Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Aunties

We know and interact with them almost on a daily basis. In most cases, we forget their names and are dumbfounded, and forced to pretend when they call and ask, ‘Do you know who this is?’ They’re a constant and, sometimes, an unwelcome feature of our lives. They aren’t related to us, yet we refer to them as ‘Aunty’.

Like most things in life, ‘Aunties’ fall into a variety of groups, owning to their specific traits. For instance, we have the L’Oreal Aunties, who refuse to go silently into the night and continue to cling on to their youth. These elderly women usually purchase make up at wholesale and apply it with nothing smaller than a paint brush.

There are some ladies who take their ‘fashion’ sense up a notch by adding a touch of the urban. These ‘trendy’ aunties are easy to spot with their giant puffy hair that puts any African to shame. We refer to them as the Afro Aunties. If you were to ask any of the aunties ‘Why the need to be so excessive?’ their answer would be simple, ‘Because I’m vorth it…beta.’

Fashion isn’t only restricted to the older group of ladies as our community is also blessed with the Status Aunties. These breed of women are all about designer wear and making sure you, me, and everyone knows about it. Besides kindly informing us as to what brand her blouse is, she’ll also be sure to let you know its value while stating it was something she simply ‘threw on’. If not, she’ll mention that her thoughtful husband ‘Gyan’ bought it for her on their first class trip to the moon where they sat next to Shahrukh Khan. You’ll find some tend to have a superiority complex because of the money they have, claim to have, or married into. These aunties also strive to be part of the upper echelon of society, and is sure to be found at all the ‘It’ parties, making sure she’s surrounded by all the ‘It’ people, dropping names, prices and other ‘priceless’ information. Often, she’s the loudest one.

The fashion victim, ‘Yummy Mummy’ Aunties encompass a large group of ladies from the young mothers to the fifty-plus who insist on dressing like a provocative sixteen-year-old cheerleader. Most men would argue that the younger women who stay in shape, remain well groomed, and highlight their hair to high heaven, do attain somewhat of an allure. However, they fail to understand that with age, that very allure fades and no matter how blonde your hair is, ‘Sexy’ is not coming ‘Back’.

Then there is the group of women which also includes Status and Yummy Mummy Aunties, that get together to form the Kitty Party Aunties, or otherwise knows as ‘Rummy Mummies’. Besides getting together in their glitziest gear to play some pato and mastering the art of using a chopstick to drag a card, they exchange all the ‘juicy’ information they’ve gathered since their last session. You can be sure that all your personal and private information is divulged within this network of rummy experts. At the end of the session, they’ll know who wore what twice, whose daughter is seeing whom, whose son is snorting cocaine, whose husband is cheating, and which aunty uses tabs from old designer clothes on her new Marks & Spencer’s wardrobe. Scandalous!

The information exchanged at the kitty parties is usually gathered by a particular breed known as the Owl Aunties. We’ve all come across this particular type, since they are the ones who constantly ask us, ‘When are you getting married Putu? Why aren’t you married yet beta? So handsome/pretty why no boyfriend/girlfriend?’ After they’re done with you, you can expect your parents to suffer the same barrage of questions. They also tend to make a mental note of whose wearing what clothing and jewelry, and when intrigued enough, they not only inspect closely with their eyes and hands but throw etiquette to the wind and openly inquire of its quality and price. No wonder men head to the bar and stay there at social events! Their antics are not only restricted to social events for when they grace your abode, they’ll be sure to inspect everything from the paint and upholstery to your kitchen and the nationality of your maid. Beware since these aunties move with great stealth and precision when needed. For example, while standing face to face, they’ll reach behind their back and feel the texture of your table cloth while simultaneously nodding at you, leaving you clueless as to their antics. Perhaps they feel simply asking is impolite?

Sometimes, the curiosity of the Owl Aunties gets the better of them. That’s when they evolve in to the Nosey Aunties. The Nosey like to get into everyone’s business, and often ask questions such as, ‘Why did the divorce take place? Why are they closing down their business and moving? Why did the destination of the wedding shift? Why did your sister get botox?’ And so forth. Often enough, these very aunties put forth their own negative reasoning, which in turn transform into rumors that spread throughout our society. How can we not be proud of such problem-solving and upstanding citizens of our community?

The headliner at the Kitty Parties is none other then the Google Aunties, otherwise known as the SNN (Sindhi News Network). This human search engine is not only able to sniff the tiniest details, but does it at a speed that makes the internet look like a slug. If ever you want to know about a particular boy/girl’s family, she’d be the best source of information (although some of it might be skewed).

In contrast, there is a group who haven’t been seduced by the glitz and glamour of the social scene and have taken a more spiritual and/or religious path. They’re known as the Hari-Om Aunties. At times mistaken as borderline fanatics, these aunties attend almost every satsang, fast at every opportunity, and have so many havans that the mahraj gives them a discount! The annoying thing about the Hari-Om’s is that they’ll be sure to let you know all the days in the year when you have to be vegetarian. Either way, you know they are on the guest list to heaven, so better to be on their good side.

It is important not to confuse the Hari-Om’s with the pseudo Hari-Om’s, otherwise knows as the Contradictory Aunties. These are the ladies that do almost everything that the Hari-Om’s do, but still carry the traits of the other aunties. After singing their bhajans in ‘bling’, you’ll find them donning their low cut Versace top with a martini in one hand, bitching about how their neighbour is broke and her husband’s niece is cheating. Bol Jhulelal Aunty, Bol Jhulelal!

Each Yin must have its Yang and hence, an equilibrium. There is a selective group of ladies who no matter how wealthy, remain humble. No matter how small their home, their giant heart welcomes all. No matter how sick and twisted her neighbour may be, she still remains fair and just. Even though they attend social events and are dressed classy or chic, they don’t get caught up in society and its ever changing demands. These women are more enlightened as human beings and are envied only because of the respect they attain. One can only admire the Balanced Aunties.

Regardless of their traits, Aunties, in whatever shape or form provide colour in our lives, sometimes, literally. Some are role models to be aspired to while others consider themselves models. Some incessantly express faith while others ooze of hate. There are those who are victims of fashion, status and society, and then there are those victimized by society and its fickle principles. Whatever they may be, I thank you for giving me enough to write about in this article.

Finally, the Best kind of Aunty is the one with cute single daughters. You’re my favourite kind. Care to invite me over for some Chai?

By Chandru Bhojwani

The Darkness

I ignored the numb feeling on my back. The pounding in my head had all my attention and I feared it would worsen if I moved. All of a sudden, I heard a squeak. I instantly realized what was crawling up towards the nape of my neck. Startled, I turned and sat up, throwing the rat as far off into the distance as possible. The intense throbbing increased rapidly as I began to catch my breath. I sat back against the wall and shut my eyes, only to open them wide within moments. I was surrounded by complete and utter darkness. I raised my hand to my face, and wouldn’t have known it was there until I touched my nose with it.
The squeaks in the distance began to multiply, and I could hear tiny paws splashing through the water as the rats stampeded in my direction. At a time like this I couldn’t help but wish I was a smoker armed with a trusty Zippo. As I brushed the moist dirt off my face, I stood up and looked around for a sliver of light, only to have my rise abruptly halted by the sharp ceiling above. The impact dropped me to the ground, clutching the back of my head and wincing in agony. The squeaking grew louder, and I could sense the army of rats close by. Instinctively, I began to crawl away from them while keeping myself close to the wall on my right. They continued to inch closer every second. I hastily got to my feet cautiously, reaching out for the treacherous ceiling, when one of the blasted rodents pulled at my shoe lace.
“GET AWAY YOU BASTARDS!” I screamed, as I kicked furiously.
I swiftly turned and began to make my way away from the rats, and deeper into the darkness with the wet wall and ceiling as my only guide.
My rapid breathing was now in sync with the throbbing within my head. Hunched over, I hurried down the black corridor, distancing myself from the legion of vermin that salivated for a taste of my flesh. Perspiration continued to seep down my forehead stinging my eyes.
Once the rats were nothing more than a distant muffle, I slowed down and wiped my brow. Countless questions streamed through my mind as I stared all around me, hoping to find something to guide me. But nothing infiltrated the blackness. Where am I? Where? Where? I leaned back against the wall while shutting my eyes, even though it made no difference, and attempted to recollect the recent past through the agonizing pounding. Visions came staggered: a bonfire, girls, music, a guitar, singing, vodka, lots of vodka, smoking, a fight, dancing, running, marijuana, wrestling, screaming, vomiting, the desert. My eyes popped open;
“The desert, we were in the desert” I whispered.
It was Sheila’s birthday, and we had left the campus early in the afternoon to celebrate. The two cars reached the desert a couple of hours later with the passengers completely wasted. The celebration continued throughout the night, while we persisted in our drunken debauchery without caution. Copious amounts of drugs and alcohol were consumed, and we abused both our senses and bodies like there was no tomorrow. The further I replayed the events of the night, the more blurred it got, until finally, I could no longer penetrate through my mind’s fog.
Something crawled over my foot, breaking me out of my trance. I kicked it up in the air hoping that whatever it was would die in the darkness. I began to focus at the problem at hand, and since I couldn’t remember how I got here but I had to figure out a way to get out. I must have fallen in somewhere, and logic would suggest that I needed to make my way upwards. The only problem was: how would I know which way is up?
I shut my eyes and exhaled as I sat on the damp floor. I smelled the alcohol on my breath as it mixed in with the pungent air around me. Water trickled down the walls on to my back, and somewhere on my left lay a puddle into which I could hear the drops of water splashing at regular intervals. Tears began to stream down my cheeks. I was lost, I was alone, I was trapped, I was doomed.
I stopped breathing for a second only to spring up immediately. I removed my shoes and slowly walked over the slippery rocks towards the sound of the dripping. I gingerly got down on both knees and reached out for the water. After dipping both shoes and filling them to the brim, I carefully stood up holding both vessels with one hand and the wall with the other. I walked forward and counted each step until I reached a hundred at which point I took three steps away from the wall and got down on all fours. I then poured some water from my shoe in a straight line and cupped either end with my palm to feel the direction in which most of it flowed. The opposite direction of the flow was the way up. I was aware that it wasn’t the most foolproof method but it was all that I had. I continued the procedure every hundred steps and even though the experiment didn’t consistently breed the same result, I knew I was headed in the right direction.
I almost dropped the remaining water-filled shoe when I came upon a fork in my path. I couldn’t hear any more water dripping from the roof. Both the walls and ground were increasingly dry with each step. I gambled and continued towards my left hoping I would come across a guiding light. As the quantity of liquid decreased, partly because the dried ground soaked up more of the water, I increased the distance of intervals to two hundred steps. My pace quickened as did my heart. Hunched over, I paced forward, expecting a crack of light to cross my path. I began picturing meeting my friends, hugging them, screaming at them and crying tears of joy. I’d describe my ordeal and they wouldn’t believe me until they saw the mouth of this God-forsaken place.
The rock tore the skin off my knee and as I toppled over, throwing my shoe into the shadows. I lay on my back starting up into the darkness as blood poured profusely from my leg onto the thirsty soil. Doubt began to creep in. What if I had taken the wrong turn at the fork? What if I had been going in the wrong direction the whole time? What if I was supposed to go in the direction of the rats? What sort of dense method was I using to find my freedom from this abyss? What if it was night? There I lay without a shoe or drop of water while I continued to lose my blood in a black hole far away from the world. The tears came once again.
I first felt it on my naked foot. It was subtle but I sensed it, and my suspicion was confirmed when I smelled the arid air. I sat up and wiggled my toes as the gentle waft of air passed through. Once again I pulled myself up with the help of the wall and hobbled toward the direction of the gentle gust. With each hop, the ground became increasingly drier and the breeze got stronger. As the climb began to get steep, I felt the desert sand under my feet. The pressure on my knee increased, as did the pain but I ignored it and kept going. I started to feel the heat exude from the rocks and that could only mean that the sun was shining up above. My pace quickened and the sand grew denser.
He screamed out in pain as my outstretched hand crashed on to the sandy ground;
The voice of another seemed so alien at first and through the confusion relief poured down on me. I wasn’t alone. Another person was trapped in this wretched hole.
“Who are you?” I asked quickly
“Arun. Who the hell are you?” The anger in his voice didn’t bother me, “You stepped on my chest you ass!”
I scurried towards him and grabbed him.
“What the hell are you doing? Get your hands off me!” he said pushing me away.
“I’m so glad I found you! I’ve been here for hours all alone. I can’t begin to tell you what a relief it is to find you”
“Jesus! I think you broke a rib.”
“How long have you been here?” I asked
“I don’t know, maybe an hour. I have no idea, I’m still trashed.”
“What were you doing lying on the floor?”
“What are you talking about?” he responded “I was sleeping till you kicked me and woke me up”
“Oh yeah, sorry about that. My name is Ram by the way.”
“Whatever…” he exhaled.
“Any idea of how we can get out of here? I think if we continue in the direction of this path we can get out”
“I need to get to a hospital” he let out in a painful yelp.
“I am terribly sorry” I pleaded, “It’s this blasted darkness.”
He remained silent as I waited for a response. His breathing slowed down and he had turned towards me as his warm breath fell upon my tear stained face.
“You said your name was Ram right?”
“Ram” his voice now softer as he hesitated, “Its broad daylight…”

To Cut or not to Cut

Winter had passed and once again I began my nomad’s odyssey and traveled from destination to destination searching for the ever elusive knowledge of the “self.” While on this winding path, I battled hypnotic sirens, one-eyed giants and women with enough makeup to ricochet bullets! Still, it was on this epic journey that I came across an individual that bestowed such wisdom upon me that I felt obligated to share it with those who would listen.
It was the ‘fools’ month, the month of April, when I found my self in the desert city 0of Dubai. I had been traveling for a week, and the scorching heat had left me withered and hungry. It was at the local ‘Zen’ tavern on Sheikh Zayed road that a gentleman with the devil’s beard and a girlish giggle welcomed me to break bread with him and other travelers. Among the other explorers was a man from the East.
As we sat quietly devouring our food and satisfying our cursed thirst, I learned that my friend from the Eastern had, at one time like me, also tasted the tinned fishes of Africa. His journey then took him to the spices of India and on to the dim-sum of China. As he regaled us with events that molded his life, he touched on a particular experience that surrounded his matrimony.
‘I realized while I lay beside the toilet bowl hoping that the worst of it was over and I had vomited everything there was to vomit, that I no longer could eat anymore canned fish. It was time for me to return to India and marry my Saraswati. Our families had known for years that it was only a matter of time before we would tie the proverbial knot followed by the traditional ‘Swaa-Haa’. That time had come. The last batch of mackerel was testament to that fact.
Everything had gone swimmingly. A romantic engagement followed by numerous celebrations brought us closer to the auspicious day. A week before the wedding I began to feel a cruel pain around my kidney, and it hurt when I urinated (See Tom Hanks in ‘The Green Mile’ for a more graphic image). Gonorrhea you ask? Perhaps, since who knows what the impact of too much tinned mackerel is, but why the pain in my kidney? Fortunately, my father-in-law-to-be was a doctor and during my check up he realized that I had kidney stones. I tried to take heed from the Nike commercial and decided to ‘Just do it’, knowing that on the wedding night I’d be ‘doing it and doing it’ like L.L. Cool J. It was then that the sharp pain ripped me out of my erotic music video and my FIL stated;
‘Beta, I think we’re going to have to go where no man has gone before…into your Nuni!’ ’
Tears began to caress my cheeks as I wept like a little girl who had her Barbie doll stolen. Was I crying because my FIL would see my ‘playstation’ before my wife? Or was it because another man was going to have his way with it? I still don’t know.
In order to perform the procedure of shoving a tube into my ‘nuni’ and removing the stones, I had to be circumcised. It was at that moment I wished I had had a ‘Bar-Mitzvah’. Not only would all this have been sorted out by the age of 13 but I’d have received a ton of gifts in exchange for my foreskin. Instead, I was about to receive a couple of annoyingly painful stones that couldn’t have come at a worse time.
After the procedure had been completed and the stones were in my palm, we were only two days away from the wedding. It was then that my FIL walked over to his daughter, my fiancé, and instructed her;
‘Beta, for the next one month, treat him like your brother’ (Insert image of Macaulay Culkin screaming with hands on his face from Home Alone here – THAT WAS ME!)
Needless to say, the ceremony was excruciating. The walk around the fire was more of a painful crawl and the sweat caused by the fiery mandap masked the tears that rolled down my face. Our ‘Suhagraat’ was spent playing Uno…and she won.
Two weeks into the marriage I noticed some of the stitches had come undone. And I decided to vist my wife’s ‘Chacha’ who was also a doctor. I explained my problem to him, but somehow the affliction was lost in translation, and instead of snipping away the unneeded thread, he decided to give it a massive heave! The action forced my stitches to open up and, let’s just say I ‘blossomed’. I lay there on the floor, exposed and screaming in pain, asking God why he had forsaken my Nuni?
‘Morphine, give me Morphine’ I cried, ‘Don’t amputate, save the nuni, do whatever, but save the nuni!’
The second time around, my brother-in-law, who too was in the medical field, patched me up using dissolvable thread. Talk about keeping it in the family! The downside wasn’t that my wife’s family had more fun with my ‘joystick’ than my wife did, but that we couldn’t consummate our marriage for another two months! In fact, I couldn’t even think about anything sexual, since an erection would lead to another episode of ‘painful blossoming’! As time went by any thought became arousing and when confronted by such a situation, I had to focus and repeat the word ‘chair’ like a mantra.
Eventually, five months had passed into our marriage before we finally had our delayed ‘Suhaagraat’. The waiting wasn’t completely in vain since I am now an ‘Uno’ specialist and compete on the professional circuit.’
Others at the table sat silently in awe until the bearded owner let out his giggle. Most of us pushed our plates away, as we had lost our appetite, and watched the Easterner continue to devour the Red Curry Chicken with Jasmine rice.
As he stood up to leave, he placed his hand on my shoulder and said,
‘Son, better to get cut young than to do it later and have to become an Uno Pro’ and with that, he pushed open the tavern door and walked back into the windy desert, sharing his legendary tales with those that would listen. The tavern owner came over to us and informed us that no one knew his name but he was known as the ‘Blossomer’. He then giggled again and walked away.
I understood that kidney stones can attack and impale us at anytime, but it is circumcision that’ll kill us or our sex life, at least. It was then that I realized that the Blossomer had provided the ever elusive answer to the long standing question, ‘To cut or not to cut?’
That’s a wrap!
By Chandru Bhojwani

