I just watched the documentary “What’s love got to do with it” on Netflix India. You can read the review here. Everytime someone tells me they had an arranged marriage, I automatically slot them into “loser”, “conservative”, “dependent”. Because actually dating someone, trying to make a relationship work, going through a break up, taking chances, standing up to your family, making important decisions of your life and sometimes even staying single instead of compromising takes a lot of effort. Arranged marriage provides an escape from all of this. Indian parents believe they know exactly what is right and what iswrong. After all, they have lead and continue to lead such fulfilling lives (not).
In 2007, I passed out of B school. Even before I had a job in hand, my parents started making noises about marriage. I was sort of dating someone long distance then but the first (and only) time we had sex was so terrible that I never wanted to do it again. So, marriage or sex or any relationship except platonic friendship with this guy was out. After the course was over, I was home for 2 months before I joined a sales job. My father sat me down one day and showed me a notepad full of details about guys- height, weight, caste, education details, family background, job, salary. Basically, all the irrelevant information you need when you look for a life partner. I was touched by all the research. I decided to give arranged marriage a try. Everyone around me can’t be wrong, can they? Apparently, they can. My over-confidence comes from the experience of being right. The 2 months at home had been heavenly. I had no conflict with my parents. The hardest decision of the day was “Khana kya banana hai?” I got emotional and blackmailed and said “Ok. Let’s do this”. I didn’t think it through because I knew I would never be home for such a long time again. I was joining FMCG sales and had no location preferences. So early in my career, the company could have sent me to Bihar and I would have lived there happily. Once I was gone and didn’t have to depend on my parents for finances, they couldn’t force me into a marriage.
I met guys for one year. Whichever city my company sent me to, my parents managed to find a guy to meet there- Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Gurgaon, Noida. Some days I had go to the internet and check out the boy’s biodata after a very hectic day else my mother would nag the hell out of me.
The first guy I met was in Bangalore. He worked in an IT company and earned 11 lakh (waaaaayyyyy more than I did then). He wanted to meet at Leela but then shifted the venue to CCD. But CCD was packed and we met at this outdoor coffee shop at Crossword (doesn’t exist now). He proceeded to bore the hell out of me. I had 2 simple rules- I would stay over an hour and then make excuses to leave and I wouldn’t pay on the first ‘date’. Nobody I met held my interest for even 30 mins and I never met anyone in expensive coffee shops. The guy and I exchanged our business cards. He kept the card in his hand and then used it to clear out the salt on the table. I had ordered an iced tea which cost Rs 60. When he got the bill he said “This is the most expensive iced tea”. I was mortified. I left with a bad taste in my mouth. The next step was the toughest- telling my parents why I didn’t like the guy. “Mutilation of a business card” was not a valid ground for rejection, according to them.
As time passed, I felt less and less inclined towards this kind of mating. Every guy wanted to know how I would “adjust” to his lifestyle, family and city. Nobody offered to “adjust” to mine. I lost interest and went to these meetings looking very bored. I left the rejection part to them. It is easier to pretend to be heart broken over the rejection than give explanations for being the rejector to your parents.
Everyday I pat myself on the back for not getting married through my parents. I would have divorced the guy very soon after the wedding (probably after discovering he is a virgin or bad in bed or has a tiny penis or does not go down) or murdered him or packed my bags and run away.