Posted by: Sreejith | November 28, 2007

Opening minds

Are you open-minded?

A few days back, i would have answered a very emphatic yes. Only that now i don’t feel that i would be truthful to myself if i said yes. I would like to believe that i am open-minded but then this is a very subjective measure.

A few days back, a really really close friend of mine confided his love story in me. He believes that his girlfriend was the one for him and he could never find someone more compatible. The only glitch was that he is a Hindu while the girl is a Muslim. Now that’s not very revolutionary but personally I’ve never seen anyone close to me marry outside the caste.. forget religion. His parents are totally against the very idea and are not even willing to discuss the whole issue. I can see that they are being practical because there are a lot of repercussions to breaking established norms. But then aren’t some things worth fighting for?

Understandably my friend was very agitated and was even considering eloping with his girl. Now i was quick to point out that his parents are not very open-minded. But then when I took time out and calmly thought about it from their point of view, I realized that this is a giant deal for them. You could be all romantic and idealistic about it but at the end of the day you are only pretending to ignore the huge elephant in the room.

You might be open-minded but then there is always a boundary to your open-mindedness. A limit exists somewhere and you are only as open-minded as the radii of that circle of belief. Personally speaking, i’ll throw up at the very thought of eating live animals but then a lot of Chinese eat live squids. Not really the hard hitting kind of example? Ok just imagine if your kid came to you a few years down the line and says he wants to marry his lover. Just that his lover is a male. Now how open-minded are you? Makes me squirm because I don’t find myself all that open-minded now. Maybe that’s exactly how it makes my friends parents feel! I guess we just need to continually keep widening that circle.



  1. Sree, a thought provoking post. The question you have up there is an interesting one too. But, I would like to believe that a person being open minded is closely linked to the society on the whole.

    For example a couple of years ago a love marriage (within the same caste and community) was considered a taboo. I mean something like this even now in remote corners of our country will be considered a big taboo.

    Culturally, we are people who crave for social acceptance. The moment get under the surface I am sure the mind will be able to accommodate a whole lot of things. Just a part of evolution I guess.

  2. you missed out on another thing about marrying outside caste and without the parents’ permission.

    the optimist in us thinks that after we get away with the act of marriage, eventually the parents will come around. but the resentment will always remain (unless they are really open-minded). since the concept of family does not just end with a guy and a girl, having the rest of your family resenting what you did will always be the elephant behind the elephant in the room.

  3. I once said to a friend that I was a pretty conservative person, but as sitiuations arised I broadened up to them, changed my views, basically adjust as per the scenario..He said that I was quite broad minded and I just “felt” otherwise..
    After reading this post of yours I realised that I knew myself better.. Would freak out if my kid came to me and wanted to get married to the same sex!!
    Another masterpiece, this post of yours!! 🙂

  4. as they say…. until the brains fall out 🙂

  5. Silverbullet, i do agree. we don’t live in isolation anyway. btw you seem to know me and i for one can’t seem to figure out who you are! pointers?

    Baphomet, too many elephants squeezing into the room now 🙂 I did have the ‘marriage happens between two families’ talk as well but, as you say, we remain hopelessly optimistic.

    Sam, Adapt and adjust. you are right. That’s the key. And thanks. too kind you are!

    Manuscrypts, i knew there would be at least one guy with that comment 😀

  6. Just landed into your blog while tag surfing! I don’t know you apart from your blog! As for me, I am a man of very few words 😀

  7. > Are you open minded ?
    I think the answer is highly contextual.

    A provoking post.

  8. The radii is what changes from person to person … and thus a real
    open minded person would be the one with 1/0 radii…. but then personally I stand too far from that ….

    >personally I’ve never seen
    >anyone close to me marry
    >outside the caste.. forget
    yeah same here …. remember the domain thing

  9. Hi,
    Good to see this topic!!
    I feel being open minded just means, being open to new ideas. If I reject a new idea just because it doesn’t convince me according to whatever knowledge I currently have then I am not open minded, since my knowledge itself can be limited. I do not say that one should accept any new idea, but if we realize that our knowledge might be limited, we might be incomplete or we might even be wrong then we automatically become open minded.

