Slog overs in a matrimony match
Finding a life partner is like playing an ODI. At first, there is a lot of excitement with the new ball doing a bit and also coming nicely on to the bat. People expect some action but never the result. Then comes the middle overs – a period of consolidation and little excitement. Then comes the slog overs where every ball is crucial if you want to make a ‘match’ out of it.
Around the time I was finishing my Masters from St. Xaviers, like most of my friends I too was addicted to Farmville and my parents to getting me married. The casual hints had taken the shape of more pointed questions, sometimes bordering on intimidation. “Now, you have to decide soon. If not now, then when?” mom would often ask. It so seems once you land a job the only way you make your career progress is by getting married. Honestly, I wasn’t ready to settle down just yet. My parents had no issues whatsoever in me pursuing my career; they raised me to become “independent” but their sudden obsession with curbing the “independence” of their only daughter seemed premature, if not unreasonable.
On one hand, my parents, especially mom, was busy finding a groom for me and on the other, I was just discovering my new life. The world was my oyster and I was ready to dive. I quite liked the agency and the people I worked with, and moreover, I liked designing like roses and butterflies. My manager was constantly schooling me, may be because I was a newbie – she was otherwise nice. Ok, I found her to be nice because once she owned up when I screwed up.
My office had an interesting bunch of people and soon after we had a gang. I wasn’t close to finding a guy but was never close to J I had a few interesting guy friends who I liked hanging out with but just hanging out. I wasn’t complaining until my mom asked me to check my profile on one of these matrimony sites. I had a little WTF moment but feline curiosity got better of me. My profile read “My daughter has strong family values. She is well educated and has Masters in Media, employed in a leading agency. She can fluently speak read and write: Hindi, English & Marathi. She is smart and pleasant in nature. We are looking out for such a life partner for her who is cheerful, pleasant, caring, cultured and of faithful nature.” My reaction – ugh.
Things were happening fast, and my mom set up my first meeting with THE boy. It was a fated December evening, a thing with December in Bombay is it’s pleasant but never chilly. Anyway. Logistics such as what I will wear, where I will meet, etc. was decided beforehand and all I had to do was to show up and put up my best behavior. Not saying, I don’t like dressing up but I clearly remember feeling uneasy about this whole thing. My cousin also came along, which was a relief. The coffee shop was about 30 mins away; that would be 3 km in Bombay parlance. In the car, a thought how’s is this guy going to be like occupied my mind. He was a Software Engineer with TCS, had travelled to the USA several times and was doing pretty well for himself, was from the same caste – my mom had instilled these in me. I don’t recall anything particular from his Facebook profile apart from a few DPs.
Next, I knew we were seated at the table and the first 10 mins were studded with pleasantries and awkward silences. Soon we were asking each other questions, prepped ones and conversation became mundane and never really got interesting. I was drifting away in my thoughts and my cousin was filling in for me. Something didn’t feel right. I knew what that something was – chemistry may be. “Do you mind stepping out? I’d like to smoke. Would you?” he asked. “As you know, …,” he continued. I did not pay much attention but clearly the answer to the question would I like to spend rest of my lifetime with this guy was a clear “No”.
He finished his smoke. I finished my lemonade, got into the car, never looked back or intended to see him again. “Did I like THE boy?” asked everyone. My answer broke their heart. Mom was like, no problem, we’re looking for more.
3 years and 23 meetings later, I had become a pro at rejecting THE boys. Most stories were very similar to the first one. Don’t get me wrong I was interested in guys J and I still am J. But may be something wasn’t working out or deep inside I was still of the opinion it’s too early. My family wasn’t able to stomach how could I lack chemistry with every suitable THE boy. Now, the barbs had become sharper and more frequent. Our dinner menu at home revolved around “kab hogi tumhari shaadi”. Actually, inflation was also discussed every seventy eight times my shaadi was. I was becoming more and more disillusioned every day.
Each time I said no, parents reacted as if I am being unreasonable. It wasn’t so earlier when, I thought, they respected my decision. But lately, it seemed they found the “ruling” unreasonable. Deep inside, there was a growing clamor that my parents, though wanted the very best for me, didn’t know me the person. There was a divergence in how we viewed each potential alliance. For them, only a few check boxes mattered, for me again a few but not the same. Well! I also understood there is nothing like a “perfect” life partner, which everyone else accused me of going after, but marrying solely on the basis of caste, education, income and family background I wasn’t ready for. I was fighting a lone battle. At some point, I retorted and told them so. Arguments ensued and they relented saying #GFY – Go find yourself.
Things were entirely upon me and the usual family arranged meetings disappeared from my evenings. I cherished that. Not that conversation with mom didn’t steer towards that but now strangely there was less pressure. Sometimes I would make fictitious reference to there’s this guy in office sort just to ward off mom. This went on for about 2 years which gave me time to think over some more. I guess after two years, I was mentally ready to settle down.
Ready was I but what should I do? How do I meet interesting guys and how much more such meetings before I finally find the one? These were the questions buzzing in my head. The clamor for “kab karogi shaadi” was growing again. I kept telling “this year” as a convenient avoidance. But was it going to be “this year”? This drew me to an interesting analogy in economics, my super favourite grad subject. The secretary problem where an administrator has to hire the best secretary out of N applicants but can’t wait to meet them all and has to make a decision about each particular applicant immediately after; applicant once rejected cannot be considered. The solution lied in “optimal stopping”, i.e., rejecting the first few and then hiring the one better than anybody seen before. Ported to my life story – meeting 23 boys meant that I have already rejected the “first few” and now should settle down with any person who is better than the ones I have met before. And chances are I can find the one this year only, he just has to be better the previous 23. Yay!
Couldn’t rely on my office HR as our hiring process doesn’t take into account my “partner preferences”. Couldn’t rely on my friends for no one really had many such “friends” they can accidentally introduce me to. Couldn’t rely on the matrimony sites, freaked me out. Couldn’t rely on parents.The lone warrior in me thought of trying out dating apps, in all good faith and hope. It seemed frivolous yet exciting in the beginning. On day two, I had my first match. I knew little about this guy, but these aren’t matrimony profiles. So we started off with an innocuous “hi” and texted some more. Steering away from any reference to matrimony and still trying to read his mind keeping conversations mostly about interests, hanging out, etc. The guy was fun, had a great sense of humour. The only problem was he was engaged, about to be married and looking for a “quick date”. That freaked me out a bit.
Many didn’t take long to state their reason to be on the app, a few of them married. Extraordinarily some were using it for “research”. I also met some three people, all singles, for a coffee but they seemed to have a lot more time to think about settling down and no one seemed in a hurry. Possibly all variety were there save for the kinds looking to get married. I’m sort of in a quandary now. Till such time the opposition is not balling in the zone, I would rather fend off the Yorkers.
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