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Live-In Relationships: Will They Work In India?

That the Indian government has recently recognised live-in relationships on par with marriage, in a new law on domestic violence proves that this is a growing social reality.

While living-in may be liberating to some women, social research proves otherwise. Women need to be very clear about why they choose to cohabitate with a partner, reports Savia Rajagopal.

When live-in relationships first came out into the open in India, it created an uproar, with accusations of it being against Indian morality and culture. As the decades have gone by, the number of couples opting for cohabitation, without the strings of marriage, has increased significantly.

It is a trend that is more evident in the last decade. That the Indian government has recently recognised live-in relationships on par with marriage, in a new law on domestic violence proves that this is a growing social reality. Live-in relationships may have attained legal recognition, despite the controversies surrounding it but whether it has social acceptance is another issue altogether.

As Dr Sharita Shah, Consultant Woman & Child Psychiatrist at Bhatia Hospital, and Dr. L. H. Hiranandani Hospital, notes, “Although we are global in our outlook in many ways, our society does frown upon live-in relationships. Most Indians believe that a man and woman can only live under the same roof and share a bed if their relationship has been solemnised by marriage. The taboo does exist in the older generation. But for the younger lot, who are more influenced by the west and those who have lived abroad, it is more acceptable.”

Undeterred by social opinion, many couples prefer to live together before marriage, as they believe it is a precursor to any lifelong commitment. A case in point would be Vaidehi Naik, an IT professional, who recently married after living in for a while.

Sharing her insight, she says, “We were going out for two years before we decided to move in together. It definitely gave me a chance to know what I was getting into. It’s different when you are dating and stay over at each other’s place compared to when you are living together where you share everything from chores to bills.”

She goes on to add that living together isn’t commitment with an escape hatch, as often noted by detractors. It is merely about questioning whether one can live and respect her partner for the rest of her life, instead of living a marriage that is purely perfunctory and meets social standards, something she refers to as ‘sham marriages’.

Despite her positive real-life experience, there is some research suggesting that couples who cohabitate are not as happy as married couples (Source: USA Today).

Does Living In Harm Your Marriage?

Social scientists have found that:

  • People who lived together before marriage had a higher rate of divorce than those who did not live together.
  • People who lived together before marriage had more negative communication in their marriages than those who did not live together.
  • People who lived together before marriage had lower levels of marital satisfaction than those who did not live together.

It is believed that married couples make an attempt to compromise and accommodate to each other’s life because the marriage is supposed to last for life. Cohabiting couples don’t do this because they don’t have a life-long commitment.

Research found that men who had lived with a woman before deciding to marry her were less dedicated to their wives after four years of marriage, than were men who got engaged before moving in with their fiancées.

Dr Shah states that, although this may true to an extent, ultimately, “It is important to know the reasons for choosing a live in relationship as opposed to marriage. Is it a prelude to marriage, or purely for one’s convenience? The attitude of the two individuals plays a significant role too.”

Do Women Misinterpret Men’s Motives?

Men and women are simply not on the same page regarding their motives for living-in, say experts. Studies have shown that women consistently misinterpret the meaning of living together, according to Stanley, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. (Source: A Test Of Marriage, Cox News Service)

“She’s thinking, ‘We’re on the right track, this is going somewhere’ and he’s thinking, ‘I get to sleep with you every night and I get a clean place to live. Hey, it’s working for me.”, states Stanley.

Andrew Rusbatch, co-author of Save My Marriage Today!, recommends that a woman ask herself whether cohabitation a way of minimizing the risk of divorce, or is it seen as a cheap and easy alternative to marriage?

In his article, “Cohabitation – Relationship Checker or Relationship Wrecker? “, he writes

Well you need to start by going into it with your eyes wide open. Before shifting in with a man, consider why you are doing it. Is it because you want it, is it because it will make it more convenient, or is it the all-crucial “moving it to the next level”? Is this really marriage with trainer wheels?

Women will analyze a situation and examine possible interpretations of what this move may mean and what implications this is going to have on the state of the relationship, both now and in the future. Most guys simply see it as somewhere pretty to stick your stuff and to be nurtured and don’t think too much into the future.

The Advantages Of Living In

Despite criticism, Dr. Shah points out that there are some advantages of the live-in arrangement. “The pros are many – it gives a couple who may be very seriously thinking of spending the rest of their lives together and having a family, an opportunity to get to know the other at various levels, and in different situations.”

“One gets to know the day-to-day habits and working of the other and then is able to decide if they will be able to deal with those issues for a lifetime. Issues of money, running a house, waking and sleeping habits, bathroom etiquette, are all examined. It may sound trivial but many marriages do end due to the most basic differences including sleeping snoring, bathroom habits, etc.”

A sentiment echoed by Vaidehi, who confides, “They say the first year of marriage is the hardest and if you survive that, then you are in for a long haul. We already lived that. I never feel trapped that we have to be together now that we are married, but felt that I was given a chance to know him before I took the decision of living with him for the rest of my life.”

The liberty to choose how you want to live, and with whom, is a liberating factor, feel many women who are in live-in relationships. So does the increase in cohabitation directly relate to the lessening importance attached to the institution of marriage or are they independent scenarios?

