Monday, July 28, 2014


Arranged marriage is a funny business.  It takes a lot of patience and many frustration prone conversations before finding the best match.  It applies more to the parents in conversation, as the match candidates are hidden from the vicious barbs thrown at each other.  Even now, my parents recount some of the funny conversations they have had with the parents of potential brides.

It was quite a few years ago.  Tamil Matrimony and various other matrimonial websites had capitalized on the dot com boom to come up with not-so-easy to use websites.  It is a complicated process to find the potential match, even though from a distance, it looks as easy as a click of a button.  In reality, it is nowhere close.  These websites have come up with various payment options that deciphering them is as complicated as reading your mobile bill.

Of course, there is the inherent complication of figuring out who is a suitable match for you.  Then, you have to match the horoscopes on both sides (girl and the boy) before you can proceed further.

In the Tamil Iyer community, there are subcastes of subcastes of subcastes of subcastes and so on.  Honestly, it is the soup of a soup of a soup of a soup joke, only with real life use cases.

The profile would clearly say

"We are looking only for Thanjavur Vadama" (which means you have narrowed the search base to 0.0001% of the Tamil Iyer population).  It's not like the city is busting with Tamil Iyers and there are hundreds of them everywhere.

Anyway, whoever is familiar with the arranged marriage system will know the intricacies associated with such conversations.

Thinking about some of them, we had a hearty laugh.  But, at the same time, it was/is totally frustrating to fathom some of the questions.

My mother told me she was on the phone line with an elderly gentleman.

"Mama, ungathu ponnu profile parthen." (Sir, I saw your daughter's profile)

Even before my mother could finish the sentence, the elderly gentleman shot back I believe.

"Mami, own houseaa?" (No translation required as it is pretty evident)

"Illa mama, naanga rented houseladhan irukkom. (No sir, we live in a rented house)

"Mami, phone vechurngo, phone vechurngo..."(Madam, please put the phone down, please put the phone down...)

It was an abrupt end to the conversation.

My father narrated to me and my wife.

"I had a frustrating experience with one gentleman.  I spoke to him on the phone for almost ten minutes."

"Sir, ungathu ponnu profile parthen." (Sir, I saw your daughter's profile)

So, he replies

"Payyan enna panran." (What's the boy doing?)

My father gave a standard reply.

"Enna sambadhikkaran." (What's he earning?")

"Sir, even I don't know what he earns.  Even I have not asked him the question."

So, after a few back and forth questions which was entirely based on income and other monetary benefits, he supposedly said this

"Sir, enga ponnuku nethudhan marriage fix aachu.  Nichyadhartam aduththa maasam." (My daugher's marriage got fixed yesterday.  Her engagement is next month.)

My father said that he couldn't believe what he had just heard.  So, he told him,

"Sir, are you not happy with the alliance?"

The gentleman was peeved.  "How dare you ask me that?"

So, my father replied, "What else can I say? You have been asking all kinds of questions about my son for the last ten minutes and now you say the alliance has already been fixed.  Make sure you don't spoil the current alliance."

Some of them are even more insane.  One of the requests wanted an only son with property.  Even the "with property" tag, I can understand somewhat.  But, why the "only son"? I believe they did not want any issues with property disputes.  That's like planning for eons, not just the immediate future.

Arranged marriages are driven by what's best for the bride and the groom.  It has transformed from inquiring about each others life style and character to how much net worth is associated with the family.

I don't understand how a girl or boy can be happy if he or she has to depend on his/her family for property or income.  Ultimately, if a person is not capable of leading a happy life with his spouse, I am not sure what use all this wealth check is.

I firmly believe that everyone is going to earn enough money for a lifetime, and no one has to depend on ancestral property and money to lead his life.  If you have to live life off of somebody else's wealth, then I am not sure what is there to accomplish in life.   And don't get me wrong, accomplishment is not defined by how much wealth you accumulate.

Anyway, I wrote this blog post not because I wanted to reminisce those days.  My brother has entered the race to find a bride, and believe it or not, years have flown by, but the questions asked remain the same.

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