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Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Working Woman

We have all heard or known of so many men who have rushed to India during a 4 week (often only a week) break to "see" the lovely maidens that their over eager parents have lined up for them. They pick one and voila! A few days later, they are married and have a "dependent" tagging along with them to the USA.

Some of these women had longed to be in the USA and thought that their only route would be through marriage while some had always wanted to pursue education here but never had the means to. Some of the former women hence are content with staying at home and being a "homemaker", a fancy word replacement for the word "housewife", used more frequently in India.

Before, I continue, would like to make it clear that I have nothing against housewives. We all should be happy doing what we do and if that's what makes them happy so be it. However, I am a little confused here. I often hear from wives (not yet mothers) on H4 visas that they are awfully busy and have absolutely no time to do extra stuff..stuff as in catch up with old friends, attend events such as those held by CRY, and get an oil change on the car (if their new husband decided to buy them one). I wonder, what are they so busy with? Cooking three meals a day would probably take up three hours, I am sure there is not a whole lot of laundry, vaccuming, and bathroom cleaning to be done everyday. Groceries are probably done when the husband is at home (since that car that I am talking about is not there OR the wife is scared to drive alone in the snow). So if we as full-time students and employees study, work, and take care of the home, and write blogs, and IM, and stay in touch with friends, how are we able to do that?

Is there something I do not know about or am missing out on or am I the exception who is super smart in managing my time well? What is truly going on? I often wish that I was an H4 wife. I fantasize waking up at at 7, making tea for my husband, going back to sleep, waking up at 10, cooking lunch, watching TV, playing games on the computer, cooking "nashta", taking a nap, cooking dinner, going out, and sleeping! What a life that would be! But as I have always said, the grass is always greener on the other side. Maybe that life is not as fun and leisurely as I assume it to be. Maybe what these wives say is true??

25 Words of Wisdom:

Deepali said...

I often wish that I was an H4 wife.
I always say, be careful what you wish for....you might just get what you wanted.

Well I don't think you are missing anything - people choose to do different things. My excuse for not helping around the house is that I have too much work. Sometimes it works and I get away with it, sometimes mom gets super pissed so there is no getting out. But honestly I could easily fit in work and house work, it's just that I don't try cause I don't want to.

c e e d y said...

you really want to be a "gujjuben" like your blog title suggests :)

i dont know the exact answer but can share something I see from my cousin - what happens is since they are mostly home - they tend to over extend themselves in doing all kinds of things - making lavish food - sorting each and every piece of laundry - cleaning the clean things - kinda empty vessels making a lot of noise - I guess as opposed to us professionals we try to optimize our time to fit in everything and also due to lack of productive time - we make the best use of it...dunno if this makes sense but its worth a try :)

Cinderella. said...

Girl...you totally spoke my mind out there..whoa !!!
I have always pondered about this...and my brother is paranoid about this funda.
He has decided that, whenhe shall move to the US, and if he has to have a wife by then, she will have to get there with her own credits, not coz she was besotted to him...lol !!!
But, yeah, what do they do ??
My chachi for instance, went happily abroad with my chachu, the most brilliant in our family...and after 13 years of marriage she is still the same...ignorant !!!
Texas never did any good to her...how and why is something that eludes me...
Cool post..as usual !!
and btw, is the profile pic yours ??
God, you're gorgeous !!!!

anuj said...

haha ..vry funny ..
I thght it was abt some men frm so called USA teasin their wives ..lol .. bt it turned out to b up side dwn ..

well in India I sure encounter tht quite a time mothers r bsy .. thr m nt sure .. bt yes if one wishes one can alwyz take out time .. I guess u forgot the long time attribute of married women ..thy start braggin at lot .. lol :D

cheers

Sreerama said...

having had a workin mom frm the time i could figure out things.. i think bein a house wife kills the spirit with in her.

Solitaire said...

@ deepali..geez..thanks for the warning..
You are right..where there is a will, there is a way!

@ ceedy, only sometimes..
Thanks for giving me the inside story of what goes on in their lives.

@ cinderella, kudos to your brother and good luck to his future wife! thanks for the compliment. :)

@ anuj, I think life in india is harder (even though some might disagree) and hence, I think housewives in India are justified in saying they are busy (unless they have domestic help assisting them in every chore).

