Indian Plankton

May 29, 2012 § 51 Comments

There was no column in the Times yesterday due to lack of space (Jubilee), so below is what I have written just now.

I had coffee with two friends who introduced me to their friend from Delhi.  She is 41 and divorced with children.  She said the situation in India is even worse than here.  Her chances of getting married again (she had to marry out of her caste/religion in order to score a husband in the first place) are effectively nil and her sister, who is 37 and has never been married, is so past it, apparently, that she is staring at an entirely solitary future.  As a divorced woman, my new friend of friends says that she is thought of as “different”.  Things are a tiny bit better than they were for divorced women in the past, but not much.  Her ex-husband, on the other hand, is manifestly enjoying the benefits of ex-husbands everywhere.

It is perhaps a crass comparison to make between the situation of plankton in India and plankton here as the cultures are so different but she said the fact remains that there are no men.  It’s a funny thing in a country of however many millions, but I believe her.

She invited me to go and stay with her on her farm and said we could go to an ashram where my whole outlook on life will be transformed and I will come to a place of acceptance.  It had worked wonders for her, she said.   She is happy now.   She spoke with not a shred of the tedious earnestness characteristic of so many who have a habit of pressing their particular eurekas on one, and instead spoke with such gaiety and humour, that I am sorely tempted.

I have been thinking an awful lot these past few weeks, and what I have been thinking is that I am never going to be with anyone ever again but instead of resisting it with all my being, just accept it.  Bloody depressing, but not accepting it these past few years has got me absolutely fucking nowhere, so I might as well just get used to the idea.  Not as a red herring means to an end; not with any of that “letting go and then it will miraculously happen” bullshit.  No half-baked mumbo-jumbo, quasi-spiritual bollocks as a fraudulent means to an end, but just plain old Accept for acceptance’s sake.  And if going to an ashram will help get to that point, then, hey, save up and give it a go.

Never been to India.  Hate the heat but have long wanted to see that incredible country.  EAT great food, PRAY the fuck for Acceptance, and not a hope of finding any fucking LOVE but at least get to see a few sights, experience some zones way out of my comfort league, bring back a nice shot of silk or a fetching bangle and – payback time! – take a million photos with which, once home, to bore the arsey pants off everyone I have ever met.

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§ 51 Responses to Indian Plankton

  • terracotta says:

    This is so brilliant – couldnt stand Eat Pray Love myself let alone the film with Julia Roberts which seemed to be on permanent repeat in the USA – but it will be 100% worth it for the bangle.

  • Sarah says:

    So you’ve given up on internet dating?

  • Penny says:

    Plankton, very interesting what you say about Planktons in India! who would have thought! I have been to Kerala, southern India, go there first as its easier than the rest of India, which is much poorer and crazy! Kerala is probably like Goa was 30 years ago. Its gorgeous, tropical, with the wonderful Indian flavour, divine food and lovely hotels. I went there twice in two years. Can’t wait to go back.

  • MissBates says:

    Yup. Pretty much where I am: acceptance. Not pseudo-acceptance, but the real thing. Not for sissies, as they say, but it allows one to move forward.

    I loathed Eat Pray Love and the industry that sprang up around it. If you hate the heat, then for f*ck’s sake don’t go to India. Go to France instead. Or San Francisco. Or Sydney. Or come to New York and we’ll have a plankton-y cocktail or three.

    • The Plankton says:

      I promise you I’ll take you up on that if I come to NYC! Thank you. Pxx Ps. Was last there a couple of summers ago and thought, So New York’s hot but there’s air con everywhere! I failed to remember about all the in-between-y times ie. getting from A to B. I was miserable! But I love NY; just won’t be coming back in July. Learned my lesson.

  • Brigitte says:

    You know, P, things are not that great with my new guy Steve. He has many bad traits common to men who have not married by their middle years (immaturity, too much spontaneity, short attention span, self-indulgent). We could call it quits this week and it wouldn’t be devastaing. I’ve been thinking about how I wouldn’t mind being on my own again. I am being reminded of how demanding having a boyfriend can be and how frustrating it is with the ‘wrong one’. Between him, my demanding mother, my dad in a nursing home, and work, I hardly have any time to myself. I honestly think I will not be searching again for love. It’s so disappointing when you’re not with a ‘good fit’. I’ll see how much more of his actions I can take. In the end, it may just not be worth it.

    Take the trip to India and enjoy it without any thoughts of being with a man. Enjoy the peace.

    • Elle says:

      Brigitte, that’s the thing about dating when you’re past your 20s. Family responsibilities and demands put more and more strain on relationships. Even without children it’s tough.

      My parents have both had frequent spells in hospital since I was in my teens so I’ve had the experience of juggling demands since my youth. One man said to me that I’d never have time to raise a family of my own with the demands of my parents on top of everything else. He had wanted to get married and have children. I’m an only child. Another man (from continental Europe) couldn’t understand why I had so many family responsibilities and how families in Ireland were so close. That ended too.

      I’d hang in there a bit longer with Steve but you make it sound like he’s not ready for a grown up relationship (or a relationship with a grown up). I suppose he could date a twenty-something without as many demands in her life but how would you feel if you were alone and he moved on that way?

      Think hard before you end things with Steve. If you think he’s worth it perhaps you can rearrange your priorities to fit him in, particularly if he’s willing to be flexible.

      • Brigitte says:

        Elle, I’m an only child as well and the demands by my parents will only increase. Steve has not commented on this. He is thrilled that I have no ties to children or grandchildren. With him, it’s mostly his immaturity and non-conscientiousness that bothers me. I have brought it up gently, but he is at an age (50) where these things are woven into his character and are no longer mere annoying behaviours that he might have been able to nip in the bud. It’s one thing to be told in your young adulthood that your behaviour will drive away quality women. When you’re 50, it’s much harder to stop life long behaviours, never mind for a women that you never intend to marry or live with. Alpha / Red Pill men will see this as a woman trying to change a man. I am trying to stop some immature behaviour that is sometimes disrespectful (I don’t think he realises it is). If he cannot or does not wish to consider the matter, then we are not a good match.

        LIzzie, thanks. I will think hard before ending things with Steve. I saw him last night and he was well behaved. We’ll see if he can keep it up. He has mentioned how rare it is to find a women in her forties that has no children or ex-husband. So I think he might change his behaviour in order to keep me. I hope he likes me enough to consider me worth the effort. We’ll see…

      • Brigitte says:

        Sorry, that was Elle that told me to think hard before ending things. with Steve.

        But thanks, Lizzie, for your comment as well. Indeed, I think couples where each is well suited to the other are rare. When two people are mature and reasonable, it can make all the difference.

      • EmGee says:

        Brigitte, I am sorry to hear you are having negative feelings about the relationship, but don’t forget that what you said about things that are woven into his character, may also apply to you.

        You are right about finding time for yourself, but it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation: “either I put up with his annoying habits and lose myself in the process, or break it off completely and end up alone.”

        I wish the best for you, and maybe this is just an object lesson for us all, that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. There are positive things to be said for being single.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you, Brigitte. What you say is very sobering and very honest. I wish you the best of luck with your decision, whichever one you take. Pxx

    • Lizzie says:

      Brigitte – this news is depressing, but also at the same time rather enlightening as well. I just have this picture in my head of you, tearing around everywhere trying to meet all the demands in your life, while Steve blithely wanders around his own perimeters of life, tending to his own needs with no consideration for you. I believe many marriages end up exactly like this. Not an even playing field.

      Those people who have met their equal, and are happily married to them, must have found the elusive jewel in the ocean.

    • Lele says:

      What do you mean by “too much spontaneity”? Isn’t spontaneity a good thing, especially since older people usually lack it?

  • Elle says:

    Plankton, India sounds lovely, perhaps you could go at a time when the weather isn’t at its hottest.

    I’m surprised that your Indian friend had to marry out of her caste to find somebody. An Indian friend who works in Dublin said to me that it’s hard for men to find women. He’s in his mid-thirties. He said the problem was that women didn’t want to marry in their 20s, they wanted to pursue a career after spending time in college doing higher degrees, studying medicine etc.

  • rantywoman says:

    Maybe you could try some kundalini yoga for the same effect. I find much of it silly but it has helped me. thebitterbabe.wordpress.com

  • James B says:

    Hello all. I have been reading this blog for months now and have loved it.

    As a 48 year old man, I have found the writing here to have been an inspiring window into the workings of the modern intelligent female mind. Please do not stop writing this blog Ms P – the style and content is entertaining, wise, funny and thought provoking.

    I can sense that you appear to be about to give up. All this stuff about acceptance saddens me. You may not even be half-way through your life yet.

    What may be the case is that society needs to evolve in the way that single people meet in the 21st century. When I was in my 20’s women seemed firmly in control. Gosh, we average looking guys were so lucky to get dates and many of us married gratefully when a good woman decided we were acceptably flawed. We rushed to sign them up to a long term contract before their eyesight and better judgement recovered.

    The Internet is undoubtedly changing the way we talk to each other. I think it makes people lonelier, oddly. So many of us (women in particular it seems to me) stay in touch with their friends on Facebook – which takes up loads of time, of course and tends to mean both a tendency to look inwards at existing social groups. There is less face to face interaction too for many people.

    Then Internet dating. Hmm. Surely the computer algorithms can’t be right. Common interests hardly lead to the surprising discovery that yes, we do like that person that loves cricket or hates opera. Because she has a great smile and a common sense of humour. The nature of all advertising is to present a brief and inaccurate picture based on social stereotypes. How do you know what someone is like until you meet and talk to them for at least 15 minutes? And yes, I have read all this before on the comments section.

    What I think is needed is a new form of meeting place, parties, clubs or some such physical meeting place where genuine people can actually meet others in a relaxed and natural social atmosphere.

    In the meantime – I honestly believe that you may only be a short time away from a meaningful connection with someone, and that, along with kids, friends, health and meaningful work is what gives us all hope. Men included (once the obsession with shagging in numbers has been outgrown).

    Of course it may take a while, but I have seen so much of this – and I know so many people finding happiness in their 40’s/50’s/60’s after a few years of struggling that I would hate to see you curl up into defeated quasi-spinsterhood.

    Finally, from the male point of view, Ms P, I have to say that if you had the courage to “come out” and reveal your identity publicly that this alone would probably solve your problem. Why? Well speaking as a man, the picture that builds over the past several months is of a highly intelligent, caring, very funny, staggeringly genuine, active and passionate person.

    Your work here would be one hell of a singles ad. I predict thousands of dates should you go down this road.

    So please, please, sharpen your typing nails and let loose with your wit and insight. I think you are possibly turning into the Neil Simon of modern dating.

    • The Plankton says:

      Wow, James B, thank you and a big welcome to the Comments part of my blog. What really kind words. I am flattered and touched. Not sure any of it is true, but it feels nice to have those words said, so thank you. I think coming out at this point would be a bad idea – who I am doesn’t really matter; as plankton I am Everysinglewomaninwantofaman – but I dare say I will one day. It puzzles me that the kind readers of my blog such as yourself – male and female – and all my friends – male and female – seem to appreciate something or other about me, but potential suitors never do. I don’t think I have the face of a baboon’s arse and the figure of someone who needs to be cut out of her house or the character of an evil witch, but I might as well. So it is your generous comment means a lot. Thank you. Pxx

    • Lizzie says:

      Plankton, I really think you should seriously consider what James has said. You have never been derogatory about any person/s discussed in your blog – outing yourself would not be cause for anyone to take umbrage against you.

      You would just be unveiling a great big pile of wit, humour, honesty and love. All of which resides inside of you.

      I second this idea, James.

    • paolo says:

      Wow – what James is proposing is EXACTLY (pardon the all-caps) what I’ve been thinking for several months. As he put it: “One hell of a singles ad.”

  • Elle says:

    ToneDeafSinger, with respect, the comparison to being raped and strangled was inappropriate and insensitive. I suffered date rape a number of years ago. It happens to middle-aged women more often than we are led to believe. The attitude of the men who perpetrate the attacks is that we should be grateful that we’re getting any at all. My attacker contacted me after the attack and told me that if I wasn’t willing to see him again(!) I deserved to be on my own because I was lucky he showed an interest in me because I was 35 and past my prime. I’m 40 now.

    Indeed, if you don’t fight it there is no guarantee that you will suffer less. I “froze” during my attack and suffered flashbacks and nightmares for years. These have abated somewhat but I am now much more wary of the dating scene than I was beforehand.

    • Elle says:

      The psychological after effects were far worse than the physical after effects. I feel like damaged goods now and in my darkest moments often believe the attacker was right, I was past my prime and lucky that he bothered with me. It was my fault for not wanting his drunken attention, and my fault that I’m single.

      In more rational moments I realise that the attack is a significant reason why I am still single today.

  • The Plankton says:

    Oh Lord, that is one grim analogy, TDS, but I get your point. Thank you. Pxx

  • june says:

    Good grief Elle you poor dear thing, nonono it wasnt your fault, this man was an arsehole, dear god how dare he say those things to you. its when you hear that sort of stuff you realise perhaps why you are on your own, you wont put up with crap.

    Yes P i have been thinking on these acceptance lines myself, but then you think should i, can i actually face up to admitting i wont ever meet anyone,An old friend of mine who has been married 3 times, her first husband was killed, but shes been divorced twice since and had a live in relationship announced on facebook other day shes in a relationship, she says shes so happy, shes a bit younger than me but still over 55 and i find myself thinking shes had so many relationships and ive had so few, is that fair and then i also think isnt it going a bit too fast,she has known the bloke for a while, this i think proves what ive always thought meeting men in the normal course of your ;life is so much better than internet dating, agree P it often makes you feel worse when you see whats on offer and you know you just couldnt go there. But then in ,my normal life i rarely meet eligible men and any of my own age, do nothing for me, how the hell do other women seem to meet them and not me. I heard other day of friend of friend who met a bloke at the local council tip of all places, he was dumping stuff and so was she, dear god that sort of thing never happens to me.

    Someone mentioned yoga , i and friend who doesent want to become a plankton are going soon to dru yoga, its pilates, tai chi and yoga combined, its supposed to be very calming, but whether it will help me with acceptance of my plankton status and her with acceptance of her volatile relationship remains to be seen.

  • MissM says:

    Indeed, speaking for myself, if you rail against the situation or develop acceptance, the results are the same. I feel acceptance gives some sense of peace at least. As for achieving acceptance, now there is a challenge and a half. If only there were some instruction as to how to go about it. Perhaps you will be able to blaze a trail as the first providing a route-to-achieving-acceptance through this blog that will be of use to the rest of us, and you will become renowned throughout the English speaking world and beyond as a pioneer in the field.

    Of course at the end of the day, I am sure you and I both would still prefer to find someone to love who will love us back. I would really like to know how one can remove such a basic need in life as the need to feel loved. If it could be done surgically, I would be booking that appointment for myself. Hypnosis? Therapy? I have no answers.

  • kathy says:

    I totally agree with everything you have said here. I am turning 43 tomorrow and its the day I have declared that i will Give. Up. On. Men. For. Good

    And not like you say “giving up so it happens when i least expect it” but actually Accepting that at 43 and living i Australia where women outnumber men to the extent where they were talking about it on “The View ” yesterday, that I am just not goingto find anyone

    I may be witty, funny, cute, talented, debt free, educated, business owner, but that matters shit when you are competing with 20 somethings, and even 30 somethings.

    I have had a lover for a few years, a handsome divorcee of the same age as me, but he is emotionally unavailable. Although I actually love him, i have to give up on him tomorrow as his rulebook doesnt include flowers on my birthday.

    So, tomorrow is Acceptance and Giving Up Day

  • Lizzie says:

    I agree with MissM. The results will be exactly the same. The difference will be inside of you, contentment.

    I am very content in my home, my garden, with my dogs; I have many close friends and a whirlwind social life is there whenever I choose to go out. I work, volunteer, and chair/mc lecture evenings. I am very happy with my life.

    I believe that the feeling that we all need to eliminate is that gnawing, nagging feeling that we are somehow unworthy of being loved.

    We just want to love, and be loved in return.

  • Cindy says:

    Hi P,
    I agree with you about the acceptance thing. I recently met a man on an internet dating site, who as it turned out was very keen on me and really wanted to pursue a serious relationship. However after a few dates with him I realised I didn’t want to give up the life I have achieved following my divorce. I am now in a place where I can do what I please, when I please. Maybe being alone for a long period of time can make one more selfish. I am less willing to give in to someone else’s needs and wants.
    So I am now accepting that I will be alone for the rest of my life, and you know what….yippeee!!!!
    However it might be a good idea to check with me in twelve months time as i do have a tendency to change my mind…a woman’s prerogative and all that.

    • The Plankton says:

      I have literally just now been talking to a friend who said that any man would have to be pretty darn good in order for someone who is alone to give up her autonomy, and I got her point completely. I won’t compromise, ergo acceptance is crucial. If it can be achieved! Not easy. I shall be checking in with you on 29th May 2013! Good luck. Pxx

  • Lindy says:

    Just read an article in The Daily Mail (sorry!) by Liz Hodgkinson, another intelligent plankton writer. She talks about a new book, The Lonely Hearts Club, written by a psychiatrist as a work of fiction, but closely based on his decades of clinical experience and research into what goes on inside relationships. He tells the stories of a dozen or so divorced, widowed or single men on their own (his own clients over the years, disguised). His theory is that men, particularly older ones, have been brought up in an era where showing their feelings and emotions was not encouraged and they learnt the stiff upper lip technique pretty early. Consequently, they have forgotten, or perhaps never knew, how to fall in love and be open and intimate; whereas we plankton, whatever our age, have moved much more successfully with the times. All things personal are avoided and this writer’s theory is that, because the sexual drive of youth, which overcomes many feelings of diffidence, has died down, their urge to make the effort is diluted. Not very succinctly put, but it makes perfect sense to me. My partner is quite emotionally avoidant, likes things traditional, as in his childhood, and finds it difficult to talk about his or my feelings. A whole career spent in the Forces doesn’t help! He is a wonderful man in so many ways and a little older than your ‘target’ age-group, P, but I still thought it an interesting read which resonated with me.

    I went to India (The Golden Triangle) a few years ago as a Plankton with a girlfriend. I will never forget it: it was an amazing and extraordinary experience and I will draw on the photos and memories for the rest of my life. I went in February and it wasn’t too hot at all….

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you for this, Lindy. Interesting, not least India in Feb! Something to think about indeed, and several months in which to save up…xx

    • Penny says:

      I just wanted to make a comment re this article, I read some of it today, the one by Liz Hodgkinson. Very interesting, and some parts of it I really agree with. It has come to my notice regarding older men, that some of them have taken early retirement and want to spend more time than normal with someone. I say normal meaning, a job, which they now dont have, that is 8/10 hours a day!! bit scary. I dont want to have to spend that sort of time with someone either, as I’m independent and used to “my” time”. Some men are very needy too, I have experienced it, and also have a friend who has a needy husband, its awful! So it all becomes very difficult when you get older, certainly in late 40’s/50’s and trying to meet men for a relationship. Having spent so much time on my own I would like someone who is still working, and will probably end up doing consultancy work when they have retired! so it gives us some space! Or a large house, maybe thats the answer!! If and when I do ever meet that someone!

  • EmGee says:

    While I didn’t mind eat pray love, maybe because I didn’t take it terribly seriously, just enjoyed the ride, I do detest how seriously some people took it. The same crowd who took the last sugar coated story that made them feel good. Until it made them feel bad because they couldn’t apply to their own lives. One can have all those things just by stepping outside their front door, or none of those things. It isn’t geography, it’s attitude.

    Anyway, travel is always a good salve for the soul, perhaps a ‘Plankton Abroad’ blog is the ticket, eh? 🙂

  • rosie says:

    I’ve been toying with the idea of going to an ashram (or some other form of displacement activity that would allow me to ‘accept’ being on my own, although have yet to decide what that might be) for years. A friend of a friend, who was in her early 30s and suffering from severe depression, went to one and came back a changed person, apparently. And if it’s that good, this plankton wants some!

    Hated EPL too, apart from the bit when she was in Italy and ate and drank herself silly and got herself a doe-eyed young lover.

    Elle, sorry to hear about what happened to you. I know the word ‘counselling’ is bandied about far too often, but have you considered talking to anyone about it, if you haven’t already?

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