ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE N IN-FIDELITY SRK and Rani meet in New York train stations, but there are many more local desis who are taking rides to similar uncharted terrain “THE BREAK UP OF THE JOINT FAMILY SYSTEM HAS NOT ONLY CREATED NUCLEAR FAMILIES, BUT AN INCREASE IN MOVEMENT HAS ALSO CREATED NUCLEAR INDIVIDUALS” DR MEGHA HAZURIA GORE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST URBAN INDIANS ARE BECOMING EMOTIONALLY MORE INSECURE AND LONELY. AND MAINLY BEACAUSE THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO UNDER- STAND WHAT LOVE IS, THEY OFTEN CONFUSE LUST FOR LOVE. A RELATIONSHIP IS A COMMITMENT — DR. B.S. ARORA Psychiatrist and Marriage Counsellor THERE ARE PLENTY OF CASES WHERE WOMEN ARE EARNING MORE THAN THEIR HUSBANDS SO THEY'RE NOT BOTH- ERED ABOUT THE FIGHT FOR ALIMONY. IN SOME CASES, THE MAN HAS SOUGHT MAINTENANCE FROM HIS ESTRANGED WIFE — ANUPAM TRIPATHI SUSHMITA Bose and VEENU Sandhu New Delhi KABHI ALVIDA Na Kehna is made by a man, not by the boy that I was,” Karan Johar told HT BRUNCH (issue dated July 2). “What do you do if you meet the right person at the wrong time? And all because you married the wrong person at the right time.” And Johar’s offering itself, was perhaps a little too ahead of its time. In New Delhi’s posh Priya cinema, new-age Indians were found walking out of the theatre amid exasperated gasps that KANK is “not desi in sensibilities”. The film has thus helped bring one truth to the fore — While Indians ostensibly continue to live in denial, the framework within which the country’s most “sacred institution” is domiciled is getting patchy. The cracks are showing — and beginning to tell. So we asked the questions, and you answered them. In no uncertain terms. If you find ‘love’ with someone who is not your wife or husband, would you sacrifice that love for the sake of your family? “I was married to my childhood sweetheart — a wonderful, loving man — for barely a year when I met Mehraj at work,” recounts 53-year-old Garima Mallik. That was 27 years ago, when she worked in a Mumbai bank, where Mehraj was also employed. “Mehraj made me feel so good about myself. He treated me like a cool, intelligent and beautiful person,” she reminisces. Her husband, for all his qualities, she says, had perhaps become too used to having her around after all those years. He was thus unable to give her that extra-spe cial treatment she felt she needed. “And six months down the line, I decided to chuck it all — the life I had known forever — and follow my heart,” she says. It wasn’t that simple though. “Everybody was shocked. My parents, my three sisters and all my friends disowned me. No one was there for my marriage with Mehraj,” she laments. Her consequent life did not prove to be a bed of roses either. “I used to feel terribly guilty being happy with Mehraj. Thoughts of what I had done to that sweet and gentle man I was once married to, kept haunting me. It started affecting my relationship with Mehraj.” And it also took a long time for Mehraj’s parents to accept her. The big question — Why did she choose to break her marriage when there was nothing wrong with it? “The only answer I had to give them was — ‘for the sake of love’. But that wasn’t enough to convince them,” she sighs. Nearly three decades down the line, Mallik, who is now settled in Delhi and has a 20-something daughter, admits that the guilt pangs still come “but I believe that I made the right decision.” Is it wrong if I don’t feel guilty about having an affair? You could say it played out almost exactly like the Rani-Abhishek story in KANK. Priya was 28 when she married Rohit because she had gotten tired of waiting for Mr. Right. Priya admits, “Rohit’s a nice guy and a good catch but he didn’t really set me on fire.” Eight years later, they had a posh home, cute kids, great jobs, but very little in common. Then Priya fell in love with Akash, a colleague at her ad agency, who was five years younger and single. “For the first time in my life, I knew what it was to be madly, irrationally in love. And the sex was great,” she confesses. Six years later, at 42, she’s arrived at a happy arrangement. “I think Rohit knows, but doesn’t want to face the truth — he has never questioned me. I think he’s having an affair too but I don’t want to bring it up because then he could question me,” she says. Guilt? “Not for a moment,” she insists. “If Rohit cannot give me the happiness I deserve, I have the right to look for it elsewhere. And if Akash gets married tomorrow and we have to break off, I’ll look elsewhere.” Must a relationship be about commitment? Can’t it just be about sex? Twenty-five-year old Gaurav K was living his idea of a good life. His job as a call centre trainer paid well. When he met Aalia, (26) through a mutual friend, there was no inclination to rock the boat with a fulltime girlfriend. “She was not looking for a serious relationship either so it was really a relief to get together just for the sex,” Gaurav says. The relationship