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

The Fear of Arranged Marriage.

After reading ‘Matrimonial Pressures’ in the last issue of Beyond Sindh, a reader from Canada contacted me in the hopes of learning more about the mindset of male Sindhis with regard to the subject of arranged marriage. More specifically:

“What if Ravi eventually succumbed to the pressure? What would his reaction be to an unanticipated proposal? Would he even be amenable to an arranged marriage?”

Not wanting to disappoint an avid fan, I put on my boots and headed out in search of our frequent fixture, “Anonymous Ravi”. Fortunately, I was able to find him at the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal teaching Bharatnatyam to the local children. As always, Ravi obliged and as we accepted some tea from one of the sherpas, Ravi began to digress.

“Although I haven’t been through the whole ‘maiti’ procedure as yet, I have to admit, the mere thought of it freaks me out. To begin with, there’s the pressure of meeting a stranger and her family for coffee with the underlying pretense that this may be the woman you end up marrying. If that’s not pressure enough, a number of families fly great distances just for that meeting with you! Add to that the fact that you know practically nothing about the girl and are supposed to figure out enough to make a decision after four meetings, and that’s if her parents are liberal!

Granted that you’ll never really get to know someone 100% but one should have a pretty good idea about the individual he intends on spending the rest of his life with especially with the increased number of divorces and broken engagements in the Sindhi community. Such a familiarity cannot be deduced in a handful of meetings where the girl and her family are putting their best foot forward. Understandably, the boy and his family are doing the same, but I’m here because you want to know about the male perspective, n’est ce pas? As most readers of the magazine already know, I’ve seen, heard, and unfortunately endured some ‘crazy’ experience in life and as a result, the thought of marrying a stranger scares the living daylights out of me.

Having said that, I recently succumbed to the pressures from the high priestess herself, my mother, and gave her the green light to begin the “process”. However, I had one stipulation; I requested that she allow me to find out about the girl before moving ahead. The purpose of this was to gain some insight on the individual through my network of friends, thus enabling me to decide whether to move forward or not. Unfortunately, I discovered it wasn’t quite that simple.

It began when my mother handed me a dozen ‘Bio-Datas’. For those of you who don’t know, a Bio-Data is a resume with some additional details such as height, eye colour, skin complexion and shoe size! (Perhaps not the shoe size but you get my drift.) I looked through the papers and didn’t know what my mother expected from me. Perhaps a, “Yes mummy, I think Saraswati from Kalyan is a match worth pursuing, especially since she stands 5’7 ½ , has a café latte complexion, black eyes, and can make round chapatis. Yummy!.” Often these Bio-Datas are accompanied with photographs of the individual. Personally I don’t have too much faith in pictures, especially glamour shots. Certainly attraction is an important factor but since you’re going to be spending the rest of your life with them, one needs to discover a deeper allure which cannot be attained by ogling a 5x7 photograph. Instead, by getting to know an individual, you begin to view them in a different light and in most cases a deeper attraction will dawn - an attraction that will stand the test of time.

Needless to say, I was more confused than ever. Still, I took things in stride and contacted my friends, (otherwise known as ‘Team Ravi’,) and inquired about the names on the data sheets. After the chuckling subsided they began to tell me the little they knew about the individuals. Most of it was along the lines of, “She’s sweet, slim, tall, nice, goes out and parties, but not too wild etc.” In spite of the brief yet positive reviews, I couldn’t bring myself to tell my mother to move forward. For some reason, I expected the information they provided would allow me to make a concrete decision. Unfortunately, I still found myself at a loss. At that point, I began to wonder what in the world could they have told me about a female that would actually have me turn to my dear mother and say to her: “make it so!” The truth: there was nothing they could’ve said.

After some soul searching, I was able to figure out a number of answers. It wasn’t that I was against getting married or meeting new people; the point where I kept chocking was when it came to involving the parents and making the whole procedure ‘official’. Meeting the girl one on one, and then proceeding to meet the parents, is a far more appealing alternative; however, such cases are rare in the Sindhi Community.

Anyway, the more I think about the maiti process, the more confused I get. My thoughts spiral into a web of frustration, at which point I just drop the whole idea for a couple of weeks until it’s brought up again. I know my mother will soon turn the screws and force me to break through my phobia and attend one of these meetings. Perhaps that’s exactly what I need in order to truly understand the dynamics and conquer my fear. Like my friends say,” You’ll never know until I give it a shot.”

