I finished reading “Bridget Jones’ diary 2- The Edge of Reason”. I could identify with the protagonist. Just like I could identify with Ally McBeal and the characters of Sex and the City. I read an article in the newspaper today, about the status of urban, upwardly mobile, independent single women. That’s the one reading BusinessWorld on the bus, the one with a nose ring browsing the high-end mobile phone section, the party animal at the pub on Friday night. We exist in every continent, every culture that allows us access to technology, independence and the right to our own minds. The Modern Woman. I am not alone.
At 26, I’m worldly enough to know how to have my way, how to look good, how to impress and influence. I’m smart enough to have an informed opinion and independent enough to voice it without having to worry too much about what other people think. I also suffer loneliness, guilt, confusion, stress. I lead an unhealthy lifestyle….no exercise, too much of junk food, not enough sleep. Thankfully I don’t smoke that much but well, living in this city is as good as being a chain-smoker.
I worry incessantly about my job and my looks and I think nothing at all about my family. I drift in and out of bad relationships and the only man I can stand for longer than a few days is someone I know I’m ‘just good friends’ with. My conversations with my girlfriends are a chaotic mix of bitching about men, agonizing over our looks, obsessing about our work and complaining about the lack of time, money, clear roads, decent guys, good beauticians and tasty, healthy food. So much for simple living and high thinking.
The generation gap has become an un-bridgeable chasm. At 26 my mother had been married for three years, become a mother and made the transition from the spacious house in downtown Delhi to the cubbyhole flats in suburban Mumbai. She was running a household, tending to a hyperactive preschooler and battling in-law issues. I, on the other hand, have rash-driven through the entire spectrum of bad relationships (abusive, neglectful, power-obssessive, shallow, cheating, rebounds…take your pick), struggled through courses I didn’t want to study, had 4 jobs, quit mysteriously and jumped in and out of crazy split-second decisions. Recently I announced that I was considering moving out. The reaction was explosive to say the least. Amid other things, there was “We are Indians! We don’t do things like that! What did we begrudge you???” I hate this. This having to be the model daughter…the definition just changed from ‘good home-maker’ to ‘smart professional’. All this while not getting the freedom that goes with taking responsibility for one’s life (and others). While still being seen as less-than-complete because I’m single (God, how I hate the word ‘unmarried’ as if being married is the natural state for a 20-something to be and anything else is an aberration)
I have few real friends who are women. The others are all married. Most of them have settled down into matrimonial bliss and the joys of parenthood. Which is fine. I have no objection to anybody being happy. But why are people so insistent that theirs is the only way to live life? Smug Marrieds as Bridget Jones calls it. The few others who manage to be not so smug, seem almost wistful when they look at my life and how carefree they think I am. It’s a bloody catch-22….no peace for my generation.
There’s always work of course. After suffering male chauvinist professors (“Why don’t you stay home and learn to cook, madam?”) and jealous peers (“Opportunist bitch, I bet you slept your way up”), welcome to the world of the Boss Lady. I’m not even going into the horrors of having a female boss. I’m going to be one of them soon.
These issues are big on my mind all the time. Hell, I write a blog about them! There are no answers. Yet, there’s solace in the fact that I’m in good company.
The bitch brigade takes a bow.