of convenience lasted nearly 17 months, with neither wanting to meet the other’s friends or go to the movies together. “It was so simple. We’d just booty-call each other when we had the time and energy. And because neither of us was a ‘cheated victim’, we had extra respect for each other,” says Aalia. They kept the relationship a secret from friends though, after realising how difficult an explanation might be. The carnal meetups ended when Aalia moved to the US and even though both ended the relationship on good terms, they haven’t corresponded since. “She was a great person but we weren’t friends or anything so there’s nothing to chat about,” explains Gaurav and Aaliya echoes the sentiment, “it was more about actions than words anyway.” Does only physical intimacy imply infidelity? Saira is single, in her mid-30s, lives in Delhi and has a friend in Navneet (30). They both believe that they are also in love. Navneet is married with a child, and he cannot leave his wife — as he can’t come to terms with a divorce. So he stays in a different city where he works, and catches up with Saira whenever he travels to Delhi. “We don’t have a physical relationship because I’m not comfortable with that,” says Saira, “but I need him, he fulfils an emotional gap in my life. He needs me for the intellectual stimulation that he never found with his wife. And the moment something goes wrong in his life, I’m the first person he calls up, and I talk to him.” There have been occasions when both have discussed what if things had been different. “We’d probably have been married — even though he’s younger than me.” In Navneet’s case, it’s a matter of emotional infidelity: married to somebody else, emotionally anchored to someone else. “We’ll carry on like this, I have no idea what the future holds in store, and, no, I’m not guilty, I’m happy, I love being with him, I love talking to him.” Can I have a life that is distinct from that of my partner’s? Continents separate thirty-three-year old investment banker Chirag and Komal (28), an independent filmmaker. Chirag lives in London, while Komal is pursuing her career in Bombay. They meet once every couple of months and have decided to put off having a baby till they have realised their respective professional goals. They have been married for two years. Chirag is happy that he and his wife have completely different professions because that helps them have different personalities, experiences and interesting discussions that add to the relationship. But he finds long distance tough because he misses sharing the dayto-day stuff with her. “There are other things harder than not having regular sex,” he says, “it’s difficult not having your partner around to share what’s going on and how you are growing and changing.” He says that if he found out Komal was cheating, he would not react favourably. But he adds that the solution would not be to end the long distance. If he did, however, find that she had had sex with another guy, that would be the end because you can’t ignore it and “rather than trying to live with it, it would be easier to find an amicable ending and get divorced.” Chirag didn’t really think he was the jealous, possessive type, but now realises he is. He says, “Of course you get attracted to a lot of people, but you’ve go to see what you have at stake and whether you are willing to lose your marriage and the person you love.” Though they have separate lives, he says we still communicate a lot, and that’s the key — “We have common aspirations, though we live separate lives, and so we are not detached from each other.” Due to reasons of confidentiality, all names have been changed (With inputs from Neha Mehta, Samrat Choudhury and Nivriti Butalia in New Delhi; Rukhmini Punoose, and Rachel Lopez in Mumbai) CUPID’S CHEMICALS Scientists, led by Helen Fisher of Rutgers University, released a study on love in 2002. It said love comes in three stages. Each of these stages has a chemical or group of chemicals associated with it. Stage 1: Lust Lust is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen. A lustful sexual experience increases levels of serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin and endogenous opiods in the body. It’s like being on drugs, but better. Stage 2: Romantic love This is when lovers daydream of each other and obsess about being together. Serotonin levels fall, adrenalin and dopamine — a hormone activated by cocaine and nicotine — rises. So romantic love really is an addiction. Stage 3: Attachment Calm, committed relationship stage, which (ideally) takes over once the honeymoon ends. Marked by the release of hormones oxtocin, which is otherwise released by women during childbirth, and vasopressin, which otherwise has an important role in controlling the kidneys. The catch: All these three stages can coexist. The systems that produce these chemicals can work simultaneously — so a person can feel attachment for a spouse, romantic love for someone else, and lust for a third person at the same time.