Samosa for the Arranged Souls
One thing we, people of South-Asian origin, are known for in the world, aside froim curry, is our marriage custom. A non-desi person might not be able to name one spice in curry powder but you can bet he/she knows about ‘Arranged Marriage’ phenomenon.
A favourite topic of conversation among the young brown folks also concerns the pros and cons of this ‘Arranged Marriage’ compared to the so called ‘Love Match’. Of course to assume that love isn’t involved in the first one would be foolish so hence forth I’m taking it upon myself to change the term to ‘Mommy Arranged Match’, or MAM for short.
To properly understand MAM one needs to have a clear depiction of the exact events leading up to the ‘arranged marriage ceremony’ complete with some real-life experience for added effect. So in the course of next unspecified-period-of-time, This Blogger will be attempting to highlight what precisely goes on in a MAM of South-Asian kind……and yes complete with real-life accounts from hapless friends, relatives and acquaintances whose names have been changed to protect them from the dreaded ‘Aunties’.
Chapter 1: The Mark
The first question to address is: How does one know one is having a MAM? Does a flier arrive in the mail one day addressed to the 17yr old in the house; bright neon pink letters saying ‘Congratulations! You are have been chosen just like everyone to participate in the century old Mommy Arranged Match!!’ ? Probably not.
But, as a girl specially, you’ll notice the signs.
At the next community religious/cultural/personal-showing-off event (invariably at an Banquet hall serving Indian food) you could be sitting down with some girls your age at the ‘children table’, dressed to nines, dipping the assorted pakoras/samosas in tamarind sauce, comparing the cute-factor of Zach Braff versus Ashton Kutcher when suddenly the hair beneath your done-up-hair would start to prickle. Is there a breeze from the constant slamming of the doors by the bratty kids? Or is your heavy glass encrusted necklace unraveling at the edge?
You’d turn around and catch a middle-aged woman, lips smeared with too much pink lip-liner, sitting two tables away, staring.
A quick check will confirm that she is indeed not blinking nor smiling as she is staring at you. Is it the new(less puffy) hair cut making you look less traditional or your choice of black that offends her so, you wonder. She will next be talking out of the corner of her mouth to the plump woman in gold sitting next to her. About you.
Note the time child. You have been Spotted. Marked.
By the woman-with-too-much-time-in-her-own-unhappy-marriage!
You will have confirmation of this when in the lineup for food, she stands right behind you staring, then turning up a fake smile and asking questions about your ancestral home and how much money your dad makes, peppered with the some extremely personal questions.
Zeba, the 21 year old girl of Pakistani parents, spoke to me once of her own stunning encounter at the Eid prayers two summers back. It has become customary for everyone to be dressed in the Eid finery to attend the prayers in Canada and she was no exception. She was however a little perturbed with all the deer-caught-in-the-headlight effect she was having on all the woman folk in the mosque. “Each and everyone of them was eyeing me all of that hour, even during the obligatory talk by the Imam”. “I felt like I was the sacrificial lamb not the one at the Halal store and everyone is measuring me with their eyes checking to see if I meet the requirements”. “It was horrible”, she cries into the perfectly manicured hands.
From the first of such encounters you can be rest assured that you are being MAMed. The next step would follow within weeks, days even.
Chapter 2: The Call. (coming soon)