My mom was doing her grocery shopping and ran into an old acquaintance who normally wouldn’t talk more than a “kem chho” (how are you) but this time was very excited to share the good news of her daughter’s marriage to a “NRI chokro” (Non resident Indian bridegroom). After my mom congratulated her, she started questioning my mom about me. When my mom told her about my single status, she expressed shock and anguish almost as if she heard that I was diagnosed with swine flu or something much worse. My mom, by now a pro at this, told her that she doesn’t view it as a problem and that marriage will happen if and when it has to. But you see; to most Indian mothers, getting their daughters married off is like a B-school placement – so if you don’t get placed in slot 0 or slot 1, there has to be something terribly wrong with you. My only problem with this thinking is while you can get companies to come on campus according to slots, you don’t necessarily meet the right men early on; i.e. slot 0 or slot 1.
If one believes in the “six degrees of separation” theory, then the right person for each one should not be more than 6 degrees away – i.e. your friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend could be the right one for you. But in reality meeting that right person may take ages. And what if you marry the person you think is right and then meet the right person – ouch, absolute disaster! In most parts of the world, you marry IF and WHEN you want to marry and if things don’t work out, you go your separate ways. But in India, you are almost pressurized to marry because your parents or extended family wants you to marry. If you are among the lucky ones like me, wherein your parents have left it to you when you want to marry, it still doesn’t signal the end of problems – because there is an entire army of people there right from that old family friend to the relative of your neighbor to the sister in law of your aunt who have all taken it up on themselves to find you the right person!
Things can get so irritating that after a point one may stop attending marriages of cousins, social functions to avoid the inevitable question – “beta, lagan kyare karavane che?”(When will you get married?) A simpler solution would probably be to smile and say “time che” (there is still time for that) but then you run the risk of being viewed as too western, too modern, too rebellious, etc, etc. While I get away with all this not even being present at most such occasions, it’s my mom who charmingly fields all this questions – so sweet of her.
While it is still understandable to expect the older generation to think in a certain way, what surprises me is that some of my girl friends after getting married started assuming some kind of superiority over me because of their marital status. While one is tempted to laugh at such idiocy, a single friend recently captured this very well when she said “all my friends who are in relationships or marriage have problems while I get to enjoy my life on my own terms, in fact I feel they are jealous of my single status” – well, the grass is always greener on the other side. My only contention here is it’s unfair to judge people based on their marital status and to believe that it’s customary to be married by a certain age or else it’s an aberration. Its time we let people be!
So while we send the Chandrayaan to the moon, make the maximum number of movies in the world, excel in software; I still wait for the day when we are able to break free of the stereotypes of marriage and age to get married at!!
The getting-married-before-you-get-old concern is more of a universal “syndrome” (as opposed to an Indian mentality, as you proposed.)
Granted, because of the heavy involvement from family members, this concern is probably more visible and often frustrating in India (and similar family-oriented countries) that anywhere else.
P.S. And of course, once you get married, the next grand avenue of concern is procreating before you get too old. (It’s all genetic predilection.)
I think it is time for you to get married. When you move away from eating children/lala-yuppie posts to writing first person account of the problems with Indian marriage system, it usually is the time.
I HAVE TO know your gujju connections today. Tell me now, otherwise hun tane maari naakhish.
“In most parts of the world, you marry IF and WHEN you want to marry and if things don’t work out, you go your separate ways.”
The only bit of this post I take issue with. In much the same situation as the guest blogger, the one thing that does give me perspective is that it could be much, much worse in horrifyingly extensive swathes of the world, some of which may even be white and English-speaking.
*sigh*.. At least u’ve got ur immediate family on ur side!! I’m so jealous.. 🙂 Trust me, most of us, esp in South India, ain’t so lucky!!
I really liked your blog post, I certainly think its essential to keep one self upto date with as much of information as possible, Thanks keep this blog updated, I am coming back for more.
having been on this side of the fence, I found blogging about it helped entertain others. You might want to drop in: http://marriagemarket.blogspot.com
Where did you find this note?!?
I completely agree with you. I am away from my parents right now (In another country) and they have no issues against me being not married at the age of 27, but my relatives, neighbors and even friends who are married have taken it as their own personal responsibility (without even asked for) to get me married. I am surprised that even at this age, people don’t let me make my own decision-if I am not ready, it simply means I am not ready-period !!
And now a point has come that I want to go home and see my parents but I am afraid that I will be bombarded with all my relatives and their questions about marriage. This is one reason I am delaying my visit to my own parents, what a shame !!
Well Divya.. yes unfortunate that you cannot go and see your own parents because of this reason … i am a guy – 28 years old.. single.. staying away from my parents for last 4 years in other countries..
Support you totally– U r not ready.. means you are not ready… There are 100 more important things in life than marriage.. and if you have no issues and are happy with your status, your life, your work, your friends.. then i dont see any point in getting too worried or think too much about it..
And yeah,, i agree there are people who are hell bent on doing this social work even without asking you or what you really want.. anyway… goodluck and hope everything goes on well .. cheerss
I agree with Vishal and Roswitha..if anything the issues start much earlier in many parts of the world- it may not be as much in your face as in India but then the difficulty for young(ish) aspiring Indians is that they (we) want to have our cake and eat it too. We don’t like the way parents kick their kids out at 18..I see scores of parents worried that their child is still living with them, not paying rent etc.so we can take for granted – having parents and family members who are solicitous; we complain when parents in the West end up in old age homes as no neighbours/family will even ask about them let alone care for them and yet we also complain about a community which get involved and (often over-involved). How do we draw the line? Who should draw the line? The reality is that the line re-draws itself with each new generation. And this problem is not unique to India- it is true in Ireland; Spain, Brazil- every part of the world- they complain about where the line has been drawn! I think India is moving to a balanced position over all. Between dependence and independence lies inter-dependence- a genuine community – not at artificial construct made up of paid social workers and the State. I can understand the frustrations experienced by Samta and others – but may be its worth paying this price?