A marriage decided by a monkey.

Dear IHM,

I had written this originally in Hindi and my friend Anita Kumar had posted this on her HINDI blog site about three years ago.

My intent is to show that arranged marriages too can be a happy affair. While Love Marriages or Choice marriages are also welcome, I would like to state that arranged marriages are not all that bad. Bashing arranged marriages has become common these days. Mine was an arranged marriage and I have no regrets.

I will be grateful to you if you can host this on your blog site.

I have attached an old wedding snap.

Regards

G Vishwanath

* * *

Disclaimer:

This is an old and favourite story of mine which I have recounted to close friends and relatives only, but I cannot prove what I am narrating and it is impossible to collect evidence of the veracity of this story. My wife and father-in-law have dismissed this story as fiction, and the product of my mischievous mind and hotly deny it. I leave it to my readers to determine if this story could be true.

A marriage decided by a monkey.

Cut to 1972. I was 23, and I had just passed my BE Hons exam from BITS Pilani, Rajasthan and had come home to Mumbai. I had not thought of marriage at all. I was thinking about my career. But my mother had other ideas.

I had an elder brother, who, in 1969 had jolted the family by choosing his own mate. Those days, love marriages were not the norm and were disapproved of, in our community. You needed to face the ire of the elders in the family and fight them to get their consent which they might give grudgingly. My mother was worried that her second son too might go the way of her eldest son. Boys were watching too many of these Bollywood movies for her comfort.

I had just got admission for my Post graduate studies in Structural engineering at University of Roorkee, which was an academic achievement those days. Just 10 seats for the several hundred who applied.

I was getting ready to proceed to Roorkee but my mom was worried that I might develop intimacy with some Hindi speaking girl from UP. Relatives too warned her that some UP girl might ensnare me and exhorted her to be careful.

After much pleading and cajoling, I got my parents permission to study further. I had just left for Roorkee, but my father began in earnest his search for a suitable bride for me. He was a senior Sales manager in a reputed Private firm and his job involved a lot of touring. His next tour was to Vishakhapattanam and by chance he happened to bump into my Father in law in a business meeting. Both of them hailed from the same village in Kerala and had been childhood friends and were thrilled to see each other after so many years. My father was of course invited to visit my Father-in-laws family that evening.

My parents had three sons. I am the second. My father in law had four daughters, each one more beautiful than the other. My Father, at first sight, picked the second daughter to be my bride. There was no resistance from my in-laws. Here after all was an engineer, from a known and trusted family and this qualified as an excellent catch. No dowry either, no problems from the Ladke Waale acting high and mighty due to the old friendship, facts, that sweetened the deal.

My dad now had only one problem.

How does he convince his silly son that studies and career etc. are all okay, and are inevitable and can follow in due course, but a quick marriage was the need of the hour. They had burnt their fingers with their first son, a victim of a love marriage. They were not going to allow another tragedy and scandal in the family. My mother was asked to air-dash to Vishakhapatnam to “see” the girl. She fell in love with my wife at first sight! She was in an even greater hurry to solemnise the marriage. Another compelling reason for the tearing hurry was explained to me later.

The fact was that my mom was a great believer in astrology. The family astrologer had advised my mom that per my horoscope, if I didn’t get married before a certain date, there was no Muhoortham (auspicious date) for nineteen years!

What is notable is that nobody thought of asking my poor wife what she thought or wanted. Those days it was common practice for young girls to simply go along with the wishes of the elders in the family. They implicitly trusted the elders. After all why would they not be concerned with her welfare? She was studying BSc at that time. A photograph of mine was shown to her. That was all the consideration she received.

The events that followed were natural. My mom wrote to me asking me to come to Vishakhapattanam immediately to see the girl (and of course also approve of her! This was a generous concession to a modern groom like me who insisted on modern practices. ! After all the girl was already approved by my mom and dad and my approval was supposed to be a mere formality.)

I was flabbergasted. I bluntly refused! I made it plain that my immediate priorities were my studies and my career and I would consider marriage only after this was settled.

I assured them they could trust me not to emulate my elder brother and that I had no Hindi speaking girl friends and neither did I have any time for any amorous dalliances. I explained that a Master’s degree in Structural engineering involved considerable hard work, tests, tutorials, lectures, practical, submissions etc and I could not just abandon all this and come to Vishakhapattanam for this purpose.

My mom of course did not like this. She asked me “When are your holidays?” I told her. She marked the dates boldly on the family wall calendar. I then forgot about this. My father and father-in-law decided to bide their time and kept in touch with each other through letters.

Some months later, my mom visited my maternal uncle’s place at Chennai.

My holidays were nearing. She recounted to my maternal uncle and his family, with wails, her problem. What kind of inconsiderate son is this? His marriage deadline is approaching and he still refuses to consider this great match we fixed up. Why doesn’t he realize that in matrimonial matters, a quick match like this is rare and sometimes, it takes years to identify a good girl and a great family. What if he misses the marriage bus? He might end up a chronic bachelor. Who will marry him after nineteen long years? Won’t some one please reason with this stubborn son of mine and put some sense into his thick head? Too much education, can spoil the youngsters these days.

My maternal uncles daughter suggested that somehow I must be made to actually see the girl. She was sure I would be so smitten with her beauty, that all resistance would vanish. Accordingly she and my mom hatched a plot to get me to come down south.

Many years ago, my parents had invested in a small plot of land in my name in an as yet undeveloped area in Chennai. Later my parents had settled in Mumbai and they felt it was prudent to dispose of this site at Chennai. (I would be a crorepati today, if we hadn’t sold it, but let me not digress). I received a letter telling me about this plan and asking me to come to Chennai for signing the relevant documents at the Registrar’s office. The entire family will be camping at my maternal uncles’s place, so I too was asked to reach his house in Chennai.

The trap was ready. My father in law was informed about how the recalcitrant Roorkee boy was being lured to Chennai and informed of the dates and was asked to hasten to Chennai with his daughter in tow and reach a day or two before.

I later learned that my father-in-law suffered from sudden indecision. He was on the horns of a dilemma. The horoscopes had already been matched and the reports stated that this would be a “Ram-Seeta ki Jodi” (An ideal match) In spite of this my Father-in-law figured, if the boy is playing hard to get, will it be advisable to go ahead with this match? Why has he gone away so far for his education? Where in heavens is this place Roorkee? What do we know about what he is actually up to at that remote place ? Is he treating his studies there as an excuse to wriggle out of marriage? If he agrees to see the girl only to keep his parents happy, and get them off his back, and rejects my daughter after seeing her, wouldn’t it have a devastating effect on my daughter? Why not consider other good boys and their families too?

Any way this daughter is the second daughter. Would it be proper to negotiate her marriage while the eldest daughter was still not fixed up? What will be going through the mind of my elder daughter? etc. etc. He wrestled with these thoughts for quite some time.

And now let me relate what he did for solace and mental peace, before coming to Chennai.

Okay, from here onwards the controversies begin. My in-laws are denying the following events though I have faith in the very reliable sources who will vouch for the veracity of this story.

Some miles away from where he lived, there is an old Hanumaan Temple. There was an aged monkey living and camping around this temple. The devout believe that if one goes to this temple with full faith, carrying a proposal, and makes offerings to Hanumaan, and keeps them near the monkey, then the monkey sometimes partakes of these offerings and sometimes declines them. No one has been able to figure out why.

It was not a matter of hunger or absence of hunger. Sometimes it would reject some devotee’s offerings but accept them from another devotee immediately after. The devout believed that if the monkey accepts the offerings, then it means that Lord Hanumaan concurs with the proposal in mind, or else, it means that Hanumaanjee does not approve.

You can guess the rest of the story.

My father-in-law selected the largest and rosiest apples available with the most popular and reputed fruit vendor in Vishakhapattanam, and kept them in a gleaming silver plate and offered them to the monkey. The monkey pounced and enthusiastically grabbed at the apple and bit into it right away. That day my fate was decided!

Unaware of these developments, I reached Chennai.

After the day’s transactions at the Registrar’s office were over, I was advised that we were all going to Marina Beach. Slowly and with some trepidation, my mom blurted out “They are also coming to Marina Beach.”

My antenna was immediately up, fully alert. “Who are THEY?” I asked.

My mom escaped and it was left to my Maternal Uncle’s daughter to spill the beans and tell me the entire plot interspersed with girlish giggles.

Per plans already drawn up, the two families met most informally, at Marina beach in the evening. After the families introduced us to each other, we were left alone while we sat on the sands, gazing at the sunset, and enjoying the cool evening breeze, and talked our hearts out, while the rest of the family curiously watched from out of earshot with breathless suspense.

The two of us decided we would wait till her elder sister was married, and both of us would use the time to complete our education and I would find a good job. Marriage would be postponed till then.

This was in June 1973. We got married at Mumbai in June 1975 and in this intervening period, we wrote numerous letters to each other. I never got an opportunity to see her during this period except for one brief meeting at Mumbai at some family function.

Take a look at this snap. I have pulled it out of my wedding album and scanned it. Those days colour photography was rare and expensive.

Isn’t she a traffic stopper? Believe me, she is even more beautiful, at least to my eyes, today 36 years later.

A million thanks to that great monkey.

Hurray for arranged marriages. When a monkey can do such a competent job, what prevents us humans from arranging a good marriage?

