News: High Rates of Suicide Among Indian Housewives


Why are so many Indian housewives killing themselves? Because a lot of them have no other way out of such a patriarchal system. They have no freedom in any sense from economic to mental and no support from their own families or their husbands.

Some excerpts:

‘More than 20,000 housewives took their lives in India in 2014.’

‘Yet the high number of homemakers killing themselves doesn’t make front page news in the way farmer suicides do, year after year.’

‘Dr Vikram Patel, a leading Goa-based psychiatrist and professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-authored the Lancet study, tells me that the high rate of housewife suicides in India can be attributed to a double whammy of “gender and discrimination”.

Many women face arranged marriages by force. They have dreams and aspirations, but they often do not get supportive spouses. Sometimes their parents don’t support them either. They are trapped in a difficult system and social milieu,” he says.’

What can we do to improve this? Promote gender equality in every sense.

The Need for Independence & Control


I was reading Atul Gawande’s ‘Being Mortal’ when this hit me.

The author discusses how old people became depressed being in old age homes as there was loss of independence and privacy. They were being treated like kids – the home tells you when to get up and when to eat and what to eat. This is why assisted living in the original sense (the author talks about how assisted living as a concept changed over years) became popular because people could live in their own home by their own rules. The medical system and the oldies families were concerned with safety while the old peoples were more concerned about living the way they pleased with nobody dictating their lives.

If human nature strives for independence and control which is evidenced by research and old people are so unhappy about being told what to do, what about the countless daughter-in-laws (DILs) and sons in traditional societies who never get to be independent?

The moment the DIL comes into the family, everyone from her husband’s mother to father to other relatives take it upon themselves to show the DIL her place. They tell her what to cook, what to wear, when she can go out and even, if and when she can talk to her own parents. For the sons, unless they have studied/worked in another city, many of them never get the opportunity to explore their own tastes or desires. For the couple, they often do not get to explore setting up their own house or creating a home with their own rules. Often, it is about assimilating into somebody else’s home. 

On top of it, the in-laws and the husband are surprised when the DIL is upset about ‘trivial things’ like the colour of the curtains and wonder why she can’t ‘just adjust and give in’. That is because nobody likes being made to live their entire life according to another person’s whim and fancy. Yes, one could argue that one has to follow laws but everyone likes to have a semblance of control over their own lives to the largest extent possible as an adult.

Also, we (I sometimes do) often tend to go into parent mode with our parents as they grow older. Something we need to work on avoiding. 

Food for though for older people who wish to control their kids and their spouses lives. They may obey but they are not happy and this is why. If you are a DIL who feels irritated but can’t find anything wrong, this is why. Our societal norms are so ingrained in us that it is difficult to articulate what feels wrong. If you are a husband whose spouse complains about your mom/dad/sis/relative picking on her and you can’t get why she is so upset, this is why.

Give space and freedom to adults because that is how we are meant to be. How can one truly lead a fulfilled life if they do not get to live an independent life?

The Need For Approval From In-Laws


The Need For Approval From In-Laws

Why do women have such a strong need for approval from their in-laws?

As I listen to upset women about how their in-laws did not like this or that and read emails from women talking about issues with their in-laws, I really wonder why none of these women talk about their husbands or their parents in the same manner. 

“My dad was not happy because I don’t do puja every day”.

“My mom does not approve  and made remarks that I do not wake up at 5 AM daily.”

“My husband is not happy that I wore a dress today”.

No. I never hear those words from married women. It is almost always my mother in law (MIL)/ father in law (FIL)/ Sister in law (SIL) did not like that.

Why are women socially conditioned into pleasing their in-laws? Do they really care more about their in-laws than their parents or husbands? We are not children dependent on our parents approval. Isn’t love from the husband, friends and family enough? Why do we have to be in the good books of our MILs and FILs as well? There is this strong unwritten social contract that the DIL shouldn’t rock the boat and a lot of women play by that. Add to that, a lot of husbands tend to keep quiet and not support their wives because they do not wish to rock the boat either and because they are not suffering as much because filial piety but this is a story for another day.

Let’s look at this way – if your best friend was dating a guy who was constantly critical and never approved of anything she did, would the most natural reaction be to tell her to try harder or to break up? Why do we ditch logic when it comes to this situation? Admitted, a lot of the older generation (especially Asians) are traditional and do not believe in praising and prefer criticism by virtue of being elder but is it even logical to start relationships like that? With criticism and disapproval? The older folks also need to think about that.

