Mujhse Fraandship Karoge and Other Inconvenient Truths

So after my last post made me sound like an enlightened life guru (if only I could follow my own advice), I decided to take a stab at something infinitely more difficult — the complex conundrum of an Indian woman’s mind and the single, double and multiple standards we impose on our men. As an Indian woman (Or girl, I’m not sure yet. No one’s called me aunty yet, so I think that’s a good sign), I feel like I’m well equipped to answer this.

Consider a typical situation. A girl is approached by a random guy in a nightclub. He’s decently dressed and the crotch of his pants is more than 5 inches off the ground and there’s nothing shiny in sight. He politely says hello and asks what her name is. Of course, being the Indian girl she is, she throws a dirty look (reasons for which will be deciphered soon) and the poor guy slinks away. Next thing you know, conversation with the girl friends ensues.

“Guys, so I was standing there at the bar and like this total creep hit on me. I mean what does he think. This is a club and I’m a good Indian girl who is at a club. How dare he?!”

Let’s evaluate. So we’ve established that the guy was not rude in any way. He didn’t come up and say, “DAT A$$” (which totally can happen by the way), but he was shot down anyway. Now in itself, this isn’t a bad thing. Personal choice of the girl in question and all that jazz. But let’s look at the double standards here.

Consider a not-so-typical but still feasible situation.  A girl is approached by a random guy in a nightclub. She doesn’t care if his hair is oiled and he has a middle parting. Why? Because he’s a foreigner and not a creepy Indian. He could come up and say “DAT A$$” and still get her number. This conversation would go something like:

“Guys, so I was standing there at the bar and this hottie hit on me. I hope he likes me and we get married and I can have cute gora babies.”

What just happened? Since he’s not Indian, he’s not threatening. Hence he is no longer the rapist all Indian men are.

Now let me point out another scenario. Girl is walking on the street. A random guy who can’t speak English very well asks her for directions in Hindi. He gets the royal brush off because “Ew, what the hell? Gavaar”

Girl is walking on the street. A random guy who can’t speak English asks her for directions. Cue effusive answers. Huh? Oh wait, he’s a white guy who doesn’t know English! How adorable! How endearing! “Oh, walk right down the lane, and take the left, and then sweep me off my feet. Or I could just take you there myself and then you could meet my parents.”

fire

True Story

The Indian girl in question has been me, several times. Guilty as charged. I’ve noticed that when I go abroad, I’m much more comfortable talking to a guy I happened to bump into on the street. I’d be thrilled in fact. If the same thing happened here, I would question his ulterior motives, because obviously he can’t just be making conversation. This is such a convoluted double standard with more than just female whims as its root cause. Growing up, we are told to be careful, to walk on crowded streets during the day, to avoid taking an auto at night, to dress conservatively, to appear diminutive — only to ward off unwanted attention. As Indian girls, we experience the leering, the catcalling, the groping and everything else that comes with the possession of lady parts. And hence, we paint the entire male population with the same brush.

I wouldn’t have noticed this, because hey, in what way is this bothering me right? Not like ignoring a guy is a crime. But I realised that the very same thing I had been doing to random guys, was happening to my own guy friends. My perfectly nice guy friends. All interactions with girls who aren’t family or friends or friends of friends, were skewed. At a bus stop, my friend once asked a girl whether the bus had arrived. She looked the other way and pretended she hadn’t heard the question. He was flummoxed and although he wouldn’t admit it, hurt.

As a society, it appears as though we are racing towards modernity. We hang out and we pseudo-date. Our dating is like getting married over and over again, conveniently without the stigma of divorce. There’s some talking, a grand proposal, I love you’s are shared and you’ve sealed the deal. It’s less dating and more a series of relationships. By its strict definition of course, dating is meeting new people outside of your usual circle of friends like the cute guy at the gym asking you out for coffee or the barista writing her phone number on your cappuccino. This doesn’t happen of course, because a. No Indian guy would dare, for fear of getting bitchslapped. b. An Indian girl dating a series of guys is a ho.  c. A strange Indian man is always a kidnapper/terrorist/rapist/animal abuser.

Its unfortunate that all the “Will u plz make frandshipz wid me” messages have ruined it for all Indian men and there are so many good ones. My girl friends and I have whined so many times, “Why can’t we meet new people?!” especially now that we’re working and our social lives are practically non-existent. But we’re still not making the changes we need to. I decided a while ago that I want to make a conscious effort to be more open minded, and cautiously hopeful that not every man has the wrong intentions. It is always scary, and at times downright stupid, but I think it’s a benefit of the doubt everyone deserves.

NOTE: I feel like I have to add a disclaimer here that this post isn’t representative of all Indian girls. I’m an urban English speaking, college educated girl and this post reflects that. Similarly, the guys I tend to bump into aren’t your typical goonda types, although I’m sure there’s an abundance of them in other parts of the country. At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal choices, and this is one I choose to make.