Dr. Shah maintains that marriage is still considered sacred as it is in-built into our upbringing and couples who are in long-term relationships want to be married before conception.

Cohabitation Can Be Liberating

Increasingly women are now choosing to live in with a man, and experts believe that one of the main reasons could be the stigma attached to a failed marriage.

Experts believe that given the high rates of divorce in the country, even if a woman is financially independent, the social price she pays for the failure of her marriage is devastating. Many families still refuse to support their daughter should her marriage dissolve.

Another aspect highlighted by Dr. Shah is the lack of prenuptial arrangements in India, which adds to a woman’s insecurities towards marriage. Given the Indian scenario, live-in relationships are not treated the same as marriages, so it is easier to cut all cords without having to face serious legal or societal backlash.

Whether live-in relationships truly benefit a woman is a debatable issue. Even if one approaches it pragmatically, it ultimately boils down to personal choice. The option to live with someone without the label of being married, or to tread the conventional path of marriage, is now a real choice that women can exercise.

After decades of being told what is right and wrong, Indian women are lapping up this opportunity to test waters, before settling in for something that their mothers and grandmothers would have willingly accepted as their fate. If having choice is power, then the scales are certainly tipping in their favour.


The Top 10 Steps to Attract Your Ideal Relationship. Really.

Let’s revisit the idea of attracting your ideal partner and creating your ideal relationship. After all, that is what we all really want – relationships that are more love than work, relationships that are full of true connection. Relationship coach, Rinatta Paries gives you the ten steps to get you to that kind of relationship. 

As you read over the steps, keep in mind that everyone who has created a successful, loving relationship has taken these steps. For some people, these steps are unconscious, taken automatically. For most of us, they need to be taken consciously.

1. Letting Go of the Past

The first step in being able to attract and create your ideal relationship is to clear the way for it by dropping the baggage from your past. Baggage here refers to resentments, hurts and fears towards anyone that was either a role model or participated directly in a relationship with you.

Some people carry their hurts, resentments and fears as badges of honour, or learn from them as if they were indisputable lessons life was trying to teach. They are neither. They are byproducts of unfortunate situations and your baggage. The sooner you can truly let go of this baggage the less likely you are to recreate bad situations.

2. Discovering Old Relationship Patterns

The second step to attracting and creating your ideal relationship is taking inventory of how you act in relationships. Why? If your past relationships have not worked out, you are at least 50% responsible. If you don’t clearly see what you did to end those relationships, you are powerless to do relationships differently.

You want to look at all aspects of your relationship behaviour, from what you do when you first meet someone to what you do when you live with a partner. Ultimately, you also want to take inventory of what you believe about relationships and the opposite sex.

3. Discovering And Celebrating Needs

The third step to attracting and then creating your ideal relationship is recognizing, honouring and filling your needs. There is a direct correlation between the quality of your relationships and your ability to recognize and meet your needs.

What’s more, your needs are THE criteria for choosing a partner. Be sure to choose a partner that will satisfy your long-term, not your short-term needs. Choosing a partner out of short-term needs guarantees that the relationship will not last.

Short term needs – what you need now. Long-term needs – what you will always need.

4. Developing Strong Boundaries

The fourth step to attracting and creating your ideal relationship is developing and honouring your boundaries. Another word for boundaries is limits. To know and honour your limits builds your self-esteem, while earning the respect of others.

Why do you need to have boundaries in a loving relationship? Even the best of partners will inevitably do some things that will not be OK with you. If you say nothing, your partner will not know or pay attention to effecting you negatively. That will be the start of a good relationship going bad.

Boundaries also greatly enhance your ability to select the right partner. The wrong partner will cross your boundaries fairly early into the relationship. If you are aware, the wrong partner can be quickly recognized.

5. Defining Your Ideal Relationship

The fifth step in being able to attract and create your ideal relationship is defining your ideal relationship and partner. This is the one step that everyone knows about in regard to attracting a partner.

The popular version of this exercise, however, will only serve to keep you out of a relationship and lonely, as it will have you create a fantasy.

To define your true ideal relationship and partner, ask yourself not what you want but what you need. What can you not live without in a relationship? What do you need to thrive? What do you need from a partner day to day?

To purge fantasy from your definition, ask yourself what you want from another that you are not willing to do or be yourself.

6. Redefining Socializing

The sixth step in being able to attract and create your ideal relationship is redefining why and how you socialize.

Chances are, you have participated in many social situations simply as a way to meet available partners. Chances are you were not very successful, or the relationships formed this way crumbled quickly.

Here is a paradox – if you want to meet your ideal partner, stop looking for her or him. Socialize as a way to create a rich, satisfying life and a way to create a supportive, vibrant community.

Be social to enhance your life and not to look for a partner. When your life works and you are happy, the right partner will be drawn to you.

7. Developing New Relationship Patterns

The seventh step in being able to attract and create your ideal relationship is to develop new relationship patterns to replace your old ineffective patterns. This sounds harder than it is.

