Single Indian-American female, 33, seeks worldly yet marriage-minded man abroad and finds a complex blend of perspectives on relationships.
On the surface, Jain’s debut memoir is the newest entry in the Sex and the City/Bridget Jones’s Diary–fueled glut of women’s laments, fictional and otherwise, about unreliable men. Disappointed by her isolating social life in New York, one of several international cities where she worked as a journalist after graduating from Harvard, the author moved to Delhi in 2005, hoping to find a husband either through an arranged marriage or a more Western-style courtship. Though Jain serves up some amusingly familiar dating horror stories, her exploration of cultural change makes her more than a South Asian Carrie Bradshaw. In a charmingly wry voice, she deftly interweaves the stories of friends, relatives and suitors, each tale illuminating another twist of the labyrinthine path to happiness offered by life in a subcontinent saturated by both tradition and technology. The author introduces readers to fellow singles whose marital ambitions are as impeded by Delhi’s new, promiscuous youth culture as by ancient caste prejudices. Her cousins are small-town wives forbidden from so much as removing their jewelry without permission; their lives bewilder Jain, but they seem happy. A friend from India’s northeastern region looks Japanese and identifies with East Asian men; he reminds the author of her own difficult-to-define multinational identity. That puzzle is the real theme of this introspective memoir. Jain’s assured, insouciant intellectualism is as engaging to the reader as it is problematic in her search for a mate. In the arranged-marriage milieu, the ideal man is a studious doctor or engineer, but such types are naïfs in the face of the author’s sophisticated frame of reference. She wants a literate, feminist-minded, well-traveled partner, but there is no established venue to meet him or shorthand to describe him; the paradigm is too new. Rather than simplistically condemning modernity as an enemy of intimacy, however, Jain playfully relishes analyzing it.
A sparkling, enjoyable look at how globalization affects love.