Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shaadi ke Side Effects....

It was just the other day, while reading Pooja’s ‘Reflections on Indian Marriage’ (the featured post on the latest issue of ‘Kadzilla’s Lounge’), that I had to log off and rush in search for some fresh air. Those who know me very closely would vouch for the fact that I don’t just grab at my throat, cry out for help and make a dash for the open spaces unless I’m seriously stirred.

And that was what the problem was with the piece of text I had just read. It was superbly written on a topic that touches a rather sensitive spot in my mind. The feeling of Déjà vu quickly took me to the very first day (rather night) of 2010 AD.

We had just finished partying for the Birthday of our close friend. (I had always found it interesting how he chose ‘New Year’s Day’ to sneak into the world to torment us all for the rest of our lives with his dumb questions, until I was enlightened by the fact that since he had been born and brought up in some remote village, no one actually remembered his real birth date. So they decided what better a day to choose for the same than 1st of January !)

So I was just dropping him home that foggy night when he asked me to pop in for a few minutes as usual. We were greeted by his elder brother at the door and were lead in through the side door into the house that looked asleep already. But to my surprise, we were led to his brother’s bedroom, the contents of which looked as follows…

1. His dad sitting right in the middle of the large bed, with an assortment of packets and papers around him, deep in some pensive thought.
2. His mom on a chair by the bed, with her face supported by a hand, looking at his dad who was deep in some pensive thought.
3. His ‘bhabhi’ (elder brother’s wife) sitting at the edge of the bed, fidgeting with what looked like the remote of the television.
4. His four year old nephew, who was sitting beside his dad (my friend’s dad, not his own dad as his dad, (the nephew’s dad, not my friend’s dad who was sitting on the bed in a pensive mood) was standing with us), and was trying to load his toy gun.

At the site of us entering the room, the various reactions I got were as follows…

1. His dad looked up, nodded at me, and again looked down going back to his deep thoughts.
2. His mom, straightened up, smiled, and then again went back to supporting her face on her hand and looking at his dad.
3. His ‘bhabhi’ turned towards us, smiled too, and went back to the fidgeting.
4. The little kid didn’t even bother to look up. For him the loading of the gun was of utmost importance lest he would be left wanting if he decided to shoot me.

All in all, something serious. I was provided with a chair and I tentatively sat down on it after touching the parents’ feet as my friend’s brother took his place on the bed as well. It was then, when suddenly, his dad became lively and stated that it was much better now as I was there too. What for, I didn’t know yet. He then asked the lady with the remote to switch the television on. So I guessed we were going to have a show of some new movie.

But to my surprise, as the screen came to life, there were no colorful or animated scenes to be seen. Instead, I saw a list of folders just as one sees on a computer screen. And then a girl’s photograph beamed on the screen… And then, I had to actually pinch myself to believe, what my friend’s dad said to me, if he actually said that…

“We are rating the proposals of girls for Sanju (my friend). We should have a variety in opinion. So you also rate the girls as you think. Then we’ll match everyone’s list. That’ll make it easier to decide on the prospective brides.”

All I remember that I mumbled then was… ^&%%#%& ………….. !?!?!?? while my face turned a few shades of pink.

I looked at my friend who was now imitating his mom and was sitting on a chair besides me holding his face in his hand. “You should ask Sanju. No ?? He’s the one who’ll decide the girl. No ??” was all I could say as my senses started returning to me.

“Ohh… No no. Let’s have everyone’s opinion. Not his alone.” His dad replied handing me a paper and pencil. “Just rate them in decreasing order of preference.”

I turned to look at my friend. The bloke wasn’t even given a paper or pencil. And there he was… smiling behind his palm which hid his mouth. Without letting me think of anything else to say, the slideshow on the screen started. With the picture of each girl that appeared, the lighter shades of pink disappeared from my face which turned to newer shades of red.

With each new picture, everyone commented upon their likes and dislikes about the girl on screen. Except of course, my friend’s mom, who as always the simple and quiet lady, just smiled and looked, and my friend, who kept smiling behind his hand, and the little kid, who by now had started on deciding who the targets for his shooting practice would be.

