Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Of Marriages and Matrimony

There comes a time in our lives, when driven by a primal instinct instinct of raging hormones, tepid insecurity and the wanton need for company, we begin searching for the one person we wish to spend the rest of our lives with.
Every culture, species and civilization on this earth has devoted immense time and energy for the sole purpose of "settling down" with that special someone.
Mating calls by birds, dances of death by scorpions and the whiff of charged pheromones in the air by other mammals, signal the beginning of a most satisfying encounter, fulfilling the evolutionary need to meet, mate and propagate.
The same goes for us humans as well.
But humans given the evolutionary right of being a complex species, have established their own complex mating rituals.
And it has changed through centuries of trial and error, raging from shy glances by the women whilst watching their knights duel one another, to applying enough make up akin to the war paint of a tribal amazon and lust after a hunky male gyrating sensuously on the dance floor.
Somehow though, evolution has little meaning in a particular south Asian nation, where marriages are "arranged" and meetings between the two chosen candidates are closely scrutinized by their overbearing caregivers.
And India being the fabled nation of the IT boom, the arranged marriage scenario has taken a 21st century avatar spawning a slew of websites devoted to finding your one true arranged partner.
Pretty much like an adult dating site, except with the auspicious blessings of your parents, grandparents and family astrologer.
And to make sure, one isn't left behind on the tides of change, yours truly has been inculcated into the matrimony mayhem.
At first, it seemed pretty much like a social networking site. With your profile pics and self praising taglines and online chat worthy members.
Except the fact that its a much sadder version of a dating site.
Guys with profile pics akin to the passport sized photos one uses for a driving license or an office resume. And the ladies dressed up in their Sunday best, hair in place and smiling eerily as if held hostage by a demented stalker.
But its the self advertisement that gets you.
Its no small wonder that the telegram has survived in India to this date. Indians seem to be men of few words and frankly their profiles speak for themselves.
For the  guys its "Hardworking, honest, and clean habits",  for the girls, its "sweet, homely and fair complexion".
Now if that doesn't ignite the ravenous passions in you, I don't know what will.
The next part involves praising your skills.
Guys aren't meant to have skills in the Indian marriage market.
They're meant to have jobs and degrees and hefty paycheck. The more degrees and the moolah, the better your chances of landing a fair skinned, homely damsel with the cooking skills of a star chef.
Degrees don't matter to the women though.
Its imperative for them to be homely and good looking. And having any extra ability to sing or dance or knit is an absolute plus. Probably she can entertain her industrious well educated husband as he feasts on her chicken tikka masala wearing the home spun sweater she knitted, nursing a glass of chardonnay, as she sings and gyrates rapturously to the latest Bollywood number.

Least thats what I can imagine. Else why would you brag about your "skills" in the first place?
Not to mention all this is possible only with the blessings of your family astrologer.
God forbid if your charts are askew. It can only spell doom for you arranged life of marital bliss.
Most of the instant responses I've gotten are simply on account of me being a doctor.
Doctors and engineers are apparently prized highly on the market.
Somehow its ludicrous how ecstatic people can become when they land up a doctor groom. Even if he's probably a delusional maniac. Its the degree that counts. Not the personality.
This is literally what contemporary Indian society has come to.
A shallow paltry commune of petty pretentious people with preposterous preconceptions.
I cannot imagine what genuine affection can possibly exist in a match made solely on the basis of monetary success and homemaking skills.
Such "alliances" are an affront to the very idea of genuine affection.
In the quest for looking for a "decent bride or groom" people have grossly overlooked the very essence of humanity.

Even Indian mythologies have stories of being smitten by love at first sight, runaway marriages and tales of affection and longing. I don't recall a single epic with any arranged marriage involved.
There is nothing traditional in a system that defies basic human convention.
And there is nothing traditional about a system that overlooks the basics of character and focuses solely on the superficial trivialities of  your job or your cooking skills.
Moreover in hindsight,  marriage is a journey. One that you make through all the ups and downs with your partner for life.
Getting an instantly successful husband without ever being a part of his struggle is woefully indicative of how trivial the relationship is going to be.
Its not something I'd ever want to be in.
Or for that matter anyone ought to be in.
Its about time that people reminded themselves what marriages are all about.
And hopefully bask again in genuine warmth and affection.
To quote Oscar Wilde, "You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear."