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fter reading “The (D)Evolution of The Desi Dude” in the February issue of , I was disheartened. While our intrepid reporter did find scattered evidence of an evolved male species, it seemed more often than not, she was confronted with the archetypal male of the “Get me my chapatti, woman!” variety. I recognize that these less evolved specimens do exist, but the men I have been surrounded by in my life have been much further up Darwin’s scale. My father, who came to Canada with my mother 30 years ago, put his career on the backburner so that she could further her education. He was the one who cooked, cleaned and took care of us kids while my mom came home late from work every night. My partner of seven years (let’s call him Trusty Boyfriend) is just as flexible—he recognizes that my career is as important as his and is willing to balance the workload, instead of dumping the house-keeping and childrearing on me (though this could be due to my woefully inept housekeeping abilities).

Successful, modern South Asian men exist. I have met them and so have my friends, many of whom are also in stable, secure relationships. Though I admit these men may be elusive, they are certainly not an endangered species.

Clearly, successful, modern South Asian men exist. I have met them and so have my friends, many of whom are also in stable, secure relationships. Though I admit these men may be elusive, they are certainly not an endangered species. I thought the best way to hunt them out would be to poll South Asian women who had dated great desi guys to find out how they bagged their progressive catches in a sea of desi duds. Here are our collective tips on what to look for:

He doesn’t live with his mother.

Of all the women I polled, this was by far the most popular answer. We tended to agree with Noreen Banerji from “(D)evolution”—many South Asian men are still tied to their mother’s apron strings and expect you to carry on the dubious honor of setting their alarm clocks at night and making them fresh chillas every morning. The key, my friends agreed, is to find a man who has already been weaned from his mother. “A guy who lives by himself has already learned how to be independent—how to cook his own meals, pay his own bills and clean up after himself,” is what my best friend Farah Murji, 29, looked for. Farah has been happily married for a year. “This means that they rely on you less and may actually be happy to do some of those things for you.” Amen to that, sister: A boy who is house-trained is a must. As my friend Dewlyn D’Mellow, 26, puts it, “There’s a big difference in domestication in guys who’ve been ripped away from mama’s bosom prior to the big day.”

Many South Asian men are still tied to their mother’s apron strings and expect you to carry on the dubious honor of setting their alarm clocks at night and making them fresh chillas every morning.

And while we’re on the topic of mothers, make sure you meet his. Is she a progressive, independent woman who has taught her son strength of character and integrity? Or is she Marie Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond? The difference will be a sure sign of how he expects you to behave in your relationship. If she still spoon-feeds him at dinner, throw down your napkin and run like the wind, girl.

He has multi-cultural friends.

“Having a wide range of friends from different cultures shows that he is not only open to different perspectives, he actually seeks them out,” says Rahima Nenshi, 24. “He will probably be more open to new ideas and more apt to change his way of thinking.” This means that a desi guy who hangs out with desi guys may just trade the same tired old “wifey” stereotypes, whereas one who spends time with friends of different cultures will collect a host of different perspectives on his ideal partner. So don’t just look for the fellas at mybindi.com events; widen your perspective a bit and attend a multicultural gathering or two. If nothing else, it will help turn your attention to the plethora of guys from other cultures.

If mother still spoon-feeds him at dinner, throw down your napkin and run like the wind, girl.

He has gay friends.

While multicultural friends are a plus, I find that a man with gay friends is even more important. A guy who is comfortable around gay people is comfortable with his own masculinity, which can be a huge factor in his willingness to take on duties that may be outside the traditional male role. While Trusty Boyfriend did not have gay friends when I met him, he was happy to meet my gay best friend and even comes to gay clubs with us. His acceptance of my friend showed me that he was open to different lifestyles and ways of thinking and that he was secure enough in himself not to be threatened by them. A guy who automatically begins homophobic posturing at the mere mention of a gay relationship, or worse yet, laughs Beavis-and-Butthead style while making inappropriate hand gestures, might not be the most open-minded guy when it comes to transcending traditional male-female roles. Worse yet, you’ll spend half the night apologizing for him at parties.

He is younger than you.

