Sunday, April 16, 2006

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Match

Carrying on from the marriage theme in the last post. Mostly because my daily existence does not inspire even a creative squeak. It's hard to muse over laziness and its discontents ad infinitum. Hence, I need to take up little slivers of incidents and stretch them into reflections on love, life and samosa (and zero inspiration for PhD may be because I haven't had a decent samosa in soooooo long *remember, sigh and drool*).

Anyway, so I was woken up from my precious Sunday slumber by my aunt who called to inform me of the existence of yet another eligible for marriage Bengali man who has graciously consented to deign to look at my photograph. So make haste and email your photo pronto...oh no, not just any photo, know...the decent kind. The one in which you wear decent clothes (preferably Indian) and gaze longingly into the camera, and perhaps an obliging friend can photoshop and airbrush your mug to within an inch of its existence.

I really have nothing against my aunt informing me about eligible men, besides the fact that she lives in the Midwest and invariably forgets about our time zone difference when making calls. "You sound sleepy, o ma, did I wake you up?" Duh!!! I've also figured out that 9 times out of 10 she only calls me to inform me about some overeducated Bong man she had encountered who she thinks would be oh so perfect for me. She is an amateur matchmaker ("ghatak" in Bangla, my cousins in India have nicknamed her "ghatkali champion"), and has also tried to set up several other cousins of mine and my mother's as well.

Efforts to get me married off are super fun for me, and spice up my otherwise entertainment starved existence. My parents never obliged. They barely mentioned marriage a bunch of times in the last few years, and then after being informed of the boyfriend, duly asked for pics, and then indicating approval, have more or less left the matter alone.

I know I can put a stop to all this by telling her about my boyfriend, but I really don't want to do that unless I have to. There are two reasons for this deception:

a) It would involve a long-winded explanation which I am loathe to provide. Said aunt is a bit of a gossip and chatterbox and wouldn't rest till she gets down to the last details, like his high school grades and his shoe size.

b) This is too much fun, I wouldn't want to stop it, and maybe I should tell my parents not to discuss my boyfriend with her :).

This time, she came up with a prize catch. A PhD holder who works at NASA, no less! The NASA tag seems to command a premium in the Bong marriage market, I've heard it mentioned approvingly several times before as well. This is hilarious, because I have acquaintances who've worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, who'd never believe that working at NASA helps land chicks. That pick-up line doesn't work.

Last time around, she had found a man, raised in Bengal, who was temporarily in the US for a Post-doc. Initially she had tried to set the fellow up with a dazzingly accomplished cousin of my mother's (let's call her DD) who was raised in the US. Now DD isn't averse to the idea of an arranged marriage, but definitely wants a Bengali-American. When I asked my aunt why she had suggested this fellow, who was obviously not what DD was looking for, she snapped, "Well, it doesn't help to be picky, does it? And she's over-the-hill, she should take whatever she can get". DD was 33 at the time.

For my aunt, women are selling in a buyer's market, and we beggars can most definitely not be choosers. But as she finds out often, this is not how the real world works. She once tried to set up a beautiful and quite vain cousin (call her BK) of my uncle's with a man severly challenged in the looks department. The only excuse was that BK was divorced and hence should be grateful for whatever she gets. BK had married a hottie of a first husband, and was in no mood to lower her standards. This resulted in an embarassing fiasco, where the man travelled all the way to India to meet BK, only to be rejected on the spot.

I've often been tempted to play along more fully, but for the fact that my aunt will not be amused when she finds out I'm taking her for a ride. So I've considered sending an ironic photo of me in traditional garb, radiating domestication and "I cook perfect maachh shorshey on weekends" look. But the last thing I'd want to do is play a joke at the expense of men who are seriously looking for a wife. I've friends who've either gone through or are going through the process right now, and you don't need a scumbag like me to make it any more uncomfortable than it is.

Seriously though, if I did want to be set up with someone, I'd pick a close friend or parent's recommendation over that of a relative who knows me quite superficially. I remember how when I first met my boyfriend, my friend Becks sat me down and told me exactly why she thought we should go out with each other. It was very sensible advice, given by someone who knew me as a person as well as what was missing in my life which could be complemented by S's interests. This was much more valuable than the CV rattled off by my aunt, detailing academic and professional accomplishments.


Blogger Rimi said...

Yes, the over-the-hill School of Thought. You can put the Indian in the Midwest, but you apparantly can't pull him/her out of the School *sigh*

I'm rather for arranged marriages, really, because I never seem to be meeting decent men on my own :-) But my concept of an 'arranged' marriage is essentially limited to the introduction bit. It's just another way to meet people, that's all. After the first awkward meeting, you're on your own, just like in any other new relationship. Actually, the arranged way, you get to decide right away if his is the right kind of family . Saves trouble later.

Kintu ghatkali'r barabari boddo jhamela. My sympathies; I had my first indirect proposal (boy's maashi) when I was a few months shy of nineteen. The mother had a fit. Of the laughing kind :-)

Post comment: I take it the boyfriend is also much amused? And will be linking to this post on mine as soon as I can. That ok?

9:10 PM  
Blogger Sudipta said...

Hi Swati, I think I understand you not wanting to volunteer info about S in order to avoid the long winding explanations. I feel the same way when I have to talk to some of my relatives who I must talk to just for the sake of staying in touch. Anything interesting thats happening in my life will usually require a narrative of the entire background of events which is so tiresome! As a result we end up talking about all the banal stuff which makes for boring conversation & makes me even more loathe to call them up again :)

11:57 PM  
Blogger Gamesmaster G9 said...

Hey, lay off us Midwestern Indians, will you?

Rimi, what you are in favour of is not arranged marriage, but a family-run dating service. They are not the same thing. Try getting relatives to help you meet decent guys, and then tell them that you have no intention of marrying them.