Recognize that as a result of the previous six steps you have already developed new relationship patterns. This step then is about putting together all of what you have learned so far.

The essence of these new relationship patterns is your new found ability to do the following six things:

  • See people for who they are and not for who you want them to be or who you are afraid they are.
  • Recognize your attraction to people, understand what you are attracted to in them and have a choice in what you will do about it.
  • Know what you need and be able to assess if a potential partner is able and willing to meet your needs.
  • Know and respect your boundaries and communicate when they are crossed or endangered.
  • Be clear about your definition of an ideal relationship and be able to asses if a potential partner has the capacity to co-create that kind of relationship with you.
  • Have a rich and satisfying social life, one where your needs for companionship are well met.

8. Developing Life Vision

The eighth step in being able to attract and create your ideal relationship is to shift your focus away from attracting a partner and wanting a relationship. Instead, focus on creating the kind of life you want.

Now that you have finally arrived at this step, most of the work required to attract your ideal relationship is already done. Your ideal partner is just around the corner of your ideal life.

What is your ideal life? Where do you want to live? What do you want to do for a living? How much money do you want to make? What do you want to contribute to the world?

The key to creating your ideal life is to make yourself happy now and to set yourself up to be happy in the future, regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not.

9. Strengthening Faith

The ninth step in being able to attract and create your ideal relationship is strengthening your faith, your relationship with the universal source.

It is guaranteed that at one point or another in this process of attracting your ideal relationship you will feel as if everything you have done has produced absolutely no results. Faith will be the one thing you will have to count on.

Having faith will keep you from going back to old behaviours in an effort to speed up results.

How do you strengthen faith and build a relationship with the universal source? Each person’s path is his or her own. Find yours.

10. Developing a New Set of Dating/Relationship Behaviors

The tenth and last step in being able to attract and create your ideal relationship is about learning how to be in a relationship once you have attracted your ideal partner.

How you and your partner interact with each other at the beginning of your relationship will lay the foundation for how you relate to each other for the duration of your time together. It will either guarantee a lifetime partnership or a breakup.

The essence of co-creating a lifetime partnership is to move slow and spend quality time interacting in person. Phone and e-mail are not the same.

Most importantly, build a relationship on a foundation of 100% honesty. A relationship built on such a foundation will last a lifetime.

Taming The Monster-In-Law

Indian mothers are renowned for the loving kindness. In fact, the mother figure is deified and worshipped as Ma Durga. So why does the same mother often act hostile to her daughter-in-law?

Psychologist, Chrisann Almeida, in an interview with Pallavi Bhattacharya, explores the aspects that may give rise to an unhealthy saas-bahu relationship.

There’s no fixed formula for an ideal saas-bahu relationship. But there are things that the daughter-in-law, father-in-law and husband can do to turn even a difficult mother-in-law into an amicable one. After all, mothers-in-law are not necessarily monsters-in-law.

It is often said that of all your in-laws the mother-in-law is the most difficult to win over/please. Why is this so?

In most cases, the mother is always the primary caretaker of a son since he was a child, so it’s the mother in the family who has the deepest emotional investment in her son. Hence it is the mother-in-law who is most likely to be mistrustful of her daughter-in-law as she is a new member she is entrusting the life of their son to.

What are the most common problems one faces with the mother-in-law?

Because of the level of emotional investment, a common problem is a sense of competition for attention and affection of the son. The other is power – control of decisions – since the mother once again was the main decision maker in the person’s life before a spouse was added to the equation, this along with a generational gap and different mindsets create tension.

Can you share instances of daughters-in-law suffering because of problems with the mother-in-law?

Its not just physical abuse that is the cause of suffering, the abuse is verbal and emotional too, comments about the spouse’s family of origin, past or physical appearance; whether subtle remarks or constant nagging, both can be psychologically damaging.

Often husbands take the side of the mother-in-law instead of the wife. Or they tell their wives that she has to deal with the mother-in-law problems and that he doesn’t want to interfere. What can husbands do to handle the situation fairly?

Most husbands do not want to disappoint/ anger their mothers so they don’t want to play mediator, or interpret problems, most prefer it gets sorted at their levels.

How do fathers-in-law deal with these rifts between the wife and daughter-in-law? Whose side do they take? Do they try to fairly mitigate the matter? I have heard that very often fathers-in-law will also sit on the fence during these battles between his wife and daughter-in-law. Why?

The reasons may vary, but mostly like their sons, fathers-in-law prefer may not like to interfere with the women. Only in extreme cases will he step in often when things get too bad, to give the final words as head of the family. On many occasions I’ve actually seen that fathers-in-law take the side of the daughter-in-law.

Why do some mothers-in-laws have double standards in having one set of rules for their daughters and yet another set of rules for their daughter-in-law. E.g.: The daughter can wear jeans but the daughter-in-law has to wear saris. The daughter doesn’t do any housework but the daughter-in-law has to do everything. Maybe the daughter is partying and into discos, but the daughter-in-law can’t work with male colleagues. Also the mother-in-law is often close with her daughter’s kids but not with her son’s kids. Why such double standards?

