Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Problem with Single-Parenting Part 1: Turning into Scary Landlady

{As published in Hindustan Times Brunch - 11/03/12}

This whole Scary Cat Lady reference is very un-Indian. In India, the worry is never about not getting married. We attach such a freakish importance to marital status that our young people usually have to put up a fight to stay single just a little bit longer. So this idea that there are ageing spinsters tucked away in every other apartment complex – knitting and talking to cats, too afraid to step out of the house because children would throw little stones at them – is totally foreign to us.

I mean, if you’re a thirty-plus single woman in India who is still waiting for The One - you should be more afraid of turning into Scary Landlady. You know? That fat, angry married woman with a moustache who tells you things like “no bringing baais (boys for the uninitiated) into the house, wokay?”, “no drinking alcohol, playing loud English songs and all that dirty business” and my favourite “cook only vegetarian food” (so random!) before renting out her apartment to you.
The reason I say this is because The Scary Landlady unlike the Cat Lady, is married and still frustrated – probably because she settled for some man who was available but not right for her because she was too afraid of being alone and didn’t have age on her side. And now she deals with her frustration by growing a moustache and torturing young single women because she secretly wants their life.

That’s why it’s kind of amazing (and scary) that I’m still looking for The One though I have all the odds stacked up against me – I’m thirty and I’m a single-parent and there is aforementioned Landlady situation that keeps popping up in my head every time my eyes wander off after a Mister Why-not. 

But see, when you’ve crossed thirty, you have to make your peace with the fact that your days of waiting for Mister Right are long gone. They are taken by twenty-somethings and that’s that. But the problem is, they’re even fresh out of Mister Maybes – he’s not perfect, but you can live with that. Except, now it looks like he can do better than you. Who’d have thought.

So that’s how you end up with Mister Why-not. You know? He’s kind of cute from a certain angle, kind of funny after a few drinks, kind of smart if you can talk about World War II and Bullets for the rest of your life? He’s a bit of an acquired taste but hey, you’re thirty plus and gravity is catching up with you. Compromise is the way to go. On the flip side, you could settle for this guy and realize that he bores the hell out of you, kills your fire and makes you complacent about facial hair. Eeps.

This is still better than the options available for a thirty-year old single-parent like me. You see, in India, if you’re divorced, you’re like a second-hand phone. No, make that second-hand Nokia phone. People think twice about investing in you and the chances of finding a single guy – even if he’s a Mister Why-not- are pretty darn slim. In fact, you have well-meaning aunties often telling you things like “if you look really hard you might find a good divorced man willing to marry you.”


It’s like I’m at the bottom of the single-and-looking food chain and my perennial fear is that very soon even the Mister Why-nots will be in demand and I’ll be stuck with a Mister How-come. He gets his name from the first reaction you get from people upon introducing him as your beau – ‘Umm, he seems nice, just you know, not your type. So, umm, how come?’

What do you tell them? These are people who know you and know he’s not your type. And you know they’re only buffering it with the ‘he seems nice’ remark – because the truth is, Mister How-come is just Mister Wrong without the alpha-maleness. This is even worse than what The Landlady got!

At least when you were with Mister Wrong, people pitied you in a very he’s-going-to-break-her-heart kind of way. Now, they’re going to look at you like the poor girl who settled because she couldn’t do any better. Horrors.

I did not see this coming and I’m totally unprepared for this future. My idea of the future always involved The One. But what if I’m stuck with Mister How-come and end up unhappy and bitter?

I don’t even have an apartment to let out.


  1. oh my god judy you've just given me palpitations. i'm one up from you on that list, thirty, independent and NOT conventionally pretty. i guess we can end up with miss her i can live with?

  2. Towards the end of the post the common reaction would be "Awwww"... However, often researched feelings suggest that the it's not just a matter of choice but a paradox of choice... I can explain:

    If you're out on a date with someone and you see him poking his nose; you'd make sure that date is the last date with the guy...
    However, if you're married and you see your hubby poking his nose; you'd only make sure he does not touch you or the food unless his hands are washed...

