Arranged marriage 101
March 27, 2006
Kaun banegi meri patnee? (a sequel to Shaadi dot com)
(background music: Apache Indian's 'Arranged marriage')
**Disclaimer: Please read the following with a sac of salt (preferably iodised). All disclaimers apply. Void where prohibited. May contain traces of peanuts.
Shaadi dot com was all about my travails in trying to get the attention of the female folk (reminds me of Robin Williams' song: Rock DJ, where he desperately tries to get the attention of some babes by stripping.. initially his clothes, and then stripping his skin and muscles.. eventually he does get noticed!). Well, I can't afford such acts as my university insurance plan has limited coverage, and my grad advisor has high hopes on me: that I am graduating and leaving him soon. I want to live upto them.
ALL the people I have interacted with here (primarily Gults) have been hinted by their parents that once they get a job, they should be ready to be sold in the marriage market. Yes, and this isnt just for gults, even my marathi roomie had a close encounter. He was actually directly approached by a prospective girl in a temple in Hyderabad about any interest in tying the nuptial knots (true true, kasam se). He, like many others here, was not used to (or expecting) such a behaviour (not even in his "wildest" dreams) and hence was admitted to ICU after that shock. He is okay now, but has stopped going to temples.
As regards to my case: Brahmins are known to get married late. Late? How late? The median age, from the stats that I studied, came to 27 and the range sometimes even touches the value of 35 (OMG! yes bro, I am serious. Its a bad world).
So, as usual, my hyperactive brain started cooking up fictious marriage interviews. I mashed them, and present here in a dramatized fashion. Oh, and would you like to have fries with it?
At home. "OMG! My first interview. I was not so tensed even for my Visa Consulate interview, and not even my first job interview. What to do now?"
There appeared a faint light.. which grew stronger.. 3 people emerged into my room.. Larry, Sergey and Eric (Founders, CEO) smiling at me. Screenshot:
Aha! Goooogle!! it has got me though my thesis.. through my job interviews.. my job and now hopefully my marriage too. I ran towards my laptop, and plugged in the search term: "Marriage interview questions". I got some stats from China, about the divorce rate comparison b/w love and arranged marriages, some matrimonial problem questions females put at ammas.com, Yahoo's answers to "what is arranged marriage", rants of some blogger about marrying an engineer etc. but no freaking interview questions for me.
I quickly write down some questions I saw for HR interviews on google. I am prepared (sort of). Now, I feel like I have AK-47 and could go to war.
Scene: Girl's house
Me looking at floor and walking. Prospective Father-in-law (refered as PFIL) greets and invites me and my family. He asks me, "How was the trip beta? Is it too hot here? You want cold water aa". I use mime language. After 5 minutes he expressed his doubt: "Your son doesnt talk much haan?" To pacify his fears, I talked. I asked him "Uncle, uh Where is the rest room?".
While making a quick run to the restroom, I catch a glimpse of the girl (the prospective bride). Situation is out of control. She has a batallion of 4 women. I am alone. I SOS my parents. No help. They deserted me. I chant Hanuman chalisa, get some courage and return back to my seat. There are some refreshments placed on the table now. After the usual chit-chat between elders, "da moment" comes. **drums rolling** She arrives excorted by 2 girls. My heart stops thumping. I take a minute trying to recognize who the bride is and who the chelaas (chelees?) are. After memory comparison from the photo gets completed, I look for my ammo (my list of questions) in the pocket. Its there. Ah, a relief. I feel safe.
PFIL now dons the role of Derek O'Brien, and starts Bournvita Quiz contest. 2 quizmasters (PFIL and PMIL), and one bechara kid (me). Rapid fire round. "So, beta where do you work?". I was about to give my University's name (cant blame the 2+ years at grad school), then I realised and replied accordingly. "So what is your designation?" "How much do you earn?" Damn! I forgot to get the file with my SSN card, H-1 papers, pay slips, photos of me and my boss, my apartment, my neighbors etc. Maybe I should have prepared a powerpoint presentation about me and my job etc.. But then I realised it is understandable on their part to grill me, as they would not want their daughter to be placed in the hands of a sadist (Nana Patekar in Agnipath), or a gay or a berozgaar or coolie (Govinda as in Coolie #1).
So, after passing the first stage of filtering (**sound of royal trumpets**), I get some confidence. I broaden my chest, and walk triumphantly to the next stage.
Commercial break: some snacks and fruit juice prepared by the bride herself. Wow! "and here are some Pulla Reddy sweets beta". I ask, "Could I have to-go please?" (Damn it!)
Next scene: Hum tum, ek kambre mein band ho, aur chaabi kho jaye.
Now, I get a chance to see "her" closely, both physically and mentally. Man, is she beautiful or what? If I had known before that SHE was in store for me, I would have graduated in 1.5 years flat. Anyways, I smile. She smiles. I look around. She looks around. She looks at my arm. I flex my muscles more. She stares more. I feel proud. I flex more. Then me realised: my shirt caught some dust on the arm. argh!
2 minutes gone.