Double standards go along with the mind-set that, before marriage there’s one set of rules, and a different one after marriage. This also reflects a depressing trend that marriage is no fun, so after marriage the daughter-in-law has to stop all the activities she used to enjoy before including what she wears, often since she is now representing her husband and his family her attire is seen as a reflection of the family.

Just another unfortunate bias in society, which people fall prey to, living up to stereotypes rather than evaluating for themselves what is appropriate and what is not.

As for the relationship with grandkids, a lot of factors may come into play. One obvious fact or is the fact that the daughter’s kids are not around at her mother’s home, while the son’s kids are. So when they come to visit their maternal grandmother, they are often pampered more than their cousins.

Why are mothers-in-law often involved in dowry deaths and wife torture?

When a woman assumes the role of a stereotypical mother in law, she assumes all characteristics that go along with the role, including the negative aspects, getting caught up in the role, often believing that is how she has to be.

Do you think educated/ professionally qualified mothers-in-laws are less likely to hassle their daughters-in-law?

I’m not sure education is a factor, it could work both ways. Very educated mothers-in-law may see their successful daughters-in-law as rivals, but not confident mothers-in-law, who feel competent about themselves.

How can mother-in-law and daughter-in-law problems be dealt with? Should the daughter-in-law move out with her husband and kids in extreme cases?

That’s a tough one. Openness, forgiveness, compassion and love, all in the family must have a common agenda – each other’s well-being. If that exists, matters can be sorted out. Living separately would be the best way to prevent interpersonal conflict, but that’s not always an option in the Indian scenario.

Do mothers-in-law suffer from the sadistic syndrome that since she has suffered in the hands of her mom-in-law she will do the same to her daughter? Why can’t she be more empathic to her daughter-in-law? Or is it that her since she has been treated badly as a daughter-in-law, so she thinks that this is the only way daughters-in-law are supposed to be treated?

This is the case with some people, where they feel now it’s their turn to be the aggressor or take control. Often as in the latter half of your question, people who are assuming these roles for the first time, also assume the stereotypical characteristics that go along with the tag, so she may think that to be an ideal mother-in law, she has to act in a certain way. But the daughters-in-law may anticipate such treatment from her, and might even see normal interpersonal conflict as harassment on the part of their mother-in law.

Tips on getting along with your mother-in-law. Dos and don’ts.

Well be as adjusting as you can, but not so much that you end up being passive all the time. Assert yourself politely from the start. Do only what is in your capacity to do, once you beginning a trend make sure you’re able to follow through with it.

Respect the other’s space and boundaries. If your mother-in-law doesn’t like loud music, wear ear phones.

Remember she was in her son’s life first, so do not try to compete. Your relationships are not the same. Love is of different kinds. Realize that both of you have your spouse’s best interest in mind. Have open discussions in the presence of your spouse, so that all three are aware of what is said. Keep it polite.

Do you think daughters-in-law may also advertently or inadvertently be responsible for bad relations with the mother-in-law? Are many mother-in-law and daughter-in-law problems just because of misunderstandings?

Of course, when there are two people involved in any relationship both contribute to the problem. If the daughter-in-law falls prey to the stereotyped notion of a mother-in-law she starts off in the relationship viewing her as an adversary and not an ally. Yes misunderstandings and lack of communication are the major cause of problems, but this is true in any kind of relationship.

Some mothers-in-law are also great. They may be open-minded, have good relations with the daughter-in-law and look after the grandchildren. Why is the psychological mindset of these mothers-in-law different from difficult mothers-in-law? Or in other words what factors may make a great mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship?

Mother’s-in-law who have had healthy relationships with their husbands will not have unhealthy emotion invested in their sons, which means that they have not had their emotional needs met through their sons. So when their sons are married, they don’t find a change or deficit in attention or affection, because he was never the original source of it.

Another factor is the self-esteem of the mother-in-law. If she has a healthy sense of “self” and is accomplished and confident, she will not find herself envious of the success or talents of her daughter in law. Under these circumstances a healthy relationship can be formed between the two.

Do saas-bahu soaps negatively influence the status of the daughter-in-law or bride in the family? Do they affect mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationships?

I have an instance from a case I had handled, when describing her daughter-in-law to me during a therapy session she said she’s just like Komolika, who happens to be a villainous character from a popular daily soap.

So, yes most definitely, the thing is by the time their sons are married, most women who have been working are retired, or never worked in the first place, so all day long the mothers-in-law watch the soaps on television, getting so involved that they begin to see traits of the characters in their daughters-in-law and other family members, they relate to mothers-in-law on screen and project their faults on to their daughters-in-law.

How far is the generation gap between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law responsible for the problems in between them?

I think that is one of the major contributors to the friction. Just like mother daughter tensions, mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law have their own set of tensions. When relating any two individuals bring their different personalities and mind-sets to the equation, add a rivalry for affection and you’ve got a recipe for unhealthy competition.


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How To Do Intimacy Even If You’re Afraid (We All Are)

It’s possible that most of us have never known true intimacy from the moment we came into the world. We’ve been labeled, taught, cajoled and prodded, been threatened by all forms of authority, told what’s true and what isn’t, and disrespected for everything from our feelings to our thoughts. Rori Gwynne shows you how to communicate your deepest feelings even when we’re afraid of the consequences.