Regards to all

G Vishwanath
Age: 62

BUT…
Are all arranged marriages the same?
Here’s one more arranged marriage story, link shared by Sampat.
‘There are times when I am sitting at home, trying hard to write, when I am gripped by a sudden irritation: “What’s she doing here?” Then, after gathering my thoughts, I answer myself: “Oh, she’s my wife. She is going to be staying here too.’ [Click to read].

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131 thoughts on “A marriage decided by a monkey.

    • Wow, she is a show stopper and what a lovely story, GV!! Thansk for sharing.
      the important thing though is you had a choice, you could wait for 2 years and get to know each other, you could have easily ended the relationship if you were not attracted to her in 2 years.
      Arranged marriages were kind of a necessary evil back in the days, without networking, without social platforms to meet the other sex.
      I didnt have an arranged marriage and neither did my parents.
      But if done properly, whats wrong? And by that I mean no coercion, no kundali matching, no cast wast..just plain introducing girl to boy.And leave it to them.
      I come from an inter religious family and I do have a problem with the matching done per religion/caste/status. It almost seems like a business analysis.
      In India marriage is seen as such a huge end all of everything that I remember being in school and praying for my exams results and my friend was praying for a good husband and we were 12!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You know, I agree with this gentleman…Not all arranged marriages are bad just as not all ‘love’ marriages are good (just look at the divorce rate in the US)…Whether arranged or not, for marriages to succeed, love, understanding and compromise are required…There are ups and downs in all marriages not just in arranged…

    Me – Ofcourse, and they did have a lot of communication through letters, before they actually got married. Did you read the second story?

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    • Just read it…It reminds me of when I got married…It took me more than a year to refer to my husband has ‘husband’ – the phrase just seemed odd…

      Me – Yes it could take some getting used to 🙂

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    • It’s not a question of whether the marriages themselves turn out to be good or bad. It’s a question of the principles involved. A stopped clock is also right twice a day. Is that any reason to say the stopped clock is better than a clock that is consistently 5 minutes fast? Technically speaking the latter is never accurate, so the first one must be better!

      The whole principle behind arranaged marriages is complete nonsense. Arranged marriages rely on looks and “paper qualifications” far too much, whereas in love matches allow time for personality-meshing to be the deciding factor (even if looks/paper qualifications are initially the attraction). You tell me which is more important to a lasting and happy marriage??

      Further, arranged marriages allow *parents* of the bride and groom a great deal of power and say over the match-fixing and this allows them to continue meddling later on after the wedding also. This is completely ridiculous. Only the bride and groom should be in control of whom they marry, and once married, only they should be in the marriage, so to speak. If the bride and groom are considered too immature or not experienced in life enough to choose their own best mates, then that just means they’re not ready to get married!

      And finally, consider all the utterly useless or actively harmful considerations that are BIG factors in whether an arranged marriage happens: astrology and superstition (like the monkey here), dowry, egos of parents, blatantly objectifying the bride to value her just because of her looks (even in this story), objectifying the groom for his earning capacity (which is a little better since it’s at least practical but still so demeaning), discrimination based on caste and subcaste, discrimination based on skin color….

      Upholding and promoting traditions like arranged marriage actively contributes to how messed up Indian society is!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rock on!

        Great comment. The story was über-cute but I can’t shake off the feeling that GV is just one very lucky man.

        Most arranged marriages I know of don’t start out like this and certainly don’t end up like this. In 99% of the arranged marriages I’ve seen, the woman plays a subordinate role. It can be subtle but generally, the man is the one who “wears the pants” in the relationship. I do know some equitable couples in arranged marriages, but most of them are not, because arranged marriages tend to have separate, set-out roles for men and women. No prizes for guessing what those roles might be.

        Love marriages can go bad, no doubt about that. But that’s a risk I’m willing to take, really.

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      • @Samosaofdoom,

        You said it!
        “The whole principle behind arranged marriages is complete nonsense”
        And if any of those turn out happy and successful, it is IN SPITE OF that nonsense.

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      • PLZ! even my elder daughter had a love marriage. They are banias and money minded people! and they gave us a really hardtime at the time of marriage! It has been 8 years now and they still meddle at every family funtion of ours! Dont blame it on arrange marriage alone.It happens in love marriages also!

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    • “Look at the divorce rate in the US” is often used to diss love marriages. Why do people think that the only measure of a marriage’s success is its longevity? To me a marriage is successful if it makes the people involved in it happy and allows for their personal growth.

      If both parties are growing and not necessarily headed in the same direction (which is often the case if you spend most of your working hours away from each other doing different jobs with different sets of people and learning differently from each other), over the course of several years you might realize that the people you’ve now BECOME, can’t stay happily together. Why is it so wrong to get out of the marriage at that point? My point is: you marry a person because you like/love them, they feel the same way, and you both think you’re compatible. Unless you freeze yourselves, or are the kind of people who live life on auto-pilot, you WILL change. It might be a little bit of change each year, but over the years might add up to make you a very different person. Now if these NEW people can’t get along, what are they supposed to do? Live through an unhappy marriage, because they sure as heck can’t flip a switch and get back to who they were 10 years ago…

      If they were happy as long as the marriage lasted, why isn’t theirs a successful marriage? I’m almost convinced most people who make their individual growth the goal of their life (as opposed to a neverending marriage), and marry a person for whom the same is true, will have a hard time making a marriage last their whole lives.

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      • Well said Wild Child. I feel like I’m a little bit of an exxhibitionist to be so freely sharing my personal history on these message boards, but I’m doing it in the hope that it is of help to other women who are confronted with similar choices. I have learnt a lot from the emailed experiences of other women in troubled marriages and I am hoping that other lurkers and readers will similarly profit from my tale of woes. To cut a long story short, I was in a committed, live-in relationship with a man I met in college before I got into an arranged marriage. The first relationship did not work out because my ex did not believe in marriage and I was under immense pressure from my family to marry. I was studying/working in the US at the time, so it was easy for me build my own little bubble and ignore social pressure. But I moved back to India after I broke up with my ex after eight years. And then my parents somehow convinced me to agree to an arranged marriage. I was sufficiently overcome by guilt and remorse after having “lived in sin” for so many years. I was therefore willing to do anything to make my parents happy. After a year or two of searching, they found what looked like a great match; a man with a PhD in Engineering who was still single at 40 (note that I myself was on the wrong side of 30 due to my colorful past). To cut a long story short again, my marriage has been a disaster. While my first relationship left me to cope with unfathomable grief and heartcahe, I do not, for a moment regret it. While it lasted, the relationship brought me immense happiness, joy, comfort and spiritual growth. My arranged marriage, on the other hand, is like an arid, water-starved desert, bereft of understanding, respect, tolerance and mutual love. As long as I cook, clean, unquestioningly serve him and his family, my husband couldn’t care less if I lived or died (at least that’s how it seems to me). So I agree, Mr Vishwanath was just plain lucky. If I had a choice, I would trade my live-in relationship with all it’s attendant stigma and shame with this sham of an arranged marriage where I am nothing but a glorified maid.
        Hope my tale doesn’t prove to be yet another case of “Too much information” for fellow commenters and readers. The intention was to provide a counterpoint to the “arranged marriages work” point of view. And congratulations Mr Vishwanath, for making it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • @Bad Indian Girl:

        I could have written exactly the same. Except I refused to feel that I did anything wrong and refused to fall to the trap emotional blackmail and have an arranged marriage. I think at least people like us should stop calling it living in sin and if you describe yourself having had a colourful past, how can we stop others from associating the act with shame? A committed relationship is any day better the sham that arranged marriages are for the most part.

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      • The wild child…u gave a new dimension to my thot-Y is success of marriage directly proportional to its longevity ..I love u for this:)

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  2. No Wonder the hanuman temples in the north of India are such a popular venue for a prospective bride seeing or even for weddings 🙂 …
    sankatmochan temple in Benaras i have witnessed and have heard about the others 🙂

    Read your story In Hindi too and it is a great example how the mushy romance finds it’s way through the most awkward situations …i presume it must have been awkward for both of you for the first time you sat on the sands of marina beach.

    You found your trust and companionship because you both were understanding individuals …. the process of meeting or getting to know each other holds little significance once you ‘grow’ and ‘evolve’ into a relationship .. and marriage .

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  3. That’s a wonderful story from GV. Wishing you both more happiness, always.

    But for one successful arranged marriage there will be two (I am being very conservative here) that are not successful. If a marriage is successful, the success depends on there people concerned and (more importantly) the luck which played a part in getting them two together. I myself have a successful arranged marriage, But that does not let me close my eyes to the fact that it is just a shot in the dark. Imagine what would have happened if the monkey had refused to touch the apples?! 😉

    I have an something to say about GV’s “Bashing arranged marriages has become common these days.” Every dog has its day, they say. Love marriage has ALWAYS been bashed, in the past (in spite of even the puranas advocating it as a way of marriage and abounding with examples) as also in the present. Since love marriage has got and is getting its fair share of bashing, isn’t it only fair that arranged marriage gets its too??! By which I mean of course that when people point out drawbacks of love marriage, why should they not look at the drawbacks of arranged marriages?? 🙂

    All in all it was a hilarious write up and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Yes, your wife is a traffic stopper and that is an understatement! By the way, I saw the picture in the Hindi blog. It is not showing up here.

    me – I agree completely Shail. Did you see the second story?

