March 16, 2010

Ringing true...

I just read a whole bunch of posts on Slate's Prudence column about a guy who had some doubts as to whether he had to shell out a lot of cash to get his girlfriend an engagement ring which she demanded be of a certain size. And it set me thinking... about this whole western culture of having to give something, usually a ring, usually expensive, to sort of seal the deal when the guy proposes. And of course I thought of it in the Indian context. These days however, I have heard of more Indian "proposals" (maybe without rings) than foreign ones and this can be attributed to the following facts - (a) I know more Indians, so duh... (b) Indians have modernized, embracing the western culture along the way and (c) Indians are marrying foreigners and hence the twist in the traditional tale.

Traditionally, India being the land of arranged marriages has had lesser opportunity for men and women to truly discover one another before one feels compelled to pop the question. Rather the meeting is arranged in context of an eventual wedding and hence there used to be no proposals of sorts. On the other hand, this whole ring deal is only something we've heard of from the westerners and we either want to mimic it and feel special or just think it's a fair deal... after all we are spending the rest of our lives with them. But pause a second for a reverse-case scenario... if the guy demanded even the least-expensive car (no, not the Tata Nano, something a tad more expensive) from us, we'd be running high and dry complaining about dowry, anti-feminist sentiments and what not. So why is it okay for the woman to be entitled to lets face it, something terribly expensive and not too useful while the men have to buy us that (especially in this day and age of self publicized and demanded gender equality?) Wait.. what was that? For social norms, you say? Ah... here is the crux of so many of our problems. The social norms... what society expects from us and how we are fulfilling those expectations. And it's all unfortunately way too true in the good old Indian society, where the new generation is surging on par with the whole modern theme while the older generations (well, most of them) are comfortably ensconced in their antediluvian beliefs of how things should be.

Social norms. These were made back in the day when the man was the sole breadwinner. And so if he wasn't buying the woman jewelry, no one was. Come this day... women making as much money as men, contributing to household incomes, are fully capable of buying themselves whatever it is that they want. However, while they would splurge on clothes, handbags and other jewelry, they're never going to buy themselves an engagement ring when you propose. And say what to the friends? He proposed and so I went and got myself a ring? Never... that's just not in our DNA, I guess... there's no other explanation for this. And it doesn't even sound right. Does it? 

There are these couples who'd rather put in the money that it costs for an engagement ring into something more meaningful and can be enjoyed by both people - like a trip or a down payment to a home or something like that. That makes most sense, perhaps. And what do you do when the people ask you where your ring is? One great option is to ask them to MTOB but if you were the one for that, you'd have done it a long time ago.. On the other hand, if there are men with money to spare and have all the right romantic bones, go for the ring. You simply can't deny, practical or not, no woman would say "no" to being wooed.

PS: I have more apathy against social norms for sooo many other things in your everyday Indian society. Wait for those posts.


Madhumathi said...

when it was our engagement, both of us gifted each other a ring... now whts ur take on this??

Jaya said...

Madhumathi-> I need clarification before I can give you a verdict. :P Did you buy the ring or was it your parents?

Madhumathi said...

i paid for it.... though his parents paid for the ring that i got ;)

Jaya said...

Madhumathi-> Half n half then! So congratulations onf inding the balance :D. Thanks for the comment and keep visiting!

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