detail of a painting by Ramesh Kumar, Bangalore
Being vegetarian in India is easy. Low-carb, not so much. I’m looking at this pot of Khmeer Mutter or some mushroom rice or whatever, it’s the size of my head. I serve myself a reasonable amount. Then a small top up. Then a small top up. Then a bit more. Then the bill hasn’t come. A bit more. Bit spicy, need some rice. Bit more. Now I know it’s too much, I’ll feel full. Bit more. Shit. So I get the bill.
I’m palming the fennel seeds and sugar, lovely idea really, when the double date next to me splits up and leave. It’s not a double date at all. I was eating and not paying much attention, but that one chap in the corner was getting a grilling. He was talking about freelancing and the other guy was like, “but not steady, no.” But I get it now. The couple that got up was her parents. This is a marriage interview. I order a gulab jamon and try not to grin.
“What are you looking for?” he asked. She replied, something about someone caring I think. He was looking for something and someone his family would get along with. I got the impression that he was working abroad, something in IT (Hyderabad, what else) and was here just to do the marriage interviews. It was charming really. Their parents were a table away. He was talking about traffic. She asked him if he liked to travel. I don’t think he did. “I don’t have anyone to share it with,” he said. By now, perhaps, you do.
Ah, arranged marriage. I actually think it’s great, and I see a lot of happy ones. I honestly see so many. There are many bad ones as well, but generally if money and family are OK, a marriage can stick. Love can grow. I understand the thunderbolts, but sometimes you just need rain.
There are many happy marriages founded on literally one or two interviews. And why not. Why not meet compatible people recommended by people that love you? Many of these couples end up being complementary life partners with happy families and kids. In a lot of cases there’s too much pressure, yes. That’s a serious concern and free choice is a must.
But as long as parents are setting up meetings, why not. It’s not like one’s meeting such great catches at the bar. And sometimes dating is a series of self-made commitment problems, when all you need is to just decide and commit.
As long as there’s free choice, I don’t think arranged marriages are bad. In fact, I think they’re quite good.