Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Tag: love

The Problem with Shaadi.com

Arranged marriages are common among Indians. I’m not going to go into the merits and demerits of it; that’s not what this post is about. What I want to address is the problem with sites like shaadi.com that supposedly make it easier for Indian people to arrange these marriages. Now don’t get me wrong. There are many people who have met their soul-mates through shaadi.com (and similar sites). My sister met her husband through that. But the problem with these sites is that they are not geared towards the individual. Before I elaborate, we need to talk about what arranged marriages are, and why they are arranged.
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You Can Start Looking Now

I know I haven’t posted in a while. That’s mainly because I’ve been busy and lazy – an interesting combination. I was having my military training over the past two weeks, so I really didn’t have time to update my journal. In addition, my DSL service is being really flaky. I’m dropping connection and then my modem refuses to retrain. I’m talking to Qwest right now. I’m pretty sure it’s their fault. Hopefully they’ll fix it.

Anyway, so I had a few conversations with my parents over the past few weeks, and the subject was marriage. No, it wasn’t something like “Son, we need to find you a girl now.” It was more like “Hey, you can start looking now if you want”. I talked about this a little bit sometime ago, and I was thinking of talking to my parents about it as well. Truth be told, I guess I’m not averse to “settling down”. The fact of the matter is that I would really like some female companionship of a serious and lasting nature in my life right now. Merely dating wouldn’t do that for me. It used to bother me that I never really dated anyone during my college years. But in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t. I can totally see myself neglecting my academics. Also, the fact that I had no woman, meant that I wouldn’t be spending any time with her. Which meant that I had time to pursue my nerdy pursuits. Which in turn led to me picking up some really useful skills, and accomplishing some really neat things which finally led to an internship, and then, a job at Intel. So in the end, it’s not all that bad.

Actually my parents weren’t the first people to tell me that I could start looking. It was my aunt. I was in California over the 4th of July weekend, and my aunt said that my cousin and I should “start looking” now so that we “could get married when the time comes”. I thought it was a little funny, and actually I didn’t find her idea that far-fetched. I have been sort of “pseudo-looking” – I just haven’t found anyone. So I half-jokingly tell this to my parents and they said “Oh yeah, you should start looking!” So then I decided to see what my options were. Of course, they would ideally want me to marry a Hindu, Nair, Malayalee girl. But what about a girl from another culture? A Tamilian girl perhaps? I asked them. Their response was measured, and I guess, cautious. My father only told me that it may work out initially but that difficulties could arise once children came into the picture, or possibly, even before that, and that there are greater risks. So I’m not sure if they meant it was ok or not ok for me to look for girls from another culture. My parents have never really talked to me that much about marriage, and so I was really happy to see how open-minded they were about the issue. To those who might be thinking that this has the makings of an arranged marriage, it really doesn’t. First of all, they aren’t the ones looking for a girl – they’ve left it up to me. Although, I do know that if they come across a girl they think I might like, they may recommend I get in touch with her. I don’t see that as bad either, since it’s like my parents are hooking me up. The funny part was when my father told me to put myself up on Kerala Matrimonials. He said “Oh, it’s just like a dating service!” I thought that was funny. I don’t think I’m ready for that yet though…

I’m keeping an open mind and also keeping my options open. I guess if I try and concentrate too much on one particular goal, it may close out other possibilities. If I need to find a nice Nair girl, it’s harder for me, because there are very few Malayalees in Arizona. But I hear there are many in California and Texas. Oh well. I don’t think I’ll actively go around looking, but I’ll keep my eyes and ears open. At any rate, there’s no point in looking now, because I’m going to be in Iraq for a year. Now what are the odds of meeting a Hindu, Nair, Malayalee girl there? I’d laugh if I met one – in the Army nonetheless!

Thoughts

So this whole “going to war” thing is a huge deal. Obviously. There are many reasons why I don’t want to go, and then there are reasons that I must. But anyway, that is not the point. Sometimes I think that getting away from here for about a year would be good. An escape? I don’t know. It feels like it sometimes. But I prefer the euphemistic term “welcome reprieve”. I like to think that things may change when I get back…

I find myself seriously questioning certain facets of my life. First, am I happy? I guess I am… but it would be more accurate to say that I am mostly content. My job is a pleasure – I do what I enjoy doing most – writing code. But at other times I feel seriously apathetic about my life. I mean, I go to work from 8 to 5. I pick up my dog, Honey, from Sadhana’s home (I am really thankful to her family for taking care of her), I spend maybe half an hour there with her parents and grandma, and of course, Juju and Nimbus. After that, I come back home. I check my mail (real mail), pay bills, have dinner, write some of my own code, and then I head to bed. That’s it. That’s my day… how boring.