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      • Let me clarify IHM that I empathize with him for the simple fact that he cannot write when he wants to. I face a similar problem. You may want to write at odd hours of the day or night when the idea or the mood strikes to. But your partner may not be sold on the idea. “What are you doing up so late in the night??’
        Once my MIL made it a point to tell my husband that I was awake and at the PC at 2 a.m. as if it was her business in anyway.
        That’s the empathy I meant: when those around do not understand the something that drives you to keep different hours from them.

        Me – Got it!

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      • Let me clarify IHM that I empathize with the guy that he cannot write when he wants to which is something I face too. 😉
        Having said that like Anu I too feel that the subtle humor of the piece is being missed.

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      • “You may want to write at odd hours of the day or night when the idea or the mood strikes to. But your partner may not be sold on the idea. “What are you doing up so late in the night??’
        Once my MIL made it a point to tell my husband that I was awake and at the PC at 2 a.m. as if it was her business in anyway.”

        But what has this scenario got to do with whether the marriage was arranged or was a free choice marriage. This will happen based on the personality of the person you are married to. There is no way of knowing this even in a free choice/love marriage as you will not have spent time living with the person for extended periods (at least for most Indians going in for a love marriage), which is when these everyday differences crop up!

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  4. The writer of the second story is Mr.Bishwanath Ghosh,Deputy Editor at The Hindu.
    He does say in one of his later posts that marriage has given him the stability he had not earlier hoped for,though arrange marriages can seem strange initially before it reaches a certain comfort level.

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  5. LOL! Love it.

    “Isn’t she a traffic stopper? Believe me, she is even more beautiful, at least to my eyes, today 36 years later.

    A million thanks to that great monkey.”

    My jaded views on life and love notwithstanding, reading the story (and these lines above in particular) gave me a real warm and fuzzy feeling. You know, the sort which makes you want to chuck the laptop, and get your wife some nice flowers and I dunno, do something ultra mushy. Just for the heck of it. 🙂

    Anyway, back to Earth. I freely admit that I’m prone to bashing arranged marriages. I don’t consider them a good way to marry, nor do I consider the methodology to be particularly successful at producing happy couples. However, I wouldn’t presume for a moment that an arranged marriage CAN”T be happy or successful. That would be utter nonsense.

    One of my closest friends is a doctor who (stereotypically) had an arranged marriage with another doctor. They are spectacularly successful as a couple and from the way they talk and behave, you can actually see that they’re happy and in love, even after all these years.

    But just like our Shail here, they are smart enough to understand that this was more of a lucky fluke than anything else.

    Not too impressed by the other link though. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen; he did not get out of the kitchen at the right time, so there’s no point complaining about the heat now. Sucks to be the wife, yeah?

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  6. Nice story Thanks IHM.. I cud not see the pic but the Moneky does know a lot more then us mere mortals..

    I do beleive marriages are sacred… and arranged marriages do work more then the love marriages ..

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    • What standards are you using to say that arranged marriages “work” more often than love marriages?

      If a marriage is intact due to any of the following factors:

      – making divorce a social taboo

      – disenfranchising women so that they do not have the same financial/work opportunities as men, which makes them less likely to leave a financially secure but loveless “marriage”

      – coercing women to stay in marriages they do not want to stay in via social pressure (IHM has a hundred posts about this – from matters like DILs not being allowed to wear jeans to wives being asked to “adjust, adjust” even in the face of spousal abuse)

      – coercing men to stay inmarriages that they do not want to stay in, via social pressure (like in the second story linked)

      … is that what you consider a successful marriage?

      But here’s the more important question: what is wrong with divorce? Why is it so bad? If two people decide they are better off separate than together, why would you rather they stay together from fear of social repercussions?

      If you look at the factors causing divorce: personalities not meshing, spousal abuse, not agreeing about major life decisions (whether to have kids or not, how to manage money), cheating, etc. – isn’t it clear that love marriages are a MUCH better position to avoid these issues than arranged marriages?

      In a love marriage you have time to know if your personalities mesh, and you don’t have nosy parents pressuring you to get married quickly to the first pretty girl or rich boy that comes along.

      In a love marriages, there is a much better chance of finding out before the marriage if your partner has abusive tendencies.

      In a love marriages, you have the time and opportunity make your own major life decisions without parents interfering (“we want grandchildren! WAAAAAAH!”)

      In love marriages, you know for a fact that your spouse married you because s/he finds YOU attractive and is in love with YOU. In arranged marriages you are never sure if your spouse only married you due to the PARENTS finding you attractive. Where do you think there is less chance of cheating?

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      • IHM had warned me about reactions like yours when I sent in my contribution to her.
        I told her I would be ready for the brickbats.
        I welcome your strong, passionate and outspoken views.
        I expect some more views like this, from others too.
        Bring them on please, and don’t spare me. Let my age and gray hair not earn me any sympathy or concessions.

        I look forward to some more roasting from more militantly anti-arranged marriage waalis in this circle.

        Regards
        GV

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      • You know, I absolutely don’t get why divorce is a taboo in this country. Okay, so two people made a mistake in choosing their partners. Or maybe their parents did. Whatever. For some reason, one or both of them want(s) to separate. Other people/”log” have a problem with that, because —-? Why SHOULD there be social repercussions?

        Here’s a common refrain, often heard at family parties/weddings : Western society is chaotic and rubbish because something like half of their marriages end in divorce.
        Of course, there’s no reasoning provided. You have an assertion, and a fact. You’re supposed to imagine the link between those two, and nod your head in vigorous agreement as though something very insightful has been said. It’s like the story about the Emperor’s New Clothes. If you can’t see why divorce is bad for society, you are deemed ignorant and stupid. But even when that admission has been made, no one ever bothers to explain what’s so wrong about divorce. All you get is some utter nonsense about tradition and culture (which prompts me to say “can you be a bit more vague, please?”). I’ve been a lawyer long enough to be able to separate true conviction from poor attempts at rationalizing a premeditated opinion and make no mistake, people, ALL explanations I’ve heard so far seem to belong to the latter category

        Sorry if this sounds like a rant.

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      • @PT:

        It undermines the importance of family, perhaps? It makes a lot of sense if you give a lot of importance to the family unit, to the detriment of all other factors. Also, it certainly made a whole lot of sense in warring communities in the past. The family HAD to be close-knit or they would expose chinks in their armour for the benefit of their enemies. The same does not hold true today, though.

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    • I do beleive marriages are sacred… and arranged marriages do work more then the love marriages ..

      But why? How are arranged marriages more successful than “love” marriages? Is it because they’re less likely to divorce? If that’s the case, what other factors are involved? How are we defining successful marriages?

      Here’s a common refrain, often heard at family parties/weddings : Western society is chaotic and rubbish because something like half of their marriages end in divorce.
      Of course, there’s no reasoning provided.

      Since I live in the US yes the divorce is high. Partially, it has to do with the fact that divorce is no longer viewed as a stigma. However, 60 years ago this was not the case. I would say, India is where the US was 60 years ago. 😛 Also I feel there’s some denial going on here, people don’t want to look at the state of marriage in their own society, so they point fingers at other places. 😉 In my humble opinon.

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      • 1. //Since I live in the US yes the divorce is high. Partially, it has to do with the fact that divorce is no longer viewed as a stigma.
        2. However, 60 years ago this was not the case. I would say, India is where the US was 60 years ago.
        3. Also I feel there’s some denial going on here, people don’t want to look at the state of marriage in their own society, so they point fingers at other places. //

        Agree with all three. Marriages were always the same, only now even women are able to ask for divorce – something that was used like a threat for them.
        So now what do we threaten a newly wed bride with? (Well she can still be denied jeans, cell phones and divorce).
        Being single, she was told was seen as the worst thing that could happen to her, and now suddenly she has discovered that isn’t true. She actually prefers beng single to being unhappy.

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  7. That monkey story…… The bride never asked what her thoughts were, chosen only because “she is beautiful” …, the whole marriage being based on something even more arbitrary than a coin toss… and this supposedly in the “model” arranged marriage.

    I cannot but wish that arranged marriages would die a hasty and NASTY death. They promote the subjugation of women. They promote the caste system. They promote discrimination based on skin color. The promote belief in ridiculous superstitions and astrology. They promote objectification of men as mere money machines (though now this is slowly being applied to women too as they gain earning capacities).

    All these social ills — for WHAT? What social good does arranged marriage bring that love marriages cannot?

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  8. How utterly sweet! And the pic is lovely too. You both make a lovely couple. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

    I guess your marriage worked because something clicked, and you got lucky. But seriously, how is it a good thing that no one asked your wife’s opinion? Or that they went against your wishes and got you married? I am sorry, but I still do not think it is correct and humane to subject anyone to this experience and then expect them to make it work. I did make a list of reasons and posted it as a comment in the previous post on why I think arranged marriages are not good.

    But all said and done, your story is romantic, and I do not wonder everyone in your family denies it after such a passage of time! 😀

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  9. The best part of GV’s story to me was the fact that both GV and his wife continued their studies in the time that they could buy. Kudos to the two of you for that!

