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Posts Tagged ‘arranged marriage’

Hitchhiker’s Guide to Arranged Marriages -Part 3

Posted by Sowmya on October 20, 2009

Concluding Part to this series……….

So, like I was saying, after all the screening which would easily put the Indian Idol and Roadies to shame, the parents finally select a guy who is suitable to be presented before their daughter dearest. Then starts your roller coaster ride….It all really depends on how much you like a roller coaster…..fear or fun is yours to choose.

SIXTH STAGE -Meeting the boy
Yes! This is it. Though there is no assurance that the first guy you meet will be ‘The One’ but you do go with the hope that it should be so. Typically, what happened with me was that my parents gave my mobile number to his parents who in turn passed it on to the guy who then called me, usually, at the most inappropriate time and sweetly asked, ” Right time to talk?”. I had half a mind to scream, ” Nooooo. I usually always work at 11 am on a weekday and right now I am sitting with my boss and his boss and this is SO NOT the right time.” Instead I grin sheapishly at my bosses and excuse myself from the conference room and talk to my Mr. Probably Right. Why? Cos I have a mother who can take such stuff very seriously and I was strictly instructed to drop everything and talk to the guy as also agree to meet him wherever and whenever it is convinient for him irrespective of the fact that I may have a movie booked for the same time or that I have to travel half the world to reach where he tells me. So this much I did. Talk, that is, not miss my movie. I maneuvered around that one successfully. Always.

So Scenario 1 -Only boy meets girl

This happened at Barista or CCD mostly. At one point of time in life, the Barista guy near my place was bewildered to see me every sunday with a new guy. But he was nice enough to give cappucino the way I liked it.  So the review starts from the time of arrival. How late / early was duly noted and reported to their respective parents and used against the other party in case such need arose. Actually, my evaluation started from the time I spoke to him over the phone. I had my first impressions ready before meeting the guy and kinda knew how friendly / conservative / funny / chilled out the guy was. On most occassions I was proved right. The guys were just as they seemed over the phone. Moronic mostly. No offence but I was appalled by the frequency of wierdos in my matchmaking scene. Half the reason I agreed to an arranged marriage were my brothers (own and cousins) who are absolutely brilliant with a very good sense of humor and amazing conversation skills. I figured if the rest of our tribe was even half this good I could make do.

But hell no! It seemed like I was brought up with the creme de la creme of the Iyengar clan and most others were nuts. Maybe there were smart guys but I did’nt meet any. So it doe not count.

Most guys I met did not watch movies / surf the net / go out with friends. What is the probability that all the loner Iyengars were queued up for me? Couple of them were even gloating about it -‘I am a loner. *smirk*’ I ran.

Others rated very high on the MCP scale.  ‘You can do whatever you want. As long as you take care of my parents, our home, our cat, neighbour’s dog you can do anything you want.’  I was so elated on having found such libertarians. Grrrrrrrrr

Still others were huge fans of keeping score. ‘So how many guys have you met? Did you not like them all? Did you like anyone? Where did you guys meet?’ I wanted to wack them right there and say ‘ Rememeber to tell the next girl you meet that you were wacked by me.’ Alas! I coul not do that.

One guy I met at around 11 a.m. I had woken up around 10 and had a very heavy breakfast. He was all chivalrous and asked me what I would like to have. Since I was full (extremely) I politely declined. He kept asking and so I was forced to explain my late breakfast, etc etc. He still did not relent. Our conversation went something like this –

He: So what are your hobbies? Eat something…..

Me: No thanks. I love to read, blah blah……

He: Which is your native town? Eat something….

Me: No thanks. I am from bgkfdhgkfngkl

and we went on like this for about an hour. Somewhere in the middle of all this I had a neembu pani since this whole chivalry was getting on to me. But my really heavy breakfast prevented me from indulging him any further. Then he started his next tirade…’Have lunch please.’ I was ready to run.  Then he goes….

He: So what do you think are your negative traits?

I find this question very silly. Everyone loves themselves the most and what appears negative to me may not be the same for you. But questions have to be answered and so I picked the first words which came to me.

Me: Hmmmm I am lazy, an introvert and sometimes stubborn.

He: Oh yes! You are stubborn. Inspite of what I said, you refused to eat today!


Yeah! It takes such kinds too to make the world.

Scenario 2 -The guy’s entire family and its aunt meet the girl’s entire family and her aunt

Such situations generally are hillarious. There is some superstition that ‘an odd number of people should not come for auspicious occasions like ‘girl seeing’. So the visiting party consists of guy, his father and mother and some obscure relative just to make up the numbers. Such relative usually thinks of this to be a great honour / responsibility and takes it very seriously by asking insightful questions to the girl. Sample this -‘So how do you travel?’ ‘How far is your office?’ ‘Which school did you study?’ and suchlike. In case it was tough to procure an obscure relative the accompanying member to the trio is an apology. ‘ You see, there was no one else. What to do?  We tried to get my sister’s husband’s brother-in-law’s second cousin but something urgent came up in the last minute and she could not make it.

We have done this a couple of times too. I was never comfortable with my extended family having detailed information with regard to my guy-evaluation techniques and hence  we took an apology along.

The initial half hour or so is spent in exchanging background information like which village / seer / etc the 2 families belonged to, how many brothers and sisters did the 2 sets of parents have and how many of them were in Chennai, how many retired / retiring this year and how many children each one of them had. I have 6 aunts and 3 uncles with a total of 18 cousins. You can imagine the fun, especially if the other family was equally matched. The basic purpose was of course to find some common friend / relative through whom an independant background check could be done. I let this part of the conversation go over my head and instead watched everyone’s expressions / reactions and smirked to myself.

The guys in such a scenario usually scrutinized the tiles on my floor and I smirked some more. The next stage was the one I found most irritating – ‘Checking out the house’. I had a fight with my parents before every guy and his family visited us. What was the necessity to take them around our home, especially my bedroom. I felt it to be such an invasion of privacy. But my parents never listened. On the very rare occassions that my parents forgot, the visiting people would either hint / ask directly to be shown our home. So it was either –

Mother of Guy: (looking around) So how many rooms do you have?


Father of Guy nudged by Mother of Guy: Is this the way to your kitchen?

Me: (Grrrr! That is the main door through which you entered and shall soon exit)

My Parents: Oh please come and look……….

Procession starts –

Mom: This book shelf was my daughter’s idea.

Mother of Guy: So nice! So nice!

Me: (Grrr! Mom, not again. It does not take much to select one from a pile of books)

Mom: These pots were painted and decorated by my daughter

Father of Guy: So pretty! So creative!

Me: ( I do pity you sir. What my mom did not tell you is that those pots are about the only creative thing I have done in these 20 something years of my life)

Then was the snack time. One sweet stuff and one farsan type with either coffee or juice as preferred.

After which my dad would address the guy -‘Why dont you and my daughter go to her room and talk?’

 And for what happened next, refer to Scenario 1.

But I do remember this particularly funny incident. When Dad, as usual, suggested to the guy that he and me could go to the other room and talk, the guy freaked.

Dad: Why dont you and my daughter go to her room and chat up?

Guy: No, its ok

Me: (Eh???? WTF)

Dad: Errrr. No no. Its fine. Please.

Guy: No. No. I dont want to go

Dad: Its absolutely fine. Please feel free to talk as much as you want.

Guy: No! No! I have nothing to ask her

Me: (*smirk* *smirk* Dad, this one is done for!)

Dad: (desperately) Please go!

Guy’s Mom: Come on! You may have nothing to ask but she would. So go and talk to her

Guy: Ok

I don’t have to tell you where that led to. Absolute rejection. But my bro and me had an amazing time guffawing over him.

Well jokes apart, I hope you enjoyed this and picked up something useful. All I can offer by way of advice is this –

Never commit to anyone on the spot. Even if the guy asks / pesters you for an opinion, tell him its a HUGE decision and you would want to think it over.

Be prepared for your meeting but not overprepared. I mean, don’t go with a checklist and stick to it and fire away questions like a stress interview. Think of what points you would like to cover, your expectations and your non compromisables. Steer the conversation the way you like without being too rigid about it.

Go with an open mind. Chat up with him / her as you would to a new colleague / acquaintance.

Remember everything you spoke and discuss it with your sibling / parent / friend. A different perspective always helps

Try to meet up atleast a couple of times before taking a decision. If that is not possible then remember one thing -When in doubt, say NO.

Hope you had fun reading this. I had an awesome trip down memory lane. I’ll try and add bits as and when I remember it.

