28 and Single in Mumbai

Suruchi Sharma lives in Mumbai works in digital marketing and communications. In the BBC Magazine, she talks about what it’s like to be single and 28 in a country where women are expected to be married by their mid-twenties.

There is a stigma associated with a woman who is single. When a woman says she is single by choice, it’s more or less assumed that she is not respectable.

There have been many occasions when I have tried to rent an apartment in a good locality and been refused. People don’t like to rent apartments to single, professional women. They are afraid that someone like me will behave immorally — have loud parties, have men to stay overnight, be a bad influence on the surrounding families. No-one can imagine that I might be an ordinary person with a perfect social life and a normal, healthy lifestyle.

Property owners are always looking for a chance to evict us. The slightest of errors and we are asked to leave. We can’t live a normal lifestyle. There are rules and regulations for everything. And if by any chance it happens that a male friend comes to drop you home one day, you’re immediately branded a prostitute.

Essentially, if a single woman lives an independent life, away from her family it’s assumed she may have loose morals.

As a working professional, she’s not interested in marrying for money or simply because a man is from a good family (two common reasons that marriages occur in India) — she just wants to be with someone she feels compatible with. Leaving the country may be the only way marriage can work out for her. “Everything is OK if you’re living abroad,” she says.

David Berkowitz