I really don't understand why our Indian culture seems not only obsessed with coveting fairer skin but judging others on skin color. Yes, I know all theories behind that. Come on people! For one, this is the 21st century and about time to move away from narrow-minded, shallow thinking. And as Christians, we're all equal in God's eyes.

Matrimonials crack me up. When I'm bored and have nothing else to do, I check shaadi.com for laughs. There's still the "fair, tall, slim, pHD types..." that everyone wants. I wonder what would happen if I post an ad, saying, "...complexion of milk chocolate."

Anyway, there's a story about a young Indian man in the US that was not interested in any of the potential brides from India that his parents introduced him to. One day, he called his parents to tell them that he found the love of his life and that it's an American girl. The parents were upset. Later, they decided to accept thinking that at least their grandchildren will have fair skin. They get ready to meet his girlfriend. At the airport, they find out that his girlfriend is an African-American girl. Hmmm...I don't know the rest but you can imagine.

Beauty and good looks come in different types and it's in the eye of the beholder. Okay, this may have to do with remembering my childhood years of hearing my aunties and old ladies fussing over how much I've tanned after playing outside.

Recently, when I was at the public library, I saw this handsome Caribbean guy. Of course, his skin resembled dark chocolate, and flawless and smooth. Yes, I was totally checking him out. I can't help notice a hot guy and it isn't bad to admire God's creation :) He was tall, wore dark jeans and a fitted dark tee. He had biceps, a nice accent, smile and polite. He seemed to have a confident countenance. Well... he gazed at me for a short time, I smile at him, he smiles back and winks at me. Nothing else happened because I never saw this handsome stranger again. If he happened to be an acquaintance, good personality, common interests, and a godly man, and if he asked me out I'd go with him.

My parents would have no problem with that. Of course, if the guy's a dumbass, they'd say something regardless of his background. As Christians, why should this matter? The Bible says that we are all equal in God's eyes. Interestingly, some Christians are offended at that. Who's standard is it?

Then, there was a very tall, blond hair, blue-eyed guy that towered over me. He was nicely dressed - usually fitted jeans, a button-shirt or a t-shirt, a nice fossil watch.

I remember a good looking Puerto Rican guy that works at the store. I love Latin-American accents. They are hot.

And this is funny. I remember seeing an older guy, in his 50's, dressed well in a trendy suit, spiked hair, nice trendy looking square glasses. I could tell he still worked out and brisk in his walk. He looked good for a guy that maybe older than my dad. Just because someone is getting older, it doesn't mean they can't dress well. That stylish elderly man was accompanied by his wife. I liked the way she dressed. She wore a long, printed, modest, age-appropriate dress. She had a sophisticated, elegant, charming old-ladyish style. She wore make-up, had perfect manicured nails, nice purse, necklace and wore a hat.

I thought, "Wow, I want to dress like her when I'm an old lady." These old people didn't try to wear the teen trends. There's nothing worse than a lady older than 40 trying to wear a mini-skirt. Even with their wrinkles, and gray hair, they looked great. Okay, maybe I'm going off a tangent but here's older people who are confident and look good at their age. They don't seem to be whining about how they are losing their youthful appearance. They accepted their appearance of old age and still know how to look good.

Recently, a Caucasian American co-worker visited India for 3 weeks and he noticed that there was prejudice in India. I thought he was talking about the caste system. But he said he was surprised to notice 'racism' between skin colors of Indians. This guy had never been in India and was not very much familiar with Indian culture. If an outsider notices this in 3 weeks then it must be pretty bad back home.

And forget Fair and Lovely, I sometimes get compliments on my dark skin, black hair and brown eyes from guys. It seems there are some guys that fall for the exotic, foreign girl. My first boyfriend certainly did. For me, good looking guys come from all backgrounds. I tend to be attracted to guys who are outgoing, adventurous and never settling for the same ol' thing; because they have a passionate spirit and passionate about life.

I'm getting a bit off topic, but my main point is to accept yourself and be confident in yourself. And be proud of your Indian heritage -- which includes the naturally dark skin tone too.

Indu Shanmugam