Ciao! Have fun 🙂

Posted in INSIGHTFUL?, NOW THAT'S ME, ZILLION YEARS AGO | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Hitchhiker’s Guide to Arranged Marriages -Part 2

Posted by Sowmya on July 16, 2009

Hope all you guys could digest Part 1 well and I am stretching imagination to the limits when I say all of you are more than eagerly waiting for part deux.

Me thinks that before I reach the ‘boy meets girl’ stage I should elucidate the types of guys you usually meet (rather I met). This obviously can’t be an exhaustive list but covers the usual suspects –

Maun vrat Muni -The true believers of ‘Silence is golden’. It took all my energy, effort and patience to get a 2 sentence worth from them. Any question was met with a single word answer followed by “u?” Something like –

Me: So what do you do? (lame question, but what else does one say?)

He: I work in blah company as blah. U?

Me: I am an investment banker working in blah company. I did my schooling and college in Mumbai as also my CA.


Me: So what is your work profile

He: Blah. U?

Me: Blah blah blah blah blah blah(pause for breath) blah blah…….


Such encounters ended with me trying to tear my hair out

Motor Mouth -Talk of opposites!! These guys, a rare breed i agree, ask a question and answer it themselves. And you are enriched with knowledge about them, their families, neighbours, friends, colleagues, state of this country, next rainfall, sensex movements, bollywood gossip,….in effect everything. Something like –

He: So what do you do? I work in XYZ company as ABC. During weekends I watch movies, catch up on some reading and meet my friends. Last week we saw this movie -it was so bad. I have decided never to watch movies with that actor ever again. Btw did you know he is going around with this actress. They have a flat in Andheri. Must have made lot of money to buy flats in Andheri. The real estate prices are shooting up like crazy. My cousin bought a house in Chembur for $$$ last year. This year my neighbour bought it for the same amount in Vashi. They shifted yesterday and we are having new neighbours tomorrow. Actually they were supposed to shift today but had to postpone because of the rains. That reminds me, what was your 26/7 experience? You know what happened with me?…………… 

Me: (Thank God! I chose the seat facing the TV)

Floodgate -When I started this post I swore I will not reveal any regional biases that I strongly possess. So I shall keep that word and continue. The rest is upto your imagination and understanding 😉 Quite a few of the guys I met were totally smitten. NO! Not by me. Not at all that. But by the general female population. Any lady and they would drool. It was quite embarrassing to handle that. If you like a guy drooling over you all the time, go ahead. But I could not. I ran like….like I have never run before. (And I have never run before)

Ice Ice Baby -Talking of opposites, I also found quite a few who thought they were the Almighty’s gift to womankind….like they are doing me a big favour by sitting at the same table. Well, well. Keep those thoughts and go home dude! Something like –

He: Actually I am not in much favour of this whole arranged marriage stuff, you know. Its like…like….crazy man. I mean how do people do that kind of thing.

Me: (Grrr… go home and stuff yourself dude) hmm followed by plastered smile

Medieval Man – Actually most guys are medieval….even those who think they are ‘modern’. But as far as they make an effort….I forgive them. I am quite benevolent that way 🙂 But some take the cake. Sample this –

He: I will let you do whatever you want.

Me: (And please introduce yourself Mr. God Almighty)  Oh !

He: As far as you take care of my parents and do everything for them, you can do anything you want.

Me: (Ah! What untold freedom. I am speechless) Hmmm

Yeah! I tell you they were fun.

Ideal Man -Most welcome to my humble abode to meet him 😀

I’ll conclude in Part 3. Keep watching this space!!!

Posted in I WENT TO, INSIGHTFUL?, MUMBAI MERI JAAN, NOW THAT'S ME, ZILLION YEARS AGO | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Hitchhiker’s guide to arranged marriages

Posted by Sowmya on June 25, 2009

After a really long hiatus…….Hope this worth it 🙂

Ok, now I dont have to tell you which book my nose is buried under….on to the topic at hand. I think this post is an extremely relevant guide to all to-be married people…more to the to-be married girls. I decided to bless the rest of mortal land with my vast experience and wisdom.

I can see many of you thinking…hmph! Arranged Marriage is such an old fashioned concept! Who opts for arranged marriages these days?
Well in that case buddy, lemme tell you 2 things –
ONE Check out the number of applicants registered (their tribe does increase) on these marraige portals.

TWO This post is the result of many young ladies coming to me crying at 2 a.m. petrified about the ‘meeting-the-boy’ stage.
So I am documeting my experiences for posterity when more such young women will be petriefied and not have my phone number….Girls, help is only a ‘google away’……..