What Do Sindhi Women Want? (Hong Kong, Manila and Dubai)

The sun slowly pulled away the cover of night, as it rose higher illuminating the building and all the flats within. Soon, the maid was knocking at my door and shrieked, ‘Baba, chai?’ and the daily morning ritual began. I rubbed the sleeping dust from my eyes, reached out for my glasses, flipped on CNN, and began to check my email.

It was titled, ‘Words Women Say’. I thought it was another forward; however, when I downloaded the file, it was anything but. Before we continue, it is imperative that readers understand, these are NOT my views:

Never listen to what a women says, because most of the time when they say something, they don’t mean it. For instance, take a young Sindhi girl looking to get married, and if you ask them the following questions, most would answer;

Q: What do you want in a guy and how important are looks?
A: He should be nice, caring and have a good sense of humor. Looks are not very important. If the guy is nice that is more than enough.

Q: What if the guy is not very rich?
A: I don’t care about him being rich. Money can come and go.

Q: Is it ok if he is living with his parents?
A: Of course that’s ok.

Q: Do you care where he lives, meaning which country?
A: If the guy is nice any place should be ok.

All these answers you’ve read would be just for your ears as the actual answer to these questions are as follows;

Q: What kind of a guy do you want?
A: A nice guy which comprises of him being rich, a good sense of humor and a fancy car is a plus. It’s better if he doesn’t live with his parents however, if he is loaded I can manage. He must know I like buying fancy bags, watches and shoes especially since the society I live in demand all this. We must travel only by first class since that’s the way my friends travel.

I have no intention of going to any developing countries, although I don’t mind Jakarta, India, Hong Kong and Dubai. Even though London is a nice place, but unless he can afford 2 housemaids, it’s not an option.

After all this she states she is very adjusting and compromising!
’ – Male, 31, Accra

After reading such a disturbing piece, a caffeine kick wasn’t required. Was this true? Is this what the Sindhi women of today have evolved into? I decided to slip on my chapals and find out for myself: ‘What do Sindhi Women Want?’

In order to have a clear understanding, it was imperative to understand how Sindhi women are depicted and what the reality is.

The Stereotype

Hong Kong
The impression is that Hong Kong (HK) women are only interested in Vitamin M (money) or as an HK female put it:

‘Everyone thinks all we want is the 3 M’s: Money, Mansion and Mercedes. The conception is that we only want someone who lives in HK and have no desire to live abroad, especially in a third world country. That we need cooks, maids, drivers, and nothing less than a 7-carat diamond engagement ring’. – Female, 26, HK.

‘Supposedly we aren’t domesticated at all. People feel that all we do is shop and are interested in nothing more but the latest handbags, shoes, jewelry etc. Our extracurricular activities consist of lunches and dinners, and our version of sport is competing with each other through our attire and whose ‘bling’ is better. Basically we’re considered to be fake, materialistic and superficial.’ ­– Female, 27, HK.

