‘Now that you’ve completed your MBA, what next?’ she asked.
‘The usual. Waiting for the job to begin and let’s see where that takes me,’ I replied.
‘And what about marriage? I’m sure Uncle and Aunty have started looking for a nice Gujarati girl for you,’ she asked.
‘You think I’m the kind of guy made for an arranged marriage?’ I laughed off the matter.
However, with the number of friends and relatives around me getting married, I’m a troubled soul. I am not in the least indicating that I would like to get caught up in conjugal bliss, but what I have always been uncomfortable with is the whole idea of being a central character of the great drama that we Indians love to be a part of – ‘The Great Indian Arranged Marriage’.
The flowchart unfurls somewhat as follows:
Step 1: Son has either already been engaged in professional services for a couple of years or has just earned his degree from a reputed college and is about to take his first few baby steps in the world of corporate affairs
Step 2: Parents are consumed day and night with one question “Mere bete ka number kab aayega?’ (“When will it be my son’s turn?”)
Step 3: Mom’s blood pressure falls, Dad’s heart-rate increases
Step 4 (a): All well and good if Son demurely (and shyly, for good effect; add giggle if necessary to be portrayed as ‘sweet fellow’) agrees to parents’ call for getting him hitched, proceed to step 6; else refer to Step 4 (b)
Step 4 (b): Dialogues of emotional blackmail straight out of Ekta Kapoor’s serials are unleashed on the hapless soul (complete with tears in eyes and worry lines on forehead). Sample: “We are getting old and want to see you married before we, we… (sniff, sniff). Who knows how much longer we will live…” ~voice trails off~
Repeat step till Son caves in to emotional pressure
Step 5: Son caves in
Step 6: Roar of triumph in the parent’s camp. Dad tells people he meets at morning jogs to refer him any ‘good girl with a nice family background’; Mom conveys the same message to relatives in a trembling and excited voice over the telephone
Step 7: Photographs of girls are sent to the boy’s house for ‘cursory inspection’
Step 8: Either Boy is bamboozled with the girl’s picture or Mom n Dad have reason to believe that they have found a Sita to their Ram. Repeat Steps 6 & 7 till this stage is reached.
Step 9: Formal meeting is set-up and boy and girl meet for approximately 20 minutes.
Repeat Step 9 till such a 20 minute meeting results in the Boy going over to his parents and saying ‘I like her.’ Confirm if Girl agrees to Boy or not.
HURRAH !! You have passed the first stage. Move on to ‘The TAMASHA’ (The Great Indian Arranged Marriage – Part 2)
Even as I write this, I’m seething with rage.
Firstly, the idea that the first step for agreeing or disagreeing to further deliberation results from a photograph taken of a girl disgusts me. I personally know people who would rather call this procedure ‘civilised prostitution’ than anything else.
Secondly, this whole 20-minute meeting business is pathetic. I will not comment on other people’s abilities to ‘read’ people in a span of 20 minutes, or even 3 sessions of 20 minutes each. However, as far as I’m concerned, I will NEVER be able to agree to this idea.
Is a 20 minute meeting ALL that it takes to know a person with whom you plan to spend the rest of your life with??? In case that wasn’t very clear, let me repeat: THE REST OF YOUR LIFE???!!!
Those 20 minutes might be enough to find out which school and college the person attended, but is it enough to know the amount of EDUCATION that the person has received?
Those 20 minutes might be enough for a person to know the other person’s favourite song, but are those 20 minutes enough for knowing the REAL reason why the person loves that particular song?
That meeting might be enough to know whether the person can speak to you in the same tongue or not, but is it enough to know that the person shares the same wavelength?
The 20 minutes might be enough to know whether the person follows the same religion, celebrates the same festivals and is knowledgeable of the same religious texts as you, but is it ever going to be enough to know whether the person shares the same ideology as yours?
Is that 20 minute meeting ever going to be enough for you to know the other person’s definition of LOVE, a definition on which hangs the happiness of your life for the next 4 decades or so?
The answer, I hope you’ve realised, is a resounding ‘NO’.
I agree that the other side of the argument refutes this logic by stating numerous examples of relationships which have broken up in spite of long-term romances prior to marriage. They say ‘It is never going to be enough to find out whether the other person is a perfect match for you or not’.
Point noted. But at least I had the privilege of knowing a wonderful person and had the decency to respect the other person’s life and personality by making an attempt to finding out whether this was the ‘correct’ person instead of putting up a sham ‘meeting of the minds’.
And that, dear reader, was the reason why I asked the lady at the elevator whether she considered me a suitable candidate for the Great Indian Arranged Marriage.