Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Annoying Practices of Indian MIL's and how Gori's Interpret Them

Women the world over are plagued by their MIL. Even those that get along with their MIL often find things that are hard to deal with when it comes to their MIL's behavior. Those of us in intercultural relationships have the added disadvantage of being exposed to customs that should have disappeared hundreds of years ago. Some of these things are not wrong, only different. They are things you could encounter and must get used to if you intend to live in an intercultural relationship. 

Here are the common complaints I hear: (The "translation" portion is how the act horrifies a westerner.)
  • MIL doesn't wash her hands often, nor before cooking and often sticks her fingers directly into the food. Translation: She just stuck dirty fingers in my food! Who knows what kind of germs and bacteria are on those fingers. (In general for this country there seems to be some kind of consensus that you only need to wash your hands after having a bowel movement and the right hand is automatically cleaner than the left hand because you wipe with the left hand - yes hand, not toilet paper...hand.)
  • MIL leaves food on the counter for hours after cooking, sometimes all day. Translation: Oh great, my food was shared with the ants, roaches, mice and lizards that live in the kitchen and everyone knows about but no one will bother to try and get rid of. I'm not hungry anymore.
  • MIL sits on DIL's legs or feet repeatedly when there is ample room for her to sit elsewhere. I'm told this is a sign she likes the DIL and wants to be closer to her. Translation: OMFG, I can't even be comfortable and at peace in my own bed? She SAT on me. Did you see that? It's like I wasn't even there or she just expected me to move and grant her free reign of my bed. 
  • MIL routinely speaks only Hindi (or other language) in front of DIL even though she knows English. Then when there's a comment to be made about how bad western culture is or how great India is, MIL switches over to English to make the comment then goes back to Hindi. Translation: We're not stupid lady. We get the innuendo's that you're trying to make us feel inferior but it's not working. We see the realities and since you haven't lived in our culture, you're really in no place to judge. We don't listen to the crap you're slinging so just get over yourself. Here's another tip for you, we do learn the language and we know more than you think so you're really not hiding what you're saying and we lose all respect for you for trying.
  • MIL washes but hides the tea towels, aka hand towels. Translation: I don't understand this practice at all. Towels are meant for drying your hands, cleaning them temporarily when you're chopping tomatoes and the juice running between your fingers has gotten annoying. Why the hell can't we keep one of the 8 towels I purchased just for the kitchen in the kitchen? No, I'm not going through your clothing cabinet to dig out a towel. I have no interest in running across your underwear or FIL's in pursuit of a towel. Not to mention my hands are dirty and don't belong on the clean clothes and neither do yours so I'll pass.  
  • MIL belches repeatedly (like 10 times in a row) and loudly while sitting right next to you as if it's normal. Translation: Eww!! Okay so maybe it's not unhygienic but it's disgusting. No one wants to smell the rot coming out of your mouth. Cover your mouth or excuse yourself from the room. You don't have to be here, no one is dying without you. Please leave. The same goes for farting. We don't want your stink no matter where it comes from. Age doesn't earn you the privilege of disgracing yourself in front of younger family members.
  • MIL comments rudely about westerners moral values. Translation: That's completely uneducated but since you insist everything you see on Indian TV is true then I'm going to start believing all I see about Indians. All those skanky short dresses I see Bollywood stars wearing now must also mean that Indian girls don't care if their taint is hanging out. Oh, and heaven forbid the dramas are true too. I'm not sure I could fathom that many loose morals all in one place. Killing and swapping babies. Oh my goodness!
  • MIL pokes, plucks, or otherwise wiggles a child's genetalia and says "shame, shame, shame." Translation: I'm told this is a game. WTF. Anytime you play with a child's sexual organ for your own enjoyment that IS pedophilia.This is not funny or cute in any way. The child doesn't appreciate it and it could cause emotional scarring. You are a sick and twisted individual and I'll never let you near my child again and you should consider yourself damn lucky I was too in shock to punch you in the face. (*I have heard of this now from 2 different people who don't even know each other and a 3rd who hadn't done it defended it as a game. F*cking sicko's.) 
  • MIL makes crass comments about weight or looks (of the gori, the Indian son or their child). You can never be/look good enough for an Indian MIL (or aunty). Translation: What the hell is wrong with you? It's emotionally damaging to your son to tell him he's fat, has a double chin, has put on weight (when they're not even close to fat). Not to mention the person being commented on isn't even fat most of the time. You're ridiculous. I'm sure you don't lose any sleep at night by putting other people down but your son/DIL does and you're breaking your own code of moral standards by hurting people. Hypocrite. And here's another realization for you. When a woman is pregnant she's expected to gain about 15KG/35lbs. If she doesn't, the baby suffers and your ideal of weight and how fat she's getting is not only not appreciated but is not going to be followed. The baby comes first, not you so stop acting like a child.
  • MIL (or aunty) decides they are no longer satisfied with the mixed relationship and begin ignoring the gori DIL. Translation: Turn your back honey, I won't go away just because you didn't get the spineless slave you always imagined. India is rapidly changing and even Indian women aren't going to bow to you the way you wish. But go ahead, have your delusions, you just need to create drama so you don't ever have to realize how mundane and sad your own life is.
I hear these same complaints from North and South India, tourist areas and non-tourist areas, and across all classes of Indians (based on the Indian version of high/middle/low class and not the American standards). What are some things I missed that your MIL does?

