Some of my team mates are travelling to India to meet shortlisted candidates who can play the role of lifelong room mates. Once the right candidate is chosen by a guy, like so many other women, she will be confined to his room at least 24 hours every day for 5 days a week. If and when he buys a car, weekends shall be dedicated for fun filled weekend getaways to malls and super stores like Walmart, Cosco and Sam’s Club. That is a do loop for so many desis across the US. Occasional potluck parties shall showcase variety in Indian culture and cuisine. These social events shall be organized to devour hyderabadi biryani along with paneer tikka followed by rosogollas or home made gulab jamun with vanilla ice cream. The potluck dinners shall feature discussions on latest Chiranjeevi or Bollywood movies, immigration Bills, Green card processing legalities, terrorism, Indian real estate and gold prices. If somebody has come back from a vacation in India within the last 6 weeks, of course, the discussions get salted and peppered with references to how the bloody roads are still the same in downtown Bangalore or uptown Kolkata. Non Tamilians from Chennai will invariably drive down Old Mahabalipuram Road. Someone will crack the same joke again and again at every party that the road to Navalur was so full of craters and pits and some pot holes were so deep that one inch more and Ambanis would have started finding petrol there. Ha ha ha ha ha ha – chorus of laughter. In parallel, an animated discussion between Saravanan and Doshi on how Modi is the greatest development oriented CM and why he is a bachelor and hence not corrupt. Tamil Nadu ministers believe in polygamy and Srikanth is the best chairman of selectors etc.
I find it amusing now, sitting in the US when I look at young men and women going through that phase of life where parents and other family members are drowned in the ‘search’ process. Like campus placements, where we have a written round, followed by a group discussion (GD) and personal interview, arranged marriages pretty much follow the same selection process. My friends’ marriage arrangers are busy discussing with maamas and maamis of different shapes, sizes, bank balances, number of own houses, gothras, nakshathras to shortlist candidates for the group discussions and fix appointments for final round of placements – the face to face interviews. I would consider the written round as the basic entry level filter which is done by matching the horoscopes. Technology can play a role here but manual match making, I mean horoscope matching is still considered more accurate, and is a best practice especially, if the comparison is done by an old person using a magnifying glass and reading something on a brittle page of a torn book that has weathered coffee abhishekam (shower) and oil bath due to various kinds of oily food that have fallen on the book for the last X years, where X is > 40. The more books he / she refers to, the more knowledgeable the comparer. Hmmm …. I smell hypocrisy from myself, a success story (in IT terms, a case study!), whose photographs were clicked and about to be published in leading dailies, fortnightlies and monthlies to strengthen the belief in the paradigm shift from maamis to dot coms. Most dot coms even offer chat rooms for breaking the ice between the prospective roomies.
I remembered many interesting stories and decided to briefly write on a couple of them here 😉 And no, these are not my experiences.
In my case, Bharatmatrimony facilitated the sparks and I did experience love at first sight when I met the girl who became my wife 😀
Heroine: Shanmugapriya, a Chennai Mylapore maami, returned from Sydney after 8 months of a software project. High global exposure with similar duration projects spread across different parts of the globe in last 4-5 years.
Hero: Saaranganathan, affectionately called, Saaranga. Pazham boy, now in India, after completing MS in something and working for a big company in Texas in a high tech field involving mirrors, lasers and what not
Girl: So, you seem very studious. Did you have any love affairs?
Girl: What? None so far
Boy: Not really, but I got over it.
G: Not true love?
G: That’s bad, was it two way, at least?
G: Truly over it no? I don’t want to marry someone who is not sure.
B: finally laughs. No No, truly over. Assumes girl’s sense of humor is being served, shaken not stirred (yet) to his heart G: Any true love affair?
B: Actually, that girl, I loved her truly only. She was a Muslim and I realized it is infatuation – so I gave up. Her brother was a local goonda as well. So I knew it had to be an infatuation.
G: You are so confused between love and infatuation – if you still have her in some dark corner of your heart, you loved her truly. Don’t hide your romantic side. I love romantic walks.
B: I do. I do. I do have her in my heart but I am over that incident.
G: Then how can I marry you if you still have her in your heart.
B: You are putting words in my mouth, now. Convinced that girl is evil
G: Yeah, and talking of mouth, I heard your mom still feeds you with her hands whenever you are here on vacation. Mohana told me. Mohana is Kalyani’s friend. Kalyani is the girl you saw 6 months ago. Mohana and I are colleagues.
B: Oh. So what? I think you are a nosy girl. I don’t want to marry you.
G: And you are obnoxious. I am meeting you because Aarabhi aunty thought our names were musical. Both of us have raagaas as names but you are so full of yourself.
B: Everybody is full of themselves. Only hookers and porn stars are full of others.
G: Stop!!!!!!! Putting hands on ears, shaking head for 29 seconds or so, getting up and walking off ….
Uncles fighting over phone …. Your son &*^%$# your daughter %$#!@#$%^ Nokia goes to Grand Slam.
Aunty shouting, Peace Peace, Nokia going piece piece.
Same old boy, S, meets another girl, Sahaana and after half an hour or so, boy decides she is not the one. Reason = girl does not like reading and has never even bothered to read Ayn Rand books.
Girl also doesn’t like boy because he is not a Vijay fan and keeps cribbing about the traffic and roads in India.
S’s father, Venkatanathan Uncle is furious and doesn’t know what to do. Aunty and uncle sipping on filter kaapi and deciding on the best way to communicate the taboo word ‘NO’ to girl’s house. Similar scene is being witnessed at girl’s home.
Old North Indian engineer maama, settled in South India and with a very musical name, Malhar Kedar walks in. His claim to fame is that he married off 14 of his daughters in ‘those’ days. In Malhar Kedar maama’s reproduction history, it was not a case where 6 kids were followed by 8, no fertility pills or anything. Private joke was that although Malhar was an electrical engineer, he didn’t like parallel – all 14 of them popped out in series and not even a twin came out in parallel. Engineer uncle offers simple suggestion to boy’s father. “Just say, praaptham illai” (not destined to be).
The words were effectively used by Saaranga’s parents ad nauseum. Praaptham illai was a pregnant phrase that came as a boon to many such parents and relatives. For every YES, statistics shows there are 4 Praaptham illais, that act as a full stop to uncomfortable discussions, reduce blood pressure and generally help match making maamas and maamis to quickly move on next targets.
I am so glad I am past the arranged marriage search phase. Love marriage – I don’t know the challenges first hand but some day write about what some of my close friends encountered.
* By the way, this concept of roomie comes from a friend, popularly called by her friends as cartoon. She manages to piss her husband off by calling herself a roomie!