Single state
Humra Quraishi

Author Sushmita Bose brings out the ups and downs of a singletonís life 

SUSHMITA Boseís weekly column in a national daily ó 'Single In the City' ó was a hit with not just not the singletons but also with the much married, for it revealed their highs and lows. Well, now the entire series has been put together in a book of the same name, Single In The City (Om Books).

In the meanwhile, Sushmita has moved ahead, shifting from New Delhi to Dubai. At presently working with the Khaleej Times, she is now also writing a blog ... Still Single In the City.

Single and strikingly outspoken, Sushmita bares those everyday challenges, those realities `85 just about anything and everything that a single woman faces in a city like New Delhi .

Sushmita Bose
Sushmita Bose

Excerpts from an interview:

What triggered off this series, Single in the City?

Just the fact that I was living on my own ó and on my own terms ó in one of the most woman-unfriendly cities in the world. At least, that used to be Ė and still is ó the perception about Delhi. I was going through a series of events in my life ó happy ones, amusing ones, frustrating ones... when someone suggested I should do a column every week, I thought it would be fun, and insightful, to do so. Iíd just have to be more observant.

You had been living single in New Delhi and now in Dubai. How different are the two cities visvis-ŗ-vis the attitude towards single women?

They are both modern, cosmopolitan cities, although Dubai is far more cosmopolitan than Delhi is, as itís a melting pot. Delhi is probably Indiaís most impersonal city. The upside is itís a place where you are left alone. Itís pretty much the same in Dubai. The downside is that both can be immensely lonely cities. But itís a problem that can be tackled if you have good friends; Iíve been lucky in that regard. Also, both cities are full of professionals, who have left their hometowns for better prospects. In that sense, they have displaced people: friendships formed are that much more enduring Ė because associations are so much more need-based.

Other than that, Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world, and is very safe for women Ė single or otherwise.

I think both cities are respectful ó and tolerant ó of the fact that single women are like any other regular people.

'Still Single ...' is your blog. Comment.

It is just an extension of my column. When I wrote my last column, and announced that I was moving on, I was flooded with mails asking me to continue writing Ė from a different geographical perspective.

Also, is living on one's own a luxury or an ongoing struggle?

Itís a bit of both. You have to fend for yourself Ė emotionally and materially. So thatís a struggle. But itís a luxury because you are mistress of your own destiny: you get to choose what you want to do in life.

All those misconceptions about West Asia and the Arabs' attitude towards women. Comment.

Like, I said, Dubai is one of the safest and most organised cities in the world. Itís a city that is engineered Ė in its DNA even Ė to cater to expats. Itís a melting pot. It respects privacy, freedom and life choices Ė but, of course, you have to play it by the rule book. My experience here has been very fulfilling; you can walk back home at 1 am alone, no one will bother you; and no one will dare mug you.

In this book, there is much emphasis on the daily challenges that life throws up. How does the single woman cope with emotional lows or those intrusions?

Living alone makes you stronger Ė emotionally and otherwise. Because you are, alone, accountable for yourself. But then you make amazing friends. I, for instance, had a fantastic landlord and landlady; they became such good friends, and I am in touch with them regularly. Then, you have your family, just a phone call away Ė or a 2-hour flight away. You are also bound to have family members in the same city. I did. They were, and are, always there for me.

Do your married friends envy you, your space?

At times, yes. But I think most of my married friends are fairly comfortable with their own space. Itís a sign of India changing, at least in urban pockets. I mean, itís perfectly all right for a married woman to hang out with other friends Ė without the husband being there. He can be there if he wants to, but itís not a hard and fast rule that YOU HAVE TO BE TOGETHER as a couple all the time. And itís not because itís a failed relationship, itís because itís such a strong one, where you respect each otherís spaces and trust the other party.

Do trying moments outdo those carefree phases ... What does life hold out for a single woman who is living life on her own terms?

Itís an equal measure, I think. There are challenges and struggles, but not for a single moment have I felt I cannot cope with them.