****I would like to give a very big THANK YOU to all the gori's who helped contribute to this post.


  1. I've never heard of the genitalia thing, that is bizarre.
    Do not underestimate the all important Indian family hierarchy, It actually goes beyond 'hierarchy' it's more like a sense of entitlement.
    Oh well, I'm done with the 'choti bahu' treatment my teenaged nieces decided to inflict on me (because I'm married to the youngest son & therefore lowest in status).
    I'm now officially FIL and MIL's favorite. NAH NAH NAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
    I win!!!
    Yes, I have my own wing in the family compound (even though I only live with the family 3 weeks out of the year), I cook but I don't clean, and the aforementioned bratty teenaged nieces are ordered by MIL to get out of my sight & off the compound when I am in residence.

  2. My MIL feigns sickness every other day to get attention even though she's perfectly fine. She pretends she's got ill health, yet the docs won't see her as they say there's nothing wrong with her! She's well enough to eat, gossip, and watch every serial available. She then sits and plays the very games she watches on her serials with the family. We now keep our distance from her and have nothing to do with her. Her loss I'm afraid!

  3. I heard that genitalia thing from 2 different people! So sick and had others tell me they had heard about it. I was appalled!

    I'm the only bahu and for the most part I'm well taken care of by my in-laws but I'm starting to get really tired of that meaning I'm a Rapunzel. That is so NOT the princess I always dreamed of being. I'm loving your victory. I cook when I want (to eat lol - because other ppls food is not safe here) and that's it. I think I would actually prefer to do my own laundry and dishes though considering how they're not really being done well right now. I can't wait to be in better circumstances.

  4. Wow!! You just characterized your MIL as a sex offender. There's a huge distinction between a pedo and a non-pedo. HUGE!! You cannot remove that. Else you will get people calling indian men "gay" just because a lot of them "hold hands".

    Yes it is inappropriate but you cannot characterize it as pedophilia. It's statements like these which will damage the integrity of this blog and why indians abhor non-indian writers because some of the achieved conclusions are very wild.

  5. There are no small children in this house however, had my MIL done this then yes I would label her the same way. And two adults holding hands is not a pleasure seeking endeavor. A grown woman playing a game with a child's genitalia is certainly not even close to the same thing as holding hands.

    The conclusion isn't wild. This is a culture difference and in the US, people are put in jail for less and branded sex offenders for life. As I stated in the blog, these are gori reactions to these behaviors. It only stands to reason they would not be the same as someone who had never learned this kind of behavior is wrong.

  6. It's not a cultural thing. It's an interpretation.

    I don't know if you understand the significance of "interpretations". It is BIG. Take your country post 9/11 as an example. At the time, there was no callus belli available to carpet bomb afghanistan. The distinction was bridged by an "interpretation". On 9/11 bush appeared on television and removed the distinction between "terrorists" and "those that provide shelter to terrorists". That doctrine is known today as the bush doctrine. An "interpretation" justified a "war". Some 3000 americans died on 9/11. Compare that to the several thousand "babies" that died in american bombing in iraq and afg post 9/11.

