"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.
Tags: Bangladesh Desi