    Successful marriages are not one’s that are long-lasting, but one’s that give satisfied lives to both the couple. Such marriages could be arranged or love.

    One reason why we hear about arranged marriages being bashed, is the manner in which parents force and pressurize their children into marriages. Even in GV’s tale, his mom was pressurizing him to marry. And he was lucky to buy some time and get a good partner too.

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  10. GV’s story was utterly charming. Both he and his prospective bride were pragmatic and did manage to delay their marriage till they were better settled in life. The other story is rather saddening:(

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  11. Thank God I wasn’t born in that age and time.
    The thought of a monkey deciding my marriage! *shudders*

    But I am a Hanuman-bhakt too. I believe in divine intervention too.
    If you believe that God’s will and divine intervention can happen through a monkey, why do you find it so difficult to believe that divine intervention can also happen through you? I’d rather pray to God to give me satbudhi to make the right choices in life (not limited to marriage only) that pray to God to give a monkey the satbudhi to make a choice for me.

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  12. The concept of a love marriage is very romantic to begin with.
    My niece,traditionally dark complexioned and not so goodlooking went the arrange marriage way.A case of Punjabi girl marrying a mallu boy.Today,they are very much in love and she agrees it could not have been any better.Though my niece was sceptical and wary, she is now envied by most.
    We were open to love marriage too.

    The first story presents a broad picture,not everyday travails,despite which the relationship has survived.
    Second link is not a case of failed marriage either,it’s more about getting used to the other and accommodating oneself to adapt to the new changes post-marriage.

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  13. What a lovely picture! I loved the big-big smiles in the pic, and something tells me all those letters exchanged has something to do with it more than the monkey 🙂

    I read the second story. And my sympathies are not with the man who still gets to write and blog. It is with the woman who is made to believe that asking ‘rice or roti’ is supposed to please her husband whereas it is actually doing the opposite of it.

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  14. Thats a wonderful story shared by GV. And it didnt in the least bit seem fictional to me :).
    I do agree with him, not all arranged marriages are bad. I went in for one and I am as happy as so many of my other friends who opted love marriage.

    But I do think that I was more fortunate than GV’s wife or women of that era for the simple reason that I had the freedom and understanding of that right to give my nod-or-veto to the alliance, just as my husband had. Of course I feel by getting a chance to meet ( amidst the scrutinizing glares of elders, albeit) and eventually deciding to wait for two years they were very lucky and their families were very broad-minded too to have agreed to that. Not always was that possible in those times, was it? Women didnt have much of a say in those days in such matters.

    Also I’d like to point out that I didnt opt for an arranged marriage BECAUSE if something went wrong I could go back to my parents and blame them for their choice. Oh yes, IHM I have had people come and tell me, ‘ oh, good that you opted for an arranged marriage. Now even if something goes wrong you can always go back to your parents.’ On the other side I have had people who favour love marriages tell me that the reason a love marriage will be successful is BECAUSE it will be something that they will have opted for themselves and not their parents , hence they will put in extra effort to make it work.

    Honestly, IHM I find this view point utter rubbish. If there are any problems, whatsoever in a marriage, be it arranged or love ,those are pertaining to the man and wife, those problems are to be sorted between them and nobody else but they are responsible for whatever happens in their relationship. If my husband and I have any differences its solely our responsibility and not my parents’ or his.

    As for putting in that extra effort, a marriage needs as much effort from the man as the woman to make it work, irrespective of the fact that they had an arranged marriage or a love marriage.

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  15. Think we’re missing the point a bit by classifying weddings as ‘arranged’ and ‘love/choice’. GV’s story is lovely and I know so many such stories in several generations around me. I don’t believe that for one successful marriage fixed by a family there are two that aren’t successful. Don’t know how to get data to prove this, so it shall remain a belief that is only supported by plenty of anecdotal evidence.

    A love marriage in the Indian context is mostly a hybrid arranged one (matrimonial sites, arranged by themselves for themselves, falling in love after figuring out if the family will be okay with community and caste!) and an arranged marriage is a hybrid with a lot of choice in today’s context. GV’s story is nice in that he made his opinions clear, he was as much being pressured as any woman might have been (parity?!) and his FIL did think about both his daughters and whether he wanted to push a daughter through a marriage to an unwilling groom. Can’t tell what GV’s wife said – we only have one version of the story.

    I know in the UK some people in the Indian community have forced marriages and there are now laws against it but in my circles and in most middle class circles that I know, parents do give education importance. Most parents do not fix up their kids with people the kids are not happy with.

    As for the second story, I don’t believe it is the norm either. The truth obviously lies somewhere in between. The second story seems to be one written in the period of adjustment and I would wonder about someone so supposedly progressive that they allowed ‘society’ to lump something down their throat. So it is a question of ‘I will do but then complain?’

    End of the day, in the absence of violence/abuse, happiness is a state of mind. And a choice. I don’t see that many miserable people walking around. Neither am I too sympathetic to people with education and ability to be themselves buckling to anything for the sake of ‘society’. Wishbone for backbone is not very desirable in any person….gender no bar.

    Agree that she’s a show stopper! 😀

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    • GV, these arguments are not personal attacks against you, so the question of grey hair and age never arises. If you disagree with anything I said due to your own views, militant or otherwise, please feel free to respond regardless of MY age, my black hair, my 7 month pregnant belly or my personal history of being persecuted by militantly pro-arranged-marriage parents!

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  16. 1) why divorce is rampant in the west when they have only love marriages?
    divorce rate is 50%+

    Me – Basically because they have the option of ‘divorce’ without being stigmatized. In India women would rather be burnt alive, jump from buildings with their children, live separately, or couples live together but be emotionally divorced.
    2) why west has started accepting arrange marriages (as in India)?
    Me – They have? The parents have started forcing their ‘kids’ to marry someone they have never met/known/seen, Indian style? If they started doing that will that make it alright for us to continue doing that?
    Or do you mean Dating sites, which introduce like minded people and let them choose?

    3) who are these people who actually prefer an arrange marriage to a love marriage(if at all)and why is it so?
    Me –
    I think a lot of people who ‘prefer’ arranged marriages are those who have not had the opportunities to meet prospective partners. Too shy, too busy making career, warned against ‘mingling with the opposite sex’ by parents etc.
    Some might feel unconfident about choosing who they might like to spend the rest of their lives with – but I am sure if they met someone they were confident they would be happy with, these ones might change their minds.
    Some others might like the perks that come with arranged marriage, horoscope matching, parental control on the spouse, Dowry (yes), parents assuring they would be there if the marriage fails to support them by reminding them to ‘please adjust’ etc…

    4) what is the most common excuse given while rejecting a potential person after “seeing” him/her ceremoniously?
    Is it Horoscope not matching?

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    • 1) Even if not not stigmatised, divorce does take a toll emotionally. Are women here so burdened that they plunge to death than bravely take decision to divorce or resolve issues?
      Me – Resolving issues I am sure does happen. Sometimes it simply means ‘please adjust’ i.e. accept your destiny. Divorce is not seen as an option by most Indians.
      What about children who come home and realize that their parents have divorced (and go through endless custody battles,one parent remarrying)
      Me – Unhappy marriages affect the children whether or not they end in successful divorces/separations.
      2) Blind dating, on-line dating are a refined form of arrange marriage in the west. They have begun to analyse what makes Indian arr.marriages tick.
      Me – So long as nobody is being forced I would say, why not. China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan etc also have a similar system of arranged marriages, I am sure they too take credit for teaching the west some good chinese/saudi-arabian/pakistani/bangadeshi/egyptian etc values. 😉
      Is blind dating not that, a rejection when the man (who’s expected to call) doesn’t call again?
      me – When a man or a woman does not call, I am sure it must be disappointing.
      3) Is dowry not almost mandatory in case of Indian arr.marriages? if given as gifts (to ensure a girls’ safety, even if boy’s party has not asked for it but silently anticipate)?
      Me – Yes it is almost (almost) mandatory in arranged marriages. This is one of the reasons why some parents don’t like choice-marriages, it’s a financial loss.
      5) You had an arrange marriage IHM(?). Felt you were being tethered and sold?
      Me – Being objective means we can see something clearly without applying it to ourselves. Or be honest and admit it is wrong, even when we might benefit from it.

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      • Thankyou for the replies IHM,
        I wish arrange marriages were not such a transaction.Even if both parties mutually like each other,question of dowry/ gifts/largesse comes in, one way or the other,making the girl feel as if she’s being ‘sold off’.
        me – Warning bells should ring, any hint of a transaction should be seen as a most clear reason to escape the proposal – arranged or love. Or else accept that the relationship is a practical contract – more like a business deal – one would be endangering their emotional health if they romanticize such deals, though we see it happening all the time. Emotions should not be invested in such deals.
        I know the excitement a girl feels when she’s accepted/proposed,chirping that such-and-such family have asked for her hand.
        Me – I am not comfortable with the idea of a ‘family’ or a mother in law asking for a girl’s hand…

        Don’t you think IHM,it’s considered a prestige issue/even better if a good family has asked for the girls’ hand.” haath mangna” is another form of being desired, though I think it’s mostly not-so-goodlooking girls who tread the arrange marriage way, when unable to attract a guy.

        me – I don’t think looks and being able to attract has anything to do with wanting an arranged marriage or love marriage. So called ordinary looking men and women find compatible partners and have choice-marriages too.
        In fact the chances of being chosen for ‘haath mangna’ happens mostly to girls who are seen to fit into the concept of good looking (light skinned) and confident but submissive, modern but obedient, earning but ready to give up her job is required by in-laws etc etc. It may not always be a compliment for the girl, specially if she doesn’t want that marriage. I know of one young woman who was 20 and wanted to study, but her parents were so thrilled with the proposal that despite her ‘not eating for three days’ (to protest) she was ‘married off’. Is she happy today? She has ‘adjusted’, has two kids, but she is not and will never be the vivacious person she was. Are her parents happy? They believe their responsibilities have been taken care of.

