Single, successful girl seeks man… how hard can it be?
Meet our new relationship blogger Sejal Sehmi. She’s single, 33 and looking for her life-partner. After testing out all the usual methods (internet dating, speed dinners, blind dates and checking biodata passed to her family) she decided to do things her way. Sejal hopped on a flight to Mumbai to see if the man of her dreams was in India; waiting to be found. Her extraordinary journey has been filmed for a forthcoming documentary and over the next few weeks she’ll be letting us in on her adventures in a special blog for Asiana.tv, revealing how she got on.
Installment 1: Goodbye London, Hello Mumbai
Another Friday night. Single and dateless. Sitting at home in my PJ’s, watching a double dose of Coronation Street followed by a Friends marathon. My name is Sejal and I am a 33 year-old single Londoner looking for love. I’m from a mixed Punjabi and Gujarati background and I’m the eldest of three sisters, the youngest of whom recently got married. And no this is not an in depth resume of my marriageable traits!
Being a British born Indian and having worked in the City for 10 years, I have come across Asian women and men who are in their 30’s, still single and trying countless methods to find a suitable partner for matrimony. But why are so many of us Asian women still single in their thirties? Is this out of choice or is it really that difficult to find someone?
Whilst I empathise with the expectations that women of my age face, I personally don’t think I and many of my single female friends, have made a specific choice to be single purely to prioritise other things in ourr lives. My passion for classical dance and travelling has hardly been a hindrance and just like any other Londoner most of my Friday evenings would be in the midst of many a social gathering in the local pub.
For me, quite simply, I just have not met the right person yet. Past relationships are always a learning experience, and I often hear that I have chosen not to settle down. Yes, I have chosen not to ‘settle’ or compromise my happiness or beliefs but I have twice experienced being turned away because of my mixed Punjabi and Gujarati background.
From as far back as I can remember, I was adamant on finding someone by myself, insisting that my family would not understand what I wanted, and there was more to ‘clicking’ with someone than just ticking the right boxes i.e. good job, the right height etc. But I certainly have not completely shunned the idea of being introduced to someone through family or friends.
Social networking websites, matrimonial sites and even singles nights events have given us more opportunities to seek new friends or partners that stretch outside of our own network of acquaintances. Spoilt for choice, we certainly are not lacking in options to try and meet that someone special. So what happens if you think you have tried every route possible and yet find yourself still moping over the latest bridal magazine?
Similar to many other Asian parents of my parents’ generation, my mum and dad moved to the UK over 30 years ago, not so much to make a social difference here but rather to give my sisters and myself a better future. Thirty years on, there are hundreds of UK and US based Indian’s who have chosen to actually move back to India either to escape the economic troubles in the West or to pursue the ‘Indian dream’.
Economy, cinema or social lifestyle, these are just a few of the elements that have added to the changing face of India today created by the people of India itself and many of my close Mumbai friends have no desire to leave. But how different are we from our fellow Indians? What are young girls in cities like Mumbai doing to find the ‘one’? Do they have the option to speed date or mingle with new friends on single networking websites? Do matrimonial ads the in the newspapers actually work? Is it so wrong to marry someone from ‘back home?’ Is there one rule for a man and another for a woman? How would I be accepted in India? Was it possible for me to find true love in the motherland?
Having recently been made redundant from my City job, I had already planned on travelling to India anyway for a family wedding in Delhi and so this was the perfect opportunity to kick start the journey. I was sure my Delhi aunt had already lined up suitors for me the second I said I was arriving. Reactions in the UK were mixed to say the least from family and friends; the majority of whom were shocked but many felt that maybe it was time to break a few stereotype. With nothing to lose, I was excited about exploring a new route, meeting new people and experiencing the Indian city life.
Within weeks, I was packed and ready to leave London for Mumbai and as I arrived at Chatrapati Shivaji Airport I wondered if this city would pull me in its embrace and find me my very own Salman Khan – I hear he is still single! Watch out Sallu, I’m on the prowl!
Follow Sejal on Twitter: @sejal_thefilm