“A thoughtful, incisive exploration of the nature of connection.”—New York Times “A lively, irreverent look at the changing societal and sexual mores of newly globalized Indian cities…Richly detailed.”—Washington Post
“This is a fun book and a smart, funny woman.”—Newsday
About the Author
Anita Jain grew up in northern California and graduated from Harvard University. Her writing has appeared in New York magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and Travel & Leisure, and she has worked as a journalist in a number of cities, including Mexico City, London, Singapore, New York, and New Delhi, where she currently lives.
I really liked Anita, and enjoyed reading this book. It's well-written, candid, and full of very interesting observations and insights into both Indian and American culture. As I read along, though, I found it increasingly frustrating - and ultimately maddening - that Anita seemed to lack the slightest insight into herself. Specifically, the very traits she rails against the most are the ones she herself exhibits in spades.
The most laughable sentences in the book: "This so-called `fear of intimacy'... what is this? It seems rather unfathomable to me." What's unfathomable to *me* is how Anita can be unaware of how obviously terrified of intimacy she is. She rails against men who declare early on that they're not looking for anything serious. She doesn't seem to realize that it's much more insidious and irresponsible to declare that you *are* serious (and even to believe you're serious) about wanting something real, as she does - and then to have your every action and decision declare otherwise, as hers does.
If a man is married, or has a girlfriend, or lives on another continent, or has taken a vow of celibacy, or is inappropriate for her in every way, or is "just not that into her", or is downright cruel and heartless to her - well, she's all over him. On the other hand, if a man is appropriate, genuinely interested in her, well-intentioned and respectful, she can't seem to write him off or sabotage the relationship fast enough. News flash, Anita: these are classic symptoms of serious intimacy issues.
Case in point: her father arranges for her to meet a young man in whom she has no interest. She's much more taken with his chaperone - a handsome, accomplished, engaging and well-read professional.Read more ›
Anita Jain's "Marrying Anita" has received many enthusiastic reviews. But quite a few readers who were born and raised in India, and steeped in Indian culture, were shocked and pained - her parents among them, I must say - to read this book. In an interview the author has said that her parents were "not happy" when they read the book.
Passages such as this will shock an average Indian not exposed to American culture. "Going to India to find a husband also raised other considerations. I wondered if I would be able to find someone modern enough in his thinking to be comfortable with a wife having a great deal of her own agency, not just in terms of making decisions for the household but in having a full life outside the marriage -- one that included going out with friends, drinking, and smoking. A woman who has had sex in the past -- and not just with those two long-term boyfriends. I wasn't sure what I would find, but I owed it to myself to try."
Written with wry humor blended with wit, and in a sarcastic tone, portions of the book are entertaining and highly readable. But there are many portions that caused me pain, shock and regret, especially at the needlessly snide remarks the author made about a couple of suitors. I think the problem is that even though her name, appearance, and lineage are Indian, she is not an Indian at heart, and she lacks basic knowledge about Indian culture, manners, and etiquette. Here is an example - this is what she has written about Lalit, one of her suitors: "Lalit worked as a clerk at a shipping company, earning 8,000 rupees, less than $[...], a month. He'd never been to my upscale neighborhood. He greeted my parents -- "Namaste, Auntie. Namaste, Uncle" -- then surveyed the place, clearly thrown by the style in which I lived.Read more ›
I was quite excited when my husband found this at the library. As a first generation Indian-American who also grew up in Northern California just a few years before Anita did, I felt that I could relate to her experiences.
Unfortunately, I found this "Sex in the City Meets Modern Delhi" to be underwhelming at best and frustrating at worst. At the beginning, as she describes her life in New York, I was thinking, "Poor woman, stuck in the superficiality of the New York dating scene. Once she gets to India, she will slow down and become more in touch with herself and her own values". She clearly demonstrated, however, that she brought that superficiality and lack of insight with her to Delhi. Drinking, smoking, partying, having sex, she would say, "So what, take me as I am!". Well, no one wanted to, and it was easy to see why. She was needlessly insulting and superficial to nice gentleman (making fun of their lack of proficiency in English... and even their pant leg length, no less (so junior high)... as ways to reject them). Forcing her father to get up and get her water just to "point out" her independence and mock her suitor was unbelievably immature. And, as mentioned before, getting completely drunk and spending 1/10 of your potential suitor's income on the first date is not a way to show that you will be a helpmeet through thick and thin -- it only shows that you are into self-gratification first and foremost. My husband, when I read it to him, said at the end, "Aren't you relieved that none of those guys ended up being married to her?".
Her wonderful father, while valuing her so highly, may have played a role in making Anita feel that she was too good for anyone, and may have ultimately done her a disservice.Read more ›