Finding Mr Perfect...
1:29pm Friday 14th November 2008
‘Abandon your quest for finding Mr perfect he doesn’t exist and neither does Mrs perfect’.
Nasreen Akhtar spent five years trying to find Mr right on Muslim matrimonial websites and her experiences are captured in a new book ‘Catch a Fish from the Sea (Using the Internet)’.
This month, the book made it on to the list for the World Book Day Award with the overall winner being announced in March next year.
As much as she hates to admit it Nasreen’s experience has actually made her a bit of expert on how Muslim men think.
“I am quite flattered to hear that.” she says, “Although there is a gulf between men and women I found there many things we have in common. I think men will find this book as interesting as women.
Do men not want to be loved? I’m sure they do.”
Her book begins with her rather naively diving into cyberspace with little knowledge of the etiquettes of dating and relationships. It ends with a rather deep and fulfilling insight into the habits of Muslim men.
But this was never the intention of the book.
“I wanted to make sense of my life and of my reality.
“When I started going on to the websites I never thought I would end up writing a book about my experiences. It was only later when someone suggested I do that I put my experiences down.”
At times the book is sad and at times quite uplifting but there is something about Nasreen’s personality that shines through. Nasreen has a hit a real chord with Muslim women with her honest description of life as a singleton.
Along the way she meets a series of characters. Some good, some bad and some just strange.
From the Pakistani Hugh-Hefnor to the Slick Pythons, Nasreen explores the diverse traits in human beings.
She writes, ‘One of my great litmus tests was to see if any guy would ask me to ring him back. As soon as I would hear...’Which network are you on? I would instantly know that the guy was not for me’.
If finding the right man wasn’t hard enough for a thirtysomething Muslim woman she contends with a whole host of ‘minor issues’. The hijab, education, language, family and whether it is okay for a woman to have male friends all make for some absorbing reading.
She is able to connect with both men and women by simply homing in on the little habits that make us what we are. Culture and religion are factors that come-up again and again but the book is more than just an insight into how Muslim men think.
She is intent on making a stand for anyone who has tried and in some respects failed to find someone who they could call their soul mate.
“Men are men and women are women. But I found there are no general way of describing people. There are a plethora of men out there. I found that we as a community have a certain way of thinking but this is not necessarily how people out there think.
“One of the major issues I came across was that of caste. But again it was not the people I met who had these hang-ups but more their parents.”
She describes how Muslim internet matrimonial sites themselves have evolved and become a social system within a system.
‘Would you describe yourself as good-looking?’ has got to be one of the worst questions you can expect to answer’ she writes.
She dedicates a whole chapter to this hang-up entitled ‘Send me a pic?.’ “You can paint a picture of people through their writings. I was always taken aback by someone’s personality and charm rather than how they looked. I wanted to meet the person face to face as quick as possible because that way you can instantly tell whether they are for you.” She says.
“Ultimately looks come and go but personality lasts for ever.”
“The initial e-mail can tell you a lot about a person...but for me the initial meeting was important.”
For those on this, at times arduous task of finding their perfect soulmate..Nasreen has some pretty compellling advice.
“You have to believe in yourself and know yourself. More importantly you have to respect youself. When I began logging on to the websites I was never looking for Mr Right or perfect because I guess I knew I would never find him.”
Catch a Fish from the Sea (Using the Internet) is published by Greenbirds For a copy see greenbirds.co.uk or amazon.co.uk or any good bookshop.
The book is relying on public vote to get it into the shortlist You can vote by going on to: http://www.spread-the-word.org.uk/pages/books-2009/book-detail.asp?BookID=9