Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Home-Sweet-Home Syndrome

"You should go to Bangladesh and marry someone there," advised a rather pompous uncle. "Girls here are too modern."

An amazing comment to make, as he himself was the father of two girls, raising them here from a very early age. However, he was not alone in making that comment to me in recent times. Apparently, if I marry some girl who has been brought up in Canada or is living somewhere in the West, she would a) not cook for me b) not respect me at all as all girls living here are beyaadober haadi ('bone' of rudeness) c) will have had previous relationships and d) will never care for my parents.

However, if I marry someone from Bangladesh (desher meye) I gather she will a) be able to give the chef at Sheraton a good competition from the amount of dishes she can make, b) will never refuse my commands (a robot?) c) will be 'pure' and Islamic d) will never ever dream of having her own home and will be shocked if I suggest getting our own place e) can sing like a nightingale and f) be an angel from the Garden.

Now I have been to Bangladesh couple of years back, having returned after a long time, and I can tell you things are not the Bollywood rosy picture they are portrayed to be. Hell, if you watch the Indian teleserials the villain in most of them will be the wife of the second brother imported from Kanpur. I call this picture of an ideal Bangladesh where the people sleep on flower beds and wake up to a beautiful morning by the cry of the rooster the 'Home-Sweet-Home' syndrome. Reality could be VERY different.

I am making generalizations, true, but aren't these uncles as well? Have they ever been to some of the university hang-outs? Shopping malls? Moghul gardens? Many of my friends and relatives who are in Bangladesh, my age, have met their spouses not through arranged marriage but by themselves. In many cases, they have gone out together for years, engaged in various levels of physical intimacy before committing to marital vows. In many cases, it hadn't worked out and they had moved on to other people. In some respects, they are more modern than people here.

As always, there are no generalizations. There are quite a huge number of guys and girls in Bangladesh who still adhere to family and religious values and keep themselves chaste. However, the guarantee that some older folk here make, that you go to Bangladesh and whoever you marry will be a chaste virgin who has never talked to a guy and knows how to make roti, polao, gulab jamun, porota and manchurian chicken is ... wrong.

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19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I completely agreee with the concept that bangladeshi girls living back home are no longer the innocent bhodro kind as our parents were growing up..things have changed thanks to bollywood (mainly) and I sometimes feel that being a bangladeshi living in a foreign country, I am mucccchh more soiled to my roots and values.

The girls back home I feel think that being modern simply means dressing in the skimpiest clothes and putting up the most ridiculous attitude just to fit-in the bollywood mantra of westernized gurlz

NAB said...

mezba, once you find a girl like that for yourself, make sure you keep the sister for me. I'll need someone to cook polau and make golab jaams for my kids.
of course, if you know a GUY who can do all that, then sign me up! I'll be first in line for his hand in marriage! =)

M said...

I'm in for the guy or the sister,too! That person has to be VERY special in order to behave like a saint! (Looks far into the apparent horizon, hoping to see an UFO...)

Anonymous said...

please do not compare bangladesh to india. bangladesh is a dump full of radical islamists.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous said...
"please do not compare bangladesh to india. bangladesh is a dump full of radical islamists."

Where and how on EARTH did faith come into this picture?

This discussion is on the issue of Marriage between two continents.

I don't see how religion is an issue and to disgrace Bangladesh saying "it's full of radical islamists," is full of shit!

Keep this blog hate free!!!! There is a lot of hardwork put into Mezba's work.

mezba said...

Will delete comments such as Anon of 3:44 in the future. If you have the guts to say something, leave a name.

Also, see this.

Anonymous said...

True, you cannot make such generalizations like that. What are girls here to do, we are blamed anyways!

Many then get the atittude might as well play the game if we get the blame!

Some NSU girls are sluts BTW (generalizations).

- Farah.

Anonymous said...

What abotu those girls that put on hijab when going to skool and take it off or when out with their friends. Yet ppl think they are the best and most islamic of all.

Aaaaghh.
-F

Fadl said...

