Heh, I’m not talking about my experiences here by the way, just in case you thought I was getting all personal.
I’m doing an interview with Sathnam Sanghera about his just-published book, which I’m reading right now. It’s quite good actually, in a therapeutic sort of way. This is one of the questions I asked him:
Did the book help you get your head around dating women in general?
Yes, it did. I dated both Indian and English women in my twenties and used to make all sorts of sweeping generalisations which, on reflection, had more to do with my own neuroses than them. At one point in the book I go as far as saying “second generation Punjabi women â€“ being the product of patriarchal culture â€“ are either depressingly servile or terrifyingly aggressive… Sikh girls don’t have personalities, they have post-traumatic disorder. They have to fight so hard and so persistently for their independence that they become brutalized by the experience, and even when they have their freedom, they can’t stop fighting.”
There may be some truth in this, as there is in most generalisations, but I can see now that I struggled with Punjabi women, not because they were mad, but because I invariably met them in arranged marriage scenarios, which are often strained and awkwardâ€¦ I say it in the book, but I think there is something intrinsic to such meetings that makes them stressful.
Existing in the grey area between a date and an arranged marriage meeting, you have to act like you’re there because you want to be, even though you are compelled to be there; you have to flirt but at the same time imply no sexual intention whatsoever; you have to reveal things about yourself, without giving too much away (you can’t risk damaging information getting back to your family); and because your ‘date’ has been chosen by someone else, and because so many British Asians are (like me), for want of a better word, schizophrenic, constantly switching between personas to fit into different worlds, you have absolutely no idea what end of the Punjabi spectrum they are coming from, and whether they mean what they say. They could be anything from a sword-wielding religious Sikh who has never cut their hair or left their house without a chaperone (or pretending to be), to a nymphomaniac alcoholic who is throwing up into your lap after an hour and demanding you move on to China Whites for a boogie.
In short, I think I struggled with Indian girls because I was being forced to meet them by my family, whereas, things took a more natural course elsewhere. Now that obligation has gone â€“ my family still want me to marry a sikh girl, but they would accept anyone â€“ I don’t feel so chippy. Frankly, I’ll take anyone, English, Indian, whatever. The only problem now, of course, is the usual relationship stuff… finding someone who can stand you, finding someone you can stand the sight of, getting your head around the idea of spending your whole life with just one person…
So, can anyone else relate to that or have any thoughts?
Also, anyone have questions for Sathnam? He said he’d be happy to answer them (not all though!) as he’s a PP reader too.
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