There comes a time in every Indian’s life when he or she is called upon to perform the first virtuous duty of adulthood. Getting hitched to the mate of their parents’ dreams. As coming of age rituals go, this is no mean task, since it involves putting aside pretty much anything you might find acceptable in a life partner.
These petty preferences must be cast aside in deference to the greater cause of fulfilling the righteous filial fantasy of throwing the ultimate Indian party and extorting heirs on demand. Failing which, one must come to terms with being labeled the Black Sheep who must be saved by The Family and Friends of The Family.
‘My God, already in your thirties!’ the sundry aunty will exclaim shrilly, ‘Come, come, you have to get married now and give us all a reason to get together again!’
‘Aiyyoooo, you youngsters these days!’ the ambient family elder will wheeze dramatically each time the gossip dies down at family gatherings, ‘All I ask is to see you settle down before I die, that’s all!’
‘When are you giving us some Good News, eh?’ the ever-pregnant cousin will beam, her one-year old and three-year old cuddled into her expansive bosom.
Reasonable as all these requests were, I agreed to play matrimonial roulette primarily because my father needed a post retirement project to focus on after he was done renovating the house. That I ended up throwing off the meddling mob was a completely unexpected bonus.
Given that I am of a mindset euphemistically labeled as ‘modern’ in the Indian marriage market, my father turned to the internet as the most suitable medium to go husband-hunting for me.
The first few weeks of this new hobby went well for both of us. My Father investigated and shortlisted the most promising marriage portals basis their advertising slogans, their reputation among Family Friends and the size and variety touted by their ‘cosmopolitan’ sections. Thereafter, he and I creatively crafted my profile to introduce myself without revealing anything at all.
Just when I thought all the hard work was over, the matrimonial portals began sending in the clowns. Ever since we clicked on ‘submit’, my inbox has been spammed by a motley assortment of suitors who, in retrospect, have always had three things in common.
1. This is the only way they get to meet girls
2.This is the only way they get to talk to them.
3. This is what they do after work and on weekends.
One of the first men to make an impression on me was Cool_Looks_007. He even sent in a picture. He had clearly made a special effort to have this portrait made, because he posed in a silky hot pink Chirag Din shirt against a maroon curtain, with his hair neatly parted just above the left ear and carefully combed across his shiny smooth pate.
After being selected for the attentions of Hi_Hello101, Iambest4u, Wild_Vasu, Idealguy_No1, XF5425 and Rocket Singh, I realized that the Indian Wife Hunter often exhibits a catchy turn of phrase online. While there is always the garden variety Desperate Guy who wants to make ‘friendship’ with you, me, or anyone else who’ll have him, and the occasional Pervert, there is also the Pushy One. What do you mean let’s meet for coffee first? Didn’t your father tell you that my Mother has tallied our horoscopes and the astrologer has given our match 9 on 10?.
Then, there’s the Professional (Please find attached my resume, cc your father.), the Smarmy One (When do I get to hear your surilee voice?), the Sap (Don’t you sometimes wish for someone whose hand you can hold at the end of the day?), the Shy Guys (Our son doesn’t even talk to his female friends and colleagues.)
Most memorably, there was Raghu_2008 who I’m guessing, is still declaring his virginity in the hope of attracting an equally chaste bride. “I am proud to tell you that even in these days, I have saved myself for the one who is made for me.”
My all time favourite however, is the Nice Guy, simply because he’s the one who gets the Meddling Mob’s goat.
‘But there is nothing wrong about him!’
‘Sure. But there’s nothing right about him either.’
First published in KIRIK 02, March 2010