My favourite time of the day is reading the newspapers and my cup of tea, it’s a holy ritual and happens every single day, but Sundays are my absolute special. I love reading the articles and soaking up information, however today’s paper I happened to glance at the matrimonial columns. It made me feel worse than navigating the Apni mandi and buying sabzi! There the northern sector hoity-toity society matrons come wheeling their fancy trolleys /jholas on wheels wearing the trademark sketchers (sorry the Nikes are just not the ‘it’ shoes anymore) wearing the shabby kurta with a mismatched salwar that matches but is just slightly off, she also has the kohl-rimmed eyes with her glasses perched on the head choosing the best that is displayed.
They haggle over the prices, they are happy when they save money over the carrots, zucchini and the bell peppers and the salad greens. It’s just akin to the columns that have left me flabbergasted. Honestly, to quote Captain Haddock, Blistering barnacles, my dear Tintin. They just don’t want matches; they want the perfect matches with such specific ideas on height weight, skin, and colour, education and subtle references to income. We divide ourselves on colour, height, age, handsome, beautiful, extra pretty, light-skinned, wheatish (a favourite with North Indians), sibling, no sibling, working with multinational and the exalted Indian Administrative Services and our foolproof doctor.
There is another variety the immigrant to the USA, the guy with the PR to Canada, and the early marriage and flying back to greener pastures. Aren’t, we the ones who heralded the green revolution? And did I mention the fair engineer boys? I could go on and on, but how does one come to know about empathy, compassion, tolerance, to be kind and all the values that make us human. What about telling each other that we will be kind, we will be caring and adjusting and be partners in today’s world and not be guilty of dowry deaths, feticide, ugly divorces and assault. A lot of people tell me that women are guilty too and I should not be biased against men. But, how many men are rejected just because they are dark, or short, or couldn’t pay the dowry?
Exactly, my point dearies. We are in a society which is caste centric, is focused more on how much money one earns or brings.We don’t marry for each other, but we marry for the society and alliances are made for family names, what does it matter if they like each other or not or are compatible or not? It’s like when the aunties want the best ripest tomatoes and the unblemished, freshest vegetables to make the best curry.
This malaise of a marriage mart is all over India, we might divide each other by religion or by geographical divides but these defined, invisible parameters are so deep. And, then they talk about depression, what about the girls who are left behind just because they aren’t fair or beautiful. Who decides who is pretty? Then they need to compensate more with a dowry.
This has led to a mushrooming of a billion dollar industry which sells dreams of making you younger, fairer, fitter, more appealing and having the best assets!
So, do the poor have a secret paper of their own or is the old practice of a matchmaker still existing? I know there are a few in Chandigarh who do match the upper rich class with compatible ones. However, the best was when one described a girl as being as fair as basmati rice! Imagine being a parmal (a variety of broken substantial rice) in today’s world or a weird looking aloo (potato).