    I have been reading your blog for a long time about your difficulties in india and it's comparison to your life back in the US. You created a blog and documented your life in india in it as a form of protest.

    I don't understand what makes a country and its people great. Is it the four lane concrete roads? Television programs that do not edit profanity? Malls? A 15mbps internet connection? Packaged food? The superiority of sh!ting inside a concrete bowl and wiping the hole with a moist paper?

    I simply don't understand how a population of a nation state can be convinced to invade another country? I don't understand how an entire population can be made so morbid?

    I think there is a difference between what americans and indians view as "civilized". There is a dripping undertone in your writings asking others to conform.

  7. I read this post yesterday but didn't have the time to comment.  WoW, I can't believe that people think just because someone doesn't wipe their ass with a toilet paper that must mean that they don't  care about their hygiene. I grew up wiping my ass with my hand and I grew up to be  perfectly healthy and normal.Who says toilet paper is a necessity? The west???
    And  what is this nonsense about pedophilia? If goris think that "poking" a child's genitalia is sexual abuse than I guess most of the DESI grandmas, mothers, nannies and everyone else who takes care of an infant should be  placed on the sex offenders' list just  because these are the rules set by the west.
    I absolutely agree with broadway, why do you have this obsession about wanting everybody to conform with your way of living. If you detest India, its people and  the way the live so much, why are you even living there. 

  8. The view is cultural. I have yet to encounter a westerner would wouldn't say playing with a child's genitals isn't pedophilia.

    I didn't create this blog as a form of protest. The purpose now is to bring to light the ins and outs of Indian society and what I see of it, how that makes me react. It only stands to reason someone who has never been a westerner living in an Indian joint family wouldn't understand the views I have of what goes on here. My purpose in this blog, as it has always been and has been ell stated is to give other westerners who may decide to move here a realistic account of things they could encounter, have to learn to deal with, or be exposed to.

    What makes a country great are it's people. How they treat each other, how they act with each other. In Amritsar from what I've seen people don't treat each other well, not even by Indian standards. They don't treat the city well and they certainly don't treat Indian well. It's a dog eat dog type of environment here and most people are just out for what they can do for themselves.

    The editing profanity is one of the few things I like about this country, I just wish they would edit it better. When I'm watching TV I don't expect to see a woman smoking edited out but then be exposed to acts of bestiality (cartoon) that isn't. I don't want to see any of that. I wish they would censor more. One of the things I looked forward to coming here was the lack of exposure to sex on TV but there's tons of it here as well.

    I can't answer for you on matters of war. I don't condone nor endorse any war. I can't see how it ever accurately solves anything. But if you want to talk morbid, take a look around you. People beating innocent dogs with no consequence, cannibalism, and inflicting emotional suffrage constantly all in the name of avoiding the evil eye. Those are just a few of the things that are going on India. But I don't have to tell you that, you've studied this stuff. As I've always said, there are sick individuals in every culture and Indians are no different than anyone else.

  9. I can tell you agree with Broadway because most of what you commented about were things she said. I didn't mention toilet paper and don't believe I ever have.

    As for your comment on pedophilia, as I've already mentioned, yes the western world would define playing with a child's genitals a sex offense. It's funny how all Indians will swear the Indian way is so right and can't be wrong when hundreds of other countries disagree. It's like you just all ignore all the research showing how detrimental this is to a child.

    I've never said I detest India or it's people either. I can't stand Amritsar. Even Indians that live here, some have moved away, and others who have visited here tell me how screwed up this place is in comparison to the rest of India.

    I don't need anyone to conform. Exposing things that myself and other gori's are forced to deal with is not the same as asking someone to conform. I didn't ask them to be like me, I came here and I've done more than my share to adapt myself to this life. The only conforming I've requested is that my family take a few small, easy measures to safe guard my health. That is NOT too much to ask considering I've stayed sick for about 13/14 months. The rest of India I have no concern for. They can do what they want, live how they want.