Every little girl who grew up watching Bollywood movies almost expects that one day, when she is all pretty and grown up, she will find her prince charming in a larger than life romantic setting where everything is so perfect and meant to be. I still remember watching one of my favorite movies ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ as a little girl. Raj-Simran’s forbidden love story that found the light at the end of the tunnel, fighting against all odds. I would imagine myself in that situation running towards Sharukh Khan, my prince charming. As far as I knew this was my destiny and, nothing not even moving to the United States for further studies was going to change that.
Little did I know, I was going to be in my late 20s watching Netflix all alone in my pj’s and eating cold pizza on Friday nights with no sign of prince charming anywhere on the horizon. Netflix in pj’s does not sound too bad now, does it? But imagine doing that for the rest of your life. BY YOURSELF!! That is how I felt watching my friends get hitched, one by one. As my friends circle became smaller and smaller I felt a sense of urgency to find Mr. Right. More than anything, it was the fear of being alone for the rest of my life away from my parents, home and all things familiar.
Thus began my journey towards arranged marriage. I always wondered why it was called arranged marriage vs love marriage. Isn’t the opposite of arranged, disturbed, scattered, misplaced? And who said two people having an arranged marriage couldn’t be in love? Anyhow, for a cynical person like me “arranged” marriage sounded like a safe bet. How hard could it be, I come from the second most populated country in the world for crying out loud?
With a false sense of security, I started the process by creating my profile on one of the gazillion matrimonial websites on the Internet. Filling out my profile was like ordering something on Amazon. I had to fill out my expectations for caste, color, size, weight, height, salary etc. I almost had to look twice to make sure they did not have a return policy. Like a child with a shiny new toy, the initial phase was somewhat enjoyable. I met some of the nicest people on these websites. I was enjoying this process so much so that every Friday night me and my girlfriends would crack open a bottle of wine and skim through the list of guys on these websites. After comments like ‘He’s too short’, ‘He’s too dark’, ‘He does not live in California’, ‘He’s looks like he has a girlfriend’, my friends would short list 10 guys out of 50. I would give this list to my parents and they would approach the guys’ parents for me.
It was like being on an episode of ‘The Bachelor’, except that this was not glamorous, no exotic locations, no beautiful ball gowns, no rose ceremonies, no Chris Harrison, just awkward conversations with strangers.
After talking to around 10 guys in 3 months, the honeymoon phase started to fade off. I mastered the art of answering questions like ‘what are your hobbies?’, ‘ Where do you work?’, ‘Where do you live?’,’ What are your thoughts about religion?’,’ Do you drink alcohol?’,’ Do you eat meat?’, ‘Are you saving yourself for marriage?’,’ How big is your parents’ house?’ to the point that it almost sounded rehearsed. The guys kept changing, but the questions remained the same. And with every new guy my hopes of finding a life partner kept diminishing. There was always something missing.
For people who don’t know too much about this process; arranged marriage is like gambling, if you have a good beginners luck the first guy you interact with turns out to be your soul mate. Others like me have to endure a long and emotionally draining process of feeling confident one second, to feeling completely unlovable the next! Hoping to hit the jackpot eventually. Eventually sounds so far off though. For us skeptical commitment phobic millennials, who switch our jobs, phone carriers, diet plans, opinions ever so often, are a few dates, few Skype sessions really enough to say this is it; He is the one?
Apparently, it is. At least that is what the people living in their happily ever after say “When you meet the one, you will know. You will just know!”
I still don’t know what that means. I don’t know if this process will work for me. I don’t know if I will find the man of my dreams. What I do know now is that I am not looking for my happily ever after anymore. Right now is my happily ever after. Who knew The Pussycat Dolls were right all along. I don’t need a man! Well, I do. But not to be happy. It sounds so cliché. But that’s exactly what people say about things that are true. I live in a world where I have a wonderful job, amazing friends, parents who love me like there is no tomorrow, new found passion for traveling and of course Netflix! This is my happy place. Mr. Right can come find me here because I plan to stay here for eternity. And till then I am going to continue to Carpé the heck out of this Diem!