    Now the issue which you raised of a hindu boy in love with a muslim girl, and may be not able to marry then I don’t find him closed minded. What I feel is, being open minded is more about the acceptance towards others. If the boy is not able to marry to the girl because of some social constraints then it never implies that he doesn’t have acceptance towards the girl of other caste. “To Accept” and “To Do” are two different things. If I accept then I feel I am open minded, but if I am not able to do then it might even involve many other constraints which I feel may be independent of my open mindedness.
    But again I might be wrong in thinking so.

  10. Just in addition,
    If all the people in the society become open minded like I defined then there will be no such social contraints at least on the issue you mentioned.

  11. u for sure will marry a Mallu(girl), rite ?

  12. the degree of openness depends on the situation yeah!
    I guess the parents wouldnt be as aghast if they had been living in a community that is not perturbed about inter-caste-religion marriages.

    For e.g, you may actively display ‘affection’ publicly in the western world where it is the norm and no one would notice you than in India where you might become the centre of ‘attention’ 😛

    and so .. you started looking for ur mallu bride? 😛

  13. There are certain things u believe and u accept only what u believe. According to me an
    open minded person is one who is ready to change his/her wrong beliefs with time.
    As far as the matter of marriage outside caste/religion is considered, i feel that every
    religion/caste follows certain rules and tradition and now a days every family deviates
    somewhat from these rules/traditions. So if two families have almost same rules/traditions
    /thinking(for those rules which are very much contradicting and will be very difficult to
    adopt) then relationships should not be broken only because of caste/religion issue.
    I know to make it socially acceptable is very difficult but i hope things will change in
    future 🙂

  14. u hve raised a very pertinant query my friend…the real question here seems to be is there an unconditional love that will embrace anything without judgement tht the object of tht love does….

    it does exist.. i hve benefited from tht from my parents…they may not agree with wht i do and they make their point very clear and we have discussion as to the why of the decision…it can flare up but in the end we come to a solution….as to things like marraige, divorce, sexual exploits, we were left alone in our decisions….

    so i think if my son says he wants to marry a man…i will be shocked but i will let him do wht he wants,…but if he rapes someone and come, i wud probably kill him myself…there are certain decisions that an individual can make by themselves without being dragged into an emotional blackmail…but tht person shud also take resposibilty for their actions…as a parent, i wud guide but i will refuse to take the rein…

    honestly i dont think i wud hve a problem with religion, caste, gender etc…but i wud hve a problem if my child becomes harmful to others or doesnt respect anothers freedoms…i wudnt care if he thinks differently and is a rebel …i hve never tagged along with wht society has deemed as correct, so i dont hve the rite to enforce tht on my child…

    hving said that, he will still hve to lower the music as long as he lives under my roof 🙂

  15. Silverbullet, i assumed youknew me because you called me Sree and thats my the latest nickname!

    Parry, objective achieved!

    Pati, i personally feel this domain thing is too restrictive! They should allow mergers and acquisitions 😉

    Devansh, valid points and i agree with you. but intent cannot replace action. I might have the intent but as long as i don’t action on my intentions they would still remain words.. and words are only empty.

    Gaurav, arrey where did my marriage come into this post! and anyway mallu girls are hot 😉

    Rama, of course we are products of our environments, but that should not be an excuse to not question the norms! btw any cute mallu girls in UK? please to be sending pics 😛

    Anonymous, thats a wonderful observation. Hopefully the future will echo your thoughts. i like the ‘wrong’ in bold touch 🙂

    Tys, now thats very honest! for someone who sounds as crazy as you do, you make an awfully good parent! but you shouldn’t take all the credit… its all good genes i guess 😀

  16. aaah … too many mallus here …
    I guess they r the largest group after the punjabis and the patels.
    but i dnt knw anyone cute 😛

  17. well said

  18. First of all, I admire the couple for allowing their love to override their religious differences. If we had more of the love and less of the religious conflict, the world would be a much more peaceful place. Religions have a bloody history be it Catholic, Muslim, Protestant or Hindu.

    Secondly, its time to stop allowing parents to dictate who their offspring can love and marry. It is no different than pre arranged marriage and that just has no place in the 21st century.

    I’m all for parental respect, but once the child becomes an adult it is time for him or her to make adult decisions – on their own.

  19. Went into introspection mode after reading this post. Not sure what the radius is for me but I would like to believe its pretty large.

    Having said that, at this very moment the thought of ones son/daughter turning gay/lesbian freaks me out. But the defensive argument here is that such a situation (if at all it arises) is many many years away.
    Who knows if the circle would be all engulfing by that time 🙂

  20. Nice post 😀

  21. very introspective…considering that i come from a family where years back having a love marriage would have been taboo, we now have an uncle married to a foreigner…so the circle is widening…

    personally it would require a lot from me to accept something against my beliefs but time i find does change you in many ways… i hope that when the time comes i would be able to handle the bad as well as i handle the good!

    it also depends on whther you consider same-sex marriage the same as someone taking drugs, or as tys put it, a rape/murder…where do you draw the line?

    and now i’m depressed…bringing up children is no longer fun!!! thanks to this…:(…

  22. You could be all romantic and idealistic about it but at the end of the day you are only pretending to ignore the huge elephant in the room.

    ask me about this! I am one who is marrying outside his caste…

    it is not a matter of ignoring the huge elephant in the room, it is more like trying to reach a compromise with the huge elephant.

    my 4-5 close cousins got married outside their castes, and all their parents were initially against the marriage. now after 3-4 years of their marriage, the parents cannot function without their daughter-in-law or son-in-law, and keep praising them…

    it is not as easy as ignoring the huge elephant.

  23. if i went with a different caste bride, my parents would probably have thought that i’m doing it deliberately just to put an elephant in the room and never mind the issue itself 😛

    apart from that well their circle seems to be widening … what was no love and ‘never mention’ a few years back seem to have been changed to ‘okay we’re considering it ‘ and lately its been ‘just listen to us once, but do exactly what u want’.
    So i’m hoping i can keep widenng the circle but thing is we dont know the limits unless we touch it and then there’s no use getting shocked and saying that my circle ends here.

    and yeah i’ve also thought about it a lot and no nearer to any kind of solution, but you see i like elephants 🙂

  24. @Sreejit
    I just wanted to say, that the open mind has the acceptance. Like the boy has the acceptance for a girl of other caste, and might not even object if his son in future likes to marry a girl of other caste. But if he is not able to do so then it does not imply that he is not open minded because his actions are also being influenced by the people around like his parents and others. Its in my opinion is the kindness or whatever of the boy that he is giving priroty to the opinion of his parents, If he doesn’t give priority to their opinions and does what he feels is right then he might be “open minded” according to your definition too!!
    But yes I must say that I find him open minded still.

  25. Just in Addition:
    If he sees such cases around him and goes against them or feels that it is a wrong thing then he is NOT open minded according to my definition too!!
    Again it is about the acceptance. One can have the acceptance and might still not able to do.
    But yes one might also show that he has the acceptance and is thus open minded but in reality he doesn’t and ultimately he doesn’t really want to do, I think you were talking about this case and I agree with you that he is not open minded then!!

  26. Good post PC!

    as you said.. there is nothing absolute about being open minded… neighbor’s envy owner’s pride kinda stuff!

    I guess the best example I’ve come across is this – “If your ideology differs from mine, and you think I am wrong, then according to me, you are conservative!”. 4 things there –
    2 conditions – 1. different ideologies and 2. you think I am wrong
    1 pre-condition – According to me
    1 judgement – you are conservative! 🙂

    This explained a lot of things to me! And since then I have been a lot more open-minded 😉 Though I still think a lot of people are not doing the right thing! 😀

  27. Rama, tch tch.. there ought to be a few somewhere!

    Despo, thank you!

    Expatbrian, unfortunately in India, parental ties are never completely severed and sometimes these ties can turn into noose’s!

    Sangfroid, all in due time my friend. your mind has plans to take over the world? all engulfing 😉

    Maruti, thanks mate!

    Thinking aloud, ouch.. didn’t mean to ruin the fun for the parents. Was only trying to make a strong point 🙂 btw welcome to Dailyrium!

    Kunal, These cousins of yours are elephant slayers? ;)) I have faith that you will be no different.