“I really like this girl !” His brother would say suddenly in between. Which would invariably evoke an “Ehhh… ????” from his wife as she would look back and give him a really good stare. Which would lead him to try to explain the merits of the prospective bride, while sweating from the sides of his head even on that freezing night.

I’d better skip the details of more conversation to save myself from some really embarrassing memories. But in the end, the results were far from a consensus. The dad didn’t like the nose of the girl topping the ‘bhabhi’s’ list, while ‘Girl no. 1’ of the brother’s list didn’t even find a place in his wife’s list. In a nutshell, quite a useless exercise as now, the differences in opinion made everyone even more confused.

Though I could hardly concentrate on the pictures on the screen, as I was more concerned about the new shade of color which my face would be displaying, I just peeked into ‘bhaiya’s’ list and copied names. Only that I listed them in an altogether different random order. My racing mind, after quickly assessing the situation, was swift to thus make a list of my own which matched nobody else’s, thereby adding to the confusion there already was.

I handed in my list to my friend’s dad, threw in the proverbial towel and got up to leave without waiting to hear the declaration of the results. I once again touched the parents’ feet and made a dash out into the foggy night. And as my friend came to see me off he commented how I would have to pass through a similar procedure when I get married too. It was partly because of the big grin he now had and more so because I didn’t think it would be the best idea to punch a guy on his nose on his Birthday (even if it is a symbolic one), that I just bid him a good night and slammed myself inside my car.

Coming back to Pooja’s article about arranged marriages in India, it’s not only a harrowing experience for the bride or groom in search but sometimes also for even those not remotely related to the event.

It is not just the choice of the person planning to get married but also every near and dear and not so near and not so dear ones as well. It is as if, a person’s life partner should be acceptable not only to him or her, but also to their families, relatives, friends, friends of friends, neighbors, neighbors’ relatives, neighbors’ friends and almost everyone they know or even do not know.

The bride, or the groom (like my friend in the case mentioned above) are happy to accept what is acceptable and finalized by everyone else. And so has been happening for generations in our country and our society. And surprisingly, everyone seems to be happy with the procedures followed.

But, as for me, it is not only the bride or the groom, but sometimes even people who aren't even involved in it all are the ones who bear the side effects of an Indian wedding.

In the second part of this post that’s coming up, I’ll relate to my very own experiences about attempts of me being forcefully made a prospective groom…. Huh…

And, by the way, finally the prospective bride for my friend has been selected. And she is the same girl whom I had put at no. 1 in my list…………


  1. Oh my god! that's so idiotic.. I mean, the way they tried choosing a bride.. polling system? Never thought someone would even do that.. and yeah the only one thing that is considered in such situations is "looks" and "beauty" of the girl..What about other characteristics? No wonder most of the marriages dont work out and they then try to "compromise" and thus make everyone's lives hell.. since divorcing is also considered a taboo, one cannot even leave a person they dont like.. God! seriously someone should bring in reforms!!! :(

  2. Avada Kedavra :

    Yes. That's what usually happens in most 'traditional' families, if you can call them that. Ok. Maybe not exactly like the polling scenario above. But on very similar lines.

    My point is that apart from looks, one cannot find out (usually) the true characteristics of a prospective bride or groom too when they go 'shopping' for one. The very idea of selecting one life partner from a set of proposals itself is ridiculous.

    But as I said, everyone seems to be happy with the procedure. So I don't really know how or where could reforms begin...

  3. hehehe..that was a funny post!

    "life is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think"

    though the concern regarding the 'polling system' is genuine,but there is no other way to fix an arrange marriage you see.unless of course your friend has the determination and strength to seek his true love.

    enjoy the experience! you nvr know she is the right one afterall..

  4. Magus :


    I do find it really funny now when I think about it.

    Determination and strength to seek his true love... ??? Well, he for one, is a guy I know who doesn't know if anything like love actually existed. Was never on his agenda to ever even think about love. He is those sort of guys who don't believe there's a possibility of them having anything to do with love. Just that he's a really simple and innocent sort. So I guess he wouldn't have been able to carry on a relationship even if he got into one. :)

    But I do hope and know he'll carry on well in the marriage arranged by his family. He is just too happy with it all.



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