Tik-tik.. time is running fast.. I cant use my helplines, nor call Computer mahoday.. Bachan saab, please bachao.. Kaun banega iska pati? I cant remember any one-liner, or any hint to flirt. Weather? Yes, the most trite topic. "So, its HOT here, isnt it?" (I thought of adding "is it summer yet or is it just YOU", but then I didnt want to be kicked out by her parents or her big bro. So I kept quiet.) "Yeah", she smiled (thinking she could have as well checked weather.com). Me: Man, what a smile. I could do anything to see her smile stay. I could not stand up as my knees were weak. Her long black hair, her swaying earrings refrained me from talking. If I dont do anything NOW, I might become the President of Antarrashtriya Brahmachari Sangh. So, I stood up.. mustered some courage, and…. switched on the fan. (bummer)
"So, did you watch the latest Star Wars?" I ask, and she replies "nah, not interested in such fictions". Awesome, I would marry you. But hey, no. Its just one interest that matched. Learn more about her. "Yeah, me too, I prefer Govinda comedies, and Varma thrillers. You saw Saw aa? I mean you saw the movie SAW?" She said, "Ewww, that was gross." Me smiling meekly, "yeah true, but the suspense was a..c..t..u..a..l..l..y good. reminder: No wise-ass remarks. (thiking to change topic). Thinking: What should I ask her? Hey can I see your Barbie collection? no.. Do you play Ludo? dumbo! no. hmmn Do you like thin crust or thick crust pizza? Whaaaaat? Me thinking: Change the topic. "So, I studied at blah blah and …. and I traveled these states… blah blah.. blah blah.. I blurted out the speech I had prepared for my job HR interviews (and also X standard republic day function). Hmmn, she listened. She listened! And seemed interested (or was it another Oscar winning performance?). Then tables turned, and she talked. Though there were some glitches: Me asked: "So what are your greatest strenghts?". She replied: "I am black belt in karate, if that helps". Slap! Served me good. But she does have good sense of humor. great! Things worked out, and we got married. Our pics were posted at shaadi dot com's 'success stories of 2008' section. And we lived happily ever after.. with chunnu, munnu and chutki . woooowoo slow down Cowboy, fast-forwarded?.
And then.. and then, the morning comes. Sun rises. Alarm goes buzzing. Its 6 am. I wake up to another day at the university. I wake up to reality. That dream I just saw is atleast 2 more years away.
PS: Some true marriage interview questions or marriage experiences I read/heard:
1) A guy went to look for a marriage proposition recently. That girl was a BTech in Comp Sci and was looking for a job. The guy wanted a working female as his wife. He wasnt sure if she would eventually get a job. So inorder to test her calibre, he asked her to write a C program **during their first meeting**. I was out of words on reading this.
2) A couple got married and the husband brought his wife to US. On arriving at NY airport, she got faraaar with her boyfriend (~Runaway bahu), who was waiting in DDLJ stlye for his Senorita. The boy was heart broken. Understandable. But her parents accuse the boy that he is responsible! He got a bad name. And now runs faster than P.T.Usha when he hears the word 'marriage'.
Due to lack of much info on the internet on this "top-secret" ritual (that happens behind close doors, and the word never comes out), I present some TIPS given by top leaders in this field (who boast of atleast a dozen such interviews, and from many corners of the world.. they have lost acres of hair and are now veterans in this field). They are copied blatantly by who-else (with my spl. masala tippani):
1) First, make the girl very comfortable. Dont start shooting questions at once. Break the ice (no not the cubes from the juice you idiot). Crack some "okay jokes". Pjs also okay. Maybe some embarassing moments so that it would ease up the tension. Listen to her. Give her some opportunity to talk.
2) Ask her if she's ready for the marriage or if it is a Amrish-Puri-forcing-Kajol-style-zabardasti marriage. Check the house, if it has any sarso-ka-kheth or guitars around, then have Mandira Bedi as a backup. Flirt with as many females as possible in that house. Who knows? (Exaggerated, reader discretion advised).
3) Then make her talk. Try to know more about her preferences and stuff. In the course of talking, you let her know your preferences in a subtle way. Make a chart, or try match-the-following like you did in your VI class.
4) If you strike a common chord, done. A new life awaits you. If not, then you are done. You have one more feather to add to your interviewing-skills cap. Add this to your resume and show it to your boss. Ask for pay raise.
5) Dont forget to eat the snacks provided. Its a trailer to what you might eat for the rest of your life (provided what the PMIL said is true: "yeh meri beti ne khudh apne haathon se banaye hain".. or actually "khudh apne haathon se Shop se lekar ayee").
6) Pray to Lord Hanuman. As he was pivotal in uniting Ram and Sita, he might also help you in a similar way (please dont burn down the house of the PFIL, its dangerous).
7) Don't ask about her previous life. Neither is she interested in your previous life (I mean before marriage, not the reincarnation stuff aha). You arent buying stuff on e-bay. You are about to start a new life together. So keep your Sherlock-Holmes skills aside. And got this tip straight from horse's mouth through a lil birdie, that some guys do ask if the prospective bride is virgin. What can I say? Read point #7 again. Suggested reading: desicritics writing by Amrita
8) Preferably talk in the common/native language (or mother toungue) or a language that both are comfortable in. Avoid English (you gave TOEFL long back), unless both are ABCDs or nomads wandering the whole of India with no good grip over any Indian bhasha (like me). It helps better to see through each others' ego this way.
9) Ask: "where do you see yourself 4 years from now" or something like that (bad idea? rephrase the query or better skip this) to know about future plans- like job, further studies etc.
10) You are making a new friend (or foe), so dont be too obvious that you are assesing the other person (eventhough subconsciously that might the case). Dont take notes and dont lift the scorecard with 8 or 4 written.
11) Always stop at 11 questions or 11 points. It is a very lucky number.
These were suggested by some people, and I present the tips on 'as-is-where-is' basis with some dramatization. I would welcome any experiences, tips, suggestions or views from both XX and XY chromosomes. I am a newbie, so I am open for correction.