The truth is, regardless of sex, we all have our reservations about arranged marriages. For example, some fear the guilt of rejecting, or the possibility of being rejected while others prefer to believe in the notion that they have a soul mate out there waiting to be found. Either way, the prospect of an arranged marriage is a reality for many Single Sindhis out there, and at the end of the day we each have to choose the path that’s right for us. For some it’s a punch line; for the others, it’s a viable option worth considering. All that matters is what is it for you? As for our very own Ravi, I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to share his maiti experiences with us 6 months from now. Till then, good luck to Ravi and the singles out there.

Chandru Bhojwani

Matrimonial Pressures

In a recent conversation, a reader from Suriname stated that after a particular age, Sindhi women undergo a great deal of matrimonial pressure and wondered what it was like for Sindhi men. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go too far to learn about the pressures that most men have to deal with since “Anonymous Ravi” from our last issue was more than happy to shed some light on the topic:

“The truth is that most men that I know do have to deal with a certain amount of pressure; however, it doesn’t compare to what Sindhi women are faced with. For instance, female friends often tell me that they hate attending social gatherings because Aunties are always in their face telling them how pretty they are and repeatedly asking why they aren’t married “Yet!”. Most women seem to face pressure from all angels at all times. Comparatively, the pressure that Sindhi males face is not as constant but more so comes at us in short, intense bursts. During these bursts every other comment is marriage related for instance, when I walk around in my basketball attire, my mother often says, “who is going to marry you? Who is going to believe you are twenty-‘bleep’? You look 16! Change your clothes”, or “when you get married, come talk to me and I’ll tell you how to produce a son,” to which I immediately thought ‘Mummy is going to tell me about ‘Kama-Sutra’ positions? Arghh! I sense a Greek tragedy coming!’. As a Sindhi male gets older, the period between the intense bursts shortens and like a woman suffering contractions during labor, the pressure mounts. In the back of our mind we can almost hear mum saying “Breathe, Push, Breathe, Push!”. Still, whatever Sindhi males have to face bares no comparison to the constant pestering women deal with only on a regular basis and also, from a younger age.

One of the many reasons for the pressure variation between the sexes is age. It’s a well known fact amongst the Sindhi community that mothers of males tend to target the younger Sindhi women because they believe she can be “molded” to fit the male. Mothers would argue that as a woman gets older, she begins to get set in her ways and thus, may not be very compromising. This implies that as Sindhi females age, the odds of them finding a quality “maitee” subsides. To prevent this, a majority of parents focus on getting their daughter married off at a young age. Although the pressure does escalate as Sindhi men get older, what with Nani slapping on the guilt trip by telling you that she’d like to see you married before passing on into the after life, it still doesn’t equal what women suffer. Not only do they go through the same pressure but so do the girls parents. In fact, some of the elders end up blaming the female for not being married, implying that she is defected in someway. Men however, aren’t usually plagued with the issue of being too old and we often find men of 32 and above marrying considerably younger women.

Most parents would agree that achieving their duty of getting their offspring married has become increasingly difficult over time. Back in the day, parents had simple goals and techniques, and although the goals haven’t changed, their techniques have evolved to counter the resistance put forth by the independent youth of today. To illustrate my point better, I’ll share a recent incident that took place between my mother and I. The background is as follows: she was insisting that I attend one of those Sindhi conferences to meet someone on my own, and I wasn’t too wild about the idea. Realizing this, she deployed Operation “Putu Ji Maytee,” which was a three stage maneuver.

Stage 1:
She began by brining up the topic of the conference at times when I didn’t expect it: at dinner, while sitting watching television and even calling me at work. Usually I said we’d talk about it later or altogether brushed it off thinking she’d leave me alone. However, this phase was simply to soften me up for stage 2.

Stage 2:
She called me out of my room and insisted I sit down to discuss a serious matter with her. Eventually, I followed her instructions and she hit me with the “AGE FACTOR”. That’s right, she told me about how old she and my father were and how their wish was to see me settled with a wife. Without a doubt, this ‘Nani’ ploy sent my mind whirring, and I began to think more about the matter. Still, she knew that for me to take the plunge, she’d need to do more, and my Lord, did she do more!

Stage 3: This was the clincher!
I came home on a regular Saturday afternoon, and mum opened the door for me with a big smile on her face. I assumed she must have seen something funny on Sony or Ztv and continued to walk in to the living room. As soon as I entered, I saw two kids (probably between the ages of 3 and 5) sitting on the sofa, drinking a coke. I turned towards my mum thinking, “They aren't mine, HONEST!!!! least not BOTH of them!”. She informed me that they came along for a ride with the driver. After breathing a sigh of relief, I sat next to the kids and turned on the cartoon network, and figured I was done. Mum continued to talk to them as they gulped down their beverage. She then followed them out as they left and once again, smiled at me. I didn’t understand why, but I guess it was because she was about to slam the nail into the coffin! After shutting the door, she came back in to the living room and I had to ask, only to set myself up:

“Why are you smiling?”
Too which she raised her hands to the heavens and quickly brought them down to her sides while saying:

The turkey had been stuffed and the Goose was cooked. The package was signed, sealed and delivered. The dope had been roped. Game over!

I put my hand over my face and shook my head. The combination was perfect. First she “Jabbed” with the marriage pressure followed by a solid “Hook” about the age and then the knock out “Uppercut” was the grandkids! I wasn’t prepared for this match up and subsequently booked my seat and attended the conference. She not only put the marriage pressure but jumped forward a step and threw in the grandkids. Usually the pressure was a gradual process but this was below the belt.

Mother: 1 Putu: 0”

Sadly Ravi’s case isn’t an isolated one, and many of us Sindhi males are victims of such crafty behavior. Even though research is underway to find methods to prevent us falling into such traps, the funding is no where near enough. Those interested in sending donations, please email me for details.

So my dear Suriname, the truth is most Sindhi males, although at a later age, do face a certain level of pressure and guilt trips from their family however, it doesn’t measure up to what Sindhi women face.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what a lot of us blokes out there deal when it comes to finding a “Joye” and next time you think about how easy it is for us men, think about “vecharo” Ravi.

Now, who wants to see my “chati”?

Chandru Bhojwani

The Dangers of Drinking

It is one of the most dangerous things that one can perform under the influence of alcohol and a number of us have fallen victims to it at some point in our lives. We never know when and whom it might strike and most aren’t prepared for it. What is it? The Drunk Dial!

The question is, why is it that a majority of people have a need to ‘reach out and touch someone’ whenever they’ve had a few too many Bacardi Breezers? Especially when the end result is always the same; brushing your teeth in front of the mirror and last night hits you like an acid flashback and you shake your head in shame and embarrassment. Promises are made never to drink again or never to drink as much, but you succumb to the same fate, over and over again. No matter whether you call an EX complaining about ‘why did you do this’ and ‘how could you….’ or a new romantic interest professing your love, most would argue that ANY sort of Drunk Dialing is a bad idea!

The damage caused by Drunk Dialing isn’t only limited to EXs or ‘new interests’ but can harm existing relationships as well. To illustrate how dangerous the Drunk Dial is and also to prevent us from making the same mistakes, a young Sindhi individual has volunteered to share his experience. The only stipulation on his part is that he remains anonymous.

Ravi discusses the night in question (The Names have been changed to protect the guilty);

“A few years ago when I was a young adult living in the UK, I had been out on the town the previous night. I guess I had a few too many since most of the latter part of the evening was a blur. I woke up the next afternoon and called my girlfriend who lived in the US. When I go through I discovered she had already left for work. I thought that was rather odd since we spoke every morning but I shrugged it off. I tried calling her at work a little while later but they said she hadn’t arrived and maybe she was at one of the other sites. The rest of the afternoon and part of the evening passed in this manner of chasing the cat. I kept calling and kept missing her. I left messages at almost every site but never heard back. I started to panic since it was highly irregular for us not to have spoken in the day. Eventually I got hold of her at one of the locations and she was highly surprised to hear from me;

“RAVI!” she bellowed ““What are you doing?”
“What am I doing? Where the hell have you been?” I inquired
“What do you mean? I’m at work”

I was really upset at this point and wasn’t shy about expressing my anger.

“How come you haven’t called me?” I demanded
“What do you mean? I didn’t even expect to hear from you”

I found that an odd answer and made no sense to me.

“What do you mean you didn’t expect to hear from me? Why wouldn’t you expect to hear from me?”
“Well, because you broke up with me last night”

What? When? Where? Who? What? What? What? The shock and confusion slapped me hard! What was she talking about?

“What!? What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you remember? You called me last night and told me it wasn’t working out and broke up with me”

In the panic and confusion, I tried to think back to the previous night but my minds eye couldn’t penetrate the fog from the alcohol fumes.

“No, I didn’t, it wasn’t me” Who did I think I was, Shaggy?
“Yes you did Ravi! You called and broke up with me!”

Something began to feel vaguely familiar but I wasn’t sure if it actually happened or my mind was playing tricks on me and trying to convince me. I figured that denying it right now wouldn’t achieve anything and it was time for damage control. All I had to do was apologies and explain the situation. Nothing’s changed and we’ll be back together, it was just last night and she loves me so it’ll be ok;

“Baby, I don’t remember breaking up with you. I’m sorry. Forget it, we didn’t break up alright? I was being stupid. We’re still together alright?”

There was a long pause and I thought the line got disconnected;

“Hello? Rasna, Baby, you there?”
“Yes, yes, I’m here, sorry”
“What happened?” I asked
Once again, she paused
“Well What?”
“………I already started picturing life without you Ravi”

Ravi informed us that one Drunk Dial destroyed his relationship of two years. That and the fact that he found out Rasna had been cheating on him for a year but that still doesn’t take away from the ramifications of the Drunk Dialing

Here are a few tips for those who tend to loose control after a few pints;

Delete all numbers of EXs and potential interests from your phone
Before departing for a night on the town, disconnect your phone
Plaster post-it notes all over your home
Call all potential Drunk Dialees before and warn them not to answer your call
Call a good friend, preferably of the same sex
Ensure you have friends around you to prevent you from calling

The fact is, there is no fool proof, preventative measure for Drunk Dialing. At some point you will slip and make a fool of yourself. The next day you’ll wish it was a dream but eventually you’ll have to face the music. All you can pray for is that you dial safe!

Safe Dialing

Chandru Bhojwani

Ice Breakers

Along with trying to hit the tying free throw with seconds left on the clock and facing a 2-3 pitch at the bottom of the ninth with your team down 1, “Ice Breakers” are arguably one of the most intense pressure situations single Sindhis face today.

Unfortunately Ice Breakers such as, “Do you come here often?”, “What’s your star sign” and “Can I check your collar to see if you’re made in heaven” just don’t have the same pizzazz they once had. Add to that the new-ish world of the internet and ‘Friendster’ and the whole game just got a lot harder. What is a person supposed to say, “Hey, I liked the font you used for your profile, damn sexy yaar”? Anyway, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and instead, break it down.

1. P2P (Person 2 Person)
P2P applies to ‘Stone Cold’ (not the wrestler) Ice Breaking. You may be at some sort of gathering and notice someone well, worth noticing. Most of us are too shy to walk across that abyss between yourself and the ‘target’. If you’ve ever tried it, you’ll feel the pressure mount with every step until you fear your vertebrae will crack! When you set off on your mini odyssey, you have a plan but half way you discover how pathetic the plan really is. By then, it’s far too late and turning back isn’t an option. When you arrive at your destination with clammy palms, you’ve already lost unless, she likes you and there is very little you can say wrong except;

“Who are your parents? What do they do? Want to go for a spin in my Honda Accord?”

Looking at it from a male perspective (if I had a natural woman’s perspective, that would be disturbing), women don’t make it easy. They may ‘shoot’ us a look *dishhknaau dishhknaau * (you know who you are) and mistakenly think its enough. Firstly, are you aiming accurately?

“Hi puddin’ I saw you shoot me a look, can I buy you a whisky black?”
“Urrm, No it was the other guy, sorry. I guess I need some target practice”

Secondly, most men don’t have a clue even if it jumped up and grabbed their butt. Actually, that would be a pretty decent clue.

A majority of men have issues with the physical gap between them and the blossoming flower at the other end so my suggestion is to try and find a territory suitable to both e.g the Bar or Dessert cart. Gents, you can only hope that she leaves her kitty group and meets you there to make it less intimidating. If not, drown your sorrows of rejection with booze or some sort of pastry.

I am aware that ladies prefer the man to walk through their rummy group and talk to them but that may not always lead to the best catch.