        Some self-appointed aunties go about matchmaking,and inquiring…

        Me – For those who do wish to be introduced to PB and PBG they might appear helpful.

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  17. That was a charming story. 🙂

    I don’t think anyone is really bashing arranged marriages here. What the commenters don’t like are the arranged marriage=no divorce=successful marriages. While there’s still no definition what makes a marriage truly successful.

    I agree, with what people are saying, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a “love” marriage or arranged. They both have the potential to fail and succeed.

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  18. But GV don’t you wonder, what if the Monkey did not eat that fruit? Or what if the monkey ate the fruit from someone else? What then? Would you have been as happy? Don’t you wonder if the next fruit the monkey ate were from an “even better” catch? What if you missed out on that?

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  19. Very beautiful picture.

    Arranger marriage or Love marriage, it is just the mode in which you chose a life partner. Once married, both takes working towards making it a happy one. Both have equal chances of failure/success. I do not understand why one is better than the other.

    Me – I agree, so long as there is no force/pressure in Arranged Marriages.

    Arranged marriage these days are not the same like before where you meet the girl/guy once and decide. (I know there are exceptions). And Falling in love isn’t easy(Especially when you are working in a professional field), where do you find time or energy to meet people after the entire day of slogging at office (unless you find someone at work place!).

    I feel, one should be ready for marriage(most important , without the society/parents pressure) and know what to expect after marriage.

    I can not believe the second story and people empathizing with the guy! An educated person, 35 years old gets into marriage without being ready for it . Then cribs about his wife, because she expects him to spend time with her?I have couple of questions,

    – Was it ok for her to go out with her friends and come back at midnight drunk?
    – Was it her mistake to cook for him and wait?

    I do not see how love marriage in above case would have changed anything. Solution is “do not get married if you do not feel the need”

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    • It is not a question of whether arranged marriages or choice marriages are better. The concept behind of arranged marriage is such that it is forced in some respects. How many parents are content with just introducing a man to you and backing out of it until you make up your mind, whether it is 2 days or 2 years? That, in my opinion, would be an arranged marriage that is acceptable. Anything less than that is forced marriage, forced in varying degrees. And this only if you are all right with being introduced. Otherwise, they should desist. Not many Indian parents have this maturity.

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  20. Both stories are very nice.Yes,monkey can decide marriages in India-totally believable.For those who missed it,the second link seems more in humor.The joke in the end makes it all the more hilarious.Or is it just me who laughs at a grown up man’s newly married status?

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    • I somehow didn’t find the second post funny at all. How is it that he chooses to be a free flying adult when it suits him and a 2.5 year old baby when it doesn’t? I’m pretty sure his wife’s idea of fun is not deciding whether to make cabbage or cauliflower either. I thought it was extremely insensitive and in bad taste. I’d like to know how he’d react if his wife hung out in a pub with her girlfriends till midnight while he was responsible for making the rotis.

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      • The situation arose simply because men in our society have more freedom than women. But that does not mean they have enough freedom to be happy or be an individual. I think some sympathy needs to go out to this man as well, as well as his wife because they are both victims of an excessively controlling society. I failed to see the humour at all.

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  21. Wonderful story! Reminds me of how my parents were ‘arranged’ by their parents. They got lucky too I guess because there’s a lot of love between them and both can wear the pants in the relationship depending on the situation.

    I truly believe that the 2 years GV and his wife had prior to getting married helped them get to know each other and give their marriage a solid foundation. People tend to expect things to work beautifully on day 1 of marriage not realizing that like anything else it takes time to break into.

    Also, by choosing which is better (Arranged vs Love) are we not restricting real life experiences that might ‘just’ happen? By believing one is better than the other we close our-self from the possibility of the other happening. To me, the amount of work required and the results are the same in either methods of getting hitched so why not keep the options open? You never know what lies around the corner…

    Enjoyed reading the story.

    Me – So long as Arranged Marriages are not forced marriages and the couple can refuse to commit without being condemned, they are fine. I guess the parents’ job in Arranged Marriages should end after introducing the PB and PBG.

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  22. Loved this story and the photograph as well – I loved how they were genuinely smiling instead of the dour/demure expressions one sees in a lot of marriage photos from that period. While it seems like a marriage based on the decision of a monkey is ridiculous, many so-called “love” marriages are based on equally flimsy grounds (what can be argued as a chemical reaction to another person based on the concept of “attractiveness”). Mine certainly was. The very concept of marriage itself is a ridiculous – choosing one person and then committing for eternity! But we do choose people based on what we percieve to be their attractiveness (physical or personality wise) and we commit to them forever based on the assumption that they are going to remain more or less the same, when all evidence should have told us that people change immensely. There’s always a good element of luck in getting in right, and a great deal of force of will.

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  23. I loved loved loved the story..and the snap is awesome..she is sure a show stopper :):) and the best part, both continued their studies and finished it before getting married..that was the best 🙂

    I am 29 and have an arranged marriage..with proper horoscope matching and all that! Only that my in laws saw me AFTER RD did, so they didnt have any role to play in the match making really..I agree when someone up pointed out that success in a marriage is not how long a marriage lasts, but how happy both the individuals are in a marriage 🙂 And if two people decide to get married and then separate out after living together for a while, I dont think there is anything wrong with that either…at the end..isnt it better to live happily alone, than live in sorrow together?

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  24. Marriage is basically hard work and it’s up to the couple how easy they make it for themselves- whether they were set up by their parents or they fell in love. While arranged marriages typically limit your choice to your parents’ tastes and desires, the institution has changed over the years. I don’t know too many brides who did the regular bring-coffee-vadas-stand-before-groom routine. Many meet the prospective groom outside their home and parents too seem to be getting open-minded about the two of them getting to know each other. Of course, I do know that this is not the case everywhere and in all communities. In the case of ‘love marriage’ too, plenty of differences can crop up after two people start living together which didn’t seem to matter when they were dating. If they don’t work out their issues and resolve them, the love can turn sour all too quickly.

    I guess a relationship like marriage which is artificially forged is bound to run into problems unless both partners are convinced about what works best for each and together. My parents set me up with my husband- he’s from a different caste, different community, and speaks a different mother tongue. We dated for six months without any commitment (this was an agreement we had between the two of us 😀 Our parents didn’t exactly know about this bit!!). There was no horoscope matching or mangalsutra at the wedding. We got married in a month considered inauspicious for Hindus. At a time that was convenient for the lunch that was to follow. God knows if it was a good time or a bad time. And we’re pretty damn happy.

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  25. I love such happy endings. Reaffirms my faith in the institution of marriage. Arranged or choice. I think it is important to note here that GV was not forced into the marriage. He was forced to meet the woman who his parents wanted to be his wife but from then on GV and his wife made crucial choices. Like agree to marriage. Wait for 2 years to complete studies. Wait for her elder sister’s wedding. Staying in touch through letters etc.
    Sorry GV, to tell you the truth yours was not an “arranged marriage” at all. The meeting was arranged by parents, but what followed makes it a “love marriage”.

    I know of a friend where the meeting was arranged by parents. The man and woman liked each other and started staying in touch. Then the both set of parents fell out (probably due to the dowry amount involved) and called the marriage off. Now, the guy and girl rebelled and got married on their own in a court against their parents’ wishes.

    Is that an arranged marriage or a love one?

    What would you have done GV if after the meeting and letter excahnge for an year, your FIL and dad fell out and called the marriage off? Would you have married another woman with the same ease and would you have written about it today?

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    • Dear MoRS

      Yours is a very interesting response indeed! While I had planned to respond to all comments later, I am tempted to respond immediately to your comment.

      You hit the nail on the head!

      Yes, I have to agree it was not a 100 percent arranged marriage.
      It was a marriage where they arranged for me to fall in love.
      Luck (in the form of a Monkey) played its part or God lead me to marrying her, depending on whether you are an atheist or a devout believer.

      Your second question is also interesting.
      If before we met, my parents and in laws fell out, it would not have affected me one bit. I was anyway not willing to marry. Their falling out would have been very convenient indeed! I guess my wife too would not have been affected.

      But after seeing her, and interacting with her and coming to an agreement with her, if my parents and in laws fell out, then my reaction would have been one of the following:

      If I was convinced that my parents were wrong, I would have rebelled like my elder brother did and gone ahead and sought my in laws support, provided my wife was brave enough to walk life alone with my support minus my family’s support. I would have insisted to my parents on marrying her only and refused to see any other girl they might have chosen for me.
      I had a trump card in my hand.
      Remember the Astrologer’s threat?
      Nine teen years, no muhoortham.
      That would have kept my mom in check.