Hong Kong’s namesake neighbor, too, has a vast Sindhi population who states:

‘To Sindhis, Manila Sindhis are scandalous partygoers who are always a good source for gossip fodder. There is some truth to all these stereotypes since Sindhi women in Manila do spend a lot of time engaged in idle chatter.’ – Male, 25, Manila.

‘I’ve heard that we lack the worldliness of our counterparts in Hong Kong or London - unaffected by global issues, social trends, etc. and that may make us sound superficial. Like most Sindhi girls from the Far East, we live pampered, sheltered lives, i.e. not having to lift a finger to get anything done because we have servants to do everything.’ – Female, 30, Manila

Dubai is a tourist hotspot with a growing population of Sindhis. However, its reputation is almost on par with that of Hong Kong.

‘The stereotype is that we are materialistic, spoilt and aren’t ambitious’ – Female, 26, Dubai.

This notion is further cemented by the statement:

‘There is a high level of superficiality. Women compete with one another with what they wear and carry. In fact, stories of woman lining up outside a bag store at 7 a.m. to purchase a limited edition handbag are not uncommon.’ – Male, 31, Dubai.

The stereotypes suggest that our disgruntled friend had a good grasp of the Sindhi woman nature when he wrote his piece. But then again, a stereotype is a vague generalization usually with negative connotations and not necessarily the truth.

The Reality

Hong Kong:
‘Most of us work hard to earn a living, and we spend our money as we wish to. Perhaps that is where we get our reputation from. Most are outgoing and friendly, but you get the shy and reserved few. Contrary to popular belief, some of us are domesticated and many women follow a religious and spiritual pathway. We are not as materialistic as people think we are.’ – Female, 26, HK.

Another fellow resident states:

‘Certainly image plays a huge role. From head to toe, one has to be perfect, whether it comes to hair (which almost always has to be coloured and blow dried) or designer shoes and jeans. The jewelry has to match but must be huge diamonds; otherwise, what’s the point? But, there is another side that isn’t recognised. Women here have the ability to earn their own living and are all-rounders who play our roles of daughter, wife and friend well.’ – Female, 27, HK.

‘Sindhi women in Manila are much more savvy than they are thought to be - whether that's sniffing out bulls*it or managing to sweet talk / annoy their way to get what they want. People fail to see that they're resourceful and have a good sense of family values. ’ – Male, 25, Manila.

‘Manila women are very career-oriented. There was a time that they were happy to stay home and enjoy life, but now they are more independent. Many may not be book or school smart, but almost all are business and street -smart. They get things done.
In other countries, women are very much into having the latest bags, the most bling jewelry etc. Manila Sindhis are being influenced by friends and relatives from other countries and are moving towards that direction. However, the difference is that most Manila Sindhis know their limits. They aren’t excessive as the women from other countries. They may like their LVs and BCBG dresses, but they also know their priorities and don’t go overboard. They choose the understated over the extravagant. They don’t buy a bag a month, they don’t all spend Daddy’s money and they don’t buy THE most expensive item they see.

They like to party, shop, go for blow-dries and massages, but that’s not what they’re all about. Some may seem rough around the edges, but at the end of the day, they are good girls who put family above all else.’ – Female, 26, Manila.

‘Some are spoilt and materialistic, but there are women that work for a living. Dubai is a social city and is a place where people love living the high life. But every place has two sides to it, and there are people who are simple, family-oriented, and have different priorities.’ – Female, 26, Dubai.

‘Dubai is a city of Icing! There is a lot of superficiality and an underlying level of competition. It’s a game of chess where individuals use property, cars and jewelry as pawns! Still, each place has its drawbacks, and to say that down-to-earth individuals don’t exist, even if it is the minority, would be incorrect. It is in places like this that one come across gems.’ – Male, 31, Dubai.

After reading in detail the responses of Sindhi women and men, we discover an uncanny similarity. They all seem to enjoy a pampered life from ‘blow-drying’ to enjoying luxury items such as designer hand bags and shoes. However, is this all they want from life?

What Do Sindhi Women Want?

Hong Kong

‘Some want what the stereotype suggests. Many say they don't, but when it comes down to it, that is what they look for as they audition potential husbands. However, there are a bundle of girls who want something more than just the material aspects of life. We need emotional support, someone who will stand by us in achieving our goals. Money is important, financial security - a roof over our head and food on the table, but it’s not everything. We want someone we can have never-ending conversations with, someone smart and aware of what's going on in the world. Ultimately, after many years of marriage, communication is what you are left with.’ – Female, 26, HK.

‘Some of the stereotypes are true. We see it in our day-to-day lives where the subject of conversation is always about who's wearing what, who's organizing the next party, and what they recently bought. Having said that, I haven't seen girls from any other Asian cities that can carry themselves as well in any setting. They are smart, stunning and able to stand on their own two feet.’ – Female, 26, HK.

‘They want, fame, financial, emotional security and an invitation to every party’ – Female, 27, HK

‘Most women want the fairy tale of the loving husband, the big house, kids running around, high-end sedans, a jewelry collection for other women to marvel at, yearly trips, the kitty group, and so forth. But what they want isn't always what they get. Surprisingly, many are happy with just the husband and kids even without the other frills. The top of their lists would be a happy & healthy family, loving & hardworking husband and a comfortable life’ - Female, 30, Manila.