@ sreerama, i wonder what homemakers who love to be homemakers love about it..

Solitaire said...

@ deepali..geez..thanks for the warning..
You are right..where there is a will, there is a way!

@ ceedy, only sometimes..
Thanks for giving me the inside story of what goes on in their lives.

@ cinderella, kudos to your brother and good luck to his future wife! thanks for the compliment. :)

@ anuj, I think life in india is harder (even though some might disagree) and hence, I think housewives in India are justified in saying they are busy (unless they have domestic help assisting them in every chore).

@ sreerama, i wonder what homemakers who love to be homemakers love about it..

nik said...

hate to burst your bubble of the "wonderful life of a lazy homemaker" .. i think that it would be a dreadful way of leading life ... i personally (not that i ever want to put myself in a woman's shoes) would rather live in a prison than be a stay at home wife (esp if no kids are involved).

based on personal experience of my parents visit(s) to the US, having them stay at home was not fair on them ... esp in the US where you are crippled without a car (Can't even go get milk at the grocery store when u live in the suburbs ... not downtown)... the equation is quite different in India where you can always walk out onto your front yard and you will invariably find someone to socialize with.... that lifestyle is far drawn from what H4 wives encounter.

i'd be mighty suprised if you could point me to someone who is genuinely content with the lifestyle you described.

your article comes on the heels of me watching "aaja nachle" and it reminded me of the houswife who felt that her husband was too boring and had slaved her at home as a homemaker.

Solitaire said...

@ nik, would like to clarify that the word LAZY nowhere comes into my blog and that those are purely your views and the way you interpret my blog.
I have several "homemaker" friends very content with their lives. I guess it all boils down to one's own priorities and needs in the end.
Thanks for your input.
Are you going to start writing again soon?

Cosmic Joy said...

Have you considered that maybe the "being busy" was an excuse??

nik said...

i guess the work "LAZY" creped in on account of my "MCP" ways and wasn't derived from your blog post. i apologize to all female readers for letting my MCP ways get the better of me.

i hope to start blogging soon, maybe this vacation would be a good time to start. i'm hopeful that it happens, but with a party schedule building up, it might not.

KP said...

hmmmmm....I wonder....why are they so buzy.....may be they do something? but Question is what?.... I guess it kind of make sense after reading ceedys explanation......

good post....;)

P.S. Personally I feel Empty mind is devils work shop.....:) Homemakers concepts needs to be revisited for people who do it by choice...

Mansi Trivedi said...

I wish to disagree with a lot of these comments. My very close friend just got married and is now here on dependent visa. Often people our age ask her blatantly, "so you are a housewife? enjoying being a homemaker?" People already have the answers when they ask this question. She always writes to me saying, people reduce us to brainless creature who is capable to do a lot but takes the easy way out. She continues to tell me, it is not that she does not wish to apply her knowledge but these are some temporary circumstances that she has to surpass. She plans to join an advertising agency soon. She also plans to start her own business when she is legally allowed to do so. Meanwhile she reads a lot and knows more than any of us do about current economic status of various countries.
I fail to believe that we still hold so much against these stereotyped titles and address the issue so disparagingly.
And just because you "work" out of home does not make you any more smarter than someone who has chosen not to.

And they are not empty vessels nor is their favorite passtime sorting out laundry. This issue raises the question, does employment really eradicate ignorance? :)

(Sneha this is not meant to offend you in any way, just correcting some of the commenters here and just defending my friend)

Solitaire said...

@ cosmic joy, maybe..but their explanation is shaky.
@ nik, you are forgiven just this one time. :)
@ kp, but do they truly have an empty mind?
@ mansi, you are right. We have a lot of generalizations and stereotypes. But whenever I encounter them, I wonder how they came into being in the first place. Food for thought.

nik said...

@manasi ... nice comment, but stereotypes are a way of society and there is no way around it .. and the stereotype of a "homemaker being an empty vessel" is cast in stone.

Without holding back on my MCP tendencies i think that your friend is the exception rather than the norm.

"she does not wish to apply her knowledge but these are some temporary circumstances that she has to surpass" .... you just gave an example of someone who doesn't fit the bill of .... "someone who is genuinely content with the lifestyle you described"

@solitare ... "once an MCP, always an MCP" :)

Keshi said...

hey great post!

