Marriages are made in Heaven. But Arranged marriage invitation cards are not. If you are an eligible bachelor or bachelorette and you hope to have your beautifully scripted name on such a card then you have got a game on. Getting the partner of your choice and being the choice of your partner is surely an onerous task. A Huge project of critical value. Often involving all of these ingredients in varying proportions – internet connection, bio-data, scanned or digital photo, mobile phone, newspaper ad, matrimonial website ad, flight tickets, train tickets, “learned ” pandits, worried family members, sleepless nights, incessant debates with friends and family, plenty of green bills (often down the drain – similar to that spent by oil exploration companies in barren lands)…and so on…
It involves nothing less than the luck and the pluck, the meticulous planning, the operational capability and the timing and single – mindedness of a LeT mission.
The Changing Landscape
A few years ago, before the dot com era, alliances were decided through a referral process. Relatives took active interest in match-making and were often over zealous in getting boys and girls settled as soon as possible. By the inherent nature of the process, alliances were restricted geographically, so marriage between a girl from Nagpur and a guy from Kanpur would require a miracle!
Fast forward to the dot-com boom and the late nineties to-date , more and more girls and guys ventured from their small town homes into the IT sector and other growing sectors, earning cash and independence from their match-making relatives. Café’s opened, multiplexes mushroomed, and sms’s zoomed. Many a matches were made in the barista’s, Inoxes, PVR’s and cubicles of companies. And then there were stags. The guys who either didn’t have the knack to take a girl out for coffee or who were caught up in the whirl-gig of going for higher studies. Indeed many a stag has taken refuge in going for higher studies so that he could claim that he was “busy”. Therefore it can be safely assumed that lesser the knack you have to end up at Barista with a girl implies greater your probability of going for higher studies. Which implies that cash flow of Barista is diverted to the b-schools and higher education institutes of the world and to hedge against this risk, Barista should start b-schools/higher education institutes. And IITs and IIMs should start a coffee-shop chain. Ridiculous but true!
But we digress. For the stags, there is still hope. There are matrimonial sites with thousands of profiles where they can find a dream match. So just make a profile, write interesting stuff about you and your family, upload pics shot in a studio such that Irffan Khan can pass off as Shahrukh Khan and just wait. No wait…..did you just say that it is as simple as that?
It’s not as simple as that! What the stag has just done is filled in the forms for an exam where he might have to take multiple attempts to get the seat of his choice.
Wafter over the course of his (re)search tried to map the reasons for the struggle:
Boy and Girl were matched according to the following constraints:
1) Age of Boy – Age of Girl > 2 years
2) 5 inches > Height of Boy – Height of Girl > 3 inches
3) Complexion of girl is lighter than complexion of boy (tested in broad daylight)
4) Caste of Boy = Caste of girl
5) Tangible Net worth of Boy’s Family ~ Tangible Net worth of Girl’s Family
6) Distance of Parental Home of Girl from Distance of Parental home of girl < 200 miles
7) Salary of Boy > Salary of Girl
8) Qualification of Boy>= Qualification of Girl
These constraints are more or less in place with slight modifications. You can easily imagine that finding a match is almost like searching for a needle in a haystack. Hence the struggle.
The real crux of the reason for the struggle lies in the fact that love marriages are widely prevalent now and have significantly depleted the cream of the arranged marriage database. So with the pool of prospects very less, it’s no wonder that people spend years searching for the right match.
It’s important to mention the psychology during the process as well. As time passes, people get more desperate or more rigid. With more rigidity, the search gets tougher; With desperation, you end up trying to prospect people who waste your time.
Websites like Shaadi, Bharatmatrimony and Jeevansathi also aren’t entirely helpful. Each website probably has 65,000 potential matches for you; a large chunk overlaps between all three sites. Wafter for one, believed in casting the net and so had paid account on all three for quite a bit of time. Funny thing, if you pay in $, it costs a lot more to be a member than if you pay in rupees.
However the websites have a lot of problems. Out of 65000 matches, you can easily discount 15,000 which are dummy profiles or abandoned long time back. Another 10,000 are those who got recently married by some means and still show up in searches. That leaves 40,000 at max.
Wafter estimates that you will hardly have to peruse through 200-300 matches which meet your criterion potentially.
However the website causes a lot of problems. Many people don’t have photos (most probably because they are very average in looks), many have doctored photos to pass them off as some movie star and many other hide crucial details which are a no-no for you. Frankly the way Indians/we work – is to waste each others time. Transparency is a huge problem. Then in many cases, the parents man the website while the girl gets only filtered prospects, which she ultimately rejects. In other cases, girl mans the website and parents reject. Initiating interest in a match, parents talking to each other the first time and boy and girl talking to each other can take more than a month or two. Exchange of bio-data and photos is also sought with friction. Many naïve protectionist parents don’t want to give away the photo of their girl for fear of misuse, little realizing that their daughter has posted photos on facebook and orkut which may tell a lot about her. Wafter has even had cases in which parents have initiated interest and the girl is “committed” on orkut.
Then there is a big issue of expectations. Parents of girls expect that boy hails from a high-status family with plenty of wealth to keep their daughter happy (with wealth). Parents talk insensibly/rudely a lot many times. Salaried middle class fathers earning 3-4 lpa, feel that if their daughter works for some software company and takes home 4-5 lpa then she is the most eligible bride and you need to grovel before them to ask for the hand of their daughter. No regard for the intelligence, qualification, personality and character of the groom. There have been cases of father of the girl stating in the very first conversation with the family of boy – “My daughter doesn’t like facial hair and she will only consider clean-shaven grooms “..!! So my poor stag, gillette is the way to go. It’s a meat market out there. Be presentable for the business deal.
Some quick ways to save time/money in the process:
- Don’t go ahead if the parent/daughter/son is acting pricey. Snap it there and then.
- Ask and clarify things which are a no-no for you upfront, before spending $$ or Rs. Visiting the girl and her family…By the way why is it that the boy spends money to go all the way to the girl , spending time and $/Rs ..Oftentimes returning unsuccessful and bearing all costs?
- If the girl is not interested, the interaction won’t be smooth. Don’t put extra boyfriendesque efforts to win her over. No flowers or chocolates. Snap it there and then.
- Before visiting, ask the girl for clear and close-up pics. Save time and money.
- If conversation with parents revolves around salary, property, and how the girl’s nanaji was a district magistrate and how her cousin phoophaji is a “respected zamindar”, then snap it there and then. Unless you are of the same type or your khaandaan can match zamindar for zamindar and magistrate for magistrate with that of the girl.
- Some people search for NCR (National Capital Region) match. If you are no way near, don’t waste your time.
Don’t stress out too much. It will happen when it will. Make proactive efforts but enjoy the process also. Make friends along the way. (Stags who haven’t ever dated, here is a golden opportunity to date chicks in the garb of match-making. Sneaky! You bet! Smart! )
At the end of day it’s all luck. Marriages are made in heaven.
What do you say Mrs. Wafter? Ok. Ok. I owe you one.