Samosa for the Arranged Souls III, IV, V
Chapter 3: The Talk
In case you were under the impression that your own mother was an equally baffled and unwilling participant in the plans of the 'match makers', you're in for a mild ..erm...surprise.
Having spoken to a number of these ladies, her own relatives etc, in no time at all your mother will soon get it into her head that she has been neglecting the most important duty of a South-Asian mother: seeing her child marry a good boy/girl from a good family!
You could be sitting down one day lost in a book/TV show and feel you mother staring at you in the slightly unblinking way like she has never seen you before.
"Your aunty Chutney called today from India "
"You know, you dad's cousin's wife"
"Her sister's son is in Canada now studying computers in Windsor"
"So......What do you think"
"Think about what, mom"
"Well, she saw your picture from last Diwali and showed it to her sister. They are very interested."
"Why are you sending my picture to strangers?"
"What strangers! They are like family. And the boy is here..so it would be good nah....if you two get married?"
"But I don't even know anything about them...about him"
"He is a nice boy. Very quiet. A good educated family they are"
"You say that about everyone. Mom, I don't want this arranged stuff. We are not in the middle ages you know"
"Don't talk nonsense. Your father and I got married like this too. We are fine. And back then we didn't even see each other. Its not like that now. They have sent a biodata and a picture too. Just have a look. We are not forcing you"
Chapter 4: The Biodata
Taking full advantage of your baffled state, your mother will then handed you a copy of the said 'nice boy's' biodata that she has somehow managed to print out by asking your younger brother.
At first glance it might look like a resume and you will be forgiven for thinking so, as just like a resume the biodata starts off with-
-Past and present work History
Where it veers off to become a 'biodata' is when the above details are noted, in badly written English, for each and every member of his immediate and distant family!
Starting with parent, grandparents, aunties, uncles, aunties and uncles by marriage and ending with cousins if they happen to be doctors/engineers- everyone gets a mention.
On and on it'll go, highlighting the 'educatedness' of the family while not saying anything personal about the 'guy/girl'. Yet.
A resume will mention some working skills, but a 'biodata' will have
-height (5-2 for girls and 6 feet for guys, always)
-body type (average to thin)
-skin colour (fair to wheatish)
-hair colour (black)
-hair length (for girls)
It might not interest you to know what the third cousin's husband does for a living, but you can assured that its all been analyzed to death by you parents and every one of your relatives who on their part have rung up the hapless manager of the company the guy works at to confirm his employment.
Oh and you might be unaware at this point, but a similare 'biodata' has been prepared for you as well and sent to the propectiive party.
Its best not to think about what your mother has written about you and move onto the more interesting bit of the package- the picture
Chapter 5: The Picture
MAM pictures usually come in pairs.
First of the entire family with the 'guy/girl of interest': Parents seated on a sofa with the children standing behind the parents, sisters in the middle and brothers on both sides.
Everyone would be wearing the 'traditional garb' to demonstrate the strong, traditional family unit that you could potentially be marrying into. No one would be smiling. Marriage is serious business.
The second picture is there to show off the guy/girl on his/her own.
The guy is usually pictured in less formal manner- striped golf shirt like your dad wears or a T shirt with a US state logo with much too tight jeans and sunglasses to show the 'cool' factor
There are exceptions ofcourse.
Neela, 22 year of Bangladeshi girl, was still recovering when she spoke of seeing a picture of 'a guy standing happy in front of a store, wearing a forest green suit with red tie', that she was handed over. Vainly did she try to explain to her mother as to why she was laughing
uncontrollably at the thought of marrying a 'green Martian'.
Occasionally 'a mustache the size of a caterpillar' are featured on some guys too, along with puffy but neatly oiled hair parted on one side.
The girl on the other hand is still shown in a traditional dress in her 'alone' picture- probably to show off the traditional values she is supposed to hold such importance of staying at home and cooking for the family.
Aziz, the 28 year old Indian guy was quite perplexed when his mother handed him pictures of 5 different girls all with long hair upto their knees, wearing pink/red and gold sarees, standing next to trees pulling at the leaves.
"I mean why hold onto leaves? are they a sign? Why are they all leaned against trees? Does she expect me to chase her around them like they do in the Bollywood movies!"
At the end it was quite alright with him when his own mother declined all five girls. "One had a long nose, one had mismatched ears, one was too tall, one too dark and one just didn't look right", sighs Aziz as he goes back to his programming.
Eventually, one picture would stand out among all others as fairly 'normal' and upon declaring this, your family will start planning the 'meeting'.
Chapter 6: The Meeting(next time)