impotent exodus

There is an annual tradition for many folks in my company where they cash in all of their sick/personal/holiday/vacation time for a spectacular trip to their homeland. Normally this mass exodus starts at the beginning of the holiday shopping season. This year was very different. Only guy left to get married, one gal went home for a family celebration, the 60th birthday of her father, the rest are still here. Many remain because they spent all of their vacation on last years trip, but curiously there’s a larger contingent of Indians with young children.

There is this strange migratory ritual which happens quite frequently with the Indian men in my office. After autumn passes into the early cold dark days of winter, Indian men send their wives and young children back to India. Obligatory and obvious jokes are thrown when the notion is discussed in the office. “So, you’re going to be a bachelor for the next three months. How much beer did you buy?” or “I wish I could send my wife and kids away for a while, I’d be free to do anything.” Unchecked alcoholism and abject adultery aside, this could be the most terrifying time for men. I look at their lunches, and the pressed shirts on their backs and wonder, ‘how long did it take you to do that on your own’. I really have no clue, because I’ve never been to India, let alone know how a typical Indian household is run. Suffice it to say, if this were any of the married people I know, they would be a wreck if they were to go it alone.

By chance, I happened into a conversation about this directly from the horse’s mouth. Rajakrishahariprasad, and Balajiramababuymeals of a spiced rice with vegetables. Both seemed pleased with their meals, neither boastful nor ashamed of what either one of them had. It turns out that both of their wives and children were shipped back months ago. I asked them if they ever feel that they can’t handle the day to day burden of housework. Without any serious thought, they roughly came up with the same answer. They said that their needs decrease and it’s very easy to take care of themselves. I took this as Indian men go into a hyper-efficency mode when their spouses leave, but there has to be more to that. I have to wonder because they had arranged marriages, is this a way to keep a relationship fresh? Separate vacation time, where one can spare the other travel woes, awkward silence, and in-laws. I want to ask these things, but I don’t think I’ll get a straight answer. I’ll get the same response that I get when western married men ask them about their alcohol intake or the porn channels on the satellite television. A sheepish smile, followed by a laugh, finished with a head wobble…

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