I’m an almost 30-year-old woman, who has agreed to an arranged marriage. My family is fairly conservative, who still does pooja when anything new is bought. So you can imagine the kinds of men that have been considered for horoscope matching and the inevitable meeting that follows once it’s deemed apt.
Over the last several years, since the quest for the ‘perfect groom’ began, that is, I’ve met many men. Almost all of them are from pretty well-to-do families, if not affluent, well-educated, working in good companies with enviable career trajectories, fairly good-looking, some mama’s boys, some not, harboring a deep conviction that they are doing me a favor by meeting me (granted, it’s only a few of them that have acted that way, but it doesn’t smart any less).
Suggested read: I’m a 30-year-old single woman in modern India, and I’m OKAY
Yeah, seriously. I have a bachelor’s degree from a reputed institution, and am working in the media space. When my passion and work collided, it was magical for me. I actually look forward to go into work every day. How many of us can truly say that about their jobs? I’m guessing, very few.
So being treated as if they’re doing me a ‘favor’ by ‘granting’ me a few minutes to talk to them ‘in private’ is sort of disparaging to me and my identity. A few of them were so hesitant to talk to me ‘in private’ that they had to be insisted upon to do so. Mind you, this hesitancy is to meet the person they’re planning to spend the rest of their lives with! It completely baffles me as to how they could assume that a woman, in this day and age, would say yes to a marriage proposal where the groom-to-be has to be persuaded to spend a few minutes to a half hour in the company of the bride-to-be!
I’ve often wondered what goes on in their minds when such meetings happen. To be honest, when I met the first guy for this purpose, I was so nervous, I thought I was gonna puke, so hard were the butterflies in my tummy trying to get out. I remember coming out of that meeting feeling dazed and confused, as if I’d just gotten off of a roller coaster ride. I wonder if this is how some of these men feel too? I honestly don’t know.
But there’s a case to be made for the men who’ve met so many prospective brides like me, that they’ve come to be known as having unrealistic expectations in the community matchmaking circles. These expectations could be about the prospective bride’s looks; the bride’s height, weight, or complexion; monetary expectations – though this is done as discreetly as possible, by inquiring about the bride’s father’s assets and liabilities; the size and locality of the house she and her family reside in; or the fact that the bride wears glasses, to name a few.
I’ve had the pleasure of having met a few of these guys as well. They think they’re God’s very gift to womankind, because they start assuming that I’ll be their housekeeper, confidante, cook, unswerving support system, a submissive wife who’ll take care of him and the two point five kids we’ll have, while he just goes to work, comes back home, eats, sleeps, poops, and repeats the cycle the next day. When asked if they’d support their wives’ careers, there’s a blank look on their faces as if I’m speaking in Parseltongue! (Psst. Many of them haven’t touched a book since graduating from their respective institutions, so there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell they’d know what I’m referring to here. :P)
Oh, there’s another breed of men out there, who could be called quasi-feminists, who, truth be told, think all feminists are man-haters, and who are chauvinists and sexists, masquerading as ‘good boys.’ These men want their wives to work because, you know, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. So basically, they’re trying to save us from ourselves and our devious minds. Plus, if we don’t work, how will we spend our days sitting at home, while he works in an MNC in New York City? Because whoever has heard of keeping busy without having to work a 9 to 5 job, no? Oh, and these are the ones who want a beautiful, well-educated, well-read, and slim bride, who can become a glorified housekeeper in the US, because hiring a maid service there isn’t as easy as finding a bai here! 😛
These men’s mothers (and some fathers too) are so proud of their sons having bagged an H1 visa that they’re basically floating on thin air while they talk, walk, and behave as if they’re the ones actually living in the US of fricking A! They’ve probably visited the US once in their lifetime till now, but the way they talk is as if they themselves were born and brought up in New York of all cities, and know the ins and outs of eking out a living in one of the biggest cities in the world.
And the best part is when I ask them about their cooking skills. There’s an absolutely incredulous look on their faces that is truly a sight to behold. Following this look is a smirk that basically says, cooking is a woman’s job. Then, they go on to helpfully explain that they don’t even know how to boil a glass of water, let alone cook. Oh, how rude of me and my progressive ideas!
I thought I was living in the twenty-first century, not the nineteenth! Is it too much ask for to meet a man who knows himself and what he wants in a partner, respects me for me, the way I am and what I do, without disparaging my choices, or make me feel as if there’s something inherently wrong with me to expect certain things from my would-be life partner? I think not.
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