My Bride-hunting Memoirs
OK - this was a post long in coming, and I am pretty sure all the people who were very much interested in latest gossip about my marriage, would, at this point must be completely disappointed and might have turned away from this blog. Nonetheless, the post has arrived - it took a little long (you know, work-shurk and all that), and I was trying to be "in-the-mood" for this post. So here it is, the bare truth, and nothing but the truth about my trip back home, of which a good section was devoted to Bride-hunt.
Now I also intend to make this as a one-stop guide to all prospective brides and their family to read through before they think about meeting me. Yes.
Rule #1: Do NOT visit me the day I land in India.
I know it sounds weird, but what do I know anyways? So I reach India on a fine Friday night (Sat morning) at 1.30 in the night - here was I, sleepy groggy and in middle of a cataclysmic jetlag, and completely drained out. I figure - home sweet home - it will be nice to sleep through next day itself, when I am reminded the moment I reach home - "Remember, they are coming to see you tomorrow at 11.00 am!" God - jeez! - The first feeling I get here at this point is - "I hate you if-you-will-ever-be-my-in-laws already!" What's the hurry? Where was I running to? Am I in much demand? That had pretty much sealed up my initial impressions about them.
The worse part was next morning when I was all mentally prepared and all that, when we are informed that "they" will now arrive at 4.00 pm. How lovely. Now if only the meet could have been on a Sunday instead when I was a little bit fresher? Can't do - this train had derailed even before it got on the tracks.
Rule #2: If a guy and a girl have talked before, umm, what is there to talk about?
So now, its 4.00 pm in the evening; I am waiting, morose and still tired of my journey. Now its not as if I had not talked to the girl in question before - I had - and there were enough prenomination that things were unlikely to go forward - there were way too many differences, no common matching interests, and a huge language problem between us; however the meet was organized "just in case".
Now, this was the very first "muh-dikhai" held for me; the result? A baraat of 25 people from my side were crowded in the room, when the girl's family of 5 arrived. 30 people sitting in a room, all giggling at each other, giving smiling looks, generally feeling uncomfortable, having no idea about what to talk to each other about, waited breathlessly for one of me or the girl to break the ice. While they waited for ice to be broken, banal topics as
"What do you do for living?"
"Where do you live?"
"Oh I also used to live there - do you know XYZ?"
"Yes I do, in fact they stayed next door!"
"Really! We were great friends with them"
"Are you a housewife?"
"Yes how about you?"
"I am also housewife"
"Today generation ladies like to work you know - time has changed"
"Yes, my daughter also insists that she work, what to do? Tell me"
"Oh, yes, today's people, how many children you have?"
"Two, one boy, one girl, how about you"
"One brother to her"
So while others waited in vain for ice to be broken, the girl smiled coyly, looked out the door, admired the ceiling, looked out the door, smiled at my sister standing in corner (hardly visible to rest of us), looked at a bored sparrow chirping nearby, and repeated the circle - all the while, not glancing at me. For unfathomable reasons, I did not want to speak up unless the girl looked at me; I was dead tired anyways, and my brain was definitely not in a mood for some "What do you do?" talks (dumbhead, you already talked to her on phone, remember!).
So the ice thawed and melted into water, and ultimately evaporated into vapor, without me and the girl exchanging more than 2 words, of which "hi" was one of them. The meet ended, and pretty much all 30 people in the room knew where this was headed.
Rule #3: Be interesting please!
While I had so imagined that this would be the end of my troubles, I was in for a shock that night itself - there was yet another family coming over to meet me, on Sunday. What a way to ruin my holiday, I thought. I was not averse to meeting people; it just felt it was too sudden at that point.
Next day, having undergone my previous experience, I had made it clear to everyone around that a 30 person band was not going to welcome another family - it was just ridiculous. And this time, I wanted to talk to the girl, alone, without any family interference. So the family comes, and again the same old circle of pleasantries follow; however I notice this time that the girl is just looking down and very shy. I had to break ice this time, and I told my folks that I had to talk to her, and sitting around a tea party was not my idea of seeing someone.