Thus to summarize, a little help please!

2. The Online Affair
The argument for the online affair swings both ways. On one hand you aren’t put in the spot and performing from the shadows can leave you loose and uninhibited so you can let your best work rip via your keyboard. Then again, who are you really talking too? Eventually, if all goes well, you’d end up meeting your cyber-love but now you are in the spot light. In fact the situation is likely to be more awkward since you’d know your MSN/AIM buddy quite well and yet they’d be a stranger or worse, your own brother/sister!

3. The ‘FRIENDSTER’ Equation
For those that don’t know about the newest craze, ‘’. Add me, I’m looking to hit 500 and need 499 more friends. First, one browses through and finds a cutie they’d like to know. Then, you’ll notice they have more friends on their page then people you’ve met in your entire life. You wonder how to make a positive impact without making it obvious that you are simply interested in them because of their picture. You’ll come up with some drivel such as “Wow, you certainly have a lot of friends, you must be really popular”. Nice one chief! At the end of the day, either you’ll be ignored or deleted unless you send a stellar message or they too find you attractive. In few cases, you’ll come across individuals who are open to just meeting people, any people.

4. The Walk By
How many times have you been walking on a street and see someone coming towards you from the opposite direction that just blew your mind? The moment only lasts for a few seconds as the gap between the two of you quickly deteriorates with every step. At first you are memorized by their star quality and by the time you realize that something should be done, they’ve passed you by and the gap widens with each step. You hope they turn around and stop you and vice-versa. At work and tell your friends about this “Oh My God!” person and regret not having done anything. Question is…what do you do? It’s a tough situation and requires quick thinking, a reflex almost. Whatever you do, don’t grab them and say “You parents are thieves for they stole the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes” otherwise we’ll have another Rodney King incident on our hands. I’d suggest turn around, walk beside them and say;

“Would you mind if I joined you? I just realized we’re both heading in the same direction”. If that’s not charming enough, make sure you aren’t late for work!

At the end of the day children, unless you try……you’ll never know! What’s the worst that could happen, you miss the free throw or you strike out. Its’ only a game and there’s always next season.

Chandru Bhojwani

From the Air to the Strip

This is a journey like no other. A journey which will take you through different worlds and three continents. To some, this will be a travel guide; to others, a funny story to share at parties; for me….this is life.

The night prior to departure, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I got myself into. The next morning I was leaving from London for Mumbai via Kuwait on Kuwait Airways. Usually I wouldn’t consider this air carrier however, owing to my late booking I wasn’t left with much choice. After making the booking, I consulted my brother who reassured me by saying; “It’s not a bad airline, in fact its better then Gulf Air and the movies are pretty good.” I guess these days the quality of an airline is measured by the caliber of movies they present. The fact that my friends couldn’t stop laughing about my choice of airline wasn’t a comfort.

When I arrived at Heathrow at 7.30 am, three hours before departure, there was nothing but long queues. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. In fact, I had to walk to the front of the line with my trolley and followed the line right to its end just to make sure I was seeing right.

While waiting, my thoughts began to wander and I started envisioning what the flight would be like. Would the breakfast menu include ‘shwarmas’ and ‘phalefells’? Would a light come on indicating that passengers can smoke while the air stewards would distribute personal ‘sheeshas’ with a choice of Apple, Strawberry or fat-free Cinnamon flavored tobacco? Did George Lucas get the idea of Darth Vader after seeing an air steward in a ‘burkha’? I can see it now, “Gulf Wars; The Houmus Strikes Back”.

After boarding the flight I was a tad parched and requested for a glass of water. I waited. I asked again. Waited some more. After some time, I finally got a cup. Half way through, I paused and wondered if I ought to hold on to the remaining water for the rest of the journey. “To hell with it,” I threw caution to the wind and gulped the rest.

After a short nap, I noticed that our departure was delayed by almost two hours and we were still at Heathrow! When we were finally in the air, I requested for another drink and was kept waiting once again. Anyone see a pattern here? There is more to this airline - ‘Q-Wait’

While in transit in Kuwait, I took some time out to buy some gifts. I was surprised when I saw the prices, though. A bald friend of mine had assured me that colognes and perfumes would be cheaper at Kuwait, but he was sorely mistaken and unfortunately it was I that had to pay the price, double to be precise.

