Girly Problems in England vs. Girly Problems in India 86


1. ‘Oh no, I’ve walked around with my flies down all day and no one told me’ vs. ‘Oh no, I’ve walked around with my bindi wonky all day and no one told me’

In India I don’t wear jeans, I wear Indian suits. These suits come with draw strings and are covered by long tunics making it impossible to forget to pull up your zip after using the bathroom. Unfortunately, traditional Indian wear it not without its embarrassing problems. Finding out you’ve walked around with your bindi stuck to your eyebrow all day is very annoying.

marathi style pearl nose clip ring sindoor tikka

2. ‘Rubbish, I can’t go out, I can’t find any shoes to match my outfit’ vs. ‘Rubbish, I can’t go out, I can’t find a chunni to match my outfit’

When I first moved to India I was told by my mother-in-law that I should wear a chunni (also known as a dupatta) at all times, even in the house. It took me a while to work out why but it is to cover the shape of my bust. Balancing the material over my shoulders can be difficult and hazardous. I’ve caught my chunni in car doors, dragged it along the floor, dropped it in my dinner and it has even fallen on the flame whist cooking dinner. I cannot leave my bedroom without one, I’ve been told it is disrespectful. The frantic pulling out of cupboards when I cannot find a chunni to match my outfit gives me the same feeling as when I couldn’t find the right shoes for an outfit in England.

3. ‘I wish men wouldn’t shout vile things at me’ vs. ‘I wish men wouldn’t take photos of me’

A girl attracting a crowd of men staring, taking photos of her is not uncommon in India (Indian girls and foreign girls). In England,  it unlikely that you will have anyone taking photos of you but instead, you may get leery, sexual comments shouted at you from across the road from a group of (usually drunk) men.  So many different ways to objectify women, which is worse?

4. ‘You look really pale, are you ill?’ vs. ‘You look really pale, you are so beautiful’

In England we use sunbeds and bronzers to look beautiful. In India we use bleach and white powder to look beautiful. Is the grass always greener on the other side? I once told an Indian aunty that we British love a tan, it was like I had just told her that we love to drink urine, she gave me a look of confusion and disgust!

5. ‘I have to do sit ups to look good in that bikini’ vs. ‘I have to do sit ups to look good in that saree’

The rolls of fat I have on my back are grandly accentuated when I wear a saree. They live in that small gap between the blouse and petticoat. They bug me, so, that ‘summer bikini workout’ in cosmopolitan magazine will not go to waste, it can be used as my ‘saree workout’!


About Lauren Mokasdar

Lauren fell in love on the internet, took a one way flight from England, got married & started a new life & bicultural family in India. She writes about finding happiness & balance between two very different worlds, when her baby takes a nap.


Comment

86 thoughts on “Girly Problems in England vs. Girly Problems in India

  • Emily

    You look gorgeous in your sari! What an interesting post……I had never thought about how the unzipped fly translates to a sari, but I’m guilty of constantly having food and random stains on my clothing:)

  • Magdalena Rogulska-Pai

    Wow you look totally indian now 😀 I think your husband;s family is much more traditional or maybe it is just different indian culture. I also used to stay for long with my mother in law and she never demanded anything like that. I myself knew to wear decent but I was roaming around the house in tshirts and some pants, or in kurta and leggins. My sister in law also doesn’t wear dupatta at home. Anyways all the best and hope you can someday stay on your own. It was a big relief to me and only then I felt India can really be my home 🙂

  • My Masala Life

    Omg that was a good laugh!!!!!!!!! I love the sickly pale vs. Beautiful! We had a hard long winter in the snow and my Mother in law said oh everyone must so beautiful and fair from being indoors lol. My husband explained that too pale looks sickly and Americans like a nice tan and my MIL was like wow Americans are crazy. I also suck at keeping my Chunni up lol, how do Indian women dance with it on and everything.

  • M. Nathan

    It is indeed so strange that while Whites collectively spend millions on tanning, Indians spend similarly on “whitening creams”. My wife Stacy has really pale skin and what she would give to get a deep tan, but all she can get is a deep pink painful burn no matter how hard she tries!

    One of the reasons she says she noticed me and was attracted to me was my brown skin! She dreams of a daughter with “beautiful tanned skin” like the goddess Parvati. My family on the other hand is haranguing me for a “fair skinned baby boy like Bhagvan Ram!!

    Talk about another major difference in desires and expectations!

    I guess we all want what we can’t/don’t have.

  • friend

    @Laureen

    Indian women these days do not wear chunnis with suits. They wear short “Kurtis”

    https://www.google.co.in/search?q=indian+kurtis&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=oTWQU96_BIvh8AW_m4Ag&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=618

    Many women in big cities Mumbai, Delhi wear these kurtis as well as tight suits without chunni. Chunnis have become optional these days. I think because of some conservative views of you inlaws, they insist that you wear chunni all the time. Kurtis can also be paired off with jeans. You can wear them, while you go out. There was a time in 1990s, chunnis were worn only on one shoulder.