**So if we as full-time students and employees study, work, and take care of the home, and write blogs, and IM, and stay in touch with friends, how are we able to do that?


Spot on! Im not married but I was once a f/t Masters student while a working f/t. I still managed my time pretty well and I still do.

I think when ppl say they dun hv time, they just assume they dun hv time :)

Keshi.

Preethi said...

It is strange but I've been on both sides of this debate. A busy bee working gal with tons of things to do and a "homemaker". Not getting too personal on details... it is a struggle to stay sane doing nothing 'productive'. trust me. Most of the women who come to US are highly educated, creative and were working till yesterday. Unfortunately circumstances leads them to a diff lifestyle.
But your point is different. The kind of women you are talking about willingly lose their identity once married. Maybe their goal in life was to be happily married. Once that is achieved they get caught up in the life of their spouse. that's it. It is not that they don't have time to stay in touch with their pals. They have time, they choose not to spend it on their pals. 'Husband' occupies their mind completely.

Anjuli said...

hey, do watch Amit uncle's ad (Dabur Chyavanprash) : Ek din mummy ki jagah ghar par reh kar dekhein?"

I have high regards for housewives, they really slog too much and I mean it...

Solitaire said...

@ keshi..absolutely. once again, where there is a will, there is a way.

@ preethi..right on! It all depends on what everyone's priorities are.

@ anjuli..yes, maybe (even the ones who have no one to call them mummy, maybe). But my question is.."what are they doing?". I get asked all the time about what I do at work. I never get any answers when I ask them what they do.

Anjuli said...

Okay, I can only tell about mammas 'coz I have grwon up seeing one of them (my mon that is)here goes:

Get up really early in the morning, fill up water, make tea for husband, have tea with him, take bath...prepare breakfast, pack tiffin for kids, wake up the kids, get them ready for school, send them giving a kiss, bid them bye.... have breakfast with husn=band, send him to the office...

phew!

take a breath....

egt going with the household stuff, if maid is there, supervise her, if she isn't.... broom the huse, dust and wipe the house, wash the vessels, see if I have clothes to wash... okay I do have some... wash the clothes... hey whats the time... alomst 1, husband is about to come for luncj and I have not yet prepared it...get inside the kitchen...prepare lunch....., hey postman...some registered papers... need to sign them.... Oh god my cooker is calling me, the dal is done I guess.... phew!

Husband is home.....hi! how has been the day so far?... let me serve u the lunch... will u have some chapattis. I will make them fresh for you....

have food with husband, send him to office again.....

hey let me take a small nap before the kids are home.... hey someone's at the door.... of ho... soem salesman!

Ding dong.... kids are home.... mamma! you know what...techer told me this and my friends did this and that and what not, okay what do you think of this mamma, can u help me remove my shoes and socks, hey I got hurt here today mamma.... :-(, Okay beta I will help u with everything.....

wash your hand and have something now....

done....

time for husband to come back....

he's back...

Tea time...

Mamma can u cook upma today for the evening snack?

yes beta, will do....

lets go for a walk....

time to get milk....

what are u guys wanna have for dinner...
mamma aloo mutter aur dher saare mutter aur garam garm pooriyan, achha boondi raita bhi.....

okay, done...

dinner with the family...

wahts the time....9 at night...

now do I have the right to watch my favorite show on TV now?

Solitaire said...

@ anjuli..Haha..very entertaining..and probably true too..thanks for taking the time out to write all that!!!!!!!
Going back to my blog though, this is for the women with no kids living in the United States. As stated above, I think life in India is truly harder. And life with kids is challenging, no matter where!

Anjuli said...

hey many typos there, did not preview, wrote in a hurry,

just one that i need to correct husband not husn=band!

Vinesh said...

I often wish that I was an H4 wife too :-)

Mansi Trivedi said...

Not intending to prolonging this debate but theres something really wrong with a lot of us if we think that H4 housewives are empty vessels. Makes me so mad.
I do have another friend who is now finishing up her masters degree and wants to become a homemaker because she has had a bad childhood with her mom always working. they grew up with a nanny and a bad example of parenthood.
PEOPLE, IT IS OKAY TO BE AN H4 housewife and they really do have brains and are not just taking the easy way out.

Solitaire said...

True Mansi. But once again this is about H4 wives..not H4 mothers.