      However, if my parents were innocent, and the in laws let us down or if my wife changed her mind suddenly, I would have probably behaved like Devdas for some time (minus the drink – I am a tee-totaller), and concentrated on my career, kept girls at a distance till the wounds healed and then started afresh and put the whole bad experience behind me. I am a practical fellow.

      The second marriage you talked about is not an arranged or love marriage.
      It is a brave marriage, of a true hero with a true heroine for which they deserve a medal.

      Thanks to all who have been responding with very interesting comments.
      I will try to find time to answer some more difficult questions that others have asked.
      I have been totally pre-occupied since Monday morning and have just enough time to respond to MoRS for now.

      Regards
      GV

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      • Thanks for responding GV. I absolutely loved the response. Since you were advocating arranged marriages I did not expect you to be so honest and forthcoming in your reply saying that you would have probably rebelled against your family to marry the woman your parents had arranged for you to fall in love 🙂 I shouldn’t have underestimated a fellow Thomsonian 😉

        I looked at your recent pictures. The two of you still make a stunning couple. Once again, I absolutely loved your story.

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  26. I look forward to some more roasting from more militantly anti-arranged marriage waalis in this circle.

    Hi GV :)P

    It’s really not that anyone’s anti-arranged marriage per se. There are pros and cons to both types of marriages. What’s bothering many of the commenters here are the assumptions that arranged marriages are somehow better than “love” marriages because they’re less likely to end in divorce. On top of that, there hasn’t been any real examination of why arranged marriages are supposedly better or what makes them successful.

    As I said above, I found your story charming and quite happy everything worked out for you. 🙂 Unfortunately all marriages don’t work out that way.

    Oh and I didn’t get the chance to post my thoughts on the second story. All I can say is that sucks. :/

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  27. Nothing in this life is perfect and there are all questions & situations will have different answers & perspectives. We can not say that “All Arrgd Mrrgs are bad” and niether can we say “all love mrrgs are good”. We have to work on the positives that are there. Sometimes I feel that instead of seeing bad in a situation we shud trying seeing the goods and work from their to improve a situation. Of course there are abusive mrrgs which put humanity to shame.

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  28. I think marriage itself in its present desi avataar is a big scam …., blogged about it too. Arranged ones are farces, love marriages are not too far behind. A true partnership happens between individuals, who actually nurture the bond and make it strong and beautiful. Seems like the people in the first story worked hard at making it so. The folks in the second one were groping for a level ground.

    BTW my compliments to the writer of the monkey story. Loved it, read it again and again. In fact, I want to mail it to a few people. Please give me the author’s name, need permission

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    • Dear Phoenixritu,

      Deeply gratified to know you loved reading the story.
      It is a true story.
      My father-in- law probably finds it embarrassing and still weakly and feebly denies it in his ripe old age.
      My wife’s denials are not convincing enough. But over the years, I noticed that she has become less and less emphatic in her denials. Today she weakly claims that I have been exaggerating the story and have spiced it up to entertain everyone.

      The source, that gave me the juicy details, is impeccable, unimpeachable and utterly reliable.
      It was my own late mother.

      Other story details:

      Story writer:G Vishwanath
      Hero: G Vishwanath
      Heroine: Jyoti
      Director: Bajrangbali
      Publisher: IHM
      Readers: all of IHM’s readers.

      You have my permission to recount it to anyone anytime anywhere.
      No royalties expected.
      I hope IHM will be equally generous with her permission.
      It’s her blog after all that published this. Please verify with her.
      Thanks IHM for turning me into a minor celebrity by publishing this story!
      Regards
      GV

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      • Lovely story Mr.Vishwanath. Its so nice that both of you had supportive parents and its also so nice to see two people so much in love after all these years.

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  29. Most women are against arrange marriage since they think they’re kinda “sold off”/paired off,rather than being desired and wooed by a guy in a love marriage.
    A friend of mine who beamed and gushed at her parents consent for love marriage with her boyfriend was divorced two years later.She cited adjustment issues.
    another friend of mine reluctantly agreed for an arrange marriage in case she liked the guy of her parents’ choice,a mini-courtship followed,she had an arranged marriage and is v. happy today.

    Me – I am glad your first friend could make a fresh start with a successful divorce. In the second case, I feel mini courtships do help, glad she is v.happy.
    But I wonder.. do women feel ‘sold off’? I would have thought it’s the men who might feel ‘bought ‘ with dowry.. Also the second story in this post, shows how some men might feel.

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    • Of course they feel sold off. Take a look at the matrimonial pages in the newspapers sometime.

      I can just imagine this strict-looking dad checking out a girl (for his son, not himself):

      “Okay. Fair skin, check. Well-educated, check. ‘Homely’, check. Modest, check. Good cook, check. Right caste, good family line, okay. 5’6, nice, won’t give sonny boy any ego issues. Now let’s talk about the dowry. What? Just Five Million Rupees? Now that’s cheap. C’mon son, let’s check out the next advertisement. The horoscopes don’t match anyway”.

      Yeah, and I still haven’t figured out what “homely” means, exactly. I thought it was an insult, but it’s apparently a virtue. Funny, that.

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  30. “Isn’t she a traffic stopper? Believe me, she is even more beautiful, at least to my eyes, today 36 years later”.

    Let me compliment Mr. Vishwanath for sharing such a lovely story of run up to fixing up his arranged marriage by her parents and In-Laws. He has a great style of writing and he is a great husband too.

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  31. Arranged marriages or love marriages…different paths to the same destination— marriage.
    It’s what you do after marriage that counts. Getting married is just the beginning, not the end like they show in movies.

    It’s silly that people have issues with who their kids get married to. I mean… I understand they’d be concerned, but in the end, it is up to the individual getting married, and I feel the parents who disapprove of the spouse should just suck it up and make the best of their child’s decision if he/she is happy with it and is not harming anyone by doing so.

    me – I agree Sanjana, unfortunately many Indian parents wish to even decide if the child is happy or not.

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  32. Nice one.

    I’m currently in an age group where friends are getting married left, right and center.
    It’s funny how people change after marriage and how your own behavior with them changes as well. I was out having lunch with my girlfriend recently, when I saw an old friend, holding a baby in one arm and talking animatedly with a guy I’d never seen before.

    We walked up to her, and she went like “Oh My God! What are you doing here, Neer? Soooo nice to see you”. Then she gave me a hug, which freaked me out, because she was NEVER the sort to hug people and all that. Turned out she’d gone and had a semi-arranged marriage with a Delhi businessman. One daughter and another baby on the way, all in a space of three years.
    And I dunno, she just wasn’t the person I remembered from b-school. She was more of a “lady” and I think I subconsciously shifted my own behavior to reflect that. Our conversation didn’t last very long, because I realized that we just didn’t have that much in common anymore.

    I’m probably going to get married myself soon enough, and I can’t help but wonder if it will change us like that too. Granted, not all of my friends who got married changed so much but many of them (especially the female ones) did too. Marriage, whether arranged or not, is one strange beast.

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    • QL, hope you don’t mind me giving you my two bits. Marriage/having a kid changes you just like other important developments in life would change you – moving out of home (which few Indians do but it is actually life-changing), moving cities etc. Change is inevitable to use a cliche.

      People are constantly astonished at how much my husband and I have changing, how boring we have become because we never want to go out. Particularly my husband who used to be quite the party-goer. Here’s how it happens. One Friday night due to some error of planning you find yourselves at home with each other instead of in some bar with a group of people. You order in dinner, or even eat leftovers, plonk on the couch and watch something mindless. Then you go to bed. The next morning you wake up totally fresh and your weekend seems so much longer. The next Friday something similar happens. And you suddenly realise it’s quite fun to sit on the couch vegetating with each other. Presto, you are no longer a person that needs to go clubbing, “boring” as it is for all your friends.

      I just had a baby and my friends are surprised that I seem to be all affectionate with kids now. I was quite an anti-kid person, though I was quite sure I would love my own kid which (thankfully) I do. What can I say – even I am astonished that I find other people’s babies cute now. But that is the fun of life, nothing stays the same and people do evolve, whether they get married or not.

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    • QL, hope you don’t mind me giving you my two bits. Marriage/having a kid changes you just like other important developments in life would change you – moving out of home (which few Indians do but it is actually life-changing), moving cities etc. Change is inevitable to use a cliche.

      People are constantly astonished at how much my husband and I have changing, how boring we have become because we never want to go out. Particularly my husband who used to be quite the party-goer. Here’s how it happens. One Friday night due to some error of planning you find yourselves at home with each other instead of in some bar with a group of people. You order in dinner, or even eat leftovers, plonk on the couch and watch something mindless. Then you go to bed. The next morning you wake up totally fresh and your weekend seems so much longer. The next Friday something similar happens. And you suddenly realise it’s quite fun to sit on the couch vegetating with each other. Presto, you are no longer a person that needs to go clubbing, “boring” as it is for all your friends.

      I just had a baby and my friends are surprised that I seem to be all affectionate with kids now. I was quite an anti-kid person, though I was quite sure I would love my own kid which (thankfully) I do. What can I say – even I am astonished that I find other people’s babies cute now. But that is the fun of life, nothing stays the same and people do evolve, whether they get married or not.

