Diary of a Young Girl of Marriageable Age: Guest Post by Arunima Shah:
Before I rocket launch into my diary entry, there is one important question I have – what exactly is this “MARRIAGEABLE AGE”? And who decides when I become marriageable really? My parents, my biology, my economy or my cosmology / astrology or Society?
If someone has a good answer, please let me know! 🙂
People think girls hardly know anything about whether they are ready for marriage or not! For me – marriageable is, “When you are running out of excuses to not get married, succumbing to the pressure of parents and more importantly ‘relatives’ and the answer ‘I don’t want to get married now’ is not good enough. When everything else (Education, Job, Travel, Friends, a few broken relationships etc.) seems to be have been done; possibly the only remaining agenda is ‘Shaadi’.
I have not even fully accomplished ‘THE FUN’ which most girls of my age do. But my teary tantrums could not hold much water – I finally gave in to all the parental pressure and became a young girl of marriageable age and started looking for “rishta” about six months ago. It happened and it is happening.
When I was being sent off for studies and the relationship talk was being had, Papa said – you get married when you are settled and happy, no caste barriers. Mommy kept changing her priorities though. First she said – The guy should be a “Marwadi” (yes I am a “Madu”). Then she opened up to other castes but couldn’t open up to other religions. Finally, when I was unsuccessful in falling in love, she said – let’s find a “Marwadi” only (that’s a WIP conversation still). We as a family keep circling back and forth on this one still 🙂 … These conversations often start with a lot of fun, quips and repartee and end with mommy saying, “Apna logic apne paas rakh” (Keep your logic to yourself!) 😛
Before I started my hunt, I was a sceptic; a big one. What if the guy makes me cook after marriage (I am not cut out for it as my Shahi Pulao becomes a Khichdi 8 out of 10 times)? What if my in-laws torture me? What if I don’t have basic freedom? What if my choices, my career, my voice, my feelings and my identity – are not important in my marriage? What if I am in a marriage where there is no love! What if my husband is bi-polar? A different face during courtship, a different one behind closed doors? I value equality more than anything. What if ‘A woman is not equal to a Man’ premise becomes a litany premise of my married life?
A billion questions erupted in me.
Dear diary – do you see what was happening? I was basing my idea on the institution of marriage on social media articles that glorify only the painful ones. The horrid tales of matrimony had scared to me a deep extent; and my parents were probably seeing it as just another rebellion. I’m hoping men go through the same anxiety or even 50% of it.
A very dear friend came to my rescue – by pointing out how irrational I was being. He told me,
“Senorita! Perfect partner milta nahi…banaana padta hai (You don’t find perfect partners, you find a decent one and you train them).”
So, I decided that if I have to be a part of this process, it is better to be there on my own terms in the arranged marriage search. I decided to set my own priorities and to not to compromise on them. It was probably the biggest decision of my life (or so I have been told) and I wanted to have an equal, if not more say in it. My parents were absolutely fine with this arrangement and even encouraged me to look actively (though I often become lazy about it). Funny thing though – some prospects and their families probably found it a little too forthcoming (Ladki khud Ladka dekh rahi hai types). To each his own, but this made the filtering much easier!
While diving into the risky waters of ‘Qubool Hai’ , I finally realized a few things –
I couldn’t have gone in there as a drama queen. There were many out there. So I tried to go in as a sorted mind and a strong soul. I thought ‘being my real own self’ would be a rarity in today’s times.
I had learned already from my surroundings that relationships need to be approached with fewer expectations and minimal Bollywood type ideas about love and living. I felt that an attempt to be more practical would be a better way of looking at things; because after the first lovey dovey year, all marriages anyway require a lot of maturity on one’s part.
I also realized that falling for the very first guy I come across may have disaster written all over it (I had recently read ‘Why Marriages are failing’ from Akash). It is not difficult to figure out that people have facades on their bio-data and profiles. A perfectly written description is often a sign of mere good English, not good character. The judgement call has to be taken with utmost care; which will take time. To be honest – I think I too may have portrayed myself in a slightly different light, without realizing it. My point is – if I am judging a guy and his family, they are doing the same and it is absolutely fair.
And that’s why it is also fair to give each other time. I decided to not say yes to anyone without taking time. Because the unmasking takes time. It requires conversations and meetings. And it holds true for both – men and women. If a guy is being too eager, I’m sure I will see it as a red flag.
Worrying about time is no solution. I have already crossed the “marriageable” age according to relatives from far far way. I will be married for the rest of my life; 2-3 months here and there won’t turn the world upside down. It is better to take time now than to repent later. What is more important is to not settle for less.
