There are too many nice guys out there to marry. And most of them come with property, if that’s what the adjective “propertied” — usually prefixed to “smart boy” — suggests. A cursory look through online and newspaper matrimonials will tell you that there’s no dearth of “simple”, “good-natured” and “clean” guys in India. Of course, they all are looking for equally simple, god-fearing, “family-oriented” wives.
“Homely” ones, however, are now preferred to professional working women. Blame it on inflation or the increasing cost of fuel, men and mothers-in-law have come around to the idea of a working wife. And even insist on it. A note of caution — the word “professional” is almost always preceded by “adjusting”. Thus, you must be back in time from office to make evening tea for mummy, papa and pati.
Matrimonial ads have always made for highly entertaining Sunday reads. Remember the 69-year-old travel agency tycoon, Din, who made a full-page appearance on the matrimonial pages of a daily last year? Our man here was looking for an English speaking-wife “no older than 40 years, and slim”. She also had to be adventurous and non-vegetarian.
Still, for an institution as old as marriage and a mechanism as tried and tested as matrimonials, there’s surprisingly little evolution in the vocabulary of expectations, at least in the newspapers.
Columns come with clear caveats — wanted brides/grooms by community (Jats only), profession (IAS/Allied Services), nationality (green card), religion (Muslim) and language (Bengali). Then there are Punjabis (high profile), Arora, Agarwal, Kumaoni/Gharwali, SC/ST and so on.
There’s also the emergence of some new categories like “cosmopolitan” under which one seeker declares “upper caste no bar”.
For those looking for a second inning, there’s second marriage or remarriage where you’ll find not just issueless (no kids) men or women but “innocent divorcees” as well. One’s best guess is that they were not responsible for the marriage breaking up or at least don’t have a dowry or bride-burning case slapped on them.
It gets more interesting online. You can sign up on most matrimonial websites for free and given that there’s no space constraint, here men and women describe themselves at length so you have a fair idea of what you are getting into.
You have various combinations to choose from: women who are “friendly and understanding” or “friendly, understanding, sober and simple” or “understanding, spiritual and loving”. They are also quite candid about their orientation, familial that is.While most men seem to value it, they have added expectations: one should be well-versed with Indian values and have moral courage. In case of a slowdown or pay cut, you are expected to stand by your man.
Refreshingly there are men who declare, “I hate dowry.” And many who are willing to break new grounds in caste identity: “Being a brahmin, I too cannot stop at good food”.
Nearly no one smokes or drinks, except lightly or socially. Rest assured, if you are caring, beautiful and “preety”, and have “full understating of family values”, you are going to get grooms by the dozen.
While reading through these self-proclamations may make for an excellent sociological exercise, it can be seriously depressing in case you are really looking for a match. More so if you are not very fair or well-settled.
“Most men I have met through ads and websites are very sure of what their mothers want but know little about what they expect from a partner,” says 35-year-old Rakhi Singh. She is a media professional based in Mumbai and finds questions about her culinary skills the most annoying conversation starters. Singh says she’s long given up on websites and matrimonials to find a husband.
For others the process gets too mechanical. Even as many youngsters choose arranged marriages to find love and lasting companionship, an increasing number finds the old method of going through matrimonial ads tedious and a bit fake.
The next choice is a personalised matrimonial service that functions more or less as a dating service, only it finds you a date for life. At Marrygold, Bangalore-based boutique matchmakers, the idea is to look beyond community, caste and horoscope. It’s also an offline service so they don’t put up pictures or profiles on the web.
Typically, a client is asked to fill up a form and answer a few questions after which a meeting is set up with the matchmakers. Questions range from the flippant to the serious: your favorite curse word, what turns you on/off, what profession would you not like to pursue, what sound or noise do you hate, do you believe in marriage and why, and so on.
Nandini Chakraborty, who founded Marrygold in 2006, says most of the people who come to her are all doing well professionally and have “a certain sense of self”. “We get down to knowing them through a series of meetings, find out what their lifestyle is like, what they look forward to doing, what they value and only then do we go looking,” she says.
So are the expectations any different here? Chakraborty says men instantly withdraw when they see someone too needy. So, one of the key things men look for is someone who has her “own life”. “A good-looking woman who stands by me and is easy-going,” is the common refrain.
Women, on the other hand, says Chakraborty, have a long checklist. “In general, they’d look for good conversations, good job, financial stability and looks,” she says.
Mandeep Kaur, who heads a Mumbai-based “invitation-only” matrimonial service for professionals called Match Me Cupid, agrees that most men are looking for someone independent who has her own life and set of friends but also someone who fits into their homes.
Chakraborty says there are many clients who may expect too much but her job is not to judge. “We get into a sort of relationship coaching where we help them let go of their set notions to meet more people and explore something they may not have the time to do in their otherwise busy lives,” she says adding the most important question you need to answer is why do you want to get married. Perhaps a question no one has ever been able to come around to answering.
Chakraborty is married herself and says a perfect marriage is all about “growing with a person and allowing the person to grow”.
Most of the matchmakers in Match Me Cupid are MBAs with a marketing background. Mandeep looks for excellent interpersonal skills before hiring a “cupid”. As for clients, most of them are well-to-do professionals. “Some of them have had bad relationships because of which they think they aren’t good enough; others just haven’t found the time outside their jobs to meet someone new,” she says. “Our job is to help them look past their issues and find someone they can click with through interactions and sessions.” There’s also a feedback session after the client meets a prospective bride or groom so that they don’t repeat the same mistakes next time if the two don’t click.
“Men primarily look for a personality. Women look for looks. I have had women reject men because of the colour of their clothes,” says Mandeep. Add good dressing sense to the fair, well-settled list.
Match Me Cupid