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Surabhi Khosla

L-R: TV personality Barkha Dutt…Source of inspiration for singles; Sushmita Sen…Living a single life on her own terms; Designer Rohit Bal…Making singledom ‘fashionable’.

Staying single may be frowned upon by society but the trend is hotting up among trendy young, financially independent urbanites. With the dread of bondage becoming greater than the fear of loneliness, the hottest buzzword is single--- though ready to mingle…

They are young and restless, rich and chic, and trendsetters. The great Indian yuppie class has moved into the epoch of singledom.

This latest drift towards a single status was until now frowned upon by society. However the trend has picked up momentum and is fast catching the attention of the young and the financially independent. With the dread of bondage becoming greater than the fear of loneliness, the hottest buzzword is single though ready to mingle.

From George Clooney to Preity Zinta and from Cliff Richard to Tabu there’s a spotlight on singledom. An increasing number of celebrities are preferring to stay single by choice.

In a recent interview Sushmita Sen has said the she celebrates life, whether it’s being a single mother, wearing diamonds, or holidaying in exotic places. She adds she doesn’t need a rich man to do all this. It’s her own hard earned money she relies on. Many others like ace designer Rohit Bal and MTV VJ Nikhil Chinapa share her view.

Then there are leading personalities like President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jaylalitha and tycoon Ratan Tata who have stayed single to follow their calling in life.

A growing number of youngsters who earn enough money to pamper themselves are beginning to give marriage the go by. They appreciate their single status as a natural way to live a fulfilling life. They are not anti-love and certainly not anti-sex - merely ‘anti- relationships’.

A case in point is 41-year-old Kapil Thukral, systems engineer with a leading international software company in Bangalore. A post-graduate in computer science from Arizona University, USA, Kapil's job takes him to various countries every few months. His remunerations: $ 120, 000 a year or roughly Rs. 4.25 lakhs a month. "Your success rate in life in general and your career in particular is directly proportional to the distance you maintain from matrimony," says Kapil.

Sure enough, being single in the city is no longer a phrase that needs a quick conclusion. Take the case of 38-year-old Nisha Michael. She is a gem exporter and operates from her small Nariman Point office in Mumbai. Her six-figure income is more than enough for her.

"I remained single because I had neither the inclination nor the time for marriage. My day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m. and my schedule is hectic as I travel a lot. Where amidst all this am I supposed to find time for a husband and children?" she questions.

Both Kapil and Nisha are representative of that brand of singles that has challenged the ancient norms of the Indian society and have defied the notion that without marriage a person is incomplete.

According to Delhi psychologist Jag Vaish there are a few key causes for this growing trend. Higher and specialized education that is usually completed by the time a person is 30 or more, the need to excel in one's career without any familial hindrances and responsibility in a marriage which is viewed as an obstruction. All these leave little time for marriage.

Says Jogesh Malhotra, a former researcher at the IBM Research Laboratory USA, " A single person can pursue his professional calling with more dedication. Sometimes I have to be at an overseas client's office in a matter of days. All I do is to pack my bags and catch the next plane to my client's country. Had I been married my family would have resented it and even I would have had second thoughts about keeping such a crazy schedule."

For Delhi adman Narender Sharma there's been no doubt about the issue. Single people, according to him, can carry out their professional and personal responsibilities without any fetters. " Married people are not free and have to do what their family wants them to do."

Sharma, who runs a successful ad agency, says that when he quit as a top executive of a leading company to start his own agency he took the kind of risk only a single person can take. " I wasn't burdened by the responsibility of taking care of my wife and children."

Advocate Vineeta Nagaraja agrees. " A married person has family responsibilities but a single person has to handle everything all alone. The advantage is that you are your own decision maker, your own master."

Hypothetical Thoughts

But doesn't that make a single person more opinionated and rigid? " There may be mild rigidity. But then aren't so many married people also rigid and dogmatic in their views?" asks Sharma and adds, " These are all hypothetical thoughts. For example, in my profession the day I become rigid I'll stop learning because advertising thrives on exchange of views."

The only disadvantage is a sense of loneliness which creeps up at times. Vineeta says that going back to an empty home can sometimes be disturbing. This feeling gets aggravated when you grow older.

But despite the few disadvantages, many young people are treading this path. They revel in the idea of living alone, devoid of any responsibilities. They like to work, spend their money on themselves, hang out with friends and build a rapport with like-minded people.

Social scientists feel that being alone for a number of years can have a multitude of results. The most prominent and positive is that most people come to appreciate their goals and learn to figure out what it will take to get there.

However, simultaneously, there is that fear that marriage could wreck their career plans. So they decide to stay single but go out with friends on dates and even go for long-term relationships as long as their partners give them enough space to do what they please and don’t become too demanding.

Adds psychologist Jag Vaish, " Many people mistake single status for a life of celibacy. That’s a big mistake. Such myths have long been exploded. Single people are very liberated and can lead as exciting a life as they want."

And just because they are single does not necessarily mean that they are socially stigmatized. As Smita and her peers point out, they draw their inspiration from celebrities like Sushmita Sen, Rahul Bose, Rohit Bal, Nikhil Chinappa, Ravi Bajaj, Barkha Dutt and Tabu to name just a few who live alone, earn for themselves and are content with their lives and lifestyle.

"If the society can accept them with open arms and accolades, then why not people like me?" she argues. And the Singles’ Club agrees that being alone can be fun. They can pack their bags and go vacationing whenever the mood beckons. Seemingly silly things like rearranging the furniture, ordering food from a restaurant or leaving the dishes in the sink and getting cozy in bed with a book can become an issue with a couple. These are things that singles can do without having to worry about what someone might think.

Says Smita," People like me are like pieces of puzzles that don’t fit into the mould of our traditional society. I am my own person and no one can take that feeling away from me. As long as I can earn for myself and pay my own bills, I don’t need to submit to anyone."

In a country where marriage, spouse, children and a home define the social order, these single people are, by force of their personalities and inner strength, rebels of sorts. Rebels who are setting the trend for generation Y.



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