This is a big one, ladies. Do not just discount the perfect man because he may be one or two or 15 years younger than you. (OK, do discount the 15-year-old.) But seriously, younger guys—even by a few years—may possess just what you’re looking for. Many women want men who are 10 years older than them, well established and making the big bucks. Then they complain when there is a power dynamic. If you don’t want the guy to have all the power, stop looking for a guy who commands all of it. Finding a man who is a few years younger than you or is in the same place in his career or schooling immediately evens out the playing field and makes it easier to find flexible solutions to fit both of you. You want him to stay home with the kids? Well, if he’s still in school or just starting out, he may be able to swing that. But the 35-year-old bringing in the lion’s share of the income? Not so much. Also, older guys have played the field and know what they want, while you still may be figuring it out. By going with a guy who is younger, you are less likely to mold yourself into his expectations of a life partner; instead, you can form your own expectations of the relationship, together. A big plus, even if you have to put up with all those tired “robbing the cradle” jokes.

If you don’t want the guy to have all the power, stop looking for a guy who commands all of it.

He grew up around women.

This was another piece of wisdom my girlfriends unanimously agreed upon. As my best friend Farah points out, “A guy who grew up with women understands their daily trials and tribulations and will be able to relate to you more than a guy who grew up in an all-male household.” Since Trusty Boyfriend had women roommates all through university, he understands the subtle variations in the dizzying array of hair straighteners and is not averse to popping by the maxi-pad aisle when I am in need. Newlywed Rishma Govani, 29, praises the desi man who understands the hairy dilemmas of South Asian women everywhere, claiming that “the perfect desi guy knows all about unwanted hair and dutifully reads his Oprah magazine while waiting in the car for his freshly-threaded girlfriend to emerge.” The bottom line is, you need to feel comfortable around a guy—and that is much easier when you don’t have to hide the Nair in the back of your underwear drawer or save your favorite ratty pajamas for nights when he is out of town.

So take heart, girls: The Evolved Desi Dude may be in hiding, but he is certainly not extinct. All it takes is some concerted searching, keeping in mind the collective wisdom of women who have finally found the perfect desi guy (after years of imperfect ones). So go out there and find him–before the gori girls do.n

Roxanna Kassam lives in Toronto, Canada.
Published on April 4, 2005.
Photography: Courtesy of Second Generation.

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The (D)Evolution of the Desi Dude, February 2005

Comments are closed.
  1. March 3, 2008, 2:25 pm Nidhi M

    I couldn’t agree more with Roxanna when it comes to finding the perfect modern male. It’s easier to say we want a perfect guy but when it comes down to it, there really is no such thing as perfect. What we fail to understand is that instead of looking for a perfect guy, we need to to look for the guy who will keep us happy. They need to have that happy-medium where there is a balance. Only then can any relationship be successful

  2. March 15, 2008, 6:38 am izzy

    Well, i’m not Indian (i’m from Australia) but i really love this article and completely agree with each of the points made, especially the one about growing up with women. Guys that do tend to be way more understanding but more importantly, i think they generally show a greater respect for women. These points are well made, in an accessible and apropriately humerous manner, and in my opinion apply to guys all over the world. Well done with this article and the rest of the site too.

  3. March 15, 2008, 6:41 am izzy

    i the girl in the picture at the top the one from bend it like beckham??

  4. March 16, 2008, 9:32 pm Shamita

    LOVED the bit about the unwanted hair!

  5. May 17, 2005, 2:04 pm Ruby Syed

    I enjoyed Roxanna Kassam’s article. I concurred with each of her points, because I’m constantly on that lifelong search for the near-perfect brown guy. The only discouraging issue I had was that after reading each of her points, I said, “Yes, but the gori already has him.” And then I laughed after reading that last sentence: ‘Get him before the gori does.’

    See, therein lies the rub—in my experience, I feel if you do find a boy who embodies each of those qualities, he’s sort of moved past the brown and wants a white girl. I’m not trying for this to sound racist, but the double-edged sword is that when he has evolved into something more modern, he may feel that anything desi is old-fashioned and not for him, including the desi girl. So while modern desi males may not be a rare breed, the modern desi male that still loves being desi and everything that it comes with is the real truly rare one.”

    Something to think about.

  6. May 17, 2005, 2:07 pm Richa Shyam

    I am quite simply in love with Nirali Magazine. Thank you for giving young, independent South Asian women a voice. It is about time! I really look forward to the new issue each month. As for the South Asian male debate, Roxanna Kassam hit the nail on the head. Keep up the great work.

  7. October 8, 2008, 11:08 am rb

    hahaha – that bit about oprah mag was funny. i must admit i have perused my sister’s oprah mags many times!