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The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai

door Elizabeth Flock

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403475,525 (3.9)Geen
"In twenty-first-century India, tradition is colliding with Western culture, a clash that touches the lives of everyday Indians from the wealthiest to the poorest. While ethnicity, class, and religion are influencing the nation's development, so too are pop culture and technology--an uneasy fusion whose impact is most evident in the institution of marriage. The Heart Is a Shifting Sea introduces three couples whose relationships illuminate these sweeping cultural shifts in dramatic ways: Veer and Maya, a forward-thinking professional couple whose union is tested by Maya's desire for independence; Shahzad and Sabeena, whose desperation for a child becomes entwined with the changing face of Islam; and Ashok and Parvati, whose arranged marriage, made possible by an online matchmaker, blossoms into true love. Though these three middle-class couples are at different stages in their lives and come from diverse religious backgrounds, their stories build on one another to present a layered, nuanced, and fascinating mosaic of the universal challenges, possibilities, and promise of matrimony in its present state. Elizabeth Flock has observed the evolving state of India from inside Mumbai, its largest metropolis. She spent close to a decade getting to know these couples--listening to their stories and living in their homes, where she was privy to countless moments of marital joy, inevitable frustration, dramatic upheaval, and whispered confessions and secrets. The result is a phenomenal feat of reportage that is both an enthralling portrait of a nation in the midst of transition and an unforgettable look at the universal mysteries of love and marriage that connect us all."--Dust jacket.… (meer)

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Rather than merely presenting facts about heterosexual romance and marriage in India, the author brings these otherwise dry statistics to life through the stories of three couples. There is some diversity here--arranged and "love" marriages; Hindu and Muslim faiths; working and middle classes--but many common themes emerge, especially how marriage is the foundation of society because it perpetuates the family line, and having children is an essential part of marriage.. The narratives also include interesting information about current politics and economics in India. The most disturbing thing I learned is that "one in two Indian children--boys and girls both--had been sexually abused." Recommended. ( )
  librarianarpita | Aug 29, 2019 |
The growing preference for love vs arranged marriage is a major sea change in the ever-stormy sands of social upheaval in India. As women become more educated, work outside the home, and take jobs in more liberal other countries, they become less willing to put themselves at the mercy of two sets of parents, as well as the astrologers who often have the final say in whether a match is made. In this story, the author delves into the courtship and marriages of three Mumbai couples - the first are Marwaris (known for their relentless drive for business success), the second a Sunni Muslim couple, and the third are Tamil Brahmin Hindus. Each pair, with some romantic experience prior to their marriages, eventually commits to a partner chosen by their parents - and the parents themselves end up being the greatest cause of problems and tensions for them. Mumbai, in all of its overwhelming growth, pollution, monsoons, and religious strife, is both a fantasy and a nightmare setting. The three couples share all their confidences with the author in a manner that is almost startling in its intimacy. It's both remarkable sociology and a powerful introduction to middle class Indian city life. ( )
  froxgirl | May 28, 2019 |
Author Flock paints a portrait of marriage in Mumbai for three couples. They don't know each other (so the stories are not interconnected) but Flock gives us a slice of their lives and the journeys their marriages took from the beginning through the courtship to the wedding and married life. Arranged and not we see how these couples fare in a changing India.

Initially I was hopeful. Flock acknowledges her role as a journalist and as an outsider and it seemed like it would be interesting to read on its own, with those parameters/limitations in mind. And initially it is really interesting to see how these couples came together, what the courtship was like, what difficulties (if any) they had to getting married and more.

But as the book goes on I found a lot of the criticisms were warranted. Flock aims for a roughly chronological telling instead of focusing on each couple. The jumps between them (they also covered different time periods of different lengths) was annoying. These were stories that I felt would have been much better served if told separately, with their own sections. I also agree that sometimes the author gives us too much detail in some places (which drags the narrative) and sometimes not enough. I have some understanding due to having friends with similar backgrounds but I could see how someone else could be lost or want more info.

Flock does avoid giving any sort of general conclusions about love and marriage in Mumbai but at the same time I am reminded of her limitations of her role. It's not really clear how exactly she knows these couples (although she notes their names were changed) and I couldn't help but consider how the same material could have fared with a journalist who was actually born and raised in Mumbai or even greater India. Flock also discusses watching the dissolution of her father's marriages and I just wonder why this information was shared and what, if any, role it played in the writing.

It was an interesting book that might make for an interesting read if you have a particular interest in her subject. Library borrow but unless you need it for reference. Not sure if this would interest a general reader. ( )
  HoldMyBook | May 6, 2018 |
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"In twenty-first-century India, tradition is colliding with Western culture, a clash that touches the lives of everyday Indians from the wealthiest to the poorest. While ethnicity, class, and religion are influencing the nation's development, so too are pop culture and technology--an uneasy fusion whose impact is most evident in the institution of marriage. The Heart Is a Shifting Sea introduces three couples whose relationships illuminate these sweeping cultural shifts in dramatic ways: Veer and Maya, a forward-thinking professional couple whose union is tested by Maya's desire for independence; Shahzad and Sabeena, whose desperation for a child becomes entwined with the changing face of Islam; and Ashok and Parvati, whose arranged marriage, made possible by an online matchmaker, blossoms into true love. Though these three middle-class couples are at different stages in their lives and come from diverse religious backgrounds, their stories build on one another to present a layered, nuanced, and fascinating mosaic of the universal challenges, possibilities, and promise of matrimony in its present state. Elizabeth Flock has observed the evolving state of India from inside Mumbai, its largest metropolis. She spent close to a decade getting to know these couples--listening to their stories and living in their homes, where she was privy to countless moments of marital joy, inevitable frustration, dramatic upheaval, and whispered confessions and secrets. The result is a phenomenal feat of reportage that is both an enthralling portrait of a nation in the midst of transition and an unforgettable look at the universal mysteries of love and marriage that connect us all."--Dust jacket.

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