For e.g. I have certain absolutes that I am looking for in a guy. No drinking, no smoking, no drugs – my absolutes. Some of my friends suggested I relax these rules; as I am limiting the scope of my search. But that’s the whole purpose right? Narrowing it down according to what you want? In an India of 1.3 billion people – are you telling me there are no men left who don’t indulge into these? I refuse to believe that. And I refuse to overlook these very important preferences of mine! Whenever you see a red flag, “kat-lo”!!
And that’s what anyone looking for a life partner should do. It’s a commitment of a life time. How can anyone just settle for less!!
It was with these realizations that I started the process.
I was advised by people more experienced than me to not restrict the search of my ‘soul mate’ to referrals only. I was told to expand my horizons. And expand I did. Apart from the “Rishtey” and bio-data that kept coming to my parents and some uncles and aunts and cousins, I made profiles on all leading matrimonial websites, gave ads in newspapers. Felt like an international parade at times too!
Finding a groom is expensive business, I hadn’t known before. But it is better to pay now, than pay later in life. And so I started talking to guys (because these websites won’t let you talk to someone till you cough up money honey).
It has been a hilarious process – I must say. The quickest entertainment at times. While there are really good prospects out there, some are just too funny! I think I have come across profiles of all types now on these matrimonial sites:
I have met mama’s boys (who can’t even decide whether they should give me their number without asking their moms( I checked in the mirror & found that I nowhere look like a lady molester 🙂 ), womanizers, ready-to-marry-tomorrow boys, hotties who lose their hotness the moment they open their mouth boys, intelligent, smart and funny boys and more. I also came across parents who grilled me with questions (sometimes at 7:30 am!!), most of which were about whether or not I can make a good grilled sandwich! Some mothers-in-law were very worried that I will starve their son to death. But I also met men who appeared to be self-sufficient and did not need a woman for basic survival. I liked them the most, I must confess.
I met guys who were not interested in knowing “me”. What is my life style, food preferences, thought process and expectations, it wasn’t in their “TO KNOW” list. (somebody once told me that I am perfect wedding material because I am SSS : Sundar Susheel Sanskari and I thought if only these are things people look for to get married then they are an ASS in simple English no abbreviations)
I met a mother who couldn’t understood why a vegetarian girl can’t eat chicken after getting married because her son is a non vegetarian. There were few *moderate* families who were okay with my vegetarian status but said that I must know how to cook non-vegetarian dishes.
I met a boy who liked me and wanted to get married ASAP after our first meeting but was not interested in talking for 2 months to know e/o before saying yes. There is one other variety who thinks that I am giving them chance to have “the Night Chat” for free. The satisfaction of your urge is not my responsibility!
“I am looking for Love, affection and care from the girl who will be marrying me” – I wish they had more expectations but probably they never realized that a partner can be more than a caregiver. It looks like they are looking for somebody who can replace their mother for care plus additional benefit of SEX.
You see – funny business 🙂
Somewhere in the process – I also figured out what I was and was not looking for in my future life partner.
I figured – love will eventually happen, if not today then maybe 5 years later (though, I hope it does not take this much time). But I wanted to build my marriage on the bricks of equality, freedom, trust and friendship – more than love. Much more than love my dear diary. I realized I was looking for someone who can trust my sensibilities. And I was looking for someone who won’t need a best friend after he has found me.
Diary – I think my man will have to have a lot of spine, a lot of courage. If ever he has to stand up and fight for me – I don’t want to be the one fighting his battles as well as mine. I will not be with a spineless person. I also want my man to have the audacity and the strength to embrace my family as his own, like I will be doing for him – with all their quirks and idiosyncrasies.
If there is one thing I have learned from this mad hunt, it is that:
Till the time you take the plunge – you will not know how to swim in these dicey waters. When I started I was confused. With every prospect I spoke to, I have become clearer about what I want. I am probably still confused but I am less of a sceptic now than I was 6 months ago! So, if you too are of marriageable age, I would say –
What the hell do I know! It is your marriage. Just ensure that you look at enough places, nooks and corners. Even after you find out a lot about a guy, a marriage will still remain one of the biggest leaps of faith you take in your life. But while you are looking, don’t lose your sense of humour. If you find a funny “Rishta” laugh at it and move on. The stupidity of certain people is their own doing, and not your fault!
Shaadi ek se hi hogi. Till then – have fun and chill and do not settle for less! I certainly am not 🙂
Arunima Shah is a Kriya Yogi (meditates twice a day), an MBA who is currently winding up her PhD in Marketing from IIM, Lucknow. A brilliantly beautiful friend to me since 2011; I have been the closest witness to her rise in her professional, personal and spiritual life. I was bored of hearing her stories about boy search. So, I tricked her into doing a catharsis through a post. She is my James Bond friend. Hope she finds her 007.5 very soon 🙂