      Maybe the married people seem to evolve in a way that’s boring to other people but rest assured that I have seen plenty of examples of married people who are very out and about so don’t be disheartened by the sloppy ones like me. It’s all up to how you want to be.

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      • No problem at all ma’am, thanks for responding.

        I don’t think I’m so much disheartened as…shocked? Weirded out.

        It doesn’t have to be like that, does it? If you’re a Delhi businessman’s wife, does it mean you have to dump your business suits and a degree from Harvard, no less? Is that how it works?

        Do you suddenly start to actually *want* that? Do you just stop caring about your career, or whatever else you cared about earlier and become, I dunno, June Cleaver on your own volition? I don’t want my girlfriend to turn into someone else, you know, someone I have nothing in common with. And I don’t want to turn our relationship into something out of a 1970s sitcom.
        How do you change and mature without changing in essence? Therein lies the rub, yeah?

        I don’t care about clubs, partying, boozing, whatever. It’s up to her whether or not she’s going to be in that scene. I don’t care if she becomes a boring, mature person, which she already is, really. BUT, I don’t think I could handle it if this smart, level-headed woman who I love, suddenly decided to turn into some kind of dependent, hand-wringing girly girl. If that happened, I think we’d be done, pretty much. In one sentence, I’d just say – I want a partner, not a “wife”. If you get my drift.

        That’s all, The Bride, and I hope you don’t think I was pontificating.

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    • QL, I can’t comment on the friend you mentioned since I don’t actually know her. Maybe I missed the point in your anechdote. But in response to some of your questions.

      “It doesn’t have to be like that, does it?”
      No, it doesn’t. And for many people who get married, it isn’t. They continue with their careers, interests, etc. after they get married.

      “Do you suddenly start to actually *want* that? Do you just stop caring about your career, or whatever else you cared about earlier and become, I dunno, June Cleaver on your own volition?”

      Maybe. Have you watched the film Mona Lisa Smile (I feel 1950s America is exactly where most of India is right now, with so many Indian women in exactly the same situation as the women in Wellesly in the film). There’s one girl who is so smart and her teacher is so excited about her and keeps trying to get her to apply to Princeton. The girl finally does and gets in to. But to the teacher’s shock she decides to dump it all and get married (the expected thing) and move with her husband to Virginia. The teacher tells her – ok ok, you can go to law school there too. Finally, the girl snaps at the teacher and says “you can’t imagine that I might actually just want to be a wife and mother, can you?” Certainly, there was a some pressure on her to make the choice she did, but it might be presumptuous to argue that she did not choose it or that she had any less or more choice in the matter than someone who chose to go to Princeton. Sometimes those of us who are career-minded, well-grommed etc. forget that we were too were groomed by innumerable forces around us – our parents, the books we read, the TV serials we watch – to be that way. And then when we unchoose that way of life, people are shocked.

      I was quite a go-getter all through school and college. My parents had high hopes that I would achieve something great career-wise. But somewhere down the line, I decided that I didn’t have the energy to be at the top of my field, even if I had the talent. One might attribute it to my getting married – and certainly that has something to do with it, but not in the way you might imagine. It’s not my husband who caused me to lower my career aspirations but probably having moved away from my parents, I moved away from their expectations.

      In your friend’s case, do you feel she was forced to change? If she didn’t seem unhappy when you met her, why does that worry you? Maybe she and her husband prefer her that way and are ok with the changes.

      I get what you’re saying – you wouldn’t want your partner to do a 180 degree turn in personality. But that is something you can’t quite control. You could make it one of your “conditions” just as GV suggested. But she could change anyway. Then, you are free, of course, to choose to stay with her or leave… in the old days, you’d probably just have to lump it.

      I think you know your partner well enough to know that the chances of her completely changing her personality are probably slim. There will be some changes and those you can negotiate I’m sure.

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      • Yeah, I see what you’re saying. You made me feel a bit better lol.

        I guess it’s really none of my business what people close to me choose to do with their lives. As long as they’re happy. It takes all sorts to make a world and it isn’t my place to lay judgement on others.

        You’re right, my partner’s probably not going to change too much. But if she does, it’s her prerogative, her life. I’m not going to try and mold her into what *I*. So yeah, if she wants to be June Cleaver, she can be June Cleaver but at that point, we’d probably have to go our separate ways.

        Thanks a ton for the..er..free advice. 😀

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      • Yeah, I see what you’re saying. You made me feel a bit better lol.

        I guess it’s really none of my business what people close to me choose to do with their lives. As long as they’re happy. It takes all sorts to make a world and it isn’t my place to lay judgement on others.

        You’re right, my partner’s probably not going to change too much. But if she does, it’s her prerogative, her life. I’m not going to try and mold her into what *I* want. So yeah, if she wants to be June Cleaver, she can be June Cleaver but at that point, we’d probably have to go our separate ways.

        Thanks a ton for the..er..free advice. 😀

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  33. Vishwanathji – totally loved your story, and you both look so lovely in that snap. Wish you many more years of happiness together. I think what your story illustrates is that it’s not arranged marriages in themselves which are a problem – 30 years ago, at least you were allowed to speak to each other, to decide that you would wait to complete your studies and to write and get to know each other. This is what is important. Even today, many men and women are just compelled to get married with no opportunity to know anything about the other person – and it’s just left to fate! This is the real problem.

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  34. This has really been an intersting post and even more interesting comments.
    I think what we are trying to discuss here is not arranged marriage or love marriage – it is about choice marriage – having the power and freedom to make a choice.

    Most arranged marriages have it relatively easier because the family helps the couple. The son is the reluctant bachelor and the parents have got him hitched to a girl and now they need to make sure that he approves of their choice. (I admit it is not true for all arranged marriages but many have the blessings of the family). Many arranged marriages fail when the woman refuses to make adjustments/compromises.

    In so-called love marriages – the charm is in getting married. The man and the woman are fighting and convincing the parents/family and their only goal is to get married. Most of the time they do not have a real courtship. Then the men expect their wife to “adjust” because his parents have been great to “accept” her. I write so-called love marriages because most of the time people mistake infatuation for love. Our bollywood movies do not help much harping on first love because I believe love does not happen – it grows.

    When people are really in love there is no expectation to change the other person and no talks of compromises. Compromise is a dirty word. No mother says that she makes compromises on her sleep because of her baby. People make adjustments because they love each other and care for each other’s happiness. I have a friend from Poland who is married to a man from Sri Lanka. She does not understand why does he have to support his mother financially when she has a job of her own but she understands that this is something very important for him. After his father’s death he feels responsible for his mother and she supports him in this.

    Change is the only thing which is constant in life. People change and relationship changes. This is a fact!!! A 20 year old behaves differently from a 40 year old. We all need to grow with our relationship.

    I absolutely hate it when people say that second marriages are more successful because you have lower expectations. I would put it this way that then you have realistic expectations. In any relationship there are things you cannot compromise on and the key is to know this. What is important for you may be trivial for others.

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    • True.

      I was born and raised in a society where High School dating was ubiquitous, almost mandatory. Here in India, it’s totally different. I mean, you do have liberal parents who allow their kids to date but it’s mostly limited to the urban yuppies and that’s it. Mostly, it’s a hush-hush kind of thing. Back in the US, most people wouldn’t think about marrying their first girlfriend. That would be weird. But it’s not uncommon here.

      I guess people need to stop thinking of a “love marriage” as an end in itself and think more in terms of relationships and whether the person in front of them is really the right one. If you marry someone because they have a pretty face, you’re in for a bumpy ride. Marriage IS a big deal and that’s a fact.

      Love this blog, by the way…great job, IHM! 🙂

      me – Thank you and Welcome to this blog Quintessentially Liberal 🙂

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    • I hope I’m not spamming IHM. 😛

      Me – Love your insightful ‘spam’ RenKiss 🙂

      In so-called love marriages – the charm is in getting married. The man and the woman are fighting and convincing the parents/family and their only goal is to get married. Most of the time they do not have a real courtship. Then the men expect their wife to “adjust” because his parents have been great to “accept” her. I write so-called love marriages because most of the time people mistake infatuation for love. Our bollywood movies do not help much harping on first love because I believe love does not happen – it grows.

      True! The thing about “love” marriages, is there’s a very narrow view and idealized view of what love is.

      When people are really in love there is no expectation to change the other person and no talks of compromises. Compromise is a dirty word. No mother says that she makes compromises on her sleep because of her baby. People make adjustments because they love each other and care for each other’s happiness.

      Exactly! That’s part of the definition of love. When you expect so many changes from your partner once you enter marriage, what usually happens is they change so much and you stop being in love with them. I feel that’s why so many marriages in the US fail, because people expect too many compromises and in the end, they just because become entirely different people.

      I absolutely hate it when people say that second marriages are more successful because you have lower expectations. I would put it this way that then you have realistic expectations. In any relationship there are things you cannot compromise on and the key is to know this. What is important for you may be trivial for others.

      I agree 100%. There are things you just cannot give up. That’s why it’s important to ask before entering marriage is how much are you willing to compromise?

