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‘Chasing the Good Life…on being Single’–Book Review March 19, 2007

Filed under: Entertainment,Management,Reflections — togetherwebond @ 10:07 am

‘Chasing the Good Life…on being Single’ edited by Bhaichand Patel, is delightfully fresh and frank; a compilation of essays by ‘singletons’ from various walks of life and yes, both men and women. The contributors range from Jerry Pinto, the 38 year old novelist and poet to Kushwant Singh, India’s oldest enfant terrible, from Dolly Thakore, casting director, journalist and script writer to Urvashi Bhutalia, the founder of the first feminist publishing house called Kali, and many more..

Farrukh Dhondy, novelist and columnist, explores the insinuations of the words bachelor; meaning gay or resolute bachelor and spinster evoking an image of the ‘unfortunate wall flower that was never asked for the next dance’!! Quite happy with his single status and not looking for that ‘promised land’ any more, he concludes that the quest to dissolve the single is an elusive, never ending but necessary pursuit.

An independent liberal from the tender age of 15, Aruna Vasudev is founder of the cine magazine called ‘Cinemaya’ a PhD from Paris and a reputed writer and has graced many a jury in film fests world over. After having lost her husband to cancer she found herself a singleton and a single parent at the same time! Work, travel, and a wide circle of friends and family leave her no time to catch her breath. Complete self reliance is what life has taught her and she has ‘no complaints’ Life is a party she says when you learn to take the high moments with the low, and treat the two impostors just the same.

Marriages are made in heaven and end in the bathroom says Asha Naarang Spaak, who was married not once but twice and enjoyed it while it lasted! (a case of hope over experience, she explains). For her the joys of being single are too much to give up for the (dis)comfort of having a spouse.

Not all is a bed of roses!! And the question that comes to every ones mind is what about loneliness and what about sex. Well, Gauri Dange, from Pune says…when you are 40 something and all the speculation about your past and future love life has died down… you are in a really cosy spot …no more questions, no more sympathetic looks. When you feel you are on a high and want a partner…a mental image (made of nice bits of all the men you know) comes to your mind. Then the moment passes and you stretch this way and that quite smug and snug in your solitude!!

To Kushwant Singh, the joy of living alone comes from being able to relieve himself of his gastric gases without being embarrassed and to be able walk around without his clothes!! He misses his wife and is sometimes lonely. But he admits that he does not have the gift of friendship and is quite happy with his solitary status. ‘When the time comes,’ he says, ‘everyone has to take the long road to oblivion all alone, so why not prepare for it while in good health?’

For Sheela Reddy, books editor for outlook, the secret success to her marriage is the long distance… her husband lives and works in Bihar and she in Delhi. The perfect recipe for her is two die-hard singles with preferable very less in common!!

After fleeing from her ‘Barsati’ in Delhi where the landlord had actually let himself in, the romanticism of living alone in peaceful melancholy shattered, Radhika Jha, novelist and dancer, still maintains that singleness had to be experienced before any ‘real love’ is possible. However, a lot has changed since those early days and now it’s easy to be single; liberalization, attitudes, lifestyles and finances have benefited singles tremendously. Its a rich experience-(without the glamour) but the price is the moments when one is truly alone which steal up on you, she says, and catch you unawares when you are most vulnerable. Living alone you experience the naked intensity of each moment-the good and the bad!

Single but not alone says…Humra Quraishi. After her divorce and a few painful years of adjusting to a new life, her circle of close friends, two children and close family are her world now and its enough, she says.

What struck me about this one by Varsha Das is its complete honesty and for me, a sense of someone else saying my lines…”I was quite certain that once I moved away from him life would be lovely” she says. She now realizes how foolish and perhaps simplistic her views were. With two kids and meager means she expresses her emotional swings between satisfaction and insecurity. She finds her refuge in a full time job, her kids and home and finally came to terms with her life fully triumphant. Letting go the negative feeling she feels is extremely important to be able to truly move on…’I stopped holding others responsible for my unhappiness’ and that was the turning point! She loves living alone and takes full charge of her responsibilities. And is smiling no matter what!

Dolly Thakore has learnt to deal with all the ‘men’s jobs’ mechanics, accountants, tax consultants, painter and plumbers of the world. After 20 odd years of living alone she has an indomitable persona (a put off for many men?). Loneliness does strike but she does all right she says !!

For Mahua Sen, coming to terms with her singleness has been an experience. She thinks, in life relationships are far lonelier than being on your own. Even you are not on your side she says.

Namrata Joshi, the Delhi based journalist says… you have to stay away from home to find yourself. Single to her is a constant engagement with who you are and the dynamics of this involvement change with time. She objects to the formalization of love and companionship into matrimony. For her being single is like being on a long journey; there are always possibilities as long as you travel. Arrival doesn’t interest me she says. Where do you go from there.

Coming from a conservative upper middle class muslim family, Sadia Dehlvi surfaced from a marriage and began life as a single in saddi dili. There has been loneliness, tears and heartbreak she says but matrimony does not necessarily provide the remedy. She has no need to feel the crippling of ones personal growth with the power play that marriages come to be. Women she believes have changed drastically and men have not which is why they are unable to handle the women of today!!

Single and sixty four, Rahul Singh has never been married. But came perilously close he says. I am not gay, not a DOM (dirty old man). I am a pretty good cook, play a variety of sport and have a close circle of family and friends. Perhaps a little self centered and selfish he admits. But then no one is perfect even if single!

To Urvashi Butalia who seems to think she got there without really thinking but wanting to, there are many more relationships that are sustaining, sometimes much deeper and richer than a married relationship. She is single by choice, and feels singleness suits her, as others may feel more suited to marriage!

Relocation, divorce and death are the most stressful things in ones lifetime says Anjali Puri… who got to tackle the first two together!! As a resentful wife she wondered why she was stuck with the unfairness of the medieval division of labor but now she feels a sense of entitlement managing her home, kids and work!! Her two children are quite resilient she says and quite efficiently divide their time between eleven months of not-quite-perfect-but-always-there-mom, and a month with Santa Claus dad!! Loneliness…After a day at work and an evening of parenting she is not really looking for romance but misses an intelligent, companionable and undemanding adult (of the non maid type) for company!!

There are more accounts of the singletons and their views but frankly the thin thread that runs through all these accounts is that quite happiness, success, close circle of family and friends, societal acceptance and even admiration in today’s world. Finally there is nothing wrong in matrimony if it allows you to grow, be independent and free. But a single life is certainly much better than the shackled, power plays, controlling and even crippling relationships we see more and more today!!

Finally…A very good read and much recommended!!

By Prakruti

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12 Responses to “‘Chasing the Good Life…on being Single’–Book Review”

  1. SriPriya Says:

    Yes I totally agree with the views of your last paragraph Prakruti. Social acceptance has already come and much hope is needed to rebuild this independent feeling. This will grow our admiration for new relationships.
    Single life has lot of success, happiness, freedom and joy for ever. I have been at great Peace in me when I be single.

    God bless all those you who have been there in the crippled relationships and shackled power plays.

    SriPriya.

  2. Mahila Says:

    I enjoyed myself a lot reading this article. I very much liked this sentence ‘Women she believes have changed drastically and men have not, which is why they are unable to handle the women of today!!’. Men still want to impletment the same rules that were written before Women started going out into the world.

    From my youth days, I was a fan of Gudipati Venkata Chalam (a famous Telugu novelist). He suggests that a wife and husband should always live in separate houses, for a lot of good reasons(like they might never get tired of each other). Now seeing how fast the social structure is changing, I think, that day is not very off.

    Old marriage system, customs, beliefs are very very good, but they did not work for me and for lot of other people. I see that the new generation is emerging, defining new rules for keeping family structure alive and happy.
    We are the representatives and contributors to this new social structure.

    May God help us and guide us in all our endeavours in making the earth a better place to live in.

    Cheers
    Mahila.

  3. Prakruti Says:

    Thanks to both of you. I really enjoyed reading this book. Try and read it if you get the chance..
    Rgds
    Prakruti

  4. Very helpful post. Good read.

    Kalpana.

  5. PurpleA Says:

    Dear Prakruti

    I loved what you put together and surely I shall read the book in the coming days. Leading a single life is task and is a tough task to the core. We talk about the advantages that goes with it, like freedom, power, decision making and solely implementing it. But there is a flip side too.

    Living alone you experience the naked intensity of each moment-the good and the bad

    How true……

    With that you also experience the changed attitude of your near and dear ones. One would think a woman who is undergoing separation herself will understand you better but that is sometmes the biggest mistake we make. I know why I say this but I am talking from personal experience.

    It is no doubt a hard life . When this happens we turn to friends and women who have been through the same path. One thing that I have observed amongst women who are in the process of divorce, there lacks trust and genuine friendship and constant backstabbing. There is more information digging and passing it along to the others for juicy gossip and for whatever other reasons.

    The judging just does not stop and most of them are hell bent to make you realize your mistake and make you regret.

    I want to say to them that if you regret it so much, then why dont you go back.

    But after reading the views of the above celebrity divorcees , life sure is fun and needs to be taken in stride.

    True friends will stay forever and the rest can go take a hike and continue spying and backstabbing and be ungrateful.

    True friends will stay forever and the rest can go take a hike.

  6. Prakruti Says:

    Hi Purple A
    I can see that you speak from some difficult experiences in your life.

    Personally, I think the BIGGEST dissapointments in life arise from unmet expectations and are almost always related to people!! However, the biggest joys in life also come from people. Not from things, money, house, place, job etc.. What are all these if not for the people who come along in your life. Dont lose faith and take the negative experiecnes also in your stride.. learn from them. Expectations are the bane of relationships.. Sometimes experiences like these help you in life as you can clearly see friends and foes in different light!!
    Take care and I am glad you find the post helpful to put your life into perspective.
    Prakruti

  7. Ash Says:

    Hi

    I find naughty the way Kishwant singh put it.

    But it is a fact stated by Varsha das is the best way to move ahead. A FT job is ideal and makes you independent, liberated and what more one can make her own decisions. Instead of the nagging and pin pointing by the ex, this is a refreshing life. Especially for women like me who have been on both sides of the fence and know which one is greener.

    I say FT job with kids and living independently is a wonderful scenario.

  8. Madhuri Says:

    Hello,
    I agree the bachelorrettes life is a bliss. Remember about Mother Teresa, Mother of the nation and many such wonderful women.
    Its a great joy for us to even think about them for a moment. Thanks Prakruti for the book review.

    “True friends are very rare, so keep them with much care”

    Love,
    Madhuri.

  9. Prakruti Says:

    Ash and Madhuri, Thanks for the feedback. What I think the book really brings out to be happy and successful, one does not necessarily have to be married. And there are plenty of people out there who are single by choice and are leading satisfying lives!!

    Prakruti..

  10. Tannu Says:

    Well well , if the likes of Kushwanth are happy , then so am I that I don’t have to ear and small my ex’s farting and gasing at any given point of time.

    When we separated, it was tough for the first few months, the void was huge but as time passed by that VOID was not void but my SPACE. My free space to do what I want and how I want.
    SO girls , if you want more space, join the club 🙂

  11. Purple A Says:

    You got it girl. The void is not something negative, but our own space, our freedom. All we have to do is change our perspective. Rest everything falls into place

  12. Vanita Says:

    Got it! Enjoy the space , it is all ours.


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