Marriage; the union of two souls, two people, hopefully forever. What happens when this union is preceded by a frantic search for eligible bachelors meeting a certain list of pre-defined criteria ? Does one have to actively search for their soul mate? In India we do.
I have two elder cousin sisters. One got married this January and the other is out on a “date”, as I type this, with the entire family in tow. This is the second time I am observing the “let’s get our daughter married” ritual from such close quarters and may I say it is hilarious and sad at the same time.
First comes the realization of the fact that the daughter is now of a marriageable age. As a courtesy, the daughter is asked whether she has any man in sights in a tone that implies that the preferred answer is a no. At least they ask. This is followed by opening an account on any popular marriage-mate-matcher sites as suggested or recommended by our ever helpful relatives and nosy neighbors. Once the entry fees is paid, the hobbies and choices duly filled along with uploading the most flattering yet decent picture of one’s self; we wait. The suggestions start pouring in like ants crawling up a piece of cake left in the park.
Your parents, his parents, the parents’ parents, the neighbor’s parents, the pet dog’s parents; information on everybody is needed by everybody. You? Him? That can be dealt with later. Out of the many suggestions, the daughter along with the entire family shortlists a few men who appear to be decent with a good academic back ground, after all one wants intelligent offspring, right? The family of this potential groom is contacted. If none of the applicants on the site manage to pass the minimum standards of clearance do we lose hope? Absolutely not. When shall all those aunties be of use? A few men are suggested and the daughter may pick one.
So, a man is chosen and now his family is contacted. Bi-lateral talks begin. Over long phone conversations the families decide a neutral place for meeting and we wait. During this waiting period appropriate clothes are bought, the daughter is primped up for display and a crash course in “How To Behave Like A Docile Lady” is an absolute must. The days until the big meet are peppered with tips and questions that a girl MUST ask and ones to avoid.The D day arrives and you reach the “neutral Switzerland-like” venue to meet your potential “soul mate”. Fake smile on the face, dead butterflies in the stomach and an oppressive air of formality that is ready to choke you at any moment. This process does not end after the meeting because this man might not be The One. There is no Morpheus in the marriage world. You might get rejected, you might reject him, anything could happen. Once the bilateral ties fizzle out the whole torturous procedure begins again.
In the case of my elder sister the guy turned out to be Adonis incarnate. Not only that, he was extremely likable and still is. The fate of tonight’s rendezvous is yet unknown. Now I do not condone the concept of arranged marriages but the idea that my parents can find me my perfect soul mate just because they found me my perfect diapers is somehow unacceptable to me. I’d like to fall in love with the person before marriage. Get to know his every fault and irritating habit before becoming his wife, not after wards where one can do nothing other than cursing everything and everyone that got us together. For those of whom it works, great, I however doubt it will work for me though mostly because I am too much of a romantic.
The family is due to arrive home any moment. I hope things went well. I fervently hope I never have to go through this in my life.
Marriage might be the union of soul mates but I’d rather find my mate on my own.
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