From my observations, even if it is an arranged marriage, many in-laws do not approve of their daughter in laws (DILs) and are extremely critical of them, no matter what they do. A DIL may do whatever they tell her to do but they would still find fault with her. The very fact that she is the DIL (aka lowest in the social order of family) is reason enough. If it is so obvious that your in-laws are never going to approve of you, why even bother seeking their approval? Why not just live the way it suits you because they are always going to find something to nitpick on? If it a love marriage, many parents feel that the DIL should bend backwards because they were benevolent enough to let their son marry her. Many DILs feel guilty because of all the drama and hurt that led to the love marriage and are willing to do a lot to be accepted by their in-laws  and to ensure that there is no further cause for complaint. Often, so many DILs dislike their MIL but most play along in order to avoid confrontation or due to lack of support.

My opinion is that getting along with the in-laws is the icing on the cake. The cake is your marriage. If you look around you would realise that it is quite difficult to have a great marriage as it is, so why add additional people to the equation and complicate your life? It is great if you can get along fantastically with your in-laws but if you can’t, I think it is no big deal. Women would never let their friends/relatives/colleagues walk all over them, the way many DILs let their in-laws do. I do understand that many people do not like confrontations but sometimes, we have to fight it out, set boundaries and cut out toxic relationships if need be. On an average, we form a relationship with our in-laws well into our adulthood. It is not like we invested the last 30 years of our life nurturing the relationship and have difficulties letting go. It is enough if we can be civil and sit through a dinner without yelling or scratching each others eyes out.

“They are my husband’s parents, how can I stop talking to them?”

Yes, you can. You don’t have to engage in long conversations beyond civil greetings and polite meals. That does not mean that your husband should stop talking to his parents or your guilt trip him every time he talks to them. He can talk and visit all he wants. 

“I live in the same house as my in-laws.”

Please move out. In my opinion, moving out is one of the best things one can do for their marriage, especially if it is an arranged one where the woman doesn’t know her spouse well. I blogged about it here. Besides, we can’t get along with everyone in our class or in office. What do we do? Fight every time? No, we just be polite and avoid unnecessary interactions. Same in this case.

Involvement Interference from family and levels allowed is something a couple needs to discuss before marriage, especially if one or both partners is from a traditional or patriarchal culture. I am surprised at how DILS are caught by surprise when their husbands keep quiet or by how much his aunty has a say in your life. Most people avoid discussing these things but they need to be talked about. How much is the acceptable level of interference and how will your spouse protect you (from them)?

Is it okay if your mom dictates my clothes? Will you tell her not to bother me or keep quiet? Do they get to tell me to do puja daily? Can I refuse and answer back if I don’t agree with them? Can I refuse to cook if I am tired? Does my family have equal access to us like your parents? Do I get to argue the way  I do with my parents?

Of course, we have to be nice and kind like we treat all guests and people we meet for the first time. I am not asking you to start your relationship with your in-laws on the warpath. That doesn’t mean you let them walk all over you. It is way easier if you set your boundaries the first time something bothers you than wait for it to happen 20 times before you voice it out because people are conditioned to you obeying. Yes, voicing it out gives you the title of an arrogant/difficult DIL where the norm is obedient but it is a choice you have to make – get the good DIL badge of honor (which is never gonna come) or make choices that make you happy.

I really feel DILs should let go of the need for approval and acceptance from their in-laws. That is really one of the most liberating things we can do. There is no badge for the perfect DIL but not giving a shit about people who don’t approve does improve the quality of your life dramatically.

Finding a Ziploc Bag


Our search for ziploc bags in Croatia started after Uncle realized that he had forgotten to pack them when we left. We thought that it was not a big deal because one can ziploc bags anywhere these days. We were stumped to find that it was very difficult to find ziploc bags in Croatia. Even the largest supermarkets or stationary shops did not have them! We looked in Zagreb and Split with no luck. We didn’t check Ikea though.

Instead we found this!

Finding Ziplocks in Croatia

Seal your own bag with rubber bands ha ha. We remarked about this to a friend and she told us how her non-Croatian friends could not get why she couldn’t just use ziplocs.  This is why!

Next time you go to Croatia, bring your own ziploc bags! Really weird but true!

Serving Water in Restaurants


Last night, we were at a Japanese place and there were wet tissues on our table. Uncle used one as it was there. The waitress counted the wet tissues we used and added it to our bill! We were so shocked, I told them they were sneaky and cheating people because it is not indicated that it is chargeable. Why keep it on the table if it not for free?! She told us we were the first people to complain about this and that every restaurant does this ha. I hate the sneaky ways restaurants here charge for everything from water to tissues and add it to your bill.

Another pet peeve of mine is (east) Asian restaurants don’t serve tap water to patrons and always charge you for it which I find ridiculous. I haven’t been charged for drinking plain water in restaurants in India/USA/Europe unless I specifically wished to buy bottled water. If tap water of a country is drinkable and affordable, why not serve for free? As if it’s not enough that they charge for it, they serve it in tiny glasses which have to be constantly refilled and the servers keep making you wait for it. God help you, if you badly need water.

Once, we went to a restaurant as a part of an office meeting. When I asked for water, they said they do not serve tap water. I asked them if they could take a glass and just fill from the sink tap, they plain refused because ‘it is not part of their policy’ and if you want you can only buy San Pellergrino water. Nothing else. I thought that was extremely snobbish and bloody wasteful to have water shipped all the way from Europe. Same with another Thai food chain. They used to serve free water. Then they started charging for it. Then, they stopped serving tap water. If one wants, they need to buy bottled water or nothing else.

It is such a snobbish and so environment unfriendly and I am always surprised when people defend this bullshit practice, much less support it.

The only saving grace is that Indian and western (if they are not run by east Asians) serve free water.

Does complaining about being charged 50 cents for water make you a cheap skate? Does drinking/serving only bottled water from Europe make you posh? Do people just accept this because it is a norm in these societies? Do they keep quiet to avoid confrontation? Do most people give a shit about the environment? (No, they don’t give a shit).

What I’m Into – March 2016


I have been wanting to write a summary of what I’am reading, watching or listening to after seeing many other bloggers write about it. I love reading such posts and because I consume so much media, it is a great way to reflect and track for me. I wish to post at the end of every month as a summary but I can’t wait to get the first post out of my head!

Books:

You can follow me on Goodreads here.

Roller Girl: It is technically meant for 8-12 year olds but I liked it. Nice story. I was introduced and learnt a new thing – roller derby!

Roller Girl

Spark Joy: I loved her previous book and I liked this one too. It had sections I wished the first book had- about kitchen and other parts of the house. I did not find it weird because in a way I am exposed to Japanese culture.

Spark Joy

TV Series:

One Punch Man: One punch manI watched this in February and loved it. In general, Japanese anime does not interest me but I found this interesting and funny. It mocks all the superhero genre movies (like the Avengers) and show the superhero doing mundane stuff like grocery shopping. Do note that there are barely any good female characters and if they are there, they are pretty or crazy. No normal ones which again is typical in a way of this genre. I watched it in Japanese with Eng subs.

Walking Dead: Walking DeadAfter watching every single episode from Season 1, I finally decided to stop watching this series. I am tired of the repetition and lack of hope. Every time it is the same story – find a new place to settle > Some crazy guy comes in > They lose the place > Move to a new place.

Agents of SHIELD:

Agents of Shield

Another TV series, I decided to stop watching. It is not great. We initially started watching it because it was mean to be tied to the movie universe but somehow, they have decided to not link them at all. So, out it goes.

Agent Carter:

Agent Carter

I liked this TV series because it has a strong normal woman as the lead and her chemistry with the butler – Jarvis is awesome. Hope they continue and move ahead in terms of how SHIELD was founded.

Movies:

Lately, I have been into R rated comedies.  Kindly don’t watch if you have a problem with people cussing.

Deadpool: It was funny and different from most Marvel/superhero movies. It made fun of  Marvel Superheroes and of X-Men. Interesting because it broke the 4th wall.

Deadpool movie

Spy: Funny and I loved how it mocked James Bond movies.

Spy  2015

The Heat: Was funny and I liked the female buddy-buddy detective theme.

 

I feel both Spy and The Heat pass the Bedchel test, especially The Heat. You have a not-skinny woman dealing with not-love problems. That is rare.

My Trip To Croatia – 3


One day, we went on a trip by car to the nearby islands – Chio, Rogoznica and Trogir. We clearly did not visit so many others and  I told Uncle that  I will book myself a islands tour if we didn’t go to other islands next time ha ha.

Chio – I didn’t take photos. They used to have a house here.

Rogoznica – They have some family cemeteries there and it is beautiful. I would definitely love to spend my summer here. All the houses are made of stone and I love it!

Rogoznica

Rogoznica

Rogoznica
Their grandmas house that looked something like this and where they used to spend their summers as a kid!

Trogir – This place is actually an ancient city. It is dead in winter and totally crowded in summer. Almost all the shops except a few were closed. Glad I got to experience it without the crowds. However, it is sad that a little island is empty when there are no tourists. I did see some residents there but I wish these little islands had other things going for them apart from tourism.

Trogir
Empty streets which are non existent in summer
There are many churches all over this island and this door depicts life of Jesus.
There are many churches all over this island and this door depicts life of Jesus.

Trogir

Trogir