourself (tell her you’re suddenly feeling unwell or something) and leave the room.

How to deal with mother-in-law – Rule 7. Assert yourself

Even if you don’t protest against her not-so-friendly actions, your mere refusal to be a punch-bag might come across as an insult to her. In case she discusses this with your husband and you find yourself facing accusations from him, you need to assert yourself. Tell him these exact words: “It’s not within my rights to treat others with disrespect in my interactions with them. But it is within my rights to decide who I interact with and how much, right? I left the room because certain things she said made me feel bad, and I didn’t want to hurt her by protesting. You’re not telling me that part of my responsibility is to willingly let her hurt me, are you?” No self-respecting man worth his salt would say a “yes” to this. (If he does, you’ve married the wrong man. Flash him your most charming smile and say “Goodbye.” :D)

How to deal with mother-in-law – Rule 8. Don’t try “ideal”

Does your mother-in-law unwittingly set unrealistic standards for you? Do her criticisms make you feel like you can never be “good enough”? For example, are you made to feel like you’re never doing “enough” of the household chores, or “adjusting” enough, or showing her enough respect? If you let yourself be affected by others’ perceptions of you, you might be eroding away your self-esteem dangerously. She’s entitled to her views. But you’re extraordinary the way you are, and how you compare with her idea of the “ideal daughter-in-law” is in no way a measure of your worth as a human being. So do not try to change yourself to earn her (or anyone else’s) approval. Go back to point #3 and let go of the rest.

How to deal with mother-in-law – Rule 9. Distance yourself

If possible, don’t live with your parents-in-law. They can be the nicest people ever but everyone needs personal space. Sharing yours with someone who’s not immediate family/partner but holds a purported position of authority is almost certain to create some degree of stress, even if it is not verbalized. If anecdotal evidence is anything to go by, moving out of the family home almost always leads to an improvement in the relationship between a woman and her in-laws.

How do you deal with your mother-in-law? Are you one of those lucky daughters-in-law with a nice and friendly mother-in-law? Do let us know by leaving a comment. 

30 Life Lessons No Self-Help Book will Teach You

After a long, ill-advised absence from the cyber-space, I’m back with a deluge of life-changing advice for the gullible.

Do “life lessons” change lives?

Not unless you’re gullible enough to believe them wholeheartedly. (Hint: The best thing to do with the next 30 bullet points is to not believe them, ’cause if you do, they might change the way you look at life!)  

With that disclaimer, here goes:

  1. Life is not fair. (Yeah that’s #1.)
  2. You can’t change others. Stop trying.
  3. Nothing is permanent. Neither good times, nor bad.
  4. Not everything is under your control. Do your best with the ones that are, and let go of the rest.
  5. There is such a thing as sheer luck, and no – you don’t necessarily have more of it by working harder.
  6. Your “ideal” partner doesn’t exist. Find someone who absolutely, perfectly fits the “must have” bill and tear up the “nice to have” one. 
  7. His/her looks matter zilch in the long run. Not “very little”. Zilch.
  8. Some days are just bad days. Let them pass.
  9. Take a lot, a lot of time to trust.
  10. Life lessonsPhoto by handywallsii

  11. Hard work is necessary, but not sufficient for success.
  12. The only way to get started is to get started.
  13. You’ll never make as much money as you’d like to make. Shift your focus from “money” to “happiness”.
  14. In the long run marriage gives you companionship. If you’re expecting anything more, don’t marry.
  15. Stable relationships are boring most of the time sometimes. It doesn’t mean love has died.
  16.  In any situation, respond. Don’t react.
  17. You don’t have to love your job. Most claim to, but few actually do.
  18. Feel your emotions. But don’t be controlled by them.
  19. Your career is less important than you think. Develop other aspects of your life before it’s too late.
  20. Murphy’s Law usually holds true. Prepare accordingly.
  21. Sometimes the best way of winning someone back is to let them go.
  22. Sometimes there is no way of winning someone back. Accept it.
  23. Life lessonsPhoto by WayneWho?

  24. Being open to new ideas isn’t always a good thing. Know your core values.
  25. “Everything” is NOT possible. Accept it.
  26. A failure isn’t always a new beginning, a learning opportunity or “the best thing that could’ve happened to you”. Sometimes it’s a big, hairy, real failure with nothing but negative implications for your life. In such cases, acceptance itself is an achievement.
  27. Sometimes the glass is completely empty. It’s called life. You don’t always have to hallucinate. :D  
  28. There are exceptions, but in general good things happen to bad people. Get over it.
  29. Don’t always feel guilty about not being productive. Sometimes, live.
  30. You do have a split second before you let yourself fall in love. Use it.
  31. Happiness is the only goal you’re certain to achieve if you chase it. Everything else is uncertain.
  32. Never measure yourself with others’ yardstick. The only real failure is failure to find true happiness in life. 

What do you think? Let me know. :)

For You, O Unborn

For you I wait, O Unborn.

My dreams resplendent with hope.

Tiny shoes, toys, dolls … I hoard it all.

I hoard it all, even though it’s a waste.

Nightmares haunt me.

I see you.

“Why bring me into your wasted world?” You demand.  

“Do you want their jealousy to burn away my innocent face?”

“Their rage to destroy the fruit of your love?”

“Their lust to spew venom inside its tender flesh?”

The darkness is silent.

I forage for answers.

In vain.

And yet you’re my only hope.

In you, I dream to live. 

This is a loose translation of a Bengali poem “Onagoto, Tor Jonyo”, by Abhijit Debnath, originally published on the Prothom Alo Blog. Translated and published here with permission.

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