Sunday, December 14, 2008

The "M" word.

I was really excited about my holiday this year. I even had a count down on my desk.
The only thing that scared me was the fact that December is wedding season in India and I am a 25 year old Indian girl!
I don't know if I should really write about this on my blog. : Especially since my baba is my most loyal reader but everyone is entitled to their opinions, moreover everyone is entitled to MY opinion!!
Over the past few years, I have made my own independent observations about Marriage (wedding) and Indian girls.
Just the way there is a huge rift in the economic equality in India, there is also a significant gap in the power equations between men and women. I see my maid's daughter being beaten up regularly by her inebriated husband and at the same time I see "eligible-daughter-in-laws" dictating "my conditions to marry you". I recently went to Kolhapur to see my uncle who is looking for a bride (through match-makers) for his son. I was really amused when he said that they were excluding any "applications" from Pune because the eligible girls from Pune are really scary. :)
One of my mamis gave me an update about the recent "list of demands" from the girl's side in an arranged marriage system.
1. I will not stay with your parents. If you expect me to stay with them, I expect that you have a paid cook.
2. I work late hours in the office. So I would not like it if I have to take part in too much house work after I come back from work.
3. I want to know how much from all the collective property you are going to inherit (This is not an exaggeration. I have heard about and even seen girls who want to know these things before they get into an arranged marriage)
4. I am a progressive woman. So I would not like to take part in every other festival that your parents may want to celebrate.
5. My money= My money. (which later translates as "my-money-my-money-your-money-my-money")

Some of these things make me think that the "arranged marriage" system in India is gradually collapsing. There was a time when this system had turned into a prosperous business. I even remember my parents volunteering to pool their respective single friends and trying to match them! Thankfully none of that worked. =)
However, it was a really informal, cheerful and positive effort to match up people.

I understand that it is hard to be an "Indian Woman" all the time but I am completely against this "professional" way of finding a companion. Any relationship needs compromises. There is a bigger joy in giving up freedom to make people happy. I have seen my mother do all of that as well as have a flourishing professional life. We all did our bit to make the business grow. My dad took care of me while aai was away working in sugar factories. When she came back, she made up for her absence by cooking some of the most delicious food I have ever had. My parents married against my father's parent's wishes. So my mom did her extra best to win their hearts!
The reason this was possible I think was because both my parents, all their minor differences included, always lived a "wholesome" life. Even the everyday things that you do like exercise, cooking, gardening and shopping add character to your companionship and help in taking a lot of stress away.

Even in the West, marriage is still a very serious thing. People do not get married unless they are absolutely sure about each other and are willing to have a family together. Sometimes, they have kids in their late thirties and still end up having very happy families.

Indian girls are on the brink of a revolution. Our ideals (our moms) have come from a generation that accepted every marital obstacle with a resolve that they will make it work ( because they had no other choice). This has made them more powerful and patient than any other generation of women. Since we are faced with such ideals and have grown up in a relatively liberal world, we refuse to accept certain things that would only make other's happy.
Also, most of the girls who are getting married only think about the "wedding" and not the marriage that lies ahead, and for years to come. All the planning and expense goes into those three days when the wedding is going to happen but very few plan for the long (and happy) marriage that lies ahead.
My generation of educated women in their mid-twenties could turn into a "dream-come-true" for the Indian woman. The only thing missing that I find in almost every girl I meet ( including me sometimes) is the complete lack of patience and foresight.
Who you are is completely in your hands. That is the beauty of life. You are free to be whoever you want. Your everyday life is completely yours too. You are free to wake up with the Sun on a Yoga mat and skip dinners to lose weight. :)
You are free to go back to school whenever you want. Know yourself well and get used to your own personality. Know little things about yourself ( like you could have also been one of the greatest tap-dancers the world has ever seen) and be happy about knowing yourself well.
However, Marriage is one thing that is not in your hands alone. It is something that is almost a destiny and even the West accepts this with all their analytical thinking.
So sometimes these "professional match-makers" make me feel extremely claustrophobic and then I end up thinking that overcoming the fear of living a lonely life could be easier than falling in the traps of these matrimonial websites. :D

We definitely need to tame the alpha-woman gene around here though. ;)


Eeshwari Bollapragada said...

True and well said! Thinking about this, I remember how a friend of mine was totally taken aback when a Gen X lady said that she cared less about his habits (good and bad alike!) and more about his pay package! Brides have turned professional, I guess this is an example of that. Well, yes, as you have rightly said its the married life ahead that matters and not (only) the wedding reception whose grandeur fades away faster than the 'mehndi' on the bride's palm. Thought provoking and a pacifying thought for the eligible bachelors of the male subset of humanity. May God bless them all! :)

Pipa said...


Good luck. Don't like 3 & 5 but most other things seem fairly reasonable to me.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha...nice one..

-- Ajay

Saee said...

@ Eeshwari and Pipa
Thanks for your comments. :)
@ Ajay
Welcome back. Are you in India>?

RJ said...

This does spell doomsday for us 20 something Indian lads who might also be facing the same music soon in our lives...:)The more I think about it...especially since you have so eloquently put, making an arranged marriage work is that much harder..for blokes now. While most moms will say its only fair...lawyers and pet dicks will agree more as they get a lot out of it now too :).

I am not shallow...bask in the glory...everyone has their time...this may be yours...and I am sure you have earned it.

शिरीष said...

Hi Sai
Your Baba also thins the same way as his daughter!

Marraige is a beautiful relationship and it should be respected by both the partners.
They can respect this only if they truly love each other. Love always overcomes ego.

I would be happy onlywhen you also find a partner who loves you and respects the realationship in marraige!

But I tell you this is really the most wonderful relationship in life!