Travel Safety Advice: Safe Travel Tips For Women On The Move

Your bags are packed and you’re ready to go. But you’re going solo or travelling with your girl friends. To the very orthodox, a woman travelling without a male escort may seem unimaginable. But it’s no big deal if you just keep a few common-sense travel safety tips in mind.

Here are ten safe travel tips for women on the move.

Safe travel for women

  • Educate yourself about the place you’re visiting

Mrs. Bhavana Shinde, Tourist Officer, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, advises, “When you are travelling to any place you need to learn about its culture, habits and traditions. Learn about the country’s dress codes and mannerisms.

Try not to behave or dress in a way which may violate the country’s traditions as it may after all get you the wrong type of attention.

The best way to find out about a new place is through the country’s embassy, consulate, tourist offices, tourist brochures and reliable websites.”

Also try to find out about the safety levels of the place you are visiting – the crime rate against women and if it is the norm for women to travel on the streets late in the evening.

  • Arrive when its still daylight

Try your best to get a flight, train or bus which arrives at your new destination when enough daylight hours are left to reach your hotel safely. You may also opt to reach the airport or railway station during the day while leaving.

  • Choose a safe hotel

According to Mrs. Shinde, government approved hotels are safe. You may also ask your friends who have toured the place for hotel recommendations. Internet pictures may show you alluring pictures of hotels, but when you reach the hotel bag and baggage you may find it doesn’t quite meet your safety or comfort requirements.

Make sure the hotel is located in a well-trafficked and well-lit street. Choose a hotel that offers doors with double locks with a dead bolt and a peep-hole. Opt for a safe hotel even if it costs more. A ladies hostel is also a safe option.

  • Dress wisely

Katrina Kaif may have avoided that controversy about wearing a skirt in a place of worship if she’d considered our advice. As Mrs. Shinde notes, “It is not that you need to be dressed in a burkha or very puritanically when travelling alone but your attire should not go against the ambience or customs of the place. For instance when you a visiting a place of pilgrimage, worship or a shrine maybe skimpy clothes could be avoided.”

Certain Islamic countries have norms that women should cover their hair, arms and legs. Many Buddhist temples in South East Asia want visitors to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and be bare feet. Bathing suits are prohibited on certain beaches. So do pay heed to the place’s dress codes.

Sometimes dressing like a local really helps. It makes you less conspicuous as a tourist and may win approval that you are liberal enough to adapt the culture of the place. However attire and personal security are not always correlated. Women dressed very conservatively may also get attacked.

Avoid wearing jewellery or expensive watches to keep pick pockets and robbers away from you. Also opt for a simple bag or purse, instead of a very discernible tourist pouch, to prevent people from promptly identifying you as a tourist. Don’t display large amounts of money in public. Carry traveller’s checks when possible.

  • Be transportation savvy

Don’t hitchhike. It is best to hire a taxi recommended by the airport or your hotel (if you feel it is a reliable hotel). Don’t choose a taxi which has another man accompanying the taxi driver. Lock all doors securely while travelling by car, and don’t pull over when a stranger on the road is signalling you to stop.

As far as train travel is concerned it’s best to travel in the air conditioned first class. If you choose to travel second class, ticket less travellers may sometimes invade your compartment. It is best to choose the upper berth in the train as that ensures maximum privacy. Never accept packages, eatables and drinks from strangers on train no matter how nice and friendly they may appear to be.

  • Use your instincts to avoid bad company

Danger doesn’t come calling. Nor do criminals always look sinister, making you aware that you should stay away from them. Nevertheless use your instincts to avoid seemingly bad company and unsafe spots.

If you don’t walk down a dark alley in your hometown, why should you do the same in an alien city? Be wary of over-friendly men. Stay away from anyone who gives you bad vibes. Try your best to avoid eye contact with strangers while travelling.

  • Try not to look like a tourist

Try not to look or behave like a tourist. If you are extremely clueless and confused about where in the city you are and how you’ll be reaching your destination you may be an easy target of miscreants.

Study the road map carefully before you go out so you have a better idea of where you are going. Don’t publicly display tourist guides. Keep your camera out of sight until you need it. Its also a good idea to learn a few common phrases in the local language.

  • Stay connected

Always carry a mobile phone with you and make sure it has essential contacts like the police, ambulance services and the hotel where you are staying. Also store the numbers of reliable friends and relatives who live in the place you are visiting and of well-known women’s organisations in the city.

  • What to do if attacked or harassed

Ignore cat calls and irritating comments by passers-by. If they continue to pester you complain to the police. Learning self-defence skills and carrying protection equipment, like a chilly spray or a stun gun, helps.

Avoid wearing high heels as it may make it very difficult for you to escape if attacked. If you feel you can’t physically overpower or escape from your attacker lie to him that you have AIDS or a serious communicable disease.

  • Travel with confidence

Most importantly, travel confidently. Stay alert and keep your wits about you at all times. If you act like a damsel in distress in an alien city, you’ll attract more trouble. Treat miscreants sternly but don’t allow paranoia to ruin your trip by imagining that every person is out to harm you. Just be cautious within reason and enjoy your trip!


Money And Women: How To Manage A Household Budget

‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’. We all know that. But it’s said that wants are unlimited. With our limited resources we can’t buy everything we want. We therefore have to prioritize our wants and plan our expenditure accordingly.

Whether we like it or not, it’s important to have a household budget so that both ends meet and ideally with something left for savings and investments.

Budget managementA budget takes into consideration past expenditures, an estimate of future expenditures and the distribution of current expenses on various items over a certain period of time.

There are three types of budgets:

Surplus: where income exceeds expenditure

Balanced: where income is the same as expenditure

Deficit: where expenditure exceeds income

It is but common sense that you need to aim at achieving a surplus budget.

Steps involved in making a household budget:

The three basic steps in making a budget are: making an estimate of the income, an estimate of the expenditures, and bringing the expected expenditures and incomes in line.

  • Make a list of the commodities and services required by family members throughout the proposed budget period.
  • Calculate a realistic estimate of the costs of the desired items.
  • Group the items on the purchase list together under different categories like food, income tax, housing, transportation, electricity, telephone, clothing, medical bills, education etc.

It’s crucial to involve all family members including children while making a budget. New Delhi-based writer Swati Chopra agrees, stating, “I feel children must value and respect money and so should be encouraged to make their own budgets.”

“It teaches money management, and may be a good exercise if done with parents to instil the values of using rather than consuming (i.e. buying what you really need and not because you can).”

“It can also be an opportunity to talk about economically sustainable lifestyle choices, such as buying cotton rather than synthetic clothes, how to limit paper consumption, electricity consumption, and so on, and telling children the value of each of these choices.”

“I don’t think it is necessary to involve young children in the family budget but they can be included once they are mature enough to understand what is going on.”

In the Indian joint family setup, expenditures on dependent family members should be taken into account. Each family member should be reasonable in determining the amount to be paid of them and be generous enough to allocate more funds to a family member who really needs it (for medical treatment or education).

Family members must also be objective while chalking out the budget taking the welfare of the whole family into consideration, rather than personal interests only. Prioritise expenditures according to needs, and eliminate unnecessary expenditures that don’t fit into your budget.

Mrs. Ramanathan, while budgeting categorises household expenditures and spends prudently, “The sum total of expenses include fixed and variable expenses. Fixed are essential costs, which can’t usually be reduced or minimised, like food, repayment of housing loan, flat maintenance charges, school fees.”

“Variables are essential expenses like phone, electricity, clothing but they can be under our control. The number of calls or their duration can be reduced if planned, and the use of the AC, geyser and microwave can be moderated.”

Every budget must pass through a reality check. It makes little sense to keep the expenditures ridiculously low, compared to what is actually required.

A budget needs to be checked on whether the needs of the family members have been met, the ability to pay bills or debts have been assured and inflation rates have been taken into consideration. Also keep aside an amount for emergency funds.

How to monitor your budget:

Keep a reality check on your budget. Check if your monthly spending is going as planned at the end of each week and fortnight. Have you been spending beyond your means?

Have unforeseen expenditures cropped up? If you’ve overspent in a week try to curtail expenditures the forthcoming week to adhere to your budget. Brainstorm your family for ideas to cut down on expenses.

Swati suggests, “Try to come up with ideas for alternative ways of meeting needs that may be healthier and ecologically more viable. For example, using envelopes and the reverse of old notepads to save paper, organizing car pools to school or work to minimize petrol costs, walking wherever one can instead of taking autos or cars, using the cell phone only when necessary, and so on. Cultivating an attitude of contentment and simplicity greatly helps too.”

Why it’s smart to budget:

The word budget may give the impression of an unfavourable restriction to the layman. In reality budgeting only has positives. A budget ensures that you are not controlled by money, but rather it is you who controls your money with the aim of purposeful spending and judicious saving.

It chalks out a plan so that the family can enjoy itself to the best of its ability within whatever resources it may have. It helps to prevent the family from being extravagant and falling into debt.

When the money saved by successful budgeting is used later to buy your dream house or plan a tour of your lifetime- you’ll be glad that you did take the efforts to make budgets and stick to it through out the years.

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Investment Tools For Indian Women

While more and more women are pursuing high powered careers and becoming an inherent and valuable part of workforce, few, however, are aware of how to make themselves financially secure. Kinnary Nensee shows you how the right investments can make all the difference.

Investment can be best defined as – ‘The purchase of a financial product or any other item of value with an expectation of favourable future returns’.

This ‘financial product’ can be in the form of an immovable asset (a house or a piece of land), stocks, bonds, Bank FDs and Mutual funds.

Some investments like stocks or Mutual Funds largely act as creating and increasing liquid cash reserves, whereas Bank FDs, Provident Fund, Public Provident Fund, preserve invested money, also drawing interest over the years.

Some investments can also be used to generate a monthly income as the Interest Amount on the principal. Immovable investment assets add security increasing in value over the years.