So here goes……This contains mostly my experiences which I am sure will enrich your knowledge and make you realise that it can be fun too 😉

    Typically arranged marriages happen in the following stages –

    FIRST STAGE -The Discussion
    This is THE most important part of the process -when your parents finally are able to convince you that its time you ‘settled down’ in life, etc, etc. You know what I mean 😉 My parents were all set to throw a party when I half nodded my head in assent to ‘start looking for Mr. Right’. My mom visited few hundred temples and finalized some coconut breaking deals with the Great One Above.
    The actual discussion happened in a somewhat upscale restuarant over dinner. Dad started with a small welcome note and an introductory speech complete with the purpose of ‘the discussion’ and agenda for the evening. Mom butted in, as she always does, with a few insightful glimpses into her ‘non existent’ discussion with her folks complete with the ‘times have changed’ story. With the formalities complete, came the main agenda…..my bro and I fought over what to order for the starters and the usual dal vs no dal arguement. Then I presented my ‘conditions’ to my parents who agreed instantly that it was most reasonable -No smoking, no businessman, no USA. My bro was totally dissapointed -he had planned to order pop corn to watch us fight. But, unfortunately for him, the show was over before it started.
    My suggestion to all you young girls and guys is that -be clear to them about your reasonable expectations of your dream guy. Certain requirements like ‘hot-bod / Brad Pitt / David Beckham look-alike’ can be safely omitted. I did.


    Your parents now commence increasing the gross revenues of SIFY / TATA Indicom / etc and register on the million and one matrimony sites….bharatmatrimony, shaadi, jeevansathi, are the most popular. And all parents list their offsprings on all of them. Guaranteed. Me thinks these are the scrips one should invest in. Recession proof, I say. They may also flash an ad in HINDU / Times matrimony. The only saving grace is that your name is not mentioned. Yes! I completely agree it is cringe-worthy but, to them, the end justifies the means. Typical ads read ‘Looking for suitable bride / groom (as the case may be) for XXX years, fair / wheatish & good looking CCCC caste girl / boy who has completed YYYY degree and is earning $$$ from Mumbai / Chennai / etc. I have never understood why everyone feels the need to mention ‘suitable’. Obviously you are looking for a suitable match. Why on earth will someone look for an unsuitable match???? Beats me to this day!
    One tip to all girls -when such an ad mentions ‘professionally qualified homely girl’ or ‘with values’ BEWARE!!! It simply translates into -” You have to be well qualified else how can my son take pride in you BUT you have to also be the self sacrificing soul who gives up her career for looking after her family. I am not against looking after my family. But the sole responsibility of it, I shall not accept. So if you are career oriented, you are forewarned. ‘Homely girl’ is as dangerous as dangerous can get. Run! Run! Run!
    There are also these marriage meets which well meaning ‘sabhas’ and associations organize. Its as close to ‘marriage market’ as you can get. Parents of single boys and girls meet at this common location and each is assigned a token number. The parents are given a list of the boys / girls available and they rank their prospective sons / daughters -in-law as per their various preferences. If your ranking matches your token numbers are called out and you can meet up in a corner to exchange hororscopes / CV / itsy-bitsy details, etc. Some of these sabhas went one step further and brought in an in-house astrologer who matched horoscopes instantly and declared the results.
    All this are, of course, except the traditional route to getting your dream mate -relatives. Each of my relative had a few thousand copies of my horoscope and were doling it out like freebies. I would not have been surprised if I got sundal at Marina beach wrapped in my horoscope.

    THIRD STAGE – Shortlisting
    Hunt! Hunt! Hunt! For the prospective one ….short listed by various criteria like height, weight (we all lie about it), location, caste, creed, washing machine, dog, etc. MS EXCEL is very useful, I assure you. Most of Excel functions which my father is aware of today can be traced back to the time he was groom hunting. Once shortlisted, the prospective guys’ parents were called and if the guy was unmarried still and interested, then horoscopes were exchanged.
    I was not a first rank choice since I was not a part of the elite software engineering angels descended from the heavens above. Poor me with a simple CA degree could not match up to their exacting visa requirements and was so turned down by more than a few blessed souls settled in the USA. The fact that I was tooo keen to settle down in India, actually Mumbai and preferably somewhere close to my workplace made all this a lot of fun for me. You may wonder why my parents were looking for USA guys when I had asked them not to. Well yeah! They wanted to keep their options open. Location can’t be a barrier, said Dad. I have not seen the USA, said mom. Thats how it was. But thankfully I escaped all that and had a ball of a time in the bargian. One parent actually asked my dad if I had a visa to go to USA; only then could they proceed further. Another one insisted that since his son had a touring job (he was a cricketer actually) I would have to go with him everywhere and hence I could not have a job, let alone a career. If it was Saurav Ganguly, I would have thought about it but Ranji and Duleep Trophy did not excite me that much. Another guy wanted me to get a job in the USA before thinking of a marriage. lol. Dinner times were full of mirth and laughter. My bro & me eagerly waited for the next funny punk.

