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Stories from an Indian Millennial

In The Name Of Being Settled

Paulo Coelho in one of his most famous books, The Alchemist said, ‘When you want something; all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’ But when he wrote it, he probably forgot about Indian society. Because for most parts, our version of reality is: When you want something; all the society conspires in helping you not achieve it. Instead, they help you achieve what is called the Great Indian Dream of ‘Being Settled'. 
Just like Ekta Kapoor’s soap operas, this Great Indian Dream of ‘Being Settled' is re-churned, reimagined and re-served to us several times during our lifespan. Why do I say that? Well, remember when you were told ‘Beta! get good marks in 10th class so that you can get science. Life will be all ‘set' then. But they didn’t tell you that between the pressure of IIT coaching and board exams, there will be, well no ‘life’ left? And as comes 12th class and you start filling entrance forms, you are shown the next carrot: ‘Beta! if you get a good college, life will be all set for you.’ Nobody then tells you about the peer pressure, semester ‘backs' and not to forget the devil of all ‘The placements’. So the next struggle of getting settled begins: 'Getting a 7 figure salary job’.
And God forbid if you end up in one of those IT companies who suck the soul out of you for every penny they pay, you are further screwed. Now, to be settled in the eyes of your parents, well no, parents can be still reasonable. To be settled in the eyes of society, you need to further work your a** off to get that 7 figure salary.  But if you are one of those start-up guys, I know, I know, no offense. Let me rephrase. If you are one of those ‘entrepreneurs’, dude your life is totally screwed! Not only the faith of your parents in you hangs by a mere thread, convincing the girl’s parents is gonna be a far-fetched dream. The legend says, that the ‘entrepreneurs’ have the toughest time getting married to the girl of their choice. History has been marred with DDLJ anti-climaxes of sorts. ‘No Ronda, No Chokri’ they say! After all, who can compete with 'Sharma Ji ka Beta’!
The fact of the matter is that 'The Legend of Sharma Ji ka Beta' was born from this very phenomenon of ‘Being Settled’. He is the Usain Bolt of life race. While we are happy to be the Rahul Gandhi, doing things we are not destined for. No matter how many times disasters scream of our destiny otherwise, we just keep dragging. All in the name of ‘Being Settled’ in the eyes of the society and dear momma!
But say the Universe has been kind to you and you have always managed to win a consolation prize to 'Sharma Ji ka Beta’. You scored well throughout and you have a job to be proud of. You have fulfilled all the above criteria of ‘Being Settled’. And you are about to take a long deep breath of independence, free will, and relief. Just then, you are introduced to the next level of ‘Being Settled'. Your ‘once in blue moon’ relatives, want to know 'When are you getting married?’
All hell breaks loose after that. It would seem as if the whole world is not worried about terrorism, global warming or North Korea, but when is 'Mohalle ka Bittu' getting married! If you are already living the last of your 20s, well God Bless thee! Of all the people who get paranoid most is your mother, so much so that she wouldn’t hesitate to ask your dudhwala, presswala or newspaper wala to suggest any suitable matches. Your dad is already combing the matrimonial section of the newspaper. Every ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ respectively is under the scanner of the doubt. Your ‘bua’ (father’s sister) is calling to ask your parents ‘How much (money) you will put in the wedding?’ If you are a guy, well lucky, the question would be ‘how much (dowry) you expect?'
After a couple of years or months, depending on your endurance, you most likely cave in. Then, begins the great ordeal of meeting potential suitors. If you are in love, well tough luck with trying to convince people to be above caste, family background or pay cheque. The evergreen question of ‘log kya kahenge’ continues to haunt. All in the name of ‘Being settled’.
But slowly you learn to get in the groove. Apart from the months building up to your wedding, and quintessential sulking ‘Jijaji’ and ‘Fufaji’, everything and everyone else is in control. When you get married you still have your choice, your independence and freedom to sleep until noon. It's a different matter that renting a 2bhk and still sharing the same room doesn’t make so much of economic sense. It's a different matter that as a bachelor, you could go by not washing your sheets for months and that half-eaten biryani could still celebrate its anniversary in your fridge. 
Yes, you have made sacrifices but this isn’t the first time, is it? We have all chosen between science & sports and passion & profession. We have all chosen the road not less travelled because it's the right thing to do. But despite all of this, your life is still pretty normal. You are beginning to leave all the trauma, in the name of ‘Being Settled', behind.
But as you sleep peacefully, the question that is gonna really screw your life in the name of ‘Being Settled’ is still lurking in the dark. You go by your days, unaware that, all that has happened so far in your life in the name of ‘Being Settled’ is just tip of the iceberg. You might even celebrate your one year wedding anniversary, thinking that all the pressure of ‘Being Settled’ is in the past. That's when your ‘once in blue moon’ relatives strike again. This time with their eyes and words shouting ‘When are you getting pregnant?’
Yes, you heard it right! It’s one of the most frequently asked question from a young and married Indian woman. And if you are a young and married Indian man, well you can improvise that question, isn’t it? This is the moment when you truly realize that society’s real motto, especially that of Indian society is some contorted version of 'Live and let live’ i.e. ‘Screw and get screwed’. No pun intended!
So they hang the monster of all ‘When are you getting pregnant?’ sword on your neck. All in the name of ‘Being ‘really' settled!’ But don’t worry, ours is a conservative society. They won’t discuss this directly. Just ‘When is the good news?' question with suggestive eye gestures. Followed by a series of awkward conversations with your mom, mother-in-law, in short, all the ladies in the house and next house and your relatives' house…And if all these negotiations still don't work on you, they will bring the father of all blackmail. ‘Beta! your grandfather wants to see his grand grand child’. ‘Beta! what is this money that you are running after if you don’t have a ‘waaris’? And those ‘once in a blue moon' relatives are more worried about you than even your parents. As if they are going to live the sleepless nights and 'shoo shoo poo poo’ trauma for you.
I mean, when you are married you can still reason with your husband to keep that seat down every time or to not throw a towel on the bed. But who can reason with the little monsters called ‘babies'? They might look dependent on you, but the truth as told to me by my friends is, it's you who get really get dependent on them. The only life you have is between ‘shoo-shoo potty’ breaks and naps. 
So after unsettling your whole life, the society slow claps, ‘Hurray! You are finally screwed…oops settled!’
But now, it's too late to take a revenge. The damage has already been done. So the next cycle of ‘Being settled' starts. This time your prodigy is competing with Sharma Ji's Grandson!
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...until next read !

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I am a writer by passion, a petroleum engineer by accident and a proud Indian by origin. You can connect with me on facebooktwitter and instagram @curiousinkpot

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