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Marriage In Boomtime India

04/10/2015 8:32 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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In this Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 photo, Ram Charan, 35, from Bareilly some 256 kilometers (160 miles) from Delhi, a member of Master Band, an Indian brass band specialized in playing weddings, poses for a portrait in New Delhi. Dressed in faded military-style uniforms or long silken tunics and turbans, brass bands playing the latest Bollywood tunes have long been a must-have at any Indian wedding. But as the tastes of young, wealthier Indians shift to more modern music, young couples increasingly choose DJs playing electronic music instead of live bands. The shift is leaving band owners and musicians struggling to find gigs, exacerbating an already difficult existence. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)

To hell with the simpering heroine lamenting the hero who "betrayed" her, misery personified with quivering lips and tears rolling down her pancaked cheeks. Now girls in India walk hand in hand with their errant men. And look another straight in the eye.

Marriage in high society today is a bit like a 24/7 convenience store. The basics are always available, but the soul is often out of stock.

We have gone through a social crisis in the last decade or so. Delhi, as a case in point, has seen the biggest tectonic shift. From being a city of politics and power it has become a city of new money. Too much of it. There are so many of the type now that the term "nouveau riche" is totally redundant here. From being hypocritical and secretive Delhi has turned hypocritical and obvious. It is Peyton Place no more. Everyone actually talks about "it" even whilst they mind their own business.

"Wives with multiple Birkins have husbands who have multiple orgasms with their best friends' wives who in turn end up with multiple Gucci clutches."

In fact, infidelity is so out there, it's almost boring to be happily married. Ho-hum.

Wives with multiple Birkins have husbands who have multiple orgasms with their best friends' wives who in turn end up with multiple Gucci clutches. Them I call the "Bag Shags".

Husbands of Bag Shags in turn hit on other married women in Jimmy Choos and Swarovski-encrusted frocks. Often there are two of them in the same room in identical mobility-defying dresses. These women are the true "Bling Things". They believe they will go unnoticed unless they roam around in high-beam attire. Well, they sure catch the roving eye. No girl wants to be able and neglected for long.

And then holidays are planned with all in the same boat. Chances are that a luxury cruise has a group of friends on it playing musical cabins. (Let's meet later at the bar, yaar.) These chaps must simply be referred to as "Stud Buds". They are so indifferent to their spouses, they might as well marry each other. The ladies meanwhile stuff themselves into expensive dresses made for western bodies (we have real curves!) and get lash extensions and fillers to keep their self-esteem up. And of course, they fast twice a week and pray to various gods to keep the Birkins coming. The husband is OK as long as he accompanies the bag. Someone else's husband is even better. He'll be gone when the hormones run dry.

Ah. The boys flight out: golfing holidays in the Far East. From an all-nighter in Walking Street in Pattaya or a one-nighter in Bangkok, it's all kosher with the wife. She has taken the time to reflect on her status and decided to claw the eyes out of the woman who is dipping into her handbag quota. Only she is doing it at a big dinner party to the delight of other women. An opportunistic single man here will see the potential and lap up the "distressed" wife and "take her home". The friendship will blossom via WhatsApp and everyone will look the other way. It will later be discussed over Prosecco in Goa.

"India's newfound economic boom is ending up bombing our happiness and raping family values. And we are foolishly lying back and enjoying it."

The point is this: the desperate need to be married in India has led to this desperate situation of "I will stay for the sake of the kids". Funnily enough, the wives who "stay" often have husbands they can't afford to leave. These are women, married more than 15 years ago for the wrong reasons. Money. Social acceptance comes only when the wealth is put on display. Through bags and baubles and birthday bashes. Which is exactly what makes their husbands so attractive to other women on the hunt.

Consequent to this matrimonial Russian roulette and, frankly, quite tragically, we see a whole generation of kids in their 20s who have sworn off the institution completely. While optically they belong in a family unit, their lives are filled only by best friends and booze, sex buddies and family secrets. They are working to make it on their own without being either emotionally or financially beholden to their partners because they don't want to end up like their parents. I am happy for them. I am ashamed of these Mummies and Daddies. Parenting is a responsibility. And yes, it's yours, not your nanny's.

India's newfound economic boom is ending up bombing our happiness and raping family values. And we are foolishly lying back and enjoying it.

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