12:48 AM  
Blogger K said...

ROFTL... Really! Hilarious. The joys of being born Bangla, I could realet to your post pronto. Shubho Nabo Borsho btw.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Rimi said...

Ani: Rimi, what you are in favour of is not arranged marriage.

Duh, Ani, I say to:

It's just another way to meet people, that's all.


9:24 AM  
Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

NASA? Your Aunt can turn pro

Shubho Nobo Borsho, BTW :-)

10:31 AM  
Blogger Adagio For Strings said...

HAHAHAHAHA! Too good man! This is awesome! As usual using "my form of sense of humor" when someone brings this issue up with me I usually get on their nerves by cracking this one: "Nahi mujhe koi ladkee nahi pasaand karegee kyonki meri writing achchee nahi hai - is karan main eligible nahi illegible bachelor hoon". At this point they get preety scared thinking if I crack one like this in front of the "scouts" to unkee to bhare bazaar pagdee uchchal jayegee :D.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Adagio For Strings said...

ps: considering the state NASA is in, please dont let loved ones work there (or marry anyone who does)....

12:38 PM  
Blogger AB said...

Hi shubho nabo barsho. Ya ya enjoy it. It is fun in a way. It's like having a guy parade. But it's nice only if the guys are DECENT.

You should see the ones I get to see. Recently my mom showed me the photo of this really fat guy. "Look mamma he's so handsome..." I would have choked if I was having anything. Me: "He's fat". "That's ok. You can get him to slim down," said my mom.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Vishnupriya said...

you know what's funny? a guy i vaguely know (friend of a friend), was going through profiles in orkut to look for pictures of hot women, and he found yours through mine. then he was telling me how he was really disappointed because of your swimsuit pic because "bangali meyeder erom kora uchit na." i brought up the fact that he would quite regularly ogle pictures of white women in swimsuits, but he insisted that thats what white women do, and punjabis too, but bengalis should be more "decent". i found that even more funny after you mentioned that you should wear decent clothes in your pic.

5:01 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Rimi, you'd be surprised at the number of Indian women in the US who take up ghatkali as a fulltime hobby. And most of them do subscribe to the over-the-hill school of thought.

Oh enlist the family for help by all means, but don't stop looking yourself.

And strangely, I recently discovered that I wasn't even informed of a number of proposals that my parents had received through relatives that they rejected outright. Apparently they didn't want to bother me with the details!

Of course, go ahead and post!

Sudipta, that's so very true! You've described it exactly like it is. And now I'm even more loathe to call.

Ani, that is quite correct. The dynamics of meeting a boy through the family are very different. In the case of BK in the post, she had to face a lot of flak for months because she rejected this man. Can't imagine that happening if she went on a date on her own.

K, my aunt aims to please :). And Shubho Noboborsho to you too!

Patient, not that she hasn't considered :). Shubho Noboborsho.

Adagio, woh apni pagdiyon ko cellotape se bandhke aayenge! See what you've done to me with your illegible bachelor thing.

Arrey wohi to. All these folks back home think NASA engineers are top cheez. If only they knew.

AB, it never reaches that point. To date, I haven't seen a single mugshot. Your mom is so optimistic!

Vish, this is hilarious! No wonder I've been getting "frenship" offers from random Bong men. I'm sure they want to provide me with some moral education.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Asheesh said...

Hi Swati (From some of the comments I gather this is your name),

I have been following your blog, Rimi's and Urmea's as well for some time now. I find your postings really interesting as the are full of wit. I wish you posted more often. BTW I took up your review and am reading PERSEPOLIS now, it is a great book. Keep the posts rolling

1:34 PM  
Blogger Adagio For Strings said...

Vishnupriya, TM,

While I AM being politically incorrect, could you guys please ask Bong men to leave the moral policing to Mumbaikars...they seem to do it so well what with Shiv Sena and all :o.

(Waits in anticipation for fiery responses)

3:37 PM  
Blogger Kele Panchu said...

I've seen many such midwestern desi aunties eager to do 'ghatkali'. At least in your case she is your relative. Some of these poor matchmaker aunties would approach any good looking bengali girl in sari (but without shankha sindoor) with a proposal during durga pooja.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Essar said...

hehe - enjoy it while it lasts. And what you should really do is tell ur aunt in person about ur boyfriend - this wya you'll get to see her expressions changing from "hello-sweetie-how-are-you' to 'jesus-she-had-me-all-this while'!

But god, it's funny how for many of us its the relatives, aunts, uncles who are such eager beavers about getting us married than parents are!

12:25 PM  
Blogger Dreamcatcher said...

You remind me of my sister. When she was seeing her now husband and not yet revealed at home boyfriend, she came up with the most extraordinary variety of excuses for refusing prospective husbands. Someone had a benka nose, someone had bad hair, someone had bad punctuation. and when she could not come up with any excuses , she actually went so far as to say that the guy lived in a square state - I don't remember, hence he was rejected. My parents were baffled til they found out :)

11:21 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Asheesh, thank you so much for your wonderful comments. Glad you liked Persepolis!

Adagio, in defence of Bong men, they are generally not too prone to moral policing. This fellow seems decidedly odd.

Panchu-da, shobi amaar bhagyo! Every time I have gone to Durga Puja celebrations here, my darling boyfriend has tagged along. Imagine all the mashimas who would have popped out of the woodworks if they thought I was single!

Essar, I think she has her suspicions. She called me again this evening, and was pressing for some dope about whether I have "someone" or not.

Dreamcatcher, that is so funny! But I actually know someone who does that all the time and she doesn't even have a boyfriend, she just doesn't want to get married.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Rapid I Movement said...

overeducated Bong man

It hurts...

12:25 PM  
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6:36 AM  

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