Are you married? You’re not married?
I don’t know how many times we were asked that over the 18 days we were in India, but there’s nothing more than having a question repeated at you to make you slightly paranoid. They couldn’t understand why we weren’t married, and assuming it was a cultural thing, expected us to explain it.
Only we don’t know the reason why not either. Maybe it’s because no one had arranged anything for me Indian-style, one guy suggested. ‘Wife is life, husband is life, marriage is life,’ a cycle rickshaw driver lectured us, as he panted pedalling up a hill, dragging us behind him, then turning to beam at us. ‘I am a very happy man and you should be happy too.’
‘We are happy,’ we’d insist. Aren’t we?
And we were so old to be unmarried. 31 years old and with no husband or children. ‘I was married at 16,’ someone proudly boasted.
When we got asked as we checked in to our final hotel in Jaipur if we were married and for the umpteenth time said No, we decided to invent boyfriends, who were unable to get the time off work to come on holiday with us. Somehow this made things a whole lot more bearable. Having boyfriends meant we weren’t as pitiable anymore.
My imaginary boyfriend was called Rob, and FF’s was called Danny. When a waiter asked us if we were married and we told him we had boyfriends, he asked us what their jobs were.
I like inventing characters and it made me wonder, if I were going to invent a husband or boyfriend, what would he actually be like? Maybe that’s a question I should take some time to answer and then I’ve got a reference point to use for tracking him down. I’ll let you know if I do.
Regardless, it seems that in India, if you’re not travelling with a man, you inevitably look like either an aid worker or Princess Diana. As FF so beautifully illustrated throughout our trip…