Saturday, March 29, 2008

Close encounters of the arranged kind

Well, at last time has come for me to take the path that billions have before me. Much as I fight it, I have been convinced by the elders that my time has come. And so the hunt begins for the perfect bride. But fundamental flaws exist in this search and the basic one is with the filters that my parents use to hunt for the right girl. In their mind the perfect bahu should be devotional, god fearing, family oriented - basically, the whole nine yards (of sari).

Me, I'm a much simpler person. All I ask for is someone who is independent, ambitious, intelligent, talented, reliable, with good taste, reasonable, full of imagination, adapting, sensitive, physically fit, loyal, modest, charming, popular, hard working, honest, empathetic, spontaneous, affectionate, musically inclined and having a good sense of humor.*

This leads to my parents filters being misaligned with mine. As I shall explain using the following diagram,

And thus the girls that my parents select do not fall into my criteria.

Anyhoo, my parents became serious and tried to hook me up with this girl from Chennai. Four years younger to me, she was just out of college and had been working with a software company for the past few months. My mom made some mumbling excuses on why she had to travel to someplace south of Chennai to see a few temples that were high on her list and used that trip to just "casually" meet with the girl and her parents. Deciding that the girl was good match for me they soon sent me her email address. With that, I sent her a sobering mail writing a bit about myself, what I do, my hobbies etc. The next day, I got a reply back from her - "About me, what can I say? :))))))))". As I say to anyone who asks - smiley, smiley, smiley, smiley, smiley, smiley, smiley, smiley.

Not that I have anything against someone full of innocence and a sense of hope and a outlook towards life. Five years after graduating from college working full time, I've been marinated to near perfection with a generous coating of sarcasm and skepticism. I felt like Groucho Marx with a can of herbicide just waiting to spray it on a blooming flower on a spring morning.

Even then I decided to take the next big step and talk to her.
From the getgo, things were not well. Her polished Tamil was far different from the Mumbaiya one I'm used to at home. On the other hand, she didn't speak a word of Hindi. Five minutes into the conversation, I realized how much the culture from two cities can separate people - even those with similar backgrounds. At some point when I was describing to her my hiking activities, she asked me if I had a big "gang" over there. For a few moments there, I had a J.D.-like daydream, with me and my friends dressed up in biker leather outfits with chains and baseball bats. I wound up talking to her mother a little bit later and after what I thought was end of the conversation kept the phone definitely deciding against the marriage alliance. I called up my mother and explained her the reasons why it wouldn't work and though she was disappointed there wasn't much I could do about it.

Five minutes after I finished that conversation, I checked my messages and lo and behold there was an email from her - "hey why u kept the phone?" My stomach churned for a minute. Do I reply to her? Would that mean I haven't said a no? And what do I say to her? "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought our conversation was quite finished." "Sorry, you're chucked." "Next ...". As I said, Groucho Marx and and a can of industrial strength herbicide ...

Someone, someday should publish a book on arranged marriage etiquette. Maybe I will for all the Gen-X ones who will get trapped into arranged marriages - once I go through with it. And no, that was NOT an argument against arranged marriages. I have heard both the pros and cons of arranged marriages and the jury is still out on it.

For True Love,


*OK, I totally picked that up from a horoscope website. For someone with the above talents, she would have birthdays in all the 12 signs. I also really wanted to put in "has precise sense of judgment and expects complete fairness" but have no idea what a person with that characteristic would be like. And on a extreme tangent, did you know that empathic also means "
Having the capability to share the emotions of another through psychic means." That's a great quality to have. Girls, call me ...