>To marry, that is. I may regret having met The Guy when I was barely 18, but I do not regret having found husband material so soon. On the contrary, I think I’ve been lucky when I compare myself to friends who’ve been there, done that but still can’t find themselves the kind of person they would like to marry. And no, I’m not talking about the kind of people who do not believe in marriage. I’m talking about the kind of people who want to marry, who’ve not found love yet, would be okay with an arranged match except that this whole arranging a match has turned out to be quite an ordeal.
So my 27-year old, successful lawyer friend’s fretful mother is spending sleepless nights over her marital status. And the friend’s quite tired of her single status too. But where’s the boy who’ll be her match? The successful boys have been too stingy (one refused to even share the bill at Barista!), the generous ones too ugly, others too conservative. The interrogations and telephonic interviews can get quite exasperating, I am asked to believe. And I believe it.
For the story for my 30-year-old bachelor friend who has finally sown his wild oats isn’t too different. He’s looking for a career-oriented girl now who’ll fit into the family as well as take care of his business. Of course, the stapes stay: compatibility and looks. The almost-perfect-for-him girl’s family turned out to be totally weird, another was too orthodox, still another not ambitious enough. He goes so far as to make a comparison chart of the suitable girls on Excel sheets. And all the analysing has been of no help till now! He’s still single, still wants to get married and still has no idea how he’s supposed to know a girl in one look, one meeting, one conversation!
And then there’s my dapper 27-year-old cousin who still can’t imagine himself living with a girl whom he won’t get bored of! He’s officially “settled” – roti, kapda aur makaan
all taken care of – and promises to work on his commitment phobia as his family goes hunting for his life partner. His mum is sweet enough to say she doesn’t care for the girl’s complexion, age or height for her good-looking, fair and tall son. But despite those concessions, the prospective brides are conspicuous by their absence.
And you would think marriages could be arranged overnight by overexcited relatives, matrimonial ads and websites, all the networking – social and otherwise that goes around us and what have you!
I remember the snide remarks that my parents had to hear when my sister announced her decision to marry the man of her choice not of our caste in 1999. A few years hence, my “love marriage” raised no eyebrows because by then people around us had understood the judiciousness in letting your adult children choose their own partner in life. Some of that understanding may have to do with their inability to find a suitable match for their children in arranged marriages.
Gone are the days when the girl and boy would meet once, talk for five minutes and make up their minds. Gone also are the days when the parents’ word could be taken as final while looking for your prospective spouse.
These are times of great expectations. Everybody seems to be rich and successful, almost everybody is presentable. And there’s no way you can really know anything else about a person in two, even three or four meetings even though you so want toe. So how do you narrow down on the right person?
The expectations are also different now. For one, the rich NRI guy is no longer so wanted. Neither is the “fair, homely, convented girl”. As if the boys’ wish lists weren’t long enough, now girls have theirs too: a career after marriage, their surname too, a nuclear family and lots of space. Marriages must be made in Heaven, especially these days, because down here, things are getting pretty tough on that front.
And I ask, what’s the world coming to if the convenience of an arranged marriage is also no longer to be had?