All this talk of matchmaking has us questioning if it is better to marry for love, or be ‘arranged’. Help us decide
Wired for love
The monsoon’s fist loosens and rose-ringed clouds scud across the horizon in a cinematic setting that filmmakers chase whole lifetimes. Frank Sinatra’s all-time classic ‘My Way’ rises like a coil of vapour from the stereo. I make up my mind — to pursue the Arts.
That swooping liberating moment at 18 is when I decided to march to my beat and marry for love, or not at all. Not for me the crowds of relatives coming home with declarations of ‘we know of a good boy’, or the soulless sameness of marrying into the same kind, or the boring regularity of an arranged marriage and trying to match steps with a perfect stranger. No sir.
I wanted to know if academics had honed not just my education but also my intuition. Others did not choose my career, so why should they choose the man I was to marry?
So, fuelled by the poetry of the Romantics and other ideas of courtship and old love only a degree in Literature can gift you, I discovered my Lochinvar on a day when Darlene Love was singing ‘Today I met the boy I’m gonna marry’.
I can’t pretend it was easy. The announcements at home were accompanied by both melodrama and the shadow of a double barrelled gun that hung in our garage.
But only marrying for love can keep you on the brink of excitement. Letters from Field Post Offices were smuggled through friends, the quiet dates once every six months when said man came on leave were equal portions of practical ways to get parental consent and sweet surprises.
It has been a while now and though marriage sometimes feels like staring down the barrel of a gun, it helps that it is through love-tinted glasses.
Deepa Alexander is that dogged runner on the path of true love, even if it does not run smooth.
Leap of faith
An arranged marriage is a leap of faith, it is bungee jumping. No, it is bungee jumping blindfolded — you jump into the unknown hoping the cord is secure, praying to entire pantheons of all the world’s religions.
It is a ‘two is party’ jump. Those who have done it (bungee jumping too) remember its thrill and excitement. So what if it is sometimes facilitated by random factors such as the college your great grandfather attended or just the entire solar system? It is a stress-free way to get married, with a lifetime of complaining privileges.
‘Arranged-marriage-phobes’ ask ‘why?’ Why not?
The bride and groom at the Indian wedding garlands or Jaimala ceremony on the stage.
This person is likely ‘verified’ by at least three dozen relatives and their neighbours’ relatives across the street. It might feel like judging a book by its cover, in this case, looking for matching horoscopes, family backgrounds, perhaps even the same milkman. It is more slow burn-romance-meets-suspense where building the relationship takes time. Arranged marriages are nuanced, less instant noodles more dum biriyani.
You learn a new thing everyday — not in the I-am-married-to-a-serial killer kind of way — for at least a decade: from the basic coffee, tea or both, to complicated stuff like faith. It is, in essence, a love marriage too — you love your spouse, their family, the extended family, family friends and their pets too. The pets may or may not love you back.
Just look at the statistics; they seem to favour arranged marriages.
An aside: Versions of Sima (Taparia) ‘Aunty’ do exist.
The third time Shilpa Nair Anand met her husband was on their wedding day, and yes their horoscopes were a perfect match.
In this column, our writers debate on divisive quandries