Friday, March 6, 2015

The Wedding Diaries- Part 2

Whew. Part 2 is finally here...

I have a confession to make. I have never been a fan of marriage. Sometime when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I decided never to get married. The idea of spending one's entire life with a stranger simply freaked me out. This was perhaps because of the kind of marriages I saw then. (They were all "arranged marriages". Dating was a word unheard of in our circles, and "love marriage" was a term used with tones worse than "murder" and "embezzlement".) Most marriages involved two people meeting once (ONCE!) and talking for about half an hour before deciding to get engaged. At the time, this sounded too scary- with half an hour of conversation, I wouldn't even be able to say if someone would make a good friend or not, how was I to decide whether I could live with them? What if the person I met didn't like Enid Blyton? Or didn't know what treacle tart was? (By the way, I have never actually tasted treacle tart in my life. It just sounded delicious when Blyton wrote about it. So did apple pie and fresh strawberries and cream. In fact, I think Enid Blyton is partly to blame for my sweet tooth and general love of food. The rest is probably genetics. Oh wait, I digress.) I think my worst fear then was that I would get married to someone who liked DragonBallZ. (Little did I know my worst fear would come true!!)

Anyway, my biggest qualm with marriages (or "arranged marriages") was that I couldn't commit to marrying someone I didn't know well enough. I knew most people around me were OK with doing that, but I wasn't. And the Sujatha short stories of women who got married to intellectually incompatible men didn't help. (Mom, I hate to admit it, but you were partly right all along. The books WERE to blame!) Nor did the K.Balachander notions of "love"- by which he often meant "connecting with" a person, not stalking them after seeing them once in a city bus. (Aside, I am sorry that no other Tamil director ever picked that idea up. Tamil heroes still think stalking a woman till she relents is ok, and Tamil movie love is still mostly about "eye candy", not compatibility.) Anyway, I didn't think I could live very happily if my husband didn't "get me" and the chances of finding someone who did, didn't seem very high.

Of course, as I grew up, I expanded my definitions of the marriage process. More people talked about having things in common and talking/meeting multiple times before getting engaged, so it wasn't half as bleak. But during that time, my expectations grew as well. By the time I was 20, while I no longer cared about having the same favorite authors, I did care about sharing common goals (do we really want to buy a house before 30?)  and values (are we put on Earth with a higher purpose?), conflict resolution (can we find a good method to decide who does the dishes?) and most of all, about understanding the way each other thinks. Which, to me, meant an even lower probability of finding Mr.Right over a few conversations.

This is also the time I realized that if I was skeptical about marriage in general, I was 100 times more skeptical about arranged marriages. I barely made friends with people, how was I going to find someone who could be much more than a friend to me? Plus, finding someone who I liked, who understood me, and who fell into the same stratum of society that I did, while coming from a family that my family would get along with and happen to run into during the process of "searching" was like trying to find prime numbers larger than a googol. And unlike mathematics, I didn't have infinite time on my hands nor did I care enough to spend that much time on a search process. But more than anything else, I didn't see this kind of search as practical in my family. I could picture exactly what would happen after I said "No" for more than 3-4 horoscope matches:
(The following conversation is imaginary and a tad hyperbolic. No offense to my mom.)

Mom: Now what was wrong with THIS boy? Why did you have to reject him? (Sounding a lot like Ambi saying "Enaku oru concrete reason venum, Nandhini").
Me: This is not going to work out ma. We are just not compatible.
Mom: What compatible? IITB and Harvard MBA. He is earning so well. You can live like a princess. And he looks so good also, ajanubahu-va, fair-a Hindi actor maadhiri dhaane irukkan.  
Me: It's not about being fair ma. He doesn't like reading and his idea of trying new cuisines is molagootal. I don't even know what to talk to him about. We just won't gel. 
Mom: What gel, paste and all..  Last time the boy's profile said he likes reading and you still rejected him.
Me: Amma, that guy was too mature. We had similar interests, but there was no chemistry. We would make good friends, but that's about it.
Mom: What chemistry, physics and all, talking like Vijay TV anchors! Are you going to participate in Maanada Mayilaada after marriage? Why do you need chemistry?
Me: I don't know how to explain it, amma. The spark wasn't there. We had a lot in common. Maybe too much in common.
Mom: Now you are talking like KamalaHassan only. It feels like you are saying something, but nobody can understand what you mean. See our pakkathu flat Ananya. She married the first boy her parents found and now her son is going to preschool in Boston. I think all your reading is spoiling you.

Which brings me to a different point altogether. "Chemistry". Also called the "seeing someone that way". I cannot imagine ever explaining that to anyone, definitely not my family. I have interacted with many men with whom I have a lot in common, yet I couldn't possibly consider getting married to any of them. However, in the arranged marriage process, I was bound to run into a few "perfectly fine" people whom I would have to refuse , and provide explanations to my family about; all the while feeling a little guilty and wondering if I was letting good opportunities slip through my fingers. It sounded too stressful to me.

But beyond all of this, I had one big reason why an "arranged marriage" would never work for me. It was the same reason I didn't think "dating" would work for me either...

(To be continued..) 

P.S: The title has been changed from "The Marriage Diaries" to "The Wedding Diaries" after someone pointed it out. I started out the series hoping to write about the "marriage" but it's only been a few months and the series is mostly in the wedding territory, so changed.