- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1st edition (July 22, 2008)
- Genre: Memoir, Travel, Cultural
When Anita Jain, a 30-something, Harvard-educated, American-born Indian woman fails to find love followed by commitment in all the usual places in America, she decides to try her luck in her parents' homeland (India).
She chose India, not just because her parents hail from there but because, from what she has seen and heard, marriage or "shaadi" is very important to an Indian..."to an Indian, marriage is a matter of karmic destiny. There are many happy unions in the pantheon of Hindu gods...Shiva and Parvati, Krishna and Radha, Ram and Sita. Marriage is even enshrined in Hinduism as one of the four life stages" Yes, as a good Hindu one is expected to get married! Also, there are more men in India than women, 930 women to every 1000 men and our author figures her options were simply more plentiful in India!
So sure is she of being able to find a life partner there that she gives up her job with a respected NewYork daily and takes up one in Delhi, India. What she hasn't bargained for however, is that in the 3 decades since her parents got married, India has leapfrogged into modernity. According to Anita, young people in Indian cities are currently in the throes of a sexual revolution very similar to the one the U.S. experienced in the sixties with drunken hook-ups and friends-with-benefits being two rampant trends.
Also, young urbanites aren't really doing the shaadi.com ( similar to e-harmony but with a distinctly traditional Indian flavor), they’re meeting in clubs or online sites like Orkut or Facebook. However, despite these frequent social interactions with the opposite sex, young, single Indian women are not having much better luck on the marriage market either. Does this mean that arranged marriages may just be the answer to an unwedded person's woes? The author goes on to explore whether an organized system for marriage may actually work better than making young men and women responsible for finding their own life partners.
OK, so traveling 10,000 miles to find her "Mr. Wonderful" seems like a great premise for the chick-lit genre, but I think the candor with which Anita Jain describes her dalliances,her insecurities, suitor rejections and the astute observations she makes on how class, caste and economics play a huge role in the Indian marriage game elevates this book to more of a social commentary on modern India.
Let me hasten to add that the young people that the author speaks about in this book come from the urban demographic...people living in the metropolises like Delhi, Bombay etc. For the rest of India, dating and premarital sex is still frowned upon and 95 per cent of all marriages are still arranged -- alliances that are almost always determined by religion, caste and class considerations.
If you grew up in India in the '80's and live elsewhere now and have not visited India in a while, this book might shock the socks off you, don't say you weren't warned!
I'd love to hear from young people in India on this one....what are your thoughts on arranged marriages, dating etc.? Talk to me!