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Arranged Marriage, Food Customs and the Deplorable Indian Practice of Lightening Skin to be Fair!

So, my thoughts for today are a bit random….  Every time I sit down to eat with someone or I go out for dinner on my own or call down to reception to order food I am always asked the same thing: “Are you veg or non-veg”??  Every time, without fail.  Whether it is for religious reasons or not, there seems to be just two classes of people when it comes to food, people who eat meat and those who don’t.  Pretty simple.  The menus are all laid out that way too… there aren’t little symbols next to some dishes to indicate they are vegetarian, they are actually separated into their own section.  Such a  contrast to Cali or Barcelona where we tend to ask “what are you in the mood for” and that is the deciding factor on where to go and what we’d eat.

The same is true with lots of things here in Bangalore so far.  Life is pretty black and white.  Take marriage, for example.  I find that there are also basically two types of marriages.  Veg or non-veg 😉  Not like in  the U.S. where there are dozens of reasons people marry — many of which are not real reasons for actually marrying.  But here it is simple.   There are arranged or love marriages.  Black and white.  Yep, arranged marriages are still alive and well in India and still account for 75% of all marriages, and not just with highly traditional families or with people in or from small villages.  This is the way it is in Bangalore, regardless of how affluent a family is or their roots.  I realise how this will dumb me down to a “are you smarter than a 5th grader” level but I have to admit that I sort of knew this already thanks to a U.S. TV show currently on air called “Outsourced” that some friends of mine in L.A. turned me on to but I thought the show had over exaggerated things in that episode.  But here it works, and from what I am told the arranged marriages last MUCH longer than the majority of the love marriages — with most never actually ending.  Kind of nice.

This is one of the tree-lined streets that lead to where I believe my daughter and I will renting our new flat. Stunning!!
But the funniest “veg or non-veg” realization I have had this week was on Sunday and wasn’t a black or white issue at all…it was a tan or white issue.  I had been relaxing all day after my flight and was happily watching back-to-back films in English (such a treat after no English TV in Spain for 8 years).  At the same time I was simultaneously preparing for my big first day at work on Monday.  I realised that I was so white after a winter in Barcelona that I was almost Smurf blue so I decided to liberate the self tanning kit from my luggage and try to tan myself a bit so as not to look so pasty white on my first day.  While I was standing there trying to darken up as much as possible yet another advert for skin brightening and whitening cream came on and it dawned on me… just as much as I want to be toasty and caramel dark like the beautiful Indian women, many of them want to be whiter like me.  haha   The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and I guess that no matter who we are or where we live, most women always want what we can’t have 🙂

Well, tonight I am back at Xtreme Sports Bar but it turns out that it is Ladies Night and in the past 30 minutes since my arrival it has filled up and I think this white girl needs to go back to my hotel cuz I just look stupid with my neon green bracelet they slapped on me, sat alone at the bar, writing my blog on my laptop! haha  Shame, I had a helluva day with the flat hunting and was really looking forward to a couple of hours of music and chilling out here with my vodka sprite and salad, ahaha…. okay, that sounded like a disgusting combination even to me.  But trust me, it is just what the doctor ordered!!!

Tomorrow I will share all the details about my flat hunting, which is turning into a more expensive ordeal that I expected.  It is impossible to lease a flat in a building with a security staff and the amenities that my daughter and I will love to come home to for less than what I spent back in Spain, which is a shame but “es lo que hay” so I am on it.  My boss and colleagues have made it clear that although Bangalore is very safe that they would rather my daughter and I not rent an independent house just to be on the safe side.

Gotta run, bar is so full now… will update again tomorrow… xoxo from Bangalore.

© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011

Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I've explored 37 countries on 4 continents, residing in 8 of them (currently Indonesia's Riau Islands is my home). I even have a private pilot's license and was shot at once by bandits!

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Arshad Shafeeq

    If you really want to tan yourself go on a long drive on a motorbike atleast 200 Km once a week and you will be tanned…. lol..I was tanned the same way lol….. but i am Indian.

  2. Veg – Nonveg, Arranged marriage – Love Marriage, Dark skin – White skin..Holy Cow!! You have compared apples to oranges and still come out right.. 😀

    I empathize with you on the veg & non-veg scenario. The menu picturizes that there are two classes of people like you mentioned. While the ones who survive on no meat would not distinct between veggies unless and otherwise if it doesn’t suit their taste buds, when it comes to the non-veg section there are further categories. There are people who would only eat sea food , whereas there are others who would eat chicken but lamb/goat meat might be out of purview. And I hope that you would have already noticed that Indian restaurants do not serve any other kind of meat.. 🙂

    You have very kindly said that arranged marriages are ‘nice’ but what’s your actual take on it? 😉

    1. angela_carson

      Thanks, love the apples and oranges comment SO MUCH!!!!

      I eat just about anything, I’ve even eaten frogs legs, kangaroo, deer, duck, pigeon, whole battered/fried fishes you eat whole (heads and tails and all) … and yes, the options are more limited here. But luckily my friends generally eat at the 5 star hotels and more posh restaurants that also have beef and sushi and pork, etc…

      Arranged marriages… I know they work here so that’s that! 🙂 I know that love marriages are something that really only came into popularity in the past century or two in other cultures and that they don’t last as long as arranged marriages. With that said, I think society is changing because women are no longer dependent on men now for food and shelter and because they can make as much money or more and are 100% independent. Women don’t NEED men anymore — but men need women to have children (women can use sperm donor if they ever really wanted one and didn’t want to marry but men couldn’t do that). Women are CEOs, entrepreneurs, chief administrators for hospitals, etc etc. SO, the basis for marriage on a whole is something I challenge and I’ve felt this way since high school … long before I ever understood Indian culture 🙂 I’ve felt this way for so long though and I used to say I’d never get married because it is an antiquated notion and unnecessary today but I ended up getting married in Spain 🙂

      NOW…part of what makes India special is the lovely family values, and part of that is wrapped up in arranged marriages. But, the way I see it marriage shouldn’t be expected as a required “need for everyone” to do anymore — and the trend with the younger girls outside of rural areas is showing that. Lots of girls want to end uni, start their career and live a little before agreeing to marry. One of my favourite young bloggers in Bangalore – Pencil Girl – had that situation come up recently … pressure from the family to marry, she says no, they pressure, she agrees to meet one guy … she says “thanks but no thanks” and now has bought herself some more time 🙂

  3. LOL. You answered the question on arranged marriages in one line and went on and on about freedom of women .. 😀 Times are certainly changing but arranged marriages in India is certainly not going away anytime soon..

    Frog legs? Seriously? Worth trying? :S

    1. angela_carson

      haha, you are RIGHT!! … okay so I guess we can see where I have more “issues” in India 🙂

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