Yes, you read that right. My parents went through profiles, swiped left, swiped right. They chatted, got excited, got ghosted and ghosted some others. The whole production.
But Tinder is too immature for them. Plus they’re both already married so their life is sorted. The project is to get me married. So they’ve been busy checking out Tinder for Parents, aka shaadi.com (and the likes, especially ones dedicated to the peculiar species of TamBrahms).
I resisted the idea for the longest time, because I didn’t and still don’t find anything very exciting about the prospect of sharing a bathroom with someone for the rest of my life while being forced to tolerate (even if I choose not to give into them) several patriarchal expectations within the household. Like the rest of the world wasn’t enough. But there was a little arm twisting, some cajoling and just general exhaustion with the frequent arguments. And I acceded. What’s the worst that could happen any way, especially considering my parents are the last people in the world to force me into marriage?
So, with the blessings of some greying relatives, my parents began the search. Their filters for choosing boys included age, education, job prospects and the absence of too many sisters because my mother’s experience with sister-in-laws has not been very pleasant, to say the least. That’s the starting point. Then the men are rated on a scale of “patriarchal bastard” to “decent human being”. To my parents’ credit, they’ve rejected more men on Tamil Matrimony in one month than I rejected on Tinder in six.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, because on matrimonial websites people are more honest about their expectations from women, and you rarely find horny self proclaimed “sapiosexuals” on it. The simple demands from an ideal Indian bride may be summarised as follows (In points because I attended a CBSE school):
- Modern yet traditional (Meaning jeans might be allowed but no drinking or late nights)
- Good looking (euphemism for fair and thin)
- Should have excellent career prospects but with “family values” so strong that she always chooses the home over the office
- Must partner with the man to take care of his family (Also take over household duties when the maid vanishes). The bride’s family doesn’t matter, of course
In return for all this, some men are gracious enough to add a line about how they’re quite okay should the woman decide to continue work after marriage.
And while the expectations from the bride are almost always explained in great detail, there is rarely anything mentioned about what they’re willing to offer in a marriage. That is left for the prospective brides to deduce from the annual salaries mentioned on the profile.
I had smartly requested my parents (for entirely selfish reasons) to give preference to men who own pets (because doggos are the best) and those living in Mumbai (because I want the “main maike chali jaaungi” threat to sound real)
My parents thought the whole exercise would be fun, because they aren’t in any particular hurry for this marriage business. However, they found themselves perilously close to losing their faith in mankind. “Man”kind. There were hardly any who met the simple benchmarks of “don’t be an ass” or “be half the man my Dad is.”
But, because my intention here (unlike what it seems) is not male bashing, let me admit that everyone was not an asshole (at least on paper). There were some who were, you know, nice.
Well, sort of.
I had the (mis)fortune of talking to two of them. Let me tell you about them.
Prospective Groom #1
Let’s call him MM.
I spoke to him for about 20 minutes one evening. He owns some business which makes these super cool semiconductors. They must be really cool because he didn’t utter one sentence in those 20 minutes which didn’t mention the word semiconductor. Reminded me of this old colleague of mine who’d graduated from Princeton and could never have a conversation without mentioning Princeton at least once.
At the end of the 20 minutes, he asked if we could “proceed with the alliance.” When I suggested there was no way I could answer that after just once phone call, he assumed I had an issue with his “background.” I assured him that wasn’t the case.
From the next day, I promptly received a “Good Morning” and “Good Night” forward on WhatsApp every single day. I had to say Good Bye the next week. I have no doubt he was a nice person, just not someone I could imagine holding a conversation with without freuquent and inordinate awkward silences.
Prospective Groom #2
Let’s call him PS.
PS seemed harmless at first. He was rather funny and polite enough and understood these decisions regarding matrimony took time. Eventually I discovered hidden land mines and then he dropped grenades and he even owned a Glock.
- He insinuated I was considering him as a groom because I wanted a green card to move to the US (Did I mention the fellow lives in the States?)
- Couldn’t stop talking about what an amazing cook his mother is. Which is great but kinda weird if mentioned 10874859 times in every conversation.
- He seemed unable to wrap his mind around why I’d want to do an LLM and then look for a job if I did end up moving to the States. I mean, he earns well so it makes no sense that I’d like to have a career too, right?
- He made fun of HIV patients.
- He kept munching on chips the whole fucking time we spoke. Every time. I have no issues with people eating, and call me old school but it’s basic decency to at least pretend that you take this call seriously. I’d hear the crunch of the chips more often than his voice.
5 is a nice number so I’ll stop here.
This process has made me want to actively start looking for men to date. The other day I found myself ogling at the men at the bar, wondering if the looks thrown my way were arrogant or charming. And if they smelled nice. And if they’d listen to 90s Bollywood songs with me. (And other things but the parents also read this blog sometimes). Meanwhile my parents are exhausted at the end of this experience and for the time being, they’ve just given up. I shimmied a little in joy.
The search is on, and I am sure this is hardly the end of my trysts with the arranged marriage conundrum. I shall fasten my seatbelt and hopefully learn to laugh at myself (and others, of course) along the way.
PS – Sorry for the long absence from this delightful space. In my defence I am just an exam away from being a lawyer! LLB Twiggy ❤