Here’s a look at some of the financial tools available in different categories, and their advantages:

Preserving Cash Reserves

Public Provident Fund

  • Available with Post Offices as well as Banks
  • Valid for a time frame of 15 years
  • Attracts an annual Interest Rate of 8%
  • Minimum investment of Rs. 500/- and Maximum of Rs. 70,000/- per annum
  • Withdrawal Options are available from 7th year onwards
  • Tax benefits on withdrawals


Whether you’re a home-maker or a professional, the PPF facility is available to all. A regular input per annum will not only attract the interest amount but also build a large saving in a space of 15 years.

Kisan Vikas Patra

  • Available at the Post Office
  • Attracts an annual Interest rate of 8%
  • Valid for a time frame of 8 years and 7 months
  • The Maturity value is double of the principal amount
  • Investment amount is at individual discretion. There is no specified limit


Money has to be invested in this scheme only once and not every year as is pertinent with the PPF facility. The returns are high, guaranteed and risk free. Also, these returns are assured in a specified time frame, which makes this scheme very attractive, and a viable investment option for women.

National Savings Certificate

  • Available at the Post Office
  • Attracts an Interest Rate of 8%
  • Investment amount is at individual discretion. There is no specified limit.
  • No Withdrawal options are available


This scheme is ideal for individuals who want to diversify their cash reserves. Since there are no withdrawal options available, this preserves the liquid cash for the specified time frame earning an interest regularly, thereby also building a kitty.

Post Office Time Deposit Account

  • Investor can decide on the time frame of investment
  • The time frame can be between 1 year and 5 years
  • The interest rate differs on the time frame chosen
  • Interest on the deposits are payable annually but calculated quarterly


Like the KVP and NSC, this investment is also a one-time investment and depending on the time frame chosen, the principal amount attracts interest. Since there are no withdrawals allowed, this account holds and builds a savings kitty.

Fixed Deposits

  • Available with Public and Private Sector Banks
  • Investor can choose the time frame for FDs
  • Attracts an Interest rate anywhere between 9% to 11% depending on the time period of the FD and with which institution FD is made
  • There is no maximum amount limit on investment
  • FDs can be broken mid term at pro rata interest rates


Earning a high interest rate, FDs also act as emergency money. FDs can be broken mid term as and when money is required or can be carried to full term. However, if broken mid-term, it will affect the interest earned on the principal amount

Post Office Monthly Income Scheme

  • Valid for a time frame of 6 years
  • Attracts a 10% bonus on the principal amount
  • Also attracts a monthly interest amount (e.g. A deposit of Rs. 1,50,000/- will earn a monthly interest amount of Rs. 1000/-)
  • Maximum investment limit for single holder is Rs. 3,00,000/- and for joint holders is Rs. 6,00,000/-


This scheme is ideal for women who have retired from an active professional career and for home-makers who are looking at a regular monthly income. Even single women living alone or old ladies can gain financial freedom utilizing this scheme.

Creating Wealth


  • Short term investments
  • High returns
  • Investor is eligible for dividends as declared by the companies
  • Opportunity to trade in Initial Public Offerings


This type of investment gives the highest returns in a very short time. Also it gives the investor complete control and freedom over his/her finance and to decide where and when and in which stock to invest.

However, dealing in stocks is also the most risky. An in depth knowledge of the functions of the stock market, constant vigilance on the behavior of the market, awareness of the financial world and the past, present and future actions & plans of various companies becomes utmost necessary.

A good alternative to self-trading is to trade through a stock-broker. A stock-broker is in close touch with the market, it’s ups and downs, the performance parameter of different companies and hence can be a better guide on stock investment.

Mutual Funds

  • Long term investments
  • Through SIP can minimize losses and maximize returns
  • Investment amount is managed by Fund Experts

Another good alternative to self-trading is investing in Mutual Funds. There are a variety of Mutual Funds being floated in the market by Banks and Financial Institutions like HDFC Bank, Franklin Templeton, Reliance, Prudential ICICI Asset Management Co.

Investors can choose the product suitable to their requirements and can either invest a lump-sum or choose a SIP (Systematic Investment Planning) wherein a specific amount is injected into the fund every month. The benefit of the SIP way of investment is to save huge losses.

Long Term Investments

Real Estate

Investing in real estate, like a house, is an expensive affair. However loans are easily available with Public as well as Private sector banks. Loans make it easier for investors to purchase real estate and then repay over a period of 10-20 years with interest.

Although expensive, real estate investment is a sound decision. The purchased house can be either rented to individuals or a company and thereby can be made to pay for itself. Incase the loan has be cleared with the bank then it becomes a source of regular monthly income for the investor.


With debt, equity and real estate, gold should form an integral part of investment. Banks and branded jewelers today sell certified gold coins in different denominations like 5 grams, 10 grams, 20 grams. Though gold prices are volatile, they are well within a range and become a great investment option with a 15-20 year investment range view.

Women can invest as little as 5 gram gold coin every year and build up a kitty of around 50 grams in 10 years and 100 grams in 20 years. These gold coins can then be exchanged for either cash or even designed jewellery.


Various options for investments are available in the market. An investor need only choose the best suited and invest.

It is always a wise decision to have at least three to four different investments in diversified plans. Putting all cash reserves in one plan can limit the growth and also can be very risky.

Women can plan their finances with great accuracy. All that is required is a little awareness of the different kinds of financial tools available in the market.

Life offers no guarantees and it is not humanly possible to predict what may happen in future. A little timely planning and action can go a long way in ensuring a future that is independent, secure and stable.

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5 Tips For Women Working Night Shifts

Rise with the lark and work from dawn to dusk – is the common work and rest schedule. But there are times when the opposite happens – there are people who work from dusk to dawn. Many of these nightshift workers
are women.

Professions like journalism, call centres, the police force, nursing and medical professions require their employees to work throughout the night.

It’s true that a day-time job is far more convenient, especially for women. Rather than lamenting the disadvantages of graveyard shifts here are some ways to make shift work easier and more comfortable.

1. Catching up on adequate sleep

Sleep is a rhythmic activity, mediated by sunrise and sunset, which keeps our circadian clock in sync. Reversing this normal sleep-wake cycle can cause many health problems like gastritis, acidity, insomnia, indigestion, and high blood pressure.

Catching up on sound sleep during the daytime is sometimes difficult as there’s noise and activity all around you. But, becoming dependent on sleeping pills is a very bad idea.

As psychiatrist, Dr. Dayal Mirchandani notes, “Tranquillizers have a negative effect on the quality of sleep and should, therefore, be avoided. Melatonin is a better option but the long-term safety of this is not known.”

To catch up on quality sleep you could use earplugs to block noise and put up dark curtains to eliminate heat and sunlight. Avoid caffeine or alcohol just before sleep as they may cause you to wake up after just two hours of sleep.

2. Remaining alert during working hours

If you’ve caught up on proper sleep during non-working hours it’ll be far easier to stay awake and vigilant in office. Daily exercise also helps to improve oxygen flow, which boosts energy and alertness during waking hours.

Keep away from watching too much of TV and using computers which may further deplete your energy. Instead, listen to soft music, do pranayama regularly and meditate to relax and revitalize yourself. That’s how you can remain alert at work without exerting yourself.

Also avoid too much partying, drinking and dancing at nightclubs on your day off, as you’ll return to work exhausted instead of refreshed because of lack of rest to your glandular system – a syndrome commonly known as Monday Morning Misery.

Use your day off to catch up on quality time with your family instead.

3. Healthy meals and proper nutrition

Deepa Raghu, former Managing Editor of Food and Nutrition World says, “Shift workers should avoid deep fried, spicy, too salty or sweet food. Have a good meal prior to leaving home for work. For subsequent meals have light healthy snacks.”

Adds Almas Nakhuda, assistant to BPO AVP Operations Citel India, “Avoid caffeine to keep awake. Instead, have nutritious food or light nutritious snacks.”

4. Ensuring safety

“Proper transportation ensuring the complete safety of women should be provided to women by the office. Every driver employed should have their photograph and addresses registered with the local police station,” notes Almas Nakhuda.

Former journalist and doctoral candidate Nupur Sen, who is doing research on shift workers in India, adds “Drunken drivers can be a problem and being alone in the cab at night. Some companies take care to ensure this doesn’t happen. Reuters started sending employees text messages with details of the car and driver sent to pick them up as well as his mobile number, and arranged drops and pickups in such a way that women were never the first or last pick up.”

Unfortunately, very few Indian companies bother with any of these safety measures. So it’s better to equip yourself with safety gadgets and learn self-defence or drive your own vehicle if you have one.

5. Taking care of the household

Indian women, especially those from joint families are often expected to take care of the home meticulously as well as do night shifts.

Radhika in Chetan Bhagat’s bestselling novel One Night @ the Call Centre had to juggle the demands of her whining in-laws with her office work. If even a single household chore didn’t meet her in-law’s expectations they’d complain to no end about it.

Many Indian women face the same plight as Radhika. “Also people should realize that just because a woman is leaving home in the late evening and returning in the wee hours of the morning does not mean she is out as a bar dancer or in a cheap profession. She is out there earning an earnest living in a foreign company which operates during the daylight hours of the particular country where it is headquartered or is in a decent profession which demands a night shift.”

The best way that your children aren’t neglected is by ensuring that a reliable family member is there to take care of them. Almas says, “If there is a grandmother in the home there may be enough care but a maid may not always be reliable”.

Higher pay for shift workers a myth in India?

The hard, unfortunate fact is that, in India, most offices including many newspaper houses that hire night shift workers offer neither a higher pay nor perks in the form of compensation for working odd hours.

Almas says, “All those working in evening and night shifts are paid extra in America but the same American companies do not follow those rules of payment in India.”

Labour organizations working with shift workers would do well to raise the issue of higher pay for night shift workers.


Professions like journalism, call centres, the police force, nursing and medical professions require their employees to work throughout the night. Rather than lamenting the disadvantages of graveyard shifts here are some ways to make shift work easier and more comfortable. #shiftwork #graveyardshift #nightwork #careeradvice #health