My Guide To Handling Questions About Being Almost-30 & Single
Ok, I found this the other day and it kinda made me laugh. Because it was so RATIONAL! It’s really not written for Indians. C’mon, don’t we all have those “uncles” and “aunties” who play guilt-tripping, emotional blackmail and backhanded compliments like they are competitive sports? These things wouldn’t work on them!!
Given my circumstances right now, and my current standing (or lack thereof, if you talk to my family), I felt that I was adequately qualified to cobble together the following guide to handling the high-maintenance people in your Indian life. I think it applies especially to Indian single women “of a certain age”. It may not be long before we get our own terminology like China: sheng nü.
Understand that there are no boundaries. You may have seen this person maybe a few days ago, or perhaps once in 10 years. This could be your next-door neighbor, the doodwallah (milkman) or even a long-lost relative at a wedding. It might even be the saleswoman behind the counter that one time in a year you go out to buy silver jewellery. That will not stop the barrage of questions or the intimate nature of the questions (“What?? You are almost 30 and unmarried still?? What happened? Love failure??”). Accept and don’t pout.
Or, maybe you should pout and sulk, because then they will think your ill-manners explain everything about why you are not hitched. Kinda handy coz if it’s someone you don’t know at all, who cares, right? Till you find out that you do know each other in some convoluted Indian way where everyone is everyone else’s second cousin or married to someone else’s second cousin.
I would not suggest this route especially if you have an authoritarian parent who drilled etiquette and good manners into you from a young age. If word gets back to them, they will not let it go. EVER. Screw being 30+.
Don’t be tempted to explain your position. If the high-mainainee doesn’t get your decisions, it’s generally due to a lack of perspective. It’s just something that’s possibly outside their realm of imagination. That doesn’t make them dull-witted or stupid but it might make them rude, sometimes downright offensive. So the nth time a visitor says, “Given your mother’s condition, it’s only fair that you give up the dreams you have for your life and acquiesce to making HER dreams for YOUR life come true,” shut up and breathe to ten and back.
Also, exercise your neck and shoulders because after all the fake-nodding-yes you will be doing, those joints are going to need some TLC!
Practise your Mona Lisa smile. And then say nothing. This will be extremely useful for situations like above, but it’s most handy for befuddling well-meaning but unintentionally rude people. The smile basically says, “I know something you don’t” and can drive anyone a little nuts. And that whole “I can neither confirm nor deny” attitude tends to make things dicey, because now no one wants to seem getting too far ahead of themselves.
HAR HAR. We’re Indian. Who are we kidding? Getting ahead of ourselves is half the fun!
Don’t add them to your social media networks. I’m not joking. High-maintenance people do believe that everything revolves around them. So, that snarky quote you put up? Totally meant for them, even if you specifically reference your besties. Also, if you add them to your professional network, they now have access to your professional landing page. Do you realize what this means??? Comments on your profile pic (“beta, this picture is not showing your good side! smile karo, na!”) and weird forwards (no, I don’t want to win the UK Coca-Cola lottery or grow a penis, thanks).
Your coworkers will laugh and pointedly ask about the comments. Like all good coworkers should.
Have back-up ready. Now this can mean any number of things but the purpose is this alone: someone/something that gets yo’ ass the hell outta there! Popular examples include well-timed phone calls, things prone to burning left on a lighted stovetop, out-of-the-blue errands that must be finished immediately, and a sibling/cousin to throw to the wolves. Said sibling/cousin is either older than you or more “advanced-looking” than you.
Hey, nobody said it would be fair!
Have a drastic makeover. Or just change one thing about yourself. Given the Indian obsession with hair-length, chopping my hair off for the summer actually had the added benefit of cutting down on never-ending interrogations because everyone seems to think that longer hair is more suitable for a “bride-to-be” and concludes that you are a) unattractive with short hair, and/or b) possibly lesbian, if not bisexual. You could get a tattoo, or a new piercing but hair length is extremely easy to mess with and quite visible to boot.
Whatever you choose, make it something one step out of the everyday-ordinary around you.
Find a way to vent & destress. Chat about it with your friends (unless they fall into this category as well), blog about it and attempt some humor, or take up yoga or exercise and martial it out of your system. Just find a way to relax. This might involve watching cartoons (reminders of a lighter time) and ridiculous slapstick till you laugh yourself silly.
My own particular fave method is Eddie Izzard stand-up and then mimicing the skits (replete with accents) for days on end.
Take care of your health, in all aspects. Stay mentally and physically strong - start working out, eat better and do the things you like more often than not. This will not only help you from looking “advanced” as a relative put it, but it will make you feel better and throw caution to the wind as you navigate your own path in life.
That’s all I can think of, right now. Maybe inspiration will strike later.