Once the gate opened to board the onward flight to Mumbai, all the passengers ran to the entrance where they were instructed to not only put their baggage through their X-ray machine but their shoes and belts as well. I walked through the metal detector clutching my jeans and wondered if I should consider this a “Quarter Monty”. Make sure to wear tight trousers when transiting via Kuwait.

Before boarding, the air hostess came out and insisted that they would board according to row numbers, and people not in the mentioned rows would have to wait. I wanted to jump up and scream “HALLELUJAH, Praise the Lord! Can I get an Amen!” For once I was actually boarding a plane to Mumbai without feeling as though I was at Madras train station. Now all I had to worry about was the race to Immigration once we land and the vultures who are waiting to extort whatever they can from NRIs (Non-Resident Indians).

I arrived in India and after managing to make my way out of the airport, I jumped into one of the local cabs. It was then that I realized the evolution of the Indian taxi had reached a pause. The bland Fiat Premier had first started simply with the taxi driver stopping the vehicle to charmingly spit tobacco on to the road. Later on, passengers were provided with Bhajan music albeit at one volume: LOUD. The other option is ‘off’ which is actually my preference. The next step in the progression was the addition of the air conditioner and voila….the ‘Cool Cab’ was born. At this point, cabbies began to wonder what to do next? How could they possibly improve on their service?

Welcome to the new and improved ‘MULTI-PURPOSE CAB!’

On your next trip to Mumbai, you will be pleased to find cabs with a variety of features that is guaranteed to cater to your personal taste. Some will come with a variety of coloured lights while others will have small temples on the dashboard. For those whose tastes are a tad saucier, you may come across a cab with a mirrored roof and a slim shiny pole from the roof to the bottom of the cab which is placed right between the driver and passenger seat. It doesn’t stop there - the cab comes fully fitted with a variety of upholstery, light fittings such as mini chandeliers, and incense sticks to further entice the senses. Welcome to the new and improved ‘Indian Cab’; taxi by day, mobile strip club by night.

One thing to remember, though, is B.Y.O.S. (Bring Your Own Stripper).

Chandru Bhojwani

Life Begins at 30

An article published in the April-June edition of BSM entitled ‘Single and Searching,’ focused on why so many of today’s youth are still single even with the advances in communication and travel. It stressed the low level of tolerance and high expectations individuals have in today’s drive through culture while emphasising the need to compromise and realise what is in front of us in order to prevent from losing out and regretting later. After reading the article, a reader responded and wrote;

‘Nicely written but made me feel as the 'older' woman, that you were really promoting going for the younger girls in turn alienating us even more. It’s really difficult being here at 30 and single and these words really don't help. Take what a man feels like day by day and take those emotions and multiply it by 10, and then you will understand how a woman feels.
Maybe your next article can be about us thirty-somethings who really are great, no actually, we are FABULOUS people and are still worth taking off the shelf and taking a chance on. After all, I may be older, but I am just as willing to compromise as the 24 year old. I'm just more mature, and wiser, and know a little bit more about life. Doesn't mean I wouldn't be willing to bend to make a relationship work. I have had to wait so long for one, that if it does come along, I'm not going to shoot the gift horse in the mouth. I think some of the younger 24 year olds don't always realise what they have’

– Anon 30 yrs Female UK

As requested dear reader, I have taken up the gauntlet and will delve into the subject of how FABULOUS we thirty-some things are and are worth more than simply taking a chance on. However, before I begin I stress that this is a generalized view and not a personal attack. Every rule has exceptions so before the hate mail pours in remember, this isn’t necessarily about you!

There is a common notion amongst the Sindhi community that a younger male/female can be moulded. One could argue that since they don’t know exactly what they want, they can be shaped and also more able to compromise. However, is it really compromise if you aren’t really aware of what one is giving up or sacrificing?

Another reader writes;

‘Yes we may get more set in our ways, but it may also mean we just have a better idea of what we want from life, we are more the person we are meant to be. And if a man or women looks at the opposite sex in their 30s they may actually see the true person that they are’

– Anon 29 yrs Female UK

During several discussions with a group of men as to what age range of women they prefer, the consensus was usually split. Some prefer younger women for numerous reasons while the group that preferred older women sited the following reasons;

They know what they want
They don’t play games
More experienced

Women on the other hand feel it’s hard to find a quality man regardless of age. A number of women residing in the US state that a majority of local Indian men including those above thirty still have a college mentality and behave like boys. As a result, these women have decided to seek for a potential partner overseas in hopes that he will be more mature than the local stock. Meanwhile men argue that women are confused and aren’t really sure of what they want. In this case men should perhaps consider looking at women in their 30s who ‘have a better idea of what they want from life’.

