Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Segregation of the Sexes

This is something I never thought a lot of until recently. Men and women don't publicly mingle here, before or after marriage. I rarely hung out with men in the states and to be honest I don't like men much lol. I kept them at a distance on purpose for a long time and I really have no idea how hubby got past my defenses but he's stuck with me now. Anyway, that's another story.

Since coming here I've broken quite a few social rules. The first was when hubby, who succumbs quite easily to social pressure, introduced me to a few of his friends. They were over eager to meet the foreigner and after months of begging, Hubby finally agreed. We started going out for dinner with his friends and their wives. Of course we had to sneak out so his parents didn't find out and I couldn't fathom why at the time. (I was still learning).

Then one day Jagdeep wanted me to put some spy software on his girlfriends computer because he thought she was cheating (she was) and Hubby didn't know how to explain how to use it to him so he brought Jagdeep up to my room. He thought he was being sneaky but his dad  caught on and within 5 minutes his dad was livid. Jagdeep left and Hubby got yelled at big time. So the next time, I met Jagdeep downstairs and helped out with the computer.

Within the first 6 months I was here we had a male cousin (and 2 female cousins on the same night) sleep in our room with us. We've went out with a different male cousin shopping and to dinner several times. I've met 6 or 7 of Hubby's married friends and several non-married friends. Just yesterday I noticed one of the cousins hadn't been going out with us the last few times he came. Hubby told me his dad had been fussing and had strictly forbidden any males, family or not to come up to our room (even for a minute to get something) or to be around me. That's just so weird to me so naturally I started asking questions and Hubby pointed out some things I hadn't paid attention to in regards to how separated the sexes are here.

This family is very segregated and it seems to be common in this community as well. I had noticed that the neighbors were never on their terrace together, it was always either the men or the women but never all of them. I had always figured it was because the women were busy with housework, shopping, TV, etc. Then I was watching today while we have guests that the women all went to Uncles room and them all went to FIL's room while the girl kids were all up on the terrace and the boy kids on the ground floor. They were segregated!

There have been times when family stopped by for a couple hours where everyone was in the same room but now I realize that every time family has came to stay the night they are always separated until bedtime. Of course the men are drinking (not that they'd ever admit that) and they close the door so no one sees.....LOL, can you imagine 40-50 year old men still hiding their activities as if no one knows? When they go in the room like that they don't allow anyone in except to drop off food. (Another interesting point, one of Hubby's uncles cleans, cuts and cooks chicken for everyone when he comes which is completely backwards by archaic gender separation standards.)

I had to work so thankfully I had an excuse to sit in my room after saying the customary 'Namaste' to everyone and hugging the aunty. She's scary but I kind of like her. Her twin girls are awesome too.

Hubby brought an interesting point to light when he happily proclaimed (before thinking) how fun it was that everyone was together, 3 womans, 3 men, 3 girls (the kids) and 3 brothers (the boys including him). I thought about that when he said it and realized I was the only one left out. The 3 "womans" (cause that's how he says it) were the aunties. I don't fit into any of their groups. Sad isn't it. I'm unlucky number 13 in this family equation tonight.

Anyway, I'm not the only gori that notices this kind of segregation of the sexes and it's not just in Amritsar. Have you seen it? What kinds of separation have you noticed in your family when they all get together?


  1. Yeah i noticed it too, but it's far less enforced in my in-laws family, but yup sure enough if we have to go to a semi formal dinner at one of DH's colleague's home or a company casual beach get together, the segregation happens, even if shortly, the men go out of the room to drink and then the women join them, and in a few case we drink too, but only for a short time before dinner.
    In DH's family home, we the youth force all go up on the roof to drink at night, no segregation, this is the place where MIL and FIL know we are but will not dare going because they know we are drinking but as long as they don't see it it isn't to love that hypocrisy regarding drinking and smoking :)
    In our old place in Bangalore we might have shocked a few aunties, because we lived in a rooftop appartment and had a HUGE terrace which we embelished with plants, a patio table and chair set and a bench, and at night DH adn I were always out, drinking beer and on weekends all our friends would come too because we really had the coolest place, and when DH was away on business trips, his friends still came to hang out at our place with me, so imagine how it looked to the aunties :) a gori girl in full view on the terrace in capri and t-shirts sitting out drinking beer with guys alone...SHOKING LOL
    That didn't stop us from hanging out at all, if they don't like it then that's their issue, they were the ones spying non stop in our house too.

  2. It happen to me too, When the group when out for a holiday for one night out of the city where we live. After dinner, we went back to our room to refresh, my man ask permission or inform me that they will go to the other room where my brother, my cousin and his cousin stayed for drink they ddnt hide though that they will drink, but the wives bump in to our room for chat, coz as he and the ladies explained to me that we cant sit with them, ladies has their own place and the men as well.

  3. It's very different to get used to. Of course, I'm the only one not included so it may take me longer lol. Oh well.

  4. In Nepal it happens too, although I don't think it's quite as strict. My Nepali family and their circle of friends are very liberal in that regard and when friends come over, the men and women mix freely. But at work it's a slightly different story. During breaks and lunch hour, it's very rare to see the men and women sitting and chatting. Sometimes they'll meet up to talk about work related stuff but other than that, it doesn't happen often.

  5. We do the same in Bangladesh too. Now I that live in Canada, I noticed the same happening within most of the deshi community.

  6. It does sound like your family is somewhat liberal. It just surprises me how much separation occurs here. I wouldn't want to be around a bunch of drinking men anywhere but I think the segregation here is pretty extreme.

  7. So they brought the old custom with them. I never noticed this about my Gujrati friends in the US but I will now be looking when I go back.

  8. You helped a guy spy on his gf? Besharam

  9. Absolutely. It's what I'm trained to do.

  10. I didn't witness it growing up (I grew up in India) in my parents' community, but I saw it happen in my husband's community (Gujratis) and it always irritated me. I see it here (in the US) at some Indian friends' place too but we have very few friends like that. Most of our friends are like us - we all hang out together. No segregation.

  11. I am like you, I hang out in mixed crowds. It's more fun and less drama.