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When women meet for the first time, they immediately get down to the business of knowing each other intimately by asking uncomfortable questions. Give us ten minutes and we’re ready to file vital information about the square feet area of your apartment, your dog’s dietary preferences, your child’s academic records of the past 10 years and the name of the nurse who pacified your Mom while she was trying to pop you out. Men on the other hand can be friends for months and still be content with knowing just each other’s first names. They don’t need to know a person’s background to decide whether they will like or ignore them.
If you are married, you can bet your ass that by the time you’ve sipped your tea and are about to reach out for the Britannia Bourbon, the conversation will typically veer towards your marriage and whether it was love or arranged. This question is usually popped after it has been ascertained by clever means how much older or younger you are than what their mental math suggested.
In India, we are used to our parents make most decisions on our behalf, thanks to their inherent faith in our capability to do nothing right. So, we find it perfectly normal when they line up a list of eligible life-mates for us, factoring in position of the planets at the time of his birth, his braggability factor, bank balance and not just his qualifications and social standing but also that of his parents and their ancestors. If you are a girl, it’s understood that if you’re not fair, beautiful, convent educated, working but homely, you have no business getting hitched.
With such a stringent screening process, how can we expect anything but a prized catch to land in our laps! And who has the time to look for a guy to fall in love with when we’re too busy either disappointing our parents or making them proud.
Don’t we all want a spouse who fulfils our family’s and their Pandit jee’s expectations!
Granted that in a love match you get to tie the knot with your own boyfriend but in an arranged match you get to marry someone else’s. The only difference between a love and an arranged match is Cupid’s timing – he either strikes you before or after you marry. But we all get the same time, that is the rest of our lives to fall out of love and discover, everything you found endearing about your spouse was merely a hallucination.
In India we don’t get married to the boy but also his family, so it makes perfect sense to end up with in-laws who approve of our lineage. And since marriage is always a gamble, I’d rather end up with a mistake of their choice than mine and deny them the opportunity of being proved right yet again.
Agreed, one gets a rare thrill in defying parents and eloping with the nightmare of their choice but trust domesticity to be the greatest unifier of all. A few years of holy matrimony followed by parenthood ensures that we all end up looking uniformly harried. No one can make out that this was the guy for whom you were ready to jump off the building and drew hearts in your Chemistry notebook, when they see you both squabbling like siblings in the lift.
These days I see couples enjoying best of both the worlds – falling in love, getting their parents’ blessings and then having them host a big fat Indian wedding where one spends the equivalent of a small nation’s GDP on a trousseau that the bride will outgrow in a couple of months and a multi-cuisine lavish buffet where people waste more than they eat. Parents who were hoping that their child will elope and spare them the expenses are now compelled to throw a lavish party to show that they are broadminded enough to put their child’s happiness above their ego.
Things have come to such a point that one has to rely on Bollywood to give us the thrill of watching couples willing to brave all odds for the sake of love.
When I look at Gen Next, stuck to their headphones, lost in the world of their own making, and wearing their forever alone tags like a badge of honour, I have very little hope in them finding their soulmates. With the West discovering the merits of arranged matches where one gets to meet Prince Charming without the headache of having to date commitment-phobic morons, I feel this concept still has a long innings ahead.
Maybe, instead of calling it arranged marriage and making it sound antiquated, we could start calling it arranged sex. This could arguably be the coolest makeover ever for the sake of this super cool generation. Anything to get them hitched and off our backs, right?
Now I can’t wait for someone to ask if my match was love or arranged and have them choke on their khakras as I unleash upon them my newly acquired lexicon.