So St Valentine has just got back home from his annual visit to earth, leaving behind in his trail a host of people who have emptied their pockets on account of commitment or in anticipation of getting the committed tag. Then there is another set of cynics who have taken off their “We don’t believe in Valentines” mask and have carefully placed it in their safety lockers for use next year and the years to follow.
Who said Cupid doesn’t play favorites? He has a few chosen few and then there is the neglected lot. The ones he doesn’t even give a passing glance and places them in foster care. The care taker of this foster care believes that love and commitment doesn’t come easy. It comes with a lot of effort for the person in question and the people around them. These poor folks are branded and placed in the boxes called “Arranged Marriages” when they begin their bumpy journey to earth.
Let us trace the journey of these poor earthlings as they approach that marriage able age put down by the unquestionable high power called Society
A young girl, usually just out of grad school, all bright and ready to face the world. A new job in hand and many dreams of spending that cash without a daily expense report to the parents. That’s when the elders in the family cast an evil eye on your new found happiness. By the elders it’s mostly the women folk who take it upon themselves to make the already good world a better place for the younger generation. It is their definition of giving back to their world (rather I think they grin evilly and say Payback time)
Suddenly you and your family are invited to many social dos ranging g from poojas to weddings to even naming ceremonies and haldi kumkums, with the mater hovering around you to wear that new dress and almost get into a fist fight when you refuse to put on some yellow metal. The only high point being the new dress that was glared upon from last weekend’s shopping excess is now considered a blessing. Endless nudging and winking happens as you enter the parties. Aunties with so called eligible sons, nephews, neighbors and few long lost acquaintances whom they have not seen since their diaper days flock in to ask you random questions about education and hobbies and future plans and the likes. Very unfamiliar faces recommending a fitness regime and a fairness cream post the viva session usually bursts the initial euphoria of being in spotlight though.
The parents are then almost forced to disclose the phone numbers, which they reluctantly give and even cite excuses of not being in favor of marriage over career for their bright daughter. Typically acting pricey when you are being showered with attention syndrome.
The initial period passes in rejected proposals and absolutely turning up the nose in disdain when suddenly the parents realize that time is buzzing past and all the so called aunties need to be taken seriously. The old diaries are fished out and subtle and not so subtle hints dropped to acquaintances about a daughter who has been the good girl and resisted Cupid’s arrows keeping in mind their scandalous take on “Love marriage”. She always wanted to marry in our community is their trump card. If only they knew, that cupid plays favorites, if only.
The aunties swing back into action. Kicked that their endless hints have finally yielded some results. The bio data is made and circulated among one and all. The responses start trickling in slowly and the parents attack it like a nerd in a gadget store. Each day as you land back after a hard day staring at the computers, there are even harder tasks waiting your attention at home. Numerous smiling faces and endless educational and professional accolades waiting your approval. Choices and more choices. Few are okayed and dispatched to the astrologers for approval. The astrologer looks at your horoscope like a farmer who has just discovered a pot full of gold in a barren field. The verdict is that you are blessed with a mix of stars so unique that finding a perfect match among the stars will mean numerous visits to the astrologer and a slight respite for you as he asks you to get into a religious frenzy to pay for all the sins of initial non interest and disdain.
The parents listen with utmost devotion as he lists down the never ending list of poojas and temple visits to please the stars. With each passing day the horoscope slowly transmogrifies in the words of Calvin into a horrorscope. The parents even go to an extent of changing their trusted astrologer under the suspicion that he is soothsaying way into building a billion dollar empire. However as they say the stars don’t lie. The father is asked to sign a dealership with Bata or Paragon to regularly replace his pair of footwear for the endless distance he is destined to traverse for the noble cause of finding a groom.
Slowly the so called well wisher aunties lose their interest and move on to newer or more updated stock in the market. Age as they say is a great leveler. There are rumors spread about too much demand from the girl’s side and how expectations need to be trimmed down as per market value (I am not making that up) Left to their own devices, the parents are left with no option but to counsel their ward into the world of matrimony sites. The profile is edited and re edited to create an image of a perfect bride. Photoshop experts are pressed into service to undo the small blemished and scars of nature. The profiles on matrimony sites can range from interesting to downright material for comedy shows. Yours truly was given killing glares for laughing at some eligible guy’s description which read as “Looking for a convented girl.” I don’t even want to get into the entire details for the scare of copyright violations and the like. Anyways as is common with all situations in life, there is a law which says “The most appealing profile will have the most unmatchable sets of stars”.
So the search continued forever with a few ladki dekhna and jazz thrown in between for entertainment sake. There were attempts of conversations made with absolute strangers who made you wish the earth just opened up and swallowed you for the time being.
To cut a long story short, it was an experience of a life time. Very educational as it throws in the questions of caste, sub caste and even language dialects as search criteria. So many search criteria I am sure which if given at the same time would stump even good old Google …
What can I say .. all’s well that ends with bells n cymbals
PS: Any resemblance to anybody’s personal experience is all but unintentional!!