What does that mean?, he inquired rather quizzically.
Arranged or love, I said, with a meek look of embarrassment creeping into my face.
Here, we just have marriages, he said.
Well, the fulcrum of the discussion that I had with one of my many American friends a few days ago, revolves around the age old practices of the Indian society, and marriage happens to be such a key attribute that it cannot be left out of any conversation. If you happen to be talking with a person from another country, the fascination they place in our customs is easily noticeable. In India, marriages are classified into just two categories - arranged or love. If you happen to tell your friends that you are getting married, you will not be surprised to hear the question shot at you almost instantaneously, arranged or love?. You have virtually made up your mind to reply back even before the question is asked. So, arranged marriage is basically a concept, where the girl and the boy are introduced to each other by their respective parents, and both of them eventually get married by mutual consent (this is not actually very obvious for many of them). In case of love marriage, the net result of marriage bears no difference, except for the fact that the boy and the girl decide for themselves and let their parents know that they are ready to get married to each other. Anyway, for an Indian reader, the basic introduction of the type of marriage is inconsequential. Let us go ahead with the conversation,
He: Arranged marriage?
He: So, do you get to see the bride only at the time of the wedding?
Me: Yes, she is brought out of the closet at the last minute. It's pure magic! No, it doesn't happen that way. We get to talk to each other many times before arriving at the final decision. It is like speed dating (really?)!
He: Oh, I see. So, it's not enforced upon you? I mean, is it not decided during your childhood?
Me: How I wish!! The whole hassle of horoscopes and other complexities could have been avoided. Come on, nobody does that. Half the time, the parents have no control over their children. Imagine making a commitment at the time of birth. After the children grow up and hear to such a proposal, they are literally doomed (I mean the parents!).
He: So, actually, you guys have no pressure to find your spouse!
Me: Yeah, it is different from you guys. If you do not find the girl, you have a mounting tension. For us, that is taken care because we can fall back on arranged marriage! Moreover, there is no embarrassment if you haven't found a girl for yourself (that's what you think!!!) even in your late twenties.
By this time, it is pretty clear that he appreciates the pros of such a concept prevalent in India. When I was Googling for statistics, I was not surprised to read that more than 90 per cent of the marriages in India are arranged by parents. Considering the many strata of the Indian society, it is the preferred match making technique that can please everyone. It is a good fall back technique for people who haven't found their true love (or whatever!!) in their many years of existence (Yes, yes, laugh at me!!!).
So, two types of marriage! Well, there is actually a third kind, that I got to know quite recently. So, just as I was posing the same question to an about-to-be married friend, he replied in a very different way.
He: Arranged, but we fell in love later. So, it is both arranged as well as love marriage.
Me: OK, did you find the girl yourself?
He: No, my parents introduced me to her.
Me: Well, okay, in that case, it is called as arranged marriage. As for the love part, I don't know, but better see to it that love is a direct consequence of the arrangement.