    BTW, you look absolutely ravishing in every thing you wear.

  • sanjana

    Wow I found it interesting that your mother in law thinks that you need to wear a chunni at ALL times even when inside the house with no guests. I always wear a chunni with my suit outside but inside i often tie it over my shoulder , ive seen many women do this. Especially while doing housework or cooking. They must be very traditional 0.0

  • Ajit Joshi

    Ask all the Western people to get outdoors in Nagpur heat of June and they will appreciate why Indians prefer to stay in doors ? However you are looking very nice here and please protect your skin from Sun till atleast September!

  • Deanna Herrmann

    Great post! For some reason WP showed me as not following you, but I am! Seems like you’re settling in nicely and I loved the comparisons in this.

      • Deanna Herrmann

        I know! It’s as bad as facebook. 🙁 I have you on Bloglovin though so I can keep up. I’ve just been so behind lately. I apparently have too much on my plate, plus life. 🙂 Lots of love back! You look beautiful!

  • Samiksha

    Your ability to make it sound like there is hardly any difference between two cultures that everyone takes to be opposite sides of the pole in commendable! The way you have adjusted to everything and accepted the Indian bahu’s lifestyle is amazing. Leaves me speechless!

  • American Punjaban PI

    #4 really got to me. OMG. I was so sick one day and throwing up and I know I had that tone to my skin you get when you’re naturally porcelain colored and you get sick. I kept getting comments on how good I looked and I wanted to puke on the people who said it! They weren’t nearly as concerned with whether or not I was actually going to die like I was exclaiming as they were with how my skin glistened as I sat there sweating and heaving.

    Of course, it was also odd when I got sunburned and was told I looked weird LOL. They didn’t know what to think about a truly pink woman.

  • Chinadoll

    I can relate to Number 4. ‘You look really pale, are you ill?’ vs. ‘You look really pale, you are so beautiful’. My in-laws in China are sooo surprised by the fact that I want to looked tanned, and when I buy bronzers, and self tanning lotions(?) they always tell me it’s a waste of money.. Although they accept the fact that I like being tanned, they still think it is weird.. I once went shopping with my Mother-in-law and she bought me a whitening cream and forced me to try it, and to be honest, I did not look any whiter, but she got all excited and told all her friends “My daughter-in-law is using whitening cream!!” -.-

  • Sharell Cook

    Wearing a dupatta at all times around the house, as soon as you step out of the bedroom?! Totally insane! It makes your mother in law sound like she’s a bit insecure and neurotic, if it’s your father in law seeing the shape of your bust that she’s worried about. Like other people have said here, not many Indian women are obligated to wear a dupatta at home, including the women in my family. I honestly don’t know how you do it. I usually tear my dupatta off as soon as I step in the front door. It’s so hot, always gets in the way, and feels so uncomfortable around my neck.

  • Martin

    An excellent post! And I must say, I’ve noticed something similar when talking with my in-laws and new extended family; we all have the same overall wants and frustrations, it’s just the specifics of how that differ across cultures. The pictures versus the cat calls, or the tanners versus the whiteners…we all have different ways of reflecting the same ideas.

  • madhmama

    Cute post!
    The more rolls, the better you look in the saree! Saree is so flattering for curvaceous women…it’s like POW! 😀

  • Ana

    OMG #5 is sooo true! Forget a bikini, I have to lose belly fat for those tiny lengua tops and below the belly bottom skirts! lol

  • Joy Rajendra Bhamre

    About the ‘dupatta’…one reason it has come into being is so that modesty is preserved during breastfeeding; ditto for the saree pallu. And ofcourse, if you cover your head with it, it’s a sign of respect. I really have enjoyed your blog. You should convert it into a book as you have an engaging writing style.

  • Joy Rajendra Bhamre

    About the ‘dupatta’…one reason it has come into being is so that modesty is preserved during breastfeeding; ditto for the saree pallu. And ofcourse, if you cover your head with it, it’s a sign of respect. I really have enjoyed your blog. You should convert it into a book as you have an e6ngaging writing style.

  • S

    Hi,
    Good reading your posts. However, there are a few misunderstandings.
    It is not a MUST to wear a duppatta. There are many girls which wear only a kurta. And its perfectly OK! I guess you must start putting the in-laws so they get used to it.
    Also there are many girls/women that regularly wear jeans.
    I suggest you visit cities like Mumbai-Banglore-Pune.
    Do not make it a habit with these things. Or you will have much more landed on your plate which will get harder to follow with time.
    If you can also start looking out for work. If you cannot try moving to a city where you can.
    I am am Indian. And I do not know how to wear a sari. Try having your say and be firm on it. It is OK and acceptable.

  • bhavi89

    Haha loving those comparisons!! Some made me chuckle. Your in laws sound very traditional. I did not think many are these days. Where abouts do they live in India ?
    Ps- you look lovely dressed in Indian clothing ☺️

  • bhavi89

    Haha loving those comparisons!! Some made me chuckle. Your in laws sound very traditional. I did not think many are these days. Where abouts do they live in India ?

    you look lovely dressed in Indian clothing

  • ila

    To get the hand of Indian psyche is a pain, I understand the pain you had gone thro’. It is sheer persistance, and patience that you have carried to reach now. Best wishes Amigo.

  • karthik

    am truly sorry that u had to see the ugly side of indian culture…. india doesnt have sexual freedom unlike the west….. india is very very very similar to an islamic nation …. and hence people just go nuts and are rude to women who are attracive etc… just ignore those filthy scum and be safe

  • dancing oranges

    LOL where my Chunni at! its basic desi problems, I assure you, you are not alone. It helps if you tie it at the back or tie to the side so that it doesn’t disturb you when you cook. 🙂

    If you are concerned about it constantly sliding off your shoulders, pin them dear! I pin my chunni when i think its going to be too much of a hassle to control 😀

  • Laura

    Is funny how you make things look so easy and similar.
    Here in China white skin is also seen as beautiful so when buying lotions you have to be careful.
    I just tell you I am not as white as it looks like in our wedding pictures, my nose is not that big either…photoshop

  • tabibitosoul

    Hi, Lauren!Awesome post! I understand the chunni or dupatta drama, because I face same thing whenever I visit my in-laws. When I was living in U.P. it was a must to use that, since all women (especially married ones) they wear it when outside, but since we moved to Bombay, I almost do not use it and on Diwali, when I visited my in-laws I realized how much I am not used to it anymore!!!That time I faced many incidents as well!!

  • subhash

    Thanks for your blog, many Indians feel inferior for their tan skin, tan coloured people like felt that we are not looking good, (some times ugly). After reading ur blogs about skin tone, i realised why western women prefer bikini at beach…sea water reflects more UV light, so they become more tan..so they look good..wow..every custom or culture has its own theory…As a Indian i like to see westerns wearing saree, bindu..or other indian traditions things.. About ur duppatta problem…your MIL nice to say good things..to u…now a day parents lost their control over their children..might be ur MIL told many times to your cousins sisters about duppatta, but they are ignored, because they want to follow westen culture..but u r new to indian culture, so ur MIL want you to follow good culture..i dont understand why we(indian men) staring at white women (like surprise to see new person in ur place), but i can say that all people not having bad intentions for staring women (most people really surprised to see women look like heroins in cinemas,(most of film heroins look very fair than normal indian women)…so, at these type of situations anyone felt embraced….to overcome this type of situations u must have duppata..(i think so)..your blogs are really good..I am sharing your blogs to my friends (women) from other countries, and having interest to know about india..Thank you for being Indian…All the best and have a great time in India..

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hey Subhash,

      Thank you for your comment! Yes, Western people love to darken their skin!

      I personally feel that they way we dress should be a personal choice but remain respectful when necessary (in temples and around elderly people etc.). There is a time and a place for everything, as long as no one is forced to do anything against their will, but I now prefer to wear a chunni, anything to avoid the staring :).

      I hope you are well, thank you for sharing!

      Take care

  • Ambili

    Nice article 🙂 But I don’t get why you have to wear dupatta in home o.O Most Indian women don’t. My friends are married and they roam around in jeans and blouse all the time!!! I guess its in North India where people are more traditional and conservative. In states like Kerala, people tend to be bit more open-minded and liberal. May be you should buy a house there and shift soon! (Just kidding! I’m not a homewrecker :p ) Though, there too, men stare and catcall a lot -_- Sadly, women aren’t safe anywhere.
    Anyhow, great work. Keep posting more articles 🙂

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Thank you, Ambili!
      My MIL told me from day one that I had to, she does too, even if it’s just us in the house.
      I have heard from many people that Kerala has more of a matriarchal culture, would love to at least visit some day- maybe not shift 😛
      Take care and thank you! 😀

  • Sulakshana

    Ha ha that’s interesting. But seriously don’t you wear anything other than salwars and sarees? Come to think of it, from your pics you look more of the Indian daughter in law than me 🙂

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      I rarely wore jeans in the UK (I have a small waist with large calves and it was only really costly jeans that fit me), I usually wore leggings with a long top or a long jumper so the transition to Indian clothes was smooth and I feel they flatter my body shape! xx