I sometimes want to go back to being in College. Each day was different. But then again, when I was in college, I wanted the stability of a normal job. I guess the grass is greener on the other side. My friends are still here, but of course, they have their own lives and the things that they need to do. My family is here and I do talk to them on occasion (although I should call my mom and dad much more frequently). They’re always there for me and I have never felt neglected by them.

I guess things changed a lot when I graduated. When I was in school, there was always someone I could interact with on a regular basis. Now that’s not there. It’s much harder for me to interact with any of my friends because I don’t see them that much. I guess what I am saying is that I feel pretty lonely at times. In response to that most of my friends might be saying “get a girlfriend” and some might even say “go get married now”. As far as the second one goes, please, I am only 23. The first one? Well. I am picky. Not that there is a serious lack of women to go around, but the fact is that I am picky about who I want to be with. No, I’m not on the look out for “that special someone” and I don’t believe that there is any one person with whom I am compatible. I’m sure there’s a whole range. But of course, that set, when intersected with the ones that my parents would find compatible, leaves a much smaller set. But still, it’s one that can be worked with.

So now you might be saying “so what? just date someone for fun!”. Can’t do that. I consider it a waste of time. “WTF?!”, you say. Well.., let’s say I date a girl… I go out with her… and then what? Eventually there comes a point when I have to break it off because I can’t make the committment. I am going into the relationship without the intent of ever making one, so logically, what is the point? I guess it would be different if it was mutually agreed upon that there wouldn’t be a committment, but that is rarely the case. So in that sense, am I looking for someone with whom I can have a long-term committment? Yes. With can being the operative word. That word has a lot of import. I have to think about what my parents want as well. They would want me to marry a nice, Malayalee, Hindu, Nair girl. I am not averse to that at all. In fact, that’s what I would like ideally, because then my parents and I are in total agreement. Some of my friends say that I am closing out a lot of options if I think of it that way. Yes, that’s true. I am aware that as an individual there are definitely women who I am compatible with, but aren’t any of the things that my parents want (for me). Therein lies the problem.

An Indian Marriage isn’t just the union of two individuals. It is the union and alliance of two families. In that sense, I can understand the cultural isolation that my wife could feel in the presence of my family, and vice-versa. And also the awkwardness and lack of any common ground when both families meet. But then again, there are cross-cultural marriages that do work, and work well. So I guess I am saying is that I don’t want to go through the trouble of it all. Which in a sense might be chickening out. I myself am not sure what it is. There are certain things I want, and I think I might have them better if I were to be with a woman who is aligned as closely to me as possible. For example, I consider my culture very important. My customs and traditions are very important to me. This is something I would like to pass on to my children. And this isn’t because of some misplaced sense of pride or superiority. No. I consider culture and tradition to be something that has evolved over a period of so many generations and so many hundreds of years. Something built upon the traditions and observances of the generations that have passed. I feel I should try and preserve as much of that as possible. Otherwise, something precious will be lost. I might be able to make it work with a girl from a different culture – something that is still close to mine – a girl from Tamil Nadu for example. Tamilians and Malayalees have reasonably similar languages and customs. But even still, between these two similar cultures, there are a vast number of differences… and with differences, arises the possibility of conflict (but isn’t there conflict in any marriage?). What if she is as concerned about her culture as I am of mine? What would the children learn? Would they be confused? Would it be cause for conflict between she and I? Almost always, one side has to give way. The children end up knowing one side better than the other. Is that a problem? I don’t know. When I was younger, and therefore more idealistic and naïve, I thought I could easily make it all work, and it didn’t matter who I married. Somewhere along the way I realized that real life isn’t so simple.

I guess my dilemma right now is that I don’t know if I’m limiting my options too much. I can’t say. Most of my friends have someone special. Sometimes I find it hard being around them sometimes because I feel that I’ve missed out on that aspect of life. It would certainly alleviate a lot of the loneliness that I feel… But then again, I’m only 23… a lot can happen in the next few years.

So… am I being too picky? God knows… but that’s also why I think it may be nice to get away from all of this for a while… get everything in order.

I can’t believe I wrote all this crap on a public website for the world to see. Someday I am going to read this and laugh… or regret writing it… or possibly both. Is there such a thing as a regretful laugh?

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