Friday, April 06, 2007

India Journal 2006 #37 April 4th, FAMILY INTRIGUE IN RISHIKESH

I was invited to dinner at Vivek's house (the guy where I did the Panchakarma). He's been wanting me to come for some time and it just never worked out. He came to pick me up at 7 PM and took me to his house on the outskirts of Rishikesh on the way to Hardiwar. They live in the school where his wife works. His 2 1/2 year old daughter, Isabella,
was in the car and when we arrived at his place I met his wife and mother-in-law who was visiting from Dehradun. Deepak also came for dinner and it was great seeing them.

I pretty much found myself very uncomfortably in the midst of a family conflict precipitated by the meal prepared in my honour. I will try to write everything that conspired and explain the strange framework of this family as best as possible. There was much inner tension at home which eneded in his wife spilling out to me all her frustrations and anger at her plight, right in front of

Vivek. The little girl had gone out for a walk (at 10 PM) with grandma, and Deepak had already gone home by this time. Only later, did Vivek give his side of the story. She ass all the duties of anormal Indian wife, daughter and mother, plus the fact that she works (as do many modern Indian women) in a full time job as a primary school prinicpal and administrator. And of course he feels he does more to help than any of his contemporaries who wouldn't be caught dead doing the things he does like cooking, childcare etc. , but she still feels the injustice in the division of roles etc. It is not a new story, but it is new for India and this generation seems to be caught between tradition and moving forward but not able to be completely in either place . Sort of floating between here and there and finding themselves confused, ambivilent and frustrated by how things are changing, and not changing at the same time. I'm sure the next generation will be quite different, much as my daughters' marriages are so different than mine was. And I told them this. His help is still by her as small gestures, not real participation and cooperation, and in the end I would up giving a full hour conseling session!

You can see from the body language in this picture how detached they are from each other even when posing for a picture of a loving couple!

On the way home, Vivek furthered explained things to me, following his wife's declaration that "We have LOVE marriage, but most people who have fixed marriages seem alot more content than we are". It seems his wife, Sanjeeta, wants to go live in UK and he has agreed to let her go off on her own, leaving Isabella in his care, or rather the care of Mother and Mother-in-law. He is sure that she will come back home very quickly as he is convinced she will be miserable there. He's taking quite a chance as she is very determined, British convent educated with an MBA, highly intelligent and eloquent of speech, and I think she just might make it there. If she will be happy, I don't know, but he may find himself without a wife for some time...and that brings me to the background of this entire family history,.

His parent slive in Rishikesh. He comes from a long line of Ayurveda doctors and teachers and they do not interfere in his life. They lived with his parents for awhile but it became too difficult once the little girl was born as his wife had to take her with her to work each day, and so they have "shifted" to a small apartment at the school where she works, the little girl now attends school daily and life seems easier.
Her family....the father is a retired government bureaucrat from the days of the Raj, who now lives in Rishikesh as well while his wife continues to live in the family home in Dehradun. Seems he always travelled for his work and he and his wife pretty much moved apart and lead separate lives for many years. So upon retiring her simply took a 2 room flat in Rishikesh where he also runs the school where Sanjeeta works. This is all very frustrating for her as he still lives in the "old educational system" he, and she, grew up in and as prinicpal and administrator she would like to introduce new ideas but cannot, as she cannot show disrespect to her father, who is also her boss.

All in all an eye opening evening. Vivek was very disturbed by the fact that she prepared a VERY simple meal, and also made it non-spicey for me....he had expected something better for his company, but after working and taking care of a little girl (who is a real spoiled brat) all day, I can imagine how tired she was and was quite pleased with the meal. But it seems that he criticized her in front of Deepak and his mother-in-law while we were eating and this is what started the whole business later in the evening.

India is sometimes so unexpected and surprising that it leaves me open-mouthed and with nothing to say.

and coming home that evening, I began to think of so many things and had difficult falling asleep, which probably contributed to the next day, which you will read about (or probably HAVE already read in the previous post.