Wednesday, February 6, 2008

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.

Manila
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
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.

Synopsis
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.


Manila
‘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.


Dubai
‘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.

Synopsis
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

Manila
‘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.

Dubai
‘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

Conclusion

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?

By
Chandru Bhojwani

2 comments:

vineet said...

Money money..... more money !

shri_123 said...

Its not about "sindhi" women !!!
It's the same for every other woman !

The things you mentioned in conclusion is something, all girls want in a life parner .
You shouldn't be specific about cultures and places they belong to .
It's offensive !