Hey Mezba, love your blog. Personally I'd prefer to marry someone who has had the same life experiences as mine......bengali girls from back home are'nt all they're cracked up to be. I prefer british bengali girls myself....lots of Sylheti hotties there. Just kidding.

What's up with this Anon fellow calling bangladesh radical? Oh please....like there are'nt hindu radicals in India. At least we don't practice race caste and Sati in these modern times like the Indians.

Anyways...on a side note, I'd like to get in touch with Bengalis in Calgary. I'm immigrating to Canada end of this month and need the address of someone reliable to send my PR card to during landing. I'll change the address online as soon as I get a place to live.....in fact if you know of a place to live drop me a line. Or if you just want to say hi, please do. Sucks to move to a new place and not know anyone. Drop me a line at qwerty_25@yahoo.com.

Fadl.

Anonymous said...

my mom has the same attitude... east or west, *insert your home country here* is the best :S

Anonymous said...

I don't know what your experience here with Bangladesh girls but you must visited here for short time. We are still much goodness and traditional and cultural. Girls in the west are hypocrit, drinking mod while going home to their parents thinking they are 'good girl'.

In here we still give parents respect and listen. We dont go to disco and do not hav boyfriends. We do not wear miniskirt or blouse. We watch Indian films not English and we know how to make tea.

- Z

Crimson Mouzi said...

haven't been visiting your blog lately, because I am in the BEST place on Earth, where nothing works, including the so-called broadband internet... yupp you got that right, I am in Bangladesh.

I really don't know you, but if you are seriously looking for a wife, I think it's best to marry someone from Canada for yourself. Because BD girls will be heck of a serious culture shock to you.

I am sick and tired of people lying and hiding about their life. Most of the girls I see blatantly lie about their "secret" relationships, and just say how they don't have any boyfriend where they go out dating almost everyday. They do it because they also want good proposals coming in and they will definitely give in if they find a good guy through this "traditional arrange marriage thing." Fornication is a socially accepted thing both for men and women. What goes on both in the rural area and the urban area scares the crap out of me.

What ticks me off the most is that everyone lies. It's just like a second nature to them. I think we, in the west, no matter how people may think we are some rotten insects from hell, try to hold onto our religion a lot better as that is our only "identity" as we can't relate to that colorful bengali culture of lies, cheatings, etc.

Baah, onek kotha bole fellam. I am seriously upset with the Bengis in general.

By the way, what is the significance of getting a woman cook for a guy? These guys just could marry their "bua", which happens a lot in DHK, except that they only sleep with them! I don't know if a "traditional" Bengali guy would be okay to marry a woman who cooks AWESOME, cleans like a professional, TALL, FORSHA!!, chokh ferano jayna type beautiful and has a wonderfully colorful history of a series of boyfriends and other illicit relationships. I have encountered one too many aunties who are looking for a girl just like that for their sons. Funny thing is on top of it all, they don't forget to mention about the purity of the girl! Makes me wanna laugh out loud.. you wanna marry the hottest girl who flaunts her beauty and expect her to be PURE!

good luck to these aunties! LOL

Shoaib said...

Whoa! I must say that this episode of the blog has caught the attention of people around the world!

@Mad (Flat)-Hatter , Excellent comments :)

NAB said...

aww M(F)H, I was hoping no one would make a comment like that. In fact, Z pretty much spoke along the same lines. She was just walking the opposite direction. Do either of you (and all you others) really think it's fair to any "party" to make such generalizations??

There are awful people all over the world and to call all bengali girls from a certain part of the world sluts, liars and cheats is just injustice.

so you both need to open up your minds and realize things aren't black or white. And let's not sling mud at our own kind. We get enough crap as it is from others.

mezba said...

Anon (8:20)- True, does living in a foreign country make you hold on to your 'Bengaliness' more than if you were living in Bangladesh, eager to copy others? Interesting thought.

Nowal (1:12) - Sister = saali = aadhi gharwali ;-)

M (3:30) - Saints are hard to find nowadays, isn't it?

Farah (11:37, 11:39) - It's hard to make generalizations (which was the point of the post). Also, it's a gamble, and your best bet is to trust your own judgement. Unfortunately that can only come after you have met (just met, nothing more) with LOTS of people from the opposite sex (which for some reason is taboo).

Fadl (12:51) - That is a point some raised, if you are living abroad you want someone with similar experiences. Then again, if you are moving to Calgary you will need someone with lots of experience shovelling SNOW!!!

Anon (4:49) - :-)

Z (11:53) - Generalizations. Calling ALL girls of the west hypocrites, accusing them of drinking 'mod' doesnt show you be much 'goodness and traditional and cultural' (to use your words). Disco is 1980s and there's nothing wrong with watching English movies (AND Hindi movies). What about Bengali movies?

Anonymous said...

To -Z-:

You must probly be one of the 'few' decent ones still living back home who still 'listens to their parents, wear proper clothes and don't go to discos' but ur comments on western girls is simply WRONG and that's the biggest probs with u gurls back home...the minute u see one of the western girls goin in the wrong direction, you start pointing fingers at ALL of us..

but what u dont know is that ur one of the unluckiest girls who gets to see such wrong traits in our girls b/c its only FEW OF the bd girls who went in the 'rong way' or as u desi girls mite put it.."bodmaishi way". what u dont know is that less than 5% of westrn BANGLADESHIs are like that...thats rite...VERRRY VERRY feww and its just sad that u had to come across one of them :(

let me also tell u something....girls back home are hte hypocrits...when they go out with guyz..they tell their friends that "ohh..he's just a 'brother' or cuzin" and blatantly LIE to their parents about their so-called purity. but when western girls go out...they don't hide it.,.at least when we have to spill the beans..we do it openly and frankly and we are tru to ourselves..
and ya...the fact that u guyz watch INDIAN movies/serials (not that it makes any diff if u watch an english movie..cuz they're all the same nowadays..) tells alot about ur personalities...cuz all ull ever find in indian serials are million ways on how to talk in twists, and play mind games with the good people....wats soo good about them? they show saas and bahu fights and if thats wat u guyz watch...that goes to show how good of a girl u mite be...

i just feel sry for teh western GUYZ who go bak home to marry cuz they're not only gonna be in for a huge culture shock(as mentioned by @mad-flat..) but these naive guyz wont ever get around to understand what trick their wife's gonna play on them next to empty their pockets! i swear..i hate these twists ..u guyz never know how to answer str8...

hope that was enuff to tell u waht we(western girls are like) and that b4 praising urselves...look across the 7 oceans and u'll find better girls than u who are still rooted in their culture more than u are..and are simply frank about themselves...sure there are some 'not-so-good' ones..but there's more good here than there is over there :)

Athena said...

o boy

i had a similar convo with my mom but it was abt the kids there being more 'modern' than us. after presenting her with certain FACTS (12 yr olds getting high, drunk, making out etc. at a bday party...my cousin was traumatized :P), she decided that only the rich spoilt brats are more modern and paji but the rest are still innocent babies :@

- SH

Dil-E-Nadaan said...

Haha! I love getting the male point of view on this, thanks as usual Mezba. We are definetly having the same conversations in Pakistan. There I noticed that very generally (there are always exceptions) in the middle to lower class you still found more traditional values, while in the extremely wealthy you saw the most Westernization. I think a lot of what is to be said about the traditional desi girl was true in my friends who were coming from modest homes, but girls like that can definetly be found in the US/Canada. With that said there were definetly many exceptions both ways. At the end, just take your time and get to know her well. Getting married is always a shot in the dark to some degree, all we can do is get as familiar as possible and pray for the best!

Aisha said...

Yet another great post. So what do you think? Will you marry a girl from back home or prefer one with experiences like yours? I agree that the stereotypes of girls abroad are just that: stereotypes. Often true but equally often, untrue. People are people no matter where they hail from though culture shades things naturally.