    FOURTH STAGE – Horrorscoping
    Oh yeah! This is the craziest of them all. Some people dont believe in it and I think they are missing out on a lot of fun. So, once the parents agree that something may come out of it all, they exchange horoscopes. Some people like to meet before matching and some dont. Some believe in horoscopes fervently and some are pretty lax about it. My parents believed it, in their words, ‘to some extent’. They did not get into the details and nitty gritty but they wanted the comfort that overall the horoscopes ‘match’.
    Mom and Dad initially went to a particular astrologer. Mom did not like him tooo much since he was one of the few who predicted that I would never clear my CA exams. So she changed astrologers till she found one who said that I would. But I digress. Anyways this was the most logistically convinient astrologer, which is the most important factor, considering we live in Mumbai. If you could not find dad at home or office, you could conviniently drop by at the astrologer’s place. He went there on weekends first, then weekdays and then morning evening till I was scared that I would have to sacrifice my room to accomodate our friendly astrologer. But, just in time he had to go on a looooong vacation to meet his son / daughter in the US. This forced my parents to look for another astrologer. He was the genial sort, from what I heard from Mom. When Astorloger 1 returned, my parents were faced with the dilemna of choosing between the 2. For sometime, to massage their egos, my parents actually consulted both. Funny, neither could forsee what my parents were doing. That period was hillarious. What Astorloger Uncle 1 would approve that guy would be rejected by Astrologer Uncle 2 and vice versa. My parents were so at their wits end. Finally they phased out Astrologer 1 when he started insisting that I marry a particular guy who was his friend’s son. So once we had the horoscopes approved, we informed the result to the guy’s parents. The inverse ratio in such cases is very high. When our astrologer found it to be perfectly matching the guy’s did not and so on and so forth.
    You can tell, by talking for 5 minutes with a parent, as to how long they have been groom / bride hunting. Half way throught the process they become half astrologers themselves. Some will ask for your ‘natshatram’ aka ‘star’ and instantly inform you that it does not match with their son’s. Some even ask you -‘what is written in this box’ i.e. one of the 9 odd boxes which make a horoscope. This bug bit my mom too and soon she was analyzing horoscopes of my cousins and neighbours and suggesting remedies.Like go to ABC temple on tuesday and XYZ temple on Saturdays. I miss those times. Sigh!

    These two stages are generally completed by the parents. That, I would say is a huge plus for arranged marriages. They scan through the muck and short list a set of diamonds for you. If you think they are as precious is another story all together.

    FIFTH STAGE -Introduction

    Once the horoscopes match, then the parents meet the other set of parents. My folks were out every weekend visting prospective samdhis and samdhans. Mom made it a point to be the visiting party primarily because she wanted to check out if the guy’s house was good enough for her little princess. More importantly because she could not trust me around prospective in-laws and thought it safer that they meet me after they have been mentally prepared for it by mom and dad. They traversed the entire city of Mumbai, every nook and corner meeting up people. Dad even made a few trips to Chennai in his quest for an ideal son-in-law. Why do you think he is a Jet Platinum Card holder 😉 Mom came back with various stories from each visit. Some were fabulous, some average and some made her furious. Our dinner menu varied from feasts and dessert, rice and sambhar to saltless rasam and padval (bottle gourd / podalankai) depending on the success of her trip. I never knew what to pray for……..

    Once they were satisfied, it was finally time for the STAGE of me meeting the guy. Sometimes, if the guy was not from Mumbai, the parents meet was combined with the boy meet. That was more fun…All that and more in Part II of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Arranged Marriages.

    Yippeeee! I have actually enough to write two part series. Yohooo!

Posted in INSIGHTFUL?, MUMBAI MERI JAAN, NOW THAT'S ME, ZILLION YEARS AGO | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »