I did not get married because I said yes. I got married because I did not say no.
The first step in the process of a marriage was initiated when my parents were pretty much convinced that hopes of choosing a life partner for myself is remote, if not impossible.
So, I started noticing The Times of India coming to the house every Sunday but not all the 48 pages promised on the masthead seemed to be there. When I pointed this to my normally ‘conscious-consumer’ mother, I expected her to take the newspaper hawker to the cleaners. But she kind of murmured and changed the topic. Strange, I thought.
It was only when I opened my father’s desk drawer for some printing paper that I discovered a huge bunch of Times Matrimonials, with advertisements neatly highlighted and commented upon with my father’s customary thoroughness.
The second step was started with equal disregard to my wishes and shortlisted entries to the contest were contacted and offered a dekko of the prize (?) without informing the prize of any such activity. I was only instructed to be at home for the spectacles on certain evenings.
A fashion diva, an ambitious banker (whose uncle lectured us on menopause), a millionaire’s daughter all turned out to be wholly incompatible in terms of attitude (ours), aptitude (theirs) and affluence (ours) respectively. The last straw was a papa’s girl from Calcutta, whose dad insisted on accompanying her and me (when we were supposed to go on an ‘acquaintance’ meeting)!
My father became quite disgusted with the dithering of the Calcutta Bongs – and suddenly decided that only non-Calcutta women were worthy of being the dynasty’s daughter-in-law. So, out came the file from the non-Calcutta parents!
Here, I must digress to note the basic selection criterion for the shortlist. First – which eliminated about 95% of the entries – was the absolute grammatical correctness of the proposal letter. Only when this stringent test was passed, did the academic and astrological considerations come into play! And that usually managed to eliminate the other 5%.
So, the Delhi file was decidedly thin – to the point of having a sole proposal, from an English professor about her daughter. The daughter worked with the World Bank – so it stated in the first line of her qualifications. My father had immediate visions of having a Master in Economics (with Mathematics subsidiary) as his daughter-in-law and called the girl’s Calcutta-based aunt immediately.
On meeting, the uncle and aunt turned out to be real sweethearts, who liked and hated exactly the same groups of people in Calcutta’s club circuit as my parents. Despite being expert golfers, they were even appreciative of my father’s feeble efforts at golf! All in all, they decided that even if the proposal does not work out, a lifelong friendship was made. (Pressure Point #1: If you refuse to marry this girl, you will be depriving us of a great set of friends.)
Suddenly, I realized that I was relegated to the background as a hectic Calcutta visit was planned, all my tours put on hold, a buzz was generated, computerized astrological calculations made and elaborate get-togethers planned. I was later told that a mirror image of the same activities happened in Delhi.
After a point, I was instructed to introduce myself to the girl over e-mail. I described myself as honestly as I could and one of my friends predicted complete disaster. Fortunately, the girl either appreciated my honesty or mistook it for a great sense of humour. And we ended up chatting on Yahoo.
During one of these chats, the girl declared Bacardi (that too, neat!) to be her favourite drink and came up with a list of restaurants all over the country that would have warmed the cockles of even Vir Sanghvi’s heart! All in all, I figured that if she can hold a drink and talk about the squids of Mahesh Lunch Home, then it would not be a complete disaster to meet her over dinner.
Of course, I trudged back to Calcutta from Burdwan in torrential rains, got late, forgot to make reservations at the restaurant and turned up at her uncle’s house in floaters – all of which (in my own opinion or my father’s) was a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Anyway, she was hungry enough to brush off all my lame excuses and jump into the car.
And we found ourselves at Mainland China. My trepidation increased manifold when the girl refused to order a drink. Her rather dismissive attitude towards all forms of organisms, which proliferated outside the hallowed portals of St Stephens College, did nothing to alleviate my worst fears. Only when she authoritatively declared that we should stick to only starters and started ordering did I realize that we might have something going here.
I wish I could say the rest is history.
Note: I realised yesterday that its been almost five years since I met that girl, which is long enough for her to even predict what I will post about next. Her correct prediction will be my next post!