    Also more the choices and people to scan OR more the time available does not make the situation any better either... It's like buying the right pair of jeans... You go to shoppers stop and try 10 jeans out of 15 and chose one among the 10; while you'd be back home with the one bought pair of jeans - your mind might still be wondering about the 5 you didn't try...

    But, if I am supposed to react on your particular case - well - may be "shopper's stop" is not the only place - for a change you can go to "lifestyle" but the paradox of choice would only become more complex... So choices do make life better (but happier? may be...may be not..)...

  3. Hello Judy, I have been reading your blog for the past month or so, and I absolutely love what you write and how you write. Perhaps because you put into words what I feel or what i have felt, and it is nice to know that am not the only person with all these feelings. Thanks:)

  4. Story of my life. Thirty, independent, not conventionally pretty, not even unconventionally pretty :D

    Will most likely end up going to a sperm bank in order to have a baby, cos guess what, desire to have offspring is FAR GREATER than my desire to land a husband. And I know - oh, I knowwwww - as soon as that happens, I'll suddenly start pining for a husband. Just when I've hit ABSOLUTE rock bottom.

    Thank you for putting my fear into words! Loved this post.

  5. hey judy... first of all... ur an awesome blogger.... ur posts are so forthright, funny and insightful.. love reading ur blogs.. ur one of my favourite bloggers...I get really excited when I see an update from you...I read ur book too :)...

    Well... this post was kinda pseudo-humorous... tho it makes interesting reading, u are dealing with a topic tat matters a lot to u. But on the plus side, u have a daughter to call ur own... its far better than being single and child-less, i think. Now, u may end up with a single man. But its also possible that ur ONE is married and divorced. But wats wrong with that? Smtimes people lose track and end up with the wrong people. But they will eventually find their ONE!! So u will find urs too. That said, prepare urself for living alone also. All women should, whether ur in ur 20s, 30s or 40s.

    Take care
    God Bless

  6. Yep that's me. Divorced, Single with a gorgeous 5yr old girl. More than anything else, I loved your post for it's satirical humor. It perks me up!

  7. scary land lady!!my hostel bitch is sooooooo that woman!!:D And I totally know how the mint cat lady (pun not intended) feels but judy settle for miss her i can live with only if you get turned off men completely okay?i mean you can marry a come and save him for all the times where you've got to have a man-like when you dont want to spend on plumbers and mechanics and porters and chaufers and when you want the 'guy' version of sex u know? ;) and then for the 'girl' version of sex you will always have your blog and your girlies :D but i'd still hope you find your one cause all girl should get their fairy tale..specially the ones that crack people up like you do :D

  8. Oooh I am 50 plus, single parent, the cat who walks by herself and will NOT give rooms on rent since I wanna dance nude and solo and dont need an audience. Judy, sometimes being single, especially single parent rocks. You dont have to fetch and carry, you dont have to wrestle for the remote, and above all you dont have to wear earmuffs to bed since hubby dearest snores! So do give the Single and Not Interested to Mingle status a serious thought

  9. Always love what you have to say, and how you say it. I think back over your stories while driving, while drinking my morning coffee, while cleaning the house. Every time my thoughts, your writing, makes me smile.


    I've officially nominated you. Come to this post to find out what for...

  10. Hi Judy,

    Awesome post as usual. My biggest fear is some aunty bringing a proposal after reading this post. Single or married you will be happy Judy. God bless you :) Love you.

  11. You always seem so paranoid to take the step ... You want to get committed but seems like ur so afraid of what the male will turn out to be!
    Ya guess i know wat "paranoid" i really meant above:)

    Good one!Hope u find the ONE!But seems like u hav so many conditions in ur Kitty! otherwise u would hav probably found the ONE by now!

  12. Thanks for all the comments, people! Sorry I've not been replying like I used to. Have my head stuck in a deadline. But I still feel a tangible gush of joy every time my phone goes ting and I find a new comment on the blog :-)

  13. Ms Confused, good luck with your search before the rule of gravity gets applied too rude and force you to settle for Mr 'whoever'.


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