I’d always assumed life was peachy for Desi men: guaranteed golden boy status, doting mothers, serving wives and a societal infrastructure to hide all their cultural infringements. These guys have it made, right?
Wrong. After careful consideration, nosey observation, and cunningly deriving information from my male counterparts, I have come to the conclusion the grass is just as brown on their side.
Desi Commandment #1: thou shall covet your neighbor’s son, unless you have your own, in which case you will own him.
In traditional Desi households the son (especially if the eldest or the only) is seen as insurance policy. He will grow up, become a doctor, lawyer or engineer, earn six figures, buy his mom gold karas, pay off his dad’s house, fund his sister’s wedding, and make sure everyone lives happily ever after. Only then will he earn the title of “good son”. Failing to do so will result in a lifetime of criticism and guilt mongering until he goes insane.
The pressure to be an infallible being, a super hero of sorts, is enormous. Society aunties will scrutinize your resume more carefully than your potential boss and if you happen to fall short, you are the beacon of familial disgrace.
The son who moves out and doesn’t hand over three quarters of his paycheck to his parents is automatically labeled the bad apple. So if you’re dreaming dreams of traveling the world, playing guitar, writing books, or simply finding yourself, you have another thing coming.
Desi Commandment #2: thou shall not fall in love
Since boys are insurance policies, what greater threat to economic and emotional stability than another women looking to share the loot? Many Desi moms are terrified their sons will fall in love with a girl; the one thing that can cause markets to plunge, resulting in a maternal great depression. This perceived threat results in irrational and often cruel behavior on behalf of mothers, which is then reciprocated in like by girlfriends, fiancées, and daughter-in-laws.
Not to say this problem doesn’t exist in other cultural groups but it is exemplified in the South Asian community. Our daytime TV industry revolves around it, every cup of tea is accompanied by talk of it, every woman subconsciously fears it and every Desi man somehow finds himself in the center of it.
It is men who become the unfortunate light bulbs around which all these angry flies incessantly buzz, making life a cricket match with mom as the bat and biwi as the wicket. Need I clarify who the ball is? Thus, it takes a hell of a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual prowess to be a son, brother and husband simultaneously in Desi culture. This job alone is a full time one; props to those men who do it and do it well.
Desi Commandment #3: thou shall sing songs, run around trees and fight 80 men alone with your bare hands.
If his mother fears love, chances are his girl is obsessed with it! The standard he must live up to is defined by some 46-year-old guy with a huge nose named Shah Rukh Khan. His lady wants something she herself can’t explain because it is based on Bollywood films that have been sending her subliminal messages for decades. And somehow the poor Desi man has to fulfill this musical monstrosity of a fantasy.
I’ll admit I like Bollywood but the ideas promoted in these exaggerated versions of Desi life are impossible for any man (or woman) to live up to. Bollywood was designed to take the masses away from reality so if you’re basing your reality around it…good luck with that. This leaves a lot of Desi guys wary of love (if he has managed to get this far by unhinging himself from his mother).
Mention a three-hour Bollywood flick and the color drains from his face because he knows he’ll be sitting there hanging his head in shame or disgust while his girl ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and gives him ‘are-you-taking-notes’ looks.
Also note that commandment #3 is in direct violation of commandment #2. Sucks to be him? I’d say so.
– Summer Yasmin
‘No Sex in the City’ is inspired by the popular TV show Sex and the City, and is a voice representing Desi romance and culture in all its complexities!