Today, infidelity after marriage is a concern for both sexes. Even though women are no strangers to the world of adultery, a majority of them struggle to find that ‘quality needle’ in the constantly surmounting haystack. The arguable difference is that the older woman realizes the size of the stack and in turn appreciates the value of the needle while a younger woman may not.

Now if we flip the coin once again, older men who have left college days back in college are generally more mature and settled. Perhaps because they are older they are more ‘seasoned’ and have got whatever they needed out of their system. The wisdom that comes with age and experience would in turn allow them to take care of their wives better.

‘I feel, one should put in sufficient effort to search for a partner, but once you have chosen one, you should try to mould yourself according to your partner and not just expect him/her to change as per your desires. Acceptance is the key to success here. We may never find perfect partners but we can always make a perfect marriage by the bonds of love, understanding and acceptance’

– Anon 28 yrs Male UK

In ‘Single and Searching’ I focused on two main points. The first is to REALISE what you have in a world that continues to diminish in value, and make a conscious effort to appreciate in a society where it’s only natural to take for granted. The second is COMPROMISE. Most married couples will argue that the first six months to two years are the hardest of a marriage. This is not to say that a marriage cannot be beautiful and romantic but like any relationship, it requires work, support, and nurturance. Another reader responded by writing;

‘It’s not just about realization or about compromising. It's about finding someone decent. Perfection, name, money doesn’t matter. What matters is finding someone decent. Decent enough to stand by you through thick and thin, through good and bad. And if it means I stay single for a while, I’d rather do that than get married to someone who is an a**hole. Someone I would hate my children looking up to as a father, someone who would set a wrong example of fatherhood. I am not saying I’m perfect– definitely not. But deep down I’d like to think that I’m a decent human being.

People compromise in their lives, in their jobs, in their marriages, in their dreams, in their families. But like everything in life, it's about coming half way, about doing the right thing, and about standing next to each other as a 'team' when everything around you breaks apart. Sure team members would crib, and have arguments, but in the end, they would work together towards achieving something good, something meaningful. Because deep down, they are thinking about the other person, about their families, and not about themselves. But if they are missing the basic value of decency, then the line between right and wrong is blurred, and the world only revolves around what you want, need and desire.

These very fights lead to resentment, and resentment to anger, and anger to indifference. A child will know when unhappy parents are having problems, and if we cant give them a childhood with good funny happy memories, then we are really messing up the world’

– Anon 30 yrs Female UAE

There are numerous factors that are required to make any relationship work in addition to compromise and realization. As the reader mentions, decency is core value that’s lacking in this day and age. In addition to that every relationship requires honesty, devotion, communication and patience to be successful. Perhaps realizing the importance of these requirements only comes with time and maturity?

‘Marriage is a compromise, but more than that, it is a journey that brings two souls to the same goal, however the couple defines that goal. Who you are when you meet is not who you will be throughout time in your relationship. Every conversation, every experience, every emotion that takes place within that relationship changes you, and as individuals, we are constantly changing. While core values and beliefs remain the same, the way we think versus the way we thought reflect our level of maturity.’

- Anon 29 yrs Female US

The strength, devotion and love in a relationship are not only measured by the good, but also how much of the negative is accepted and endured. Harold Kushner, author of ‘When bad things happen to good people’ writes, ‘Love is not the admiration of perfection, but the acceptance of an imperfect person with all his imperfections’. Older men and women are likely to have experienced how difficult it is to find a decent match. As a result they are more tolerant of their partners and willing to work things out, in turn building a solid foundation rather than discarding the person because they don’t fit perfectly.

At the end of the day in any relationship, young or older, we want to be loved and appreciated while being accepted for our flaws. Sure it’s a generalization but what sets the ‘30+’ crowd apart is the 30 plus years! There is no substitute for experience and that’s what makes us thirty-somethings so ‘FABULOUS!’

After all, life begins at 30
By Chandru Bhojwani