After much hullabaloo, we were left alone for a while. Now, I didn't want this to be an interview - but I wanted it to be a conversation between two mature individuals; of course, it didn't happen that way, and ended up being an interview, where in I asked the questions, and I was provided answers. Question-answer, Question-answer; At some point I felt for the girl "Will you ask me something!" to which all I got was "Nothing really..." - I reminded her again that this was meant to be a frank discussion, and not a one way communication to which I was smiled at. Important issues like "What are you looking for in your man", "Do you want to live here or US?", "What are your plans to work after marriage?", "How do you view marriage" were answered with "I don't know", "I don't know", "I don't know", and finally "I don't really know!" - "Do you have any hobbies" was responded by "Umm.. nothing really", "What do you like to do in free time?" "I am not sure...I do something", "Do you like cooking", "I can cook...but..." at which point I ran out of topics or questions to ask; since she didn't have anything to ask either, our "private" conversation which took 10 minutes to be approved lasted all of 6 minutes. "Are you done so soon?!" was the reaction - "Well hell, yeah!"
Again, this was a case where priorities and preferences didn't match up at all. I want to be with an interesting person who has an opinion about life, even if it may not match mine - I want a girl to have some hobbies, even if it is watching TV! Its not difficult to cultivate hobbies and being interesting; and marriage does not have to be a one way communication. If we had managed a conversation instead of one way traffic, it would have been much easier to go on. Sigh, the second one going nowhere I thought.
Now, what happens when after meeting a girl, you go to see your cousin brother's new born son at his in-laws place? What happens when a old woman who is an old friend of theirs stops by at the in-laws place, when we too are there playing with the infant? What happens when this old woman discovers a suitable boy sitting right in front of her? What happens when the old woman's nephew turns out be a former college mate of mine during our engineering days?
Of course - you end up meeting the old lady's daughter!
Rule #4: If sister exists, please accompany with her - you never know!
Two in a day you ask? Yes, two in a day - and much to my shock, it was third for the poor girl. Now, don't ask me why I did not refuse to meet the girl immediately, but suffice to say my requests went unheard in the general euphoria about how such "sudden meets" often turn into fruitful relations, and how "God only made us meet like this so that such meeting was possible" talks.
So its evening, and much to my disappointment, I had to cut short my visit with my nephew; "he still has to grow, but you have to marry!" was the consolation I received. Anyhow, without being unfair to the girl, I decided maybe its me who has be the more proactive one here and not make the girl uncomfortable.
We reached their place in the evening, and after the usual pleasantries and hi-hellos, I again told my folks that I would rather talk to the girl alone. Once inside the room alone, and with morning experience still ringing in my head, I felt I was suddenly out of ideas - I didn't know what to ask her. After five long minutes of staring, smiling, looking elsewhere and staring back at each other, I finally broke in, in English:
"So what did you study?"
"I did blah blah blah and I am currently doing blah blah blah"
"What do you like to do otherwise daily?"
Arggh! There I go again, and just when I was about to give up my hopes on her, I asked her if she wanted to ask me something - and that is when she started speaking. Yes, she was a bit different from the morning one - she was at least talking a lot.
She asked a lot about my friends, my life, my job, and what I did in free time, and such stuff, with every bit of our conversation happening in English. I don't know - I have this habit of picking up a conversation in one language and then staying on with it - it frankly never occurred to me that we both were Kannadigas, and we probably could have talked in Kannada.
Finally she quipped -
"Do you know Kannada?"
That took me by surprise - I could only stutter - "Yes... Yes I do know. I am sorry I didn't mean to carry the entire conversation in English"
She said: "No No I was just wondering... You seem very "forward" person to me!"
I was like - what? "Forward" - I always thought only girls were "forward" and not guys. But here was I, proven completely wrong. Actually I didn't even know what to tell her - should I retort and say "No I am not forward - but conservative" or should I just say "I am not forward, you are backward (eew, bad joke)", or "Which village do you come from?" - Thankfully I asked none of it.
The meeting ended after another 5 minutes; Not that there were too many faults with her at all, but something was amiss between us - and no it was not certainly the forward factor. It just didn't click. Later my aunt who accompanied us also quipped that her "cousin sister" who didn't come out of the kitchen all this while, was much "prettier" and perhaps we should arrange a meeting with her instead!
I was like - what?! And then my aunt recited a story about how when her son was seeing girl, he actually ended up liking the sister better! And then when they asked for her sister's hand, the girl in question retorted to her sister it was pretty unfair that instead of her, it was her sister who would probably get the handsome hunk! Hence their family rejected the ideal altogether to maintain sanity amongst sisters. SO, something like that must have happened in past like with this girl my aunt reasoned, hence it explained why her cousin sister was not visible throughout our meet. Kitchen politics I tell you!
Nonetheless, that would be the last of these people I would be seeing for a while. Come next week, I couldn't wait to get to Ahmedabad - finally a place where sanity would be found and I would not be surrounded by neighborhood alliances. Alas, my aspirations were met a red brick when I met my grandma.
Rule #5: There should not be too many common interests!
Now my grandma over the last two years has gone from "I am old, I want to see you married" to "I am old, I want to see your kids!" mode. I only fear what's next. Anyhow, so my supercharged grandma apparently has been talking to many potential alliances - and since she's in great hurry to see my kids, she also suggested more than once that if I like a girl, I should say yes, and perhaps I could get engaged in another day itself - all this, with my stay in Ahmedabad limited to 5 days.
Nonetheless, an alliance did come - but this was different. For the first time, my uncle in Ahmedabad quipped in immediately saying that there was no need for a family mela if I were to see a girl (Thank God!) - Instead I and girl could and should meet up at a restaurant and chat in peace. Thankfully, the girl's parent thought the same - so one fine night, at around 9.30 in the night, my uncle drove me and the girl to the local, Mc Donalds, a place I would not visit here, but proved to be a very swanky place there.
I had almost given up on my conversational capabilities, when this girl took me by surprise and started on her own. Very quickly we became comfortable - we discovered we shared many interests, and we had a lot in common about how we viewed marriage and life; and how both of us would never be able to make a decision in the first meet itself. Our conversation went on and on, and frankly I was enjoying every bit of it - and probably in the first meet that I had, we talked for more than an hour. After which, we dropped the girl home and came back.
When I looked back at it, a single thought struck me about her - she and I had way too many common things between us - way too many! I believe there needs to be some amount of difference between two people to make it interesting, but here was I meeting a girl who had exact same feelings like me; both of us had decided that we would not make a decision at first meet. And none of us made a move to have a second meet - well, given that 5 days also passed away, there was no way to meet. I tried getting an email or chat id, but to no avail - perhaps she was not that "forward" he-he. Nonetheless, it was the first good conversation I actually had with a girl. Or perhaps the plain simple truth was - I didnt impress her, and she didnt think I was worth a second meet :).
Rule #6: Please appease the stars before meeting me!
On the day we were flying back to Bangalore, I was stumped by a surprise - my aunt who was traveling while we were away, had gone to attend a marriage at Raichur, where she came across this wonderful girl and how they were interested in meeting up - she is the most beautiful woman I have seen my aunt promised, and naturally such promises lured me into the premise.
When we landed in Bangalore, the story took a different turn - apparently when they matched Jatakas (don't ask what this is, it is something that they talk in films - "Chattis ke Chattis Gun milthe hain" - document). Apparently there was much cosmic conflict between the two of us, and neither the planets nor gods would be happy with a union of our stars. No - can't do - that's what we heard. The sky would tear apart, Mars and Jupiter would collide with each other, and Pluto would run away into another galaxy, we were told if this alliance were to go ahead. And being a firm believer in the Jedi world order, I pondered if such a cosmic disturbance was worth it. Nonetheless, planets were left in order and I never even met the most beautiful girl my aunt promised. Later I wondered, if such stars explained Helen of Troy. Oh Boy.
So there it is, the end of my meets! If I had stayed a week longer, perhaps I would have met more people and there would have been more stories to tell. However, the two week extravaganza, ended up with quite a whimper and nothing happening. "This is just the beginning" my aunt grinned when I was coming back - and I thought - "Oh dear!"
My Bride-hunting Memoirs
- » Published on May 12, 2006
- » Type: Opinion
- » Filed under: