Monday, February 15, 2010

The politics of moving

You'd think moving to a new house would be easy, you look at listings, find a place that is available for rent, check out the place and make a decision. It's just not so easy, at least not in India, when you're married to an Indian and when you already live in the apartment above their house.

Last week we had to go downstairs (my in-laws live in the apartment below us-it's a 2 story apartment complex) in an arranged meeting kind of way and break the news to them. It was not easy, because I knew my husband hated hurting his parents, and he knew this kind of news would do that. We're only planning to move 2 to 3 km's away from them, and when we told them so, they insisted it was too far. They want us to live in the same colony (means the same as neighborhood) in walking distance. In my opinion I think that is unrealistic. Especially since the area we currently live in is very busy, very loud and very dusty. It's not fun to finally get Yasmine settled down for her nap, only to have her woken up by loud blaring horns, a huge transport like truck or just the man on the street selling onions, or whatever fare there is that day, screaming at the top of his lungs.

The problem is, here in India, the son, especially once he is married usually moves in with the parents. But we are not a regular couple, we are half of a western couple. And where I come from, my parents were practically packing my bags at 19 to get me off to University. As hard as I know it was on my mom and dad, they knew in the end it would make me stronger, more mature and into a responsible human being. I see grown men here, still being treated like children by their mother's, and I just think it only hinders them. Daughters are taught to cook, clean, sew, take care of the house so that they are prepared to leave the nest, such as the saying goes that having daughter's in India is like watering someone else's plant. They are even educated women, and many choose not to work once married. I have met some many women quit their jobs because they were getting married. Which is terrible, and now that I have a daughter I am much more vigilant of this kind of attitude and behaviour. I will not have my daughter grow up to serve her father and brother (should she have one), and I will not prepare her for a life of taking care of her husband either.

My father-in law, is ready to "get his daughter" married, and she is all of 20 years old. They have no problem with her leaving the nest, but they have a huge issue with their son moving a few km's down the street.

Now that we have made the decision to move, my husband's mother is hurt and makes comments like, "you're all going and leaving me," "you don't care about me," and so on and so forth. It's really hard to hear her say these things, because I do care deeply about my mother-in-law and I hate that she think this is about leaving her. Secondly, I know this is hurting my husband, but he has agreed to this because he knows it is what is best for "our" family. Trying to get my MIL to understand that this is not about her and it is not personal is really difficult.

We are moving because we would like a nicer place, that is safer, cleaner and a little less busy for our daughter, and she has to come first from now on in our lives. We found a place that is a gated community which means there are security guards and a gate around the apartment complex. It is brand new, and they are even building an outdoor swimming pool and a park. It has also has a third bedroom, which is important since I will start working from home shortly (more on that in another post).

It's been difficult getting past all of these little idiosyncrasies, but we know in the end it will be the best decision for our family. And I know my MIL and FIL will come to see that it is the best decision, especially for their son, who will be able to take responsibility for his family and not rely on his parents anymore. We'll have to make a concerted effort to visit often and to show them we aren't gone away, but the effort has to be two-fold, and they need to make an effort as well to come and see us. It is more difficult for me to pack up all of Yasmine's things and to constantly move back and forth with her, especially now since I have her on a pretty good schedule.

This has just been another learning experience for me and I am a better person for having gone through it. I just take for granted sometimes, the things that seem so easy in Canada and so straightforward. In India nothing is that straight-forward and there is always someone else to think about.