Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kismat Konnection!!

I am back to the drudgery and mule work of college life(though i do not doubt that 10 years down the line i w ill recline and sigh contentedly telling my kids how these days were the best of my life...good old days have had the privilege of being at some point of time the diabolical present) and the fall from grace is especially harder because I spent my 2.45 months of summer vacations resting myself to the point that my skin creases at every movement..ok that WAS way too much of a simile.

Anyhow I was attending this Global Leadership Institute organized under the aegis of Goldman Sachs Foundation ,a social entrepreneurship wing of the Goldman Sachs.74 other students were congregated at the GLI and in the words of one of my fellow attendees,Krittika, I "had never met a group earlier whom I wanted to listen to,more, than the company I found there":fantasies ,visions, flights of imagination, resoluteness, they were all there. But besides the (sometimes idealistic sometimes promising) official discussions, we also had lots of free time to imbibe each others culture and more funnily the stereotyping of a whole people. [I read this form of sentence in a novel...].One of the more intriguing queries that I received was regarding the concept of love,marriage and sex [had to use this word...maybe it will bring in more reviews / hits to this blog] in India.

Which brings me to the topic of today's blog : How do I justify/explain arranged marriages to a girl who believes in classical things like love and looks at marriages as "a union of two hearts which beat as one"?

Q:Is it true that Indians marry someone they dont even know?

A:Yes ,quite a few and almost endemically in the smaller towns. The process goes something like this:
1.Discreet inquiries from either side about the job/salary (of the prospective groom) looks ( of the bride)and the family position/caste/social standing (common to both). Everything is third party mediation with nobody being the wiser.
2.Under instigation of the third party or independently the bride's family extend feelers directly.
3.Families talk. Remember the bride and groom have only seen each othe r in blown up studio mugshots
4.Dowry discussion [Yet to see a marriage with no dowry involved and i have seen a fair share of them]
5.Boy meets girl over a cup of tea[Not coffee] . Theoretically both sides can pull out anytime but social rigidity dictates that this is the point of no return.
6.they wed and live happily ever after.

Q:But what about Love ? Doesn't it break their hearts to know that they are marrying a stranger when they can wait for their prince Charming / princess Graceful?

A:Maybe its the tabbooed way we look at the "western" concept of romantic attachments/girlfriends/boyfriends or maybe its the fatalistic cultural testtube environs we grow up in,'Love' as-u-see-it , is not going on endless dates in the search of the One or breaking up marriages at the smallest tremor of incompatibility. Mushy as it may sound, Indian marriages , though far from perfect, usually end up walking into the proverbial sunset. And there is a reason. Divorce is not seen as an option in marriages from either partner. Besides its social contraptions, it also goes against the ethical fabric of my society . And this fact or rather the absence of an undercurrent 'worst case scenario' thinking , couples so hitched together are more intent at making a relationship work than if they wre in a more open society . The incompatibilities dissolve over time and the bonds of family, Love if you may, strengthens. And therein lies the basic fundamental difference between our societies : You[pardon me for slipping into stereotypes but I guess it is justified here ] are commited to FINDING love, We , on the other hand are more into CREATING love out of thin air.

And we ARE good at it.

Q:Will u settle for an arranged marriage?

A:Um....err did u like the food?

Disclaimers:I hated the movie.It sucked BIGTIME!
All my observations have been derived from an experimental pool of around 3 specimens.The validity of my conclusions /inferences are highly questionable but since today I just wish to feel good about this world, any examples to the contrary can go to heck (Anybody's read Dilbert?)

P.S.Perhaps I might amplify the third point in the answer to the first question some other time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008