|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 12, Tuesday August 19, 2003|
Inter-racial Dating/ Marriage
Inter-racial marriage is often considered to be a taboo in Bangladesh, but many Bangladeshi's choose to marry people of other races. Some think that an interracial marriage is bound for failure because of cultural differences, while others think that they have the same chance of working out as any other marriage.
Is there something wrong with Bengali partners in general? Are there Bengali men who are intent upon avoiding Bengali women and vice versa? "I think what annoys me the most about the typical Bangladeshi girl, is her intent upon leeching off their husbands. I haven't met many Bengali women who have a drive to succeed in their lives on their own, most seem content to get married and not have to worry about earning bread for the family. I don't think I could stand to be around someone who had that attitude for long." A 24 year old student from the US says. "This is, however, a stereotype and there are exceptions", he adds. This value of dating equals is an inherently western ideal based on westerns ideas of private property of income, the equality of women, etc.
In Bangladesh, however, many men appear to be comfortable with their wives not being as busy as they are. "I would want a wife or girlfriend to have plenty of time for me. Also, western girls are too caught up in ideas of women's freedom (in terms of their careers, etc) for the sake of freedom. It isn't very practical though; I want to be able to start a family someday, and that is hard to do if the mother is very ambitious or has different values from me", says another student.
It seems that a primary reason for why many people think interracial marriages are destined for failure is "differences of value". "It is usually easier to date Bengali girls because you tend to have more in common with them, and they tend to understand you better since they tend to share or at least understand your basic values", says another student. It would seem that since women of other races have different inherent values, it hard for a Bengali to get along with them in a relationship.
Most Bangladeshi's are willing to dismiss all inter-racial marriages as abysmal failures that are just waiting to happen. One student says, "Look at the statistics, I can't think of a single inter-racial marriage I know of that survives. There are even often differences of value amongst people marrying from different districts in Bangladesh, I can't even imagine the problems with people of different races." What people who are skeptical of inter-racial marriages find hard to answer is why the occasional such marriage often works out. "That's rubbish", says one mother, "they are actually secretly miserable inside, and probably regret it right now". "Because one of them was forced to compromise", explains another.
Another student has a different explanation. "People look at labels and colour a little too carefully. Just because a couple are of the same race does not mean that the marriage is not prone to breaking up. And similarly because a couple is of a different race does not mean that there is no chance of things falling apart. The fundamental reason why many marriages (interracial or otherwise) fall apart, are usually because of differences in inherent values. If you share the same basic values with someone and know how to live with each other, I don't see why the relationship shouldn't work out. There is however, a good chance that a person of another race will have different values, which may lead to friction, but race itself isn't the cause of these problems. What's important is being able to understand what you want and look beyond shallow labels of race and be able to see a person's fundamental values." That seems to make sense, but what about making your parents happy? Can you even imagine introducing a foreigner to your parents as a girl-friend or more? "It is not my responsibility to lead my live to make my parents happy", he replies.
So what if a Bengali has very similar values to a foreigner? What if they agree on the same basic theory behind God, their expectations of a family, their ideals for their future, their expectations of marriage, etc? Is even such a relationship between a Bengali and a foreigner destined for failure? "Well…", answers another student from the US, "chances are good that that Bengali person you are talking about, isn't really Bengali in the first place."
By A True Bengali
All the promises we made…
'Promises are meant to be broken'. I'm sure that broken promises are such everyday stories that any random person we choose will have something to say about it. Everyone of us have our share of heartaches and bruises on the account of broken promises. I sometimes wonder- if promises ARE meant to be broken, why do we, at times want a promise so desperately that we can die for it?
In a romantic relationship- the commitment (if the relationship is matured enough to reach that stage) is also a promise. There, the promise is of being together, of being there for each other, or (may be) a life together. Every relationship, whatever that may be, has a promise. There are examples of sore hearts because their relationships did not work out, because the promise was broken. I have been there, you have been there, and there are certainly many others who have been there. But, even after knowing all these- don't we still want a promise? Don't we still want someone's promise to us of being together, of being for each other? Don't we want to miss someone when it rains? Don't we want to share our good news with someone who will be equally happy to hear it (or we will be doubly happy to share)?
NOW, what if we meet someone who does not want to make a promise because that person does not want to break a promise? When we make a promise, we hardly want to break it. Now, we have difficulty understanding the person afraid of breaking one because they are not the ones we meet everyday. Well, reader- I had the fortune, or the misfortune of meeting someone like that. And along the way, I also wanted a promise (being a very typical person myself) regardless of if it can be kept in the future or not. That is when, I started wondering if I make sense! 'If promises ARE meant to be broken, why do we actually want them?' I guess there can be 2 reasons behind being scared of making a promise.
One: the other person is not-what-I-want, and we have a high possibility of breaking it. Two: when the other person is way too precious to hurt. For my self esteem- I believe that for my guy- I stand in category two. And this is when I learnt why we 'need' promises. We need promises because we want to feel that we are important enough to have a promise. We don't want to be proven 'stupid' to the whole world, because we are depending on some 'unspoken promise'. Promises are broken everyday, and when unspoken promises are broken, we have no one to blame. We need a person to blame when everything goes wrong. And, that too-perfect a person steals that opportunity.
Before gold is turned in the beautiful ornaments that are much loved by many, the metal has to go through tremendous amount of heat. I guess the same is true for us too. After years of broken promises and bruises- may be a person turns to gold. May be the wisest amongst us has the highest number of heartaches. Who knows?
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