    Nippo, i must agree with your parents. you must be creating the elephants deliberately! ofcourse helped get them used to it right 😉

    Devansh, i hate definitions… they only manage to conceal the uniqueness in all of us. No right or wrong here and there is definitely no one size fits all!

    Amit, yes! in isolation, all of us are right but its in relation to another’s views that the conflict arises.

  28. Thought provoking post. I will not have issue regarding caste and religion. But yes the person should be good ,educated and be responsible for himself 🙂 Each generation comes up with ideas a little difficult for the prev generation to digest. I still have to come terms with same sex marriage. Are you aware that Germany was trying to pass a bill having an expiry date for marriage of 7 yrs? (

    I think finally it all boils down to acceptance.

  29. Something so thought of everyday, but never voiced!!! You’ve done it here so brilliantly…
    Open mindedness, isn’t the only issue here…But as parents, I know how it is to come to a decision which can ruin the mental peace of their child without being biased.
    My parents always insisted on human values being the priority rather than caste, creed or anything else….I know they are terribly conservative, but horribly open minded and very loving…they are willing to understand and discuss. I think thats important and it could help in the long run.

  30. How much of our open-mindedness has to do with being politically correct (which sounds like an oxymoron, but that’s by the way).

    Unless the person in question is a highly undesirable element with no redeeing qualities (ref. crappy mallu movies to see heroines eloping with a goonda and living happily ever after, establishing once and for all that reel life is not real life), love is love.

  31. You have a point sree, specially wen u say open-mindedness is as wide as the circle… 🙂

    I have a new strife everyday… of analyzing whatever I see around me on an as-is basis or using logic or even a what-seems-fair as a yard stick against/versus analyzing it with what is socially accepted or what I was told as a child… the unlearning seems tough often..

    But coming to the other issue… I guess the deal that life hands out to us is the option to make informed decisions and thereafter live with the consequences of our choice. Marriage is an informed choice. As a job. As buying a home. We choose and therefore we live with the consequence of the choice. No?

  32. hey… fully agree..just that parenting seems so tough thees days,..we know too much and our kids know even more!!!

  33. Tad, i guess…but never too late

    Homophobia in the post and comments is sad…

    A friend belonging to a Rajasthani baniya family hav been looking for a ‘marriage material’ girl for long…dumped one or two after promising marriage because his parents were like, “We’d hang / burn / poison ourselves if you marry that girl”

    Finally he found a, marriage material the ‘sundar sushil gharelu’ types, but his parents still not happy…won’t let him marry this one, Reason…? The girl doesn’t have a family, all she got is 2 elder sister and a widow mother.

    In baniya matrimonial alliances more than the girl the family matters…and what family without a father and brother…

    Now I wonder how much of sensitivity / empathy goes for those set of parents…and wonder which shoes should I be putting myself into to understand such mindset.

  34. thought provoking post 🙂

    Parents open mindedness largely depends on the surroundings or their society .. whatever you may call.

    Your beliefs depends on your surroundings, nothing wrong in that. But what sets them apart is the generation gap.

    If the society and your surroundings evolve you will be more accomodating, but society will take a hit if the individuals take the step. Its a catch 22 situation.

    slowly people are moving from their old beliefs .. as kunal pointed out. For everyone there is a first time and that is a big step.

    Who knows some years down the line you will happily get your son married to a guy 😀

  35. Joy, you are thinking like a mom.. it shows 🙂 the Germany thing is remarkable!

    Prats, thank you… and that reminds me of my parents! good values are the only things that matter.

    AP, 😀 someone seems to have made you sit through some strong mallu crap!

    Ziah, not every decision is well informed.. which is why there is so much conflict! and your point is so well put..i would nominate you as a spokesman for world peace anyday 😛

    Thinking Aloud, 🙂 now you don’t start scaring me! i have a long time to go before that phase.

    Sanjukta, homophobia …the closer you get to the fire, the more hot it gets! At least people are acknowledging the fire and thats any day better than a cloak of hypocrisy! Personally cannot relate to your friends story… looks like their circle is a dot!!

    Sanyam, spoken with true experience 🙂 only time shall reveal it all…

  36. i agree, being open minded is nothing if you do not put the background and the culture into perspective….
    what might be an open minded action to someone might appear conservative if you change the context.

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