Nowadays, we can log onto any dotcom site, and
order just about anything. From groceries, to lingerie, to auto parts.
And for those of you out there who have been spouse hunting, you are well aware
that we can even WWW our way into marriage! The number of desi matrimonial
sites which have crept up over the past few years is incredible. Not only
can you narrow down size, shape and colour, but even specify particulars such as
caste, prior marital status, children...just about anything short of what type
of credit card your beloved should carry! More than often, the Indian chat
rooms and pen-pal sites, serve as meeting grounds for prospective brides and
grooms. Nowadays, with a bachelor to bride ratio of 3:1, women have the
pick of the litter. I have several single desi and ABCD friends here in
the Dallas area, all searching endlessly for that special soul mate (now, the
existence of such a person is a debate which I will save for a future column!).
But what exactly is involved in such an endeavour? There are 2 aspects.
Advertising yourself, and then, going shopping.
The ad. A 'describe everything about
yourself in 300 characters or less, in such a way that someone could make a
decision as to whether they could consider you for their prospective candidates
to marry list' type of ad. No small task. Sound fun, yet convey
the serious side; impress upon them your open mindedness, yet let them know you
have a good set of morals/values; toot your own horn, yet don't sound pompous;
convey confidence, but not arrogance. Accomplish this in 35 words or less,
because when someone is surfing for their mate, they will search through an
array of hundreds of ads, and yours had better stand out! Now, add to this
the element of uniqueness. Lastly, some people have other issues which
they may or may not want to reveal at this point (i.e.: divorce status;
disability; dependent parent living with them). Being honest may result in
no callers, whereas keeping quiet may be perceived as being deceitful.
After you perfect your ad, it's time to start
looking (phase 2). So you put in search criteria. My mate should be
a wheatish complexion, deshastha brahmin, who was raised in India but now
resides in the US on a permanent visa, and works in the high tech industry
earning anywhere between $100K-$600K. He should be fun yet serious,
liberal yet conservative, should drink occasionally, and should not smoke.
Then hit ENTER. Up pops dozens of matches.
From then on, comes the pre-courtship phase,
which starts with passing the physical appearance test. If you have not
exchanged electronic pictures by now, this is the time. Either you find
someone attractive or you don't. Those who don't pass, receive the
standard 'thanks but not thanks' form letter. For those who are appealing
to the eye, email contact ensues. If 'e-talking' is promising, and each
found the other intriguing through the style of writing, then the next stage
follows - the first phone call. If the conversations flow smoothly, then
the final make or break stage is achieved. The first meeting. Where
to meet (his turf or hers)? How long to meet (if you are in the same town,
you could meet for lunch/cup of coffee, so you can cut it short in the event it
doesn't go well)? How to end it if you don't like what you see?
These are a few issues you'll have to tackle beforehand.
In the case of my ABCD girlfriend, it just so
happened that her first meeting with successful candidate # 1 was on her turf.
The guy had to fly here from New York and spend the weekend in a hotel. So
basically, she was stuck with him all weekend. Her first reaction at the
airport was "Oh, oh - he looks so different from his picture" (rule
number one people - don't put a glamour shot out there! Builds up
expectations). And unfortunately, the rapport in real life was very
different from their phone conversations. It was very disappointing for
her, and him, especially since he really liked her. She felt bad that he
had to fly out here to meet her (and I wondered how many times he has had to
invest time and money in such meetings). After he boarded the plane to
return home, they never spoke again. My friend has had such meetings
since, but she is still searching. And the search continues in parallel;
meaning, she talks to several candidates at the same time. Everyone does
this, to optimize on time, and get the best deal possible.
Initially, I had seen this entire task as an
adventure. An opportunity to meet different people, and to make an
informed decision regarding ones choice of life partner. But as I listened
to friends describe one disappointment after another, I realized that finding
your soul mate on a matrimonial site is like searching for a needle in a
haystack. It's definitely a proactive step for anyone who wants to abandon
single hood. But after countless communiqués, meetings, feelings of
rejection, and having to reject really nice people, I am certain that while
purchasing electronics or books off the web might be ideal, finding the right
spouse requires a different kind of search engine altogether!
Leena Nash lives in Texas and works in
the telecommunications industry. She is the
proud mother of 2 beautiful girls, and enjoys travelling,
web surfing, and writing in her free time. If you have any
questions about adoption or the orphanage in Mumbai, email
the author at:
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Leena Nashikkar. All Rights
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