“I wonder what do you do on weekends?” This is probably the most common question I have faced after “Which movies did you see recently?” Others that follow are: “Don’t you get bored living on your own; do you have a big gang of friends to hang around with?” Of course the assumption here is that single people living on their own really have all the time in the world and therefore the question around how can we possibly find something meaningful to do with ourselves.
It’s not just about asking these questions, single people can also be taken for granted in line with the same assumption. Last moment invitations like -“We are having a get together tomorrow- you have to come, anyways what would you be doing?”Of course I could, just that it is a Wednesday, right in the middle of a hectic week and I need some heads up to plan my evening calls so that I can make it to your place. And then there are last minute cancellations- “hey, we had planned to meet since last week, but something else important came up, I am sure you don’t mind”. Sure, we are supposed to be generally free so no big deal. There are also constant cribs from relatives that we don’t visit them. I have now realized that the perception of distance between your place and your relatives is correlated to marital status. They have family so it’s far for them to come and visit you, but you are single, for you distance doesn’t matter.
We singles also have our own chores to do. Honestly speaking, having a house to run is not an exclusive right to married people. There is this image of the quintessential single person, living in a messy pad- probably a mattress in the living room being the only furniture in sight. Pizza boxes lying around, clothes strewn all over. Wake up people, gone are the days of the bachelor pads. While the above may still be seen in pockets, the urban single professionals (male or female) have begun to show the same decorum in their lifestyle that they display at work. Once they cross 25 yrs of age, more and more people prefer to live in decent apartments on their own or probably share with one other than a cubby-hole stuffed with 4-5 people. They also see their homes as a reflection of their personality and accordingly not just do them up well but also work on maintaining them regularly. All this of course needs time and effort.
We too have tiring weeks and only have the Saturdays to run errands. We too have our own set of maid, dhobi, grocery issues to take care of. Yes probably, instead of catching up on the latest movie with spouses we do the same with friends. I sometimes actually find our weekends to be more difficult than for the ones with extended families. Be it cleaning the house, refueling the car, grocery shopping, paying bills, we have to do everything on our own and there is no one to share these responsibilities. In addition, when we travel, there is no one taking care of things back home. We also need to keep in touch with family through those numerous phone calls. We too need to make our social calls every fortnight to keep the network going. We also have only 24 hours in the day and have to give up on the luxury of an afternoon nap or our favorite TV show on the weekend to catch up with our friends (by the way, every time I have an opportunity for an afternoon siesta, the doorbell rings and wakes me up making me wish that there was someone to open the door).
We are not complaining. We enjoy it. We are living on our own by choice and it does not mean that we cannot have the same standards of lifestyle as those who live with family. We make the most of every minute that we get and try to make it productive in some way. Being single and living on our own does not in any way mean that we don’t value families or marriage or are anti-social. But do we have to show it all the time by clinging on to others? Single, working women is a growing population in India at 2.6 million in comparison to the diminishing population of homemakers (13 million currently)*. With more and more people opting to push marriage to post 30 yrs, it is the reality of our times.
As for our spending time meaningfully is concerned, we have our hands full!
* Forbes Life India January- March 2011.