arranged marriages

When Harry Met Sally Through Her Mommy!

I was once on a matrimonial site. Yes. Not a big deal, I know. But just for a month, “I accidentally found myself on a matrimonial site.”
This happened at a time when the world – my mother and friends Inc. (in particular) – was busy trying to get me married. Obviously, my mother did not know how to begin, since repeatedly letting people know that her daughter was “grown up enough” seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. “We need to start somewhere,” is what my friend – who became mom’s spokesperson during these trying times – said, to convince me. I reluctantly agreed, lest I sounded stubborn and non-cooperative, which I usually am. 
“But no name, no encouraging details or photos,” I forewarned the crowd of anxious folks. I only agreed to fill in obnoxious compulsory boxes of information, which the matrimonial site asked for. 
In the end, my profile looked something like this: 26/Female/Catholic/Dark/Heavy. 
No one seemed convinced. How on earth would I land a suitable boy for myself with such incredible honesty. Nobody dared to mention it. Mom, who had married her childhood sweetheart and didn’t know how the mechanics of matrimonial ads worked, felt the strains of having her daughter objectified within such ludicrous categories. “You are beyond all this,” she sighed.    
There was some prodding though – to probably fill in more personal information, “I write,” or “I loved books,” and that I had a “Masters qualification”. At least then, some like-minded boy would approve, was the hope!  In the end, she had her way and partial truth was made accessible to the world, on the other side. But a month later, mom quietly gave up. The men were probably not to her liking. And so, as per a mutually-agreed upon deal, the account was deactivated with full family approval. She has finally come to terms with the situation. Doesn’t mean that she hasn’t stopped trying, praying or what-not! It suits her, and many mothers too. They are meant to worry. We are meant to be the cause of this worry. The equation of cause and effect doesn’t work any better. 
But I write this not because I have an issue with arranged marriages. I don’t even want to raise a stink about how we women and men (as well) are objectified in these ads – hasn’t enough been said about it already. I am just amused by how it all pans out. And how blind dates set up by parents or family, seem like an almost honest attempt at a union of two individuals.  
A chunk of young Indians of marriageable age are on matrimonial sites. A major chunk of these are too embarrassed to admit it, while an even bigger chunk has quietly handed over the baton of finding prospective better halves, to their parents. Another sizable chunk has already been successfully married in such orderly fashion. While another good chunk is still on the waiting list. Just for the record, am talking “chunks” because I have no data or stats to prove my point. I don’t think such fluff of a blog post, deserves this anyway. The real problem is not the number of times, I repeated the word “chunk,” but those who are forced to be part of this chunk.   
A friend of mine has been making three hour-long train journeys to her parents home every weekend, to “meet boys”. And during the few minutes that she sits with these grown up boys, trying to exchange a healthy conversation, she keeps looking for some spark, connection, etc, etc.
“How am I supposed to know?” she asks. “After all, I am to spend the rest of myself with him.” 
I don’t know either. Though somehow she is confident that she will be married soon. Such is the way of the world. We don’t find a groom, but we know we will be married. That’s eventuality. And such eventuality scares me. When life becomes so predictable that you know the end result without knowing who will help you achieve it. When honestly, I would rather have it the other way.    

Another friend has kept a count. 27 men, she last told me. That’s the number of wasted dates. Mind you, that number also reflects her capacity for patience and nonsense. Most importantly, how does one expect her to make a sound choice after being thrown with so many options. We joke sometimes – she and I – as to how she could pull a Katherine Heigl a la in the film 27 Dresses, and invite all the men she has seen, to her wedding as a token of appreciation for leading her to the “man of her dreams”. 
Speaking about the man of our dreams, this new driver that I am, was trying to get out of a crammed parking alley. A cute chap saw me struggle and tried to guide me from outside with hand gestures. When I finally managed to get my car out, he knocked on my window, I rolled it down and he broke into small talk, ending it with how, he hoped to accidentally bump into me at a coffee shop the next time, and not a parking lot. He dropped a hint or two, so that I could share my number. As a response to his kind offer, I came up with a very filmy retort: “Of course, we shall meet again. This world is too small…” 
I drove away, soon after. We parted on a good note. We exchanged smiles, and the regular, “will see you around town soon”. But it didn’t hurt twice that I had pulled a fast one on a nice looking man.  
It feels good to have this choice sometimes…the choice to choose which stranger you want to have your coffee with, which stranger you would like to have a conversation with or who could be allowed to help you at a parking lot.
Meanwhile, parents everywhere are praying. But, we shouldn’t care. As long as we have this CHOICE, nothing else matters.  
P.S. Am not anti-arranged marriages…just saying! For all you know I could land up in one.