Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Hinglish for Beginners - Part Two

One of the big surprises of my time in India is the utmost curiosity (UTSUK) about stuff we kinda tend to keep private back at home - age and details of marital status.
Oh, yes - and since I was involved in the diabetes project - body weight.
No darling PSI team, I will not be the subject of the body fat calculation. Not today. More on that in a minute (note to self - time is a stretchable category in India - a minute could easily take half an hour!).

Given my good genes and a sunny demeanor I'm always happy to answer the "How old are you?" question (AAPKI UMAR KITNI HAI?) with "MAIN 46 SAAL KI HOON" (which is true: on the inside I'm not a day over 26; my left shoulder is 66... The package is 46 indeed!)

But when it comes to the question of SHAADI - marriage, I tend to grab my little photo book to the rescue and proudly present my husband and three handsome sons conveniently skipping my personal marriage statistics, let alone the fact that the only thing that I ever needed being arranged for me was that nasty first divorce. 
The above picture is no joke, and I take full credit for snapping that newspaper out of my friend's hands in order to have the marigolds in the frame as we were just about to depart in order to catch the sunrise at the Taj Mahal. We made it there in time! 

Meeting Mr.Right in India is an elaborate process riddled with controversy of casts and religions - marrying up or marrying down - that is often left to parents and matchmakers and can begin pretty much as early as toddlerhood. The new generation of educated and more empowered women fueled by the on-line world is beginning to slowly shift the need for so much assistance. Still, seeing the extremely low divorce rates I wonder whether that is the right thing to do?
One of my friends told my puzzled face with a smile, as a comment to her own arranged marriage: "I love and respect my parents so much that I know they will choose better for me than I would have chosen for myself". What started with an exchange of photographs and has been arranged, indeed turned to be real, true love for a very long time now. When I was trusted to arrange my own first marriage at age 24, the prevalent criteria was my then extremely low self-esteem. Having my wise mom and my good dad point out at least a smarter direction let alone an actual smart man, would have been both helpful and welcome! 

On that note, Canadian single ladies - I met a few terrific bachelors while here - young, educated, with impeccable work ethics and handsome enough to model for the cover of the GQ! You know how to find me! My only ask is that you remember to invite me to your big fat Indian wedding. I'll help you decorate your house!
And also sit with you for hours applying henna from the tips of the fingers all the way to the elbows. What an extraordinarily beautiful and bonding way for women to celebrate their friendship and femininity and the upcoming forever love!
That Indian minute is up so I will go back to the topic of body weight that is oh, so taboo in North America. 
Fact number one - at 5'6" (157cm) I'm really tall - I'm towering over most women and men in group photographs! 
Initially devastating to my body image, on my first day in India, my shopping for the colorful long shirts (KURTI) ended up in the L-3XL section! #shocking
At home I'm a medium, for crying out loud!
Fact number two - being a bit chunky is considered attractive in India! It suggests health, wealth and prosperity. Who knew!?
Lakshmi Narayan or the Birla temple in Delhi requires visitors to surrender their smartphones and cameras otherwise I would have placed right here a photo of a beautiful statue of the Hindu Goddess Durga - the Mother Goddess also known as Shakti (a powerful word that means life force). It is confidently showing her belly button section that - seriously - looks just like mine, those 46 years and three pregnancies later!
Fact number three: body-shaming is a man-made disease that doesn't spread this far! It's a myth. Women of all generations rock wearing their Saree's, their middle section sometimes fully exposed - it's kind of liberating to recieve a permission to be you, wearing your own flesh and skin, regardless of color, age and shape. Revolutionary!
I'm committed to be getting there: to fully and unconditionally love my body and consider it a sacred temple for my soul.
In the meantime a group of Indian girlfriends from work helped me put on the Saree for the first time today, giggling because initially at home, I've got it all wrong despite a handful of safety pins. They totally ignored me as I begged for full coverage. The result?
I have never felt more beautiful -SUNDAR!
(to be continued...) 

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