MARRYING ANITA: A Quest for Love in the New India

by Jacquelyn Lewis

Journalist Anita Jain explores arranged marriage at her Indian parents’ insistence, and discovers universal truths about the search for love.

Marrying Anita, a memoir by journalist Anita Jain, sounds like chick lit on the surface: a woman in her early 30s tires of the New York City dating scene and travels abroad to find true love. What Jain actually delivers is anything but. Jain, who moved to the U.S. with her parents when she was an infant, returns to her country of birth seeking the more rigid, traditional path to marriage her family has always pushed her toward. And in between numerous dates on her quest to find the right mate, she makes poignant observations about the complexities of modern Indian culture. During her search for an apartment, she discovers that no landlord will rent to a single woman—to many Indians, women living on their own are considered prostitutes, and landlords fear they’ll “entertain” male visitors. And yet the “New India” she discovers is filled with Western cocktail bars, a liberal dating scene, and invigorating nightlife. As the book draws to a close, Jain’s parents arrive from the U.S. to introduce her to many Internet suitors, but it’s her moments with her aging mother and father that are most touching. Refreshingly, after Jain realizes how dramatically things have changed since her parents’ time, it’s clear the book is about more than marriage. Rather, she reveals how universal the search for companionship is regardless of location or culture.

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