‘A lot of women are concentrating on their careers and want to grow as a person before making a lifelong commitment. They want to find themselves before making a mature decision. All the girls are educated and want to have a career and if something happens and they meet someone, they welcome it’- Female, 26, Dubai

‘Dubai women are accustomed to a life dictated by fashion, trends and society. Being in such an environment creates pressure of living up to a certain level. Since they are used to a particular standard of living, they would like for it to be maintained or upgraded. Then there are some that are mature and willing to adjust for the right person but these are far and few between’ – Male, 29, Dubai


After reflecting on all the information, it’s apparent that Sindhi women are similar with relation to the locations researched. A majority of them enjoy a pampered luxurious life that includes visits to the parlor, designer handbags, shoes and jewelry. As for the gossiping nature:

‘I'm not going to say Manila women are gossips because I think that's a stereotype which applies to all Sindhi women.’ – Female, 30, Manila.

The only discrepancy is the extent to which these women enjoy and demand such a lifestyle: some fit the stereotypes and in reality are no more than puppets to society and brands but, as we are constantly reminded, there are exceptions.

To be fair, if you live in a particular society, there are pressures to maintain a certain lifestyle. However that does not dictate that those same individuals won’t be able to adapt to another location, lifestyle and society.

‘Women here are very much into the culture of spending and showing off but many who have moved abroad sobered down.’ – Female, 26, Dubai.

In contrast:

‘When I left, my friends were very close but now that I’m back, they’re all about bags, clothes, shoes and who did what! If people don’t fit into that mindset then they don’t fit in at all!’ – Female, 30, Dubai.

A majority of Sindhi women everywhere indulge in similar luxurious lifestyles and let’s be honest, if they can afford it, why not? The difference is some enjoy such luxuries on the surface while others have deeper and more substantial desires and priorities which aren’t monetarily oriented. These rarities are willing to adjust to their surroundings since they aren’t purely driven by the superficial facets of life. These are the exceptions and the only trouble is, finding them!

So in conclusion, what do Sindhi women want? According to popular opinion, they (those from Dubai, Manila and Hong Kong) want:

Emotional support, financial security, power to shop without feeling a pinch, comfort and and luxury. In addition, a decent, intelligent, and handsome man from a good family (preferably of high status) and the all important, blow-dried hair!

Lucky for some there are women who are down-to-earth and will prioritize family and home above all else.

So my disgruntled friend who chooses not to believe what women say, hopefully this will give you a better idea since it is the women that have ‘spoken’.

Thank you to those who participated and once again, these are not my views. My apologies for any offence that may have been caused.

As for you hard to find exceptions, some directions please?

Chandru Bhojwani

NRI Season

The month of December is a special month for the whole Sindhi community as families from all over the world congregate in Mumbai in hopes of finding a match for their young, while simultaneously enjoying all the festivities. Local Mumbai-ites have begun preparing for the traditional flood of NRIs that is about to plague their bustling city. The number of Sindhi’s that are expected to populate the paan stained streets of Mumbai will shatter all records of previous years and the sales of Johnny Walker Black Label will be unparalleled!

As Uncles and Aunties world wide attempt to book out whole AIRCRAFTS for family and friends at the obvious discounted rate while convincing the ground staff to allow double their weight allowance, their offspring cringe at the thought of being displayed at what they perceive to be a ‘Meat Market’. Still, one can’t deny that the hopes of finding a suitable maitee will be high within the community. Parents will be well prepared, especially those that have embraced technology to give them an extra edge. One can expect colour-coded Bio Data’s and certified chatis being shared via flash drives and Blue Tooth PDAs. Mothers will be walking around pretending to talk on their camera-enabled mobile phones only to stand with the lens pointed at your oblivious self and click away. The reflection of their diamond bracelet, necklace and anklet will provide enough light to procure a clear picture and before you’ve even blinked, some chokro/chokri in Karachi’s machi market is checking out your image on their Nokia. The men on the other hand will be at the bar relying on well honed skills as they engage in business discussions where they’ll attempt to gain as much information while simultaneously revealing as little as possible.

With standards becoming increasingly higher and quality eligible folk on the decline, competition promises to be fierce. Parents have spared no expense in preparing for this December, and have enrolled into vigorous training programs that include speed walking in a sari while being under the influence. Other regimes include rapid chati matching and the ability to have 360 degree peripheral vision so as to keep abreast of the goings-on. Some aunties have even invested in corrective eye surgery enabling them to possess the vision of a hawk for the sole purpose of scoping out a room in a split second and spotting the most suitable catch for their spawn.

Google has also begun to prime itself to handle the increased traffic and searches anticipated in the month of December, as parents ‘google’ all the potentials for their son/daughter. You can bet that before you’ve even finished your first thumbs up, an aunty in the room knows you failed colouring in kindergarten. From there a rumor will spread, and by the end of the night the world of Sindhis will believe that you are mentally challenged.

The younger adults will be equally as resolute as they prowl through the human traffic and watch their prey from a far, studying their every move and gesture before gliding over to their side. They’ll stand proud as they parade their body on which they spent two vigorous months working out. After getting an initial feel (and your name) he/she will head over to their parents to drop off the information as they head towards the next unsuspecting victim. In the meantime, the parents are sure to get cracking on the grunt work and within thirty minutes they’ll have answered every question on their checklist including if you’re manglik, thalassemic and your bank balance to the penny!

The search for romance, temporary or permanent, will overflow onto the intense party scene as youngsters will keep tabs on the ‘happening’ spots, and by side stepping the ever roaming cops, they’ll manage to crash a private party and find their love (for the evening). Numbers and promises of a future will be exchanged, but names will be forgotten the next morning, only to be followed by the couple falling in love all over again the next night.

As daunting as the wedding season may seem (and even though most feel that December in Mumbai is nothing more then a drunken debauchery), one can’t argue that most NRIs truly enjoy themselves. In some cases, new unions are born as life partners are introduced by chance or in most cases, by design. Before the trip is over and done with, agreements are made, engagements are announced and jewelry is exchanged (and in some unfortunate cases, they’re returned later).

New friendships are spawned and experiences shared, leaving individuals anxious for the year to roll by swiftly so they can repeat the cycle all over again. In the meantime, they relive the trip by broadcasting their adventures to friends for the next eleven months, enticing them to join in on the fun next year. After all is said and done visitors depart Mumbai with both a smile and a slight sense of melancholy. For those, remember, there is always next year!

Chandru Bhojwani

Parents Just Don’t Understand

Enough can never be said about our parents and their unconditional love. They are the pillars of our lives that have brought us up to be the upstanding individuals we are today. Children are raised to view parents as the closest beings to God and throughout our lives we continue to benefit from their instinct and wisdom. Yet, as Fresh Prince rapped it best on his Grammy winning album: Parents just don’t understand!

There comes a time in each individual’s life when the seesaw of knowledge begins to tip toward the person and away from his/her parents. Times and ideas change, as do society’s views and norms. However, parents aren’t always quick to catch on, and sometimes they aren’t even aware that there even was a catch! Still, parents aren’t ready to let go of the reins and continue to insist that they still know better. For instance, almost everyone has experienced the Uncle that believes he knows everything regardless of the subject. A NASA engineer could sit and dispute the Uncle’s opinion of Space exploration with an abundance of evidence to support his argument, and in response the Uncle (in the unbuttoned printed polyester shirt) will raise his hand to him and simply say ‘Arrey, Vat are you talking?’

Things are no better with parents’ and their viewpoint on their kids dating. Relationships are common practice in this day and age. Nevertheless, a majority of individuals insist on keeping it hush-hush. Part of the reason is to maintain their reputation within the society and the other is because their parents wouldn’t approve, especially the parents of females. What parents don’t realise is that everyone is doing it (yes, even your child)! Then there are the other set of parents that have taken steps in accepting that their offspring has begun dating however, they refer to it as ‘being friends’. To expect them to understand and accept what transpires in this ‘friendship’ would be unrealistic, as one mother who saw a picture of her son kissing his girlfriend on the mouth was heard gasping, ‘you exchanged the kiss of marriage???’ I guess its all about baby steps.

The ‘Speech!’
If nothing else, one thing that the fellow spawns can agree on is being victim to the ‘hard-times’ speech over and over again. This usually begins after a desire to purchase/spend is expressed, at which point we’re bombarded by something to the effect of:

‘You don’t know the walue of money. Ve’ve seen the hard life. In our day do you know ve used to get only one rupee! Do you know vat ve did with the one rupee? I used to buy your mother the flowers and then ve took a rickshaw to the beach and bought the ice creams. Then ve saw a picture in the cinema and then ve took a train to Pune to meet friends and then ve came back and still had change for Pakoras!’

Not only do parents have a knack for exaggerating but they also seem to lack understanding of society and trends. What’s worse is their limited grasp of inflation! On one occasion, a college student was planning to hit the clubs with his friends in London and asked his mother for money. The mother removed £10 from her bag and as she handed it to her son, she said ‘Don’t spend it all!’ The son looked at the bill. He then raised his head and responded ‘But the entrance itself is £20!!!’ It seems that to our beloved Sindh immigrants, any and everything today is far too expensive and they are unable to comprehend how their descendants can justify spending money the way they do. On one occasion a parent was heard saying; ‘Prada? You vant to buy the Prada shoes? Arrey in my day ve only had Bata! That vas our Nike but even then ve didn’t buy them. Your chacha and I, ve vent to school vith the white cloth shoes which we had to paint the night before to make the white. If they were not the white, ve got punished so chacha and I carried the chalk in our pockets to white the cloth shoes’

Even after having one’s prostate removed or suffering through menopause, to parents we will always be children. Owing to this state of mind, many of us have had to fight for every inch of privacy we have and will have to continue to do so. No matter how many times parents are asked to knock before entering our room it has no impact. The best they can do is knock and walk in immediately to put away your kachos and when you express your irritation, you fall victim to the ‘I carried you for 9 months in my stomach and this is how you treat me? Now, you have to watch Bhagban tonight!’ speech. To some this may be funny but there are numerous incidents where parents have walked ‘in’ on their daughter/son and their spouse as they are ‘expressing’ their love for one another, and believe you me, no one was laughing then.

Penny wise, Pound foolish
It’s no secret that our ancestors fled Sindh leaving behind their livelihood and wealth as they scurried across the border in hopes of saving their families. Even the wealthiest had fallen to levels of unimaginable poverty and had to rely on their natural business savvy to rebuild their lives. After enduring such an ordeal, it’s no surprise that parents have focused on saving their wealth. At times, however, their efforts backfire. As a result they waste more money rather than saving it. For example, when purchasing an appliance they’ll buy the most ‘economical’ no matter how much you rant and rave against it citing its inferior Chinese quality. In less than a week, you’ll be back at the store with your parent purchasing another unit and this time you just pray they listen!

Whatever our parents might not be, one thing they certainly can do is collect! Almost every Sindhi child saw the family’s collection of the little houses obtained on KLM or Emirates grow exponentially. Or in other cases, the piles and piles of complimentary bags received usually on business class that contain the disposable toothbrush, toothpaste, comb etc. 10 years later, the collection does nothing but collect dust and take up space so logically you suggest throwing it away only to hear ‘Beta ve may need to use it some day, vat if a guest comes and he needs it?’

Truth be told our parents didn’t have it easy and our grandparents certainly had it even harder. The trend is with each generation, life gets easier. Then again, that’s the wish and dream of every parent - a better life for their children. It seems that this trend will continue… at the end of the day, we’re headed in that very direction that we mock and criticise. It’s only a matter of time before we collapse on a sofa and gasp ‘Oh God!’ instead of ‘Hare ram’, and a witty young punk is writing a witty article about my parenting! But, until then, ‘Chungo Chungo, po tha galayoon’

Chandru Bhojwani

The ‘Ex’ Factor

‘To be or not to be’ friends with the ‘Ex’, that is the age old question that has been debated throughout time. Numerous arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ the issue have been thrown into the arena however a definite answer still eludes those in search. In some cases, relationships have ended, while in others, they haven’t even begun because of this one factor. To obtain clarity and enlightenment about this subject, I decided to turn to our frequent contributor, Sri ‘Anonymous Ravi’. In order to convene with Sri Ravi, it was imperative that I followed the tracks of Mr. Marlow, and journey deep into the ‘Heart of Darkness’ alá Joseph Conrad, and hope that Ravi wasn’t as elusive as Mr. Kurtz.

As we bobbed on the Congo, Sri Ravi patiently listened to my plight for knowledge regarding the issue of the Ex. After gently placing his fishing rod at the edge of the rotting boat, he turned to me and instructed me to place my fedora back on my burning scalp. He lifted his orange dothi and crossed his legs, as he began to share his wisdom;

‘‘Putar, answer your question I shall but a righteous path must be found by self. In my time I too had to deal with the issue of the infamous Ex and I assure you, the terrain you have chosen to comprehend is one that has more twists and turns than the venomous Black Mamba. So, pay close attention as I share both sides of this ‘nagin’ with you and a just understanding you shall attain.

Once upon a time, I expressed to a girl I was involved with my displeasure at her maintaining a friendship with her ex, to which she responded;

‘I don’t see why I have to give him up. I’ve shared an important part of my life with him and I’m not willing to let that go. You need to trust me and get a grip on your insecurities. In fact, you should meet him and be friends with him too!’

I could see her side of the argument and it certainly was a fair one since every relationship must have an element of trust - otherwise it shall never succeed. However, my darling ‘Bul-Bul’ didn’t realize there was an issue of RESPECT in question. How am I supposed to feel comfortable sitting across from a man who shared both physical and emotional intimacy with my love, a man who enjoyed her in a way only a husband should enjoy his wife? How am I supposed to enjoy my grande caramel frappucino when they exchange a private joke relating to their past? How am I to react if I begin to visualize them in a passionate embrace or more?

In ‘Feng Shui Guide to Harmonious Living’, Mary Lambert writes;

‘Are there any things that are making your love life sour? Or ones that connect you to past relationships? Remove any old love letters or photographs of previous partners…pictures of old boyfriends do not foster good love vibes in your marriage (or relationship)...they tie you to a past relationship and don’t allow a new one to enter.’

If one must get rid of anything to do with past lovers, surely the past lovers himself must be included! I felt that by wanting and expecting me to be comfortable with her ex being a part of our life, my ‘Bul-Bul’ was being disrespectful to me, our relationship and our potential for a harmonious future. Before you interrupt me ‘putar’, I never kept in touch with my ex-es thus there was no double standard.

Still, not all of my compatriots shared the same view. Many of them continued to keep in touch with their exes. With their friendships they also benefited from what you children refer to as ‘Friends with Benefits’. My understanding of this arrangement is as follows; both partners feel the need for some intimacy, and so they congregate at an approved location and commence. The reason for this is that the ex is an easier target, owing to the fact that it’s familiar territory and failure is rare since there is a mutual understanding about the arrangement. As a result, no games are played and no signals need to be received and decrypted; it’s all about the ‘Benefit’. The other advantage is that the ‘Benefit’ doesn’t fall under the ‘One Night Stand’ category no matter how long after a break up it takes place. The downside of this scenario is one of the parties involved may begin to develop feelings which can complicate the relationship and possibly end in an ugly climax.

Let’s assume I was to partake in the ‘Friends with Benefit’ arrangement. Eventually I would meet someone else and would want to begin a new relationship and either by request or out of respect for my new love, I would annul the relationship with my ex. Why? Firstly, it’s not fair to the ex from a humane point of view, especially if I was aware that I’d give up my ‘friendship’ with the ex for the sake of a new partner. Secondly, if my ex had developed an emotional attachment to me, those feelings would be hurt, which can lead to frightful consequences since ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!’ For the non-believers out there, be sure to rent ‘Fatal Attraction’ or read about Ms. Lorena John Bobbit and remember to hide your little bunny…in both cases!

With that my dear ‘putar’, you have learned about the benefits and pitfalls of the infamous Ex. Do what you will with this knowledge, and may you and those close to you, be spared from the mamba’s bite and Bobbit’s knife!’

As I made my way back to the nearest Holiday Inn, Sri Ravi’s words resonated through my mind. After days of pondering, I realized that there is no right or wrong approach and that it’s simply a personal preference. For as many people that have an issue with the ex being in the picture, there are probably an equal number that don’t have a problem with it at all. It simply boils down to the understanding two people share, and as long as issues and preferences are clarified from the start, future complications can be prevented.

Now, who wants to be my next Ex?

By Chandru Bhojwani