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      • @RenKiss

        People expect a whole truckload of compromises here too. A lot of people expect their wives to stop working and to turn into, I dunno, some insane parody of a Stepford Wife. They also want to be mothered and fussed over as though they were four. I’ve actually seen this happen to a friend who had a semi-arranged marriage (parents got them to meet and they took it forward from there). Three years ago, she was…smart as a whip. Oodles of self-confidence. An MBA from HBS.
        And today? A timid, mousy housewife who’d be a lot more apt to recite the her husband’s favorite recipe than project management fundamentals. Change and compromise, huh?

        One reason for the very low divorce rate in India is that there’s no concept of “moving on”. If your marriage completely sucks, you don’t file for divorce or even head to the marriage counselor; you grin and bear it. Possibly forever.

        Apart from the stigma thing, I see this as a cultural thing too. In Indian society, failure at ANYTHING is seen as very shameful. It’s just not an option. You need to have the perfect GPA, the perfect job, the perfect kids, the coolest car, the nicest wedding, the biggest house yadda yadda yadda. Divorce is an admission of failure in a crucial aspect of life – total anathema.

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    • Divya, I agree with you term “choice marriage”. Thus, an arranged marriage can also be a “choice marriage” if the parties are only brought together by family members but ultimately allowed to choose. I have actually seen this happen.

      I don’t agree with a couple of statements though:
      1. “In so-called love marriages – the charm is in getting married. The man and the woman are fighting and convincing the parents/family and their only goal is to get married. Most of the time they do not have a real courtship.” This is a rather sweeping statement. I actually know of only one person in my friends circle/family who had an arranged marriage. The rest would I guess be termed “love”. There was no struggle in most of the cases to persuade the family. Most had been seeing each other for at least two years.
      2. “I believe love does not happen – it grows.” Exactly. So what makes you think that in the process of fighting to get married, if that is even what happens all the time, love cannot grow?
      3. “Compromise is a dirty word. No mother says that she makes compromises on her sleep because of her baby. People make adjustments because they love each other and care for each other’s happiness.”: It has become fashionable to call compromise a dirty word (maybe because it has been misused by the conservatives in the world but I don’t think that takes away the essential meaning of the word). I don’t see what the big difference in what you are calling “adjustments” and compromise. I don’t see a marriage working without compromise/adjustments/whatever you want to call it. So sometimes you give up stuff because of someone else – isn’t that the story of life? It’s only if it’s one-sided is it problem.

      By the way, I am a mother and I complain about being sleep deprived all the time. It does not come easily to wake up every two hours to feed a baby. It does not come naturally. It is hard. I hated it. But I did it because I love my child.

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  35. It’s really interesting to know about a marriage decided by a monkey. But anything is possible in GV’s case. I’m envious to see the beautiful lady by his side. Both are looking gorgeous.

    In my humble opinion marriages are made in heaven . It needs a sensible and matured spouse for the marriage to work smoothly in both the cases , either love or arranged marriage.

    Mine is an arranged marriage , because it was arranged so , by the almighty. But i always support the young souls in love struggling hard to get married against their parents will.

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  36. .

    वही माता पिता जो अपने बच्चों की ख़ुशी के लिए अपना सर्वस्व कुर्बान करने के लिए तत्पर रहते हैं , वो आखिर क्यूँ अपनी संतान के खिलाफ हो जाते हैं जब वो अपनी पसंद की लड़की अथवा लड़के से शादी करना चाहते हैं।

    जब बच्चे वयस्क हो जाते हैं , तो वो अपना अच्छा बुरा समझने के लायक हो जाते हैं। इसलिए विवाह जैसा अहम् फैसला संतान की मर्जी से ही होना चाहिए। और माता-पिता को अपने बच्चे की ख़ुशी में शामिल होकर अपने आशीर्वाद के साथ , उनके चयन को सम्मान देकर उनका मनोबल बढ़ाना चाहिए।

    जीवन में चाहे आपदाएं आयें, चाहे समस्याएं , चाहे तिरस्कार , प्रत्येक स्थिति में यदि कोई साथ देता है तो वो हैं माता पिता और परिवार वाले। फिर प्रेम विवाह जैसी परिस्थिति में माँ बाप साथ क्यूँ नहीं देते जबकि उस समय उन मासूम बच्चों को समाज के प्रतिकार से बचने के लिए अपनों की सबसे ज्यादा ज़रुरत होती है ।

    प्रेम तो एक सदगुण है फिर प्रेम विवाह समाज में इतना उपेक्षित क्यूँ है ? क्या मनचाहा जीवन-साथी पाने के लिए अपनों से जुदा होना ही नियति है मासूमों की ? या फिर क्रूर परिवार वाले अपने झूठे दंभ को पोषित करने के लिए इसी तरह प्रेम करने वालों की जान के प्यासे बने रहेंगे सदा ?

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    • ” प्रेम विवाह जैसी परिस्थिति में माँ बाप साथ क्यूँ नहीं देते जबकि उस समय उन मासूम बच्चों को समाज के प्रतिकार से बचने के लिए अपनों की सबसे ज्यादा ज़रुरत होती है ।”

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  37. .

    नव युवक एवं युवतियां जिनमें भिन्न भिन्न तरह की नौकरी करने की योग्यता आ जाती है , घर चला लेती हैं , खाना बना सकती हैं , देश- विदेश की समस्यायों पर विचार कर सकते हैं, वोट डालने के अधिकार का सही इस्तेमाल कर सकते हैं, वो क्या अपने लिए सही जीवन-साथी का चुनाव नहीं कर सकते ?

    क्या माँ बाप अपने बच्चे के साथ-साथ अपने होने वाले बहू या दामाद को आशीर्वाद देकर उनकी खुशियों में शामिल होने से छोटे हो जायेंगे या अपनी गरिमा खो देंगे ?

    मुझे लगता है माता-पिता को इस अहम् अवसर पर अपनी इच्छाओं के बजाये अपनी संतान की खुशियों को अहमियत देनी चाहिए। आखिर विवाह के बाद तो उन्हें साथ जिंदगी गुजारनी है । माता पिता की तो निभ चुकी।

    बच्चों की खुशियों में शरीक होकर दो परिवारों का मिलन हो सकता है। वही संतान शेष जीवन अपने बड़ों की छत्र-छाया में ख़ुशी-ख़ुशी गुजार सकती है।

    लेकिन उनके पीछे पड़कर उन्हें तिरस्कृत और सहमी हुई जिंदगी देकर उन्हें गुनाह के बोझ तले क्यूँ दबाते हैं।

    बच्चे के मन की शादी करके , माता-पिता बच्चों को सबसे अनमोल तोहफा दे सकते हैं। विवाह के बाद तो बच्चे माता-पिता से कुछ मांगते नहीं। बड़े हो जाते हैं वो । अंतिम अवसर जब संतान अपने शेष जीवन के लिए माता-पिता से उनका आशीर्वाद मांगती है , तो बड़ों को ये अवसर कभी चूकना नहीं चाहिए। इसके बाद कोई कुछ मांगता नहीं है । विवाह के बाद तो संतान पर ही जिम्मेदारी होती है माता-पिता को सभी खुशियाँ देने की।

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  38. As for the 2nd story, I don’t even feel sympathy for the man or the woman involved. I don’t find the story funny either, I fail to see the humor there, if there is any.

    A friend of mine tells me he is getting hitched soon. I’m all excited for him, and push for details. It is going to be an arranged marriage. He starts with “The girl is not good looking. She is OK-OK” (!!! yes, that was his first statement about his would be wife. I was too stunned for words to smack his head. This is how he chooses to introduce his would-be-wife to his friends) and says “lekin kaafi suljhi hui ladki hai” and also says that he didn’t get to talk to her properly yet and that her parents are pushing for the wedding in a month’s time. I ask him, if he hasn’t had a proper talk with her yet, how did he agree for the wedding? and also how did he know that the girl is ‘suljhi hui’ (sorted). He just laughs (very nervous laughter) and says “Good question!.. bas mujhe aisa laga”. And for agreeing to the marriage, he says, his father has given his word and it would be disrespecting his father if he disagrees. It is apparently against his culture. So, there. [For some context, the guy is 32, an Engineer and very well placed in an MNC in an Indian metropolitan city (in pure matrimonial lingo) and the girl is also an Engineer, but unemployed.]

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to write that 2nd story, a few years later, though I hope luck favors him and he gets to write something like the 1st story.

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  39. IHM,

    Some time tomorrow, I hope to find time to reply and thank all friends for their their responses. Hopefully, I will also answer some of their questions. That is not going to be easy.

    I am touched by the compliments so many readers have paid to my wife’s looks. I knew she was absolutely stunning, but did not expect so many to endorse my opinion.

    That picture of ours has been a hit with a lot of friends and relatives too.
    It is a rare and precious one from my album.

    That was taken in 1975.
    If you are curious to see what the intervening thirty six years have done to our appearance, take a look at a couple of very recent pictures taken at home.
    It’s rare that she wears a Sari these days. She is mostly clad in a Salvaar-Kameez. On the rare occasion she wears a sari, I grab the opportunity and get someone to click.


    Time has treated her better than it has treated me.
    She still looks stunning to me.
    I am grateful, my hair is still intact though it has turned gray. The wrinkles will soon be here and I am glad I have this picture when my face is still presentable.

    Regards
    GV

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  40. I am sure most of what I have to say is covered. Not all arranged marriages are the same. Few things I would like to high light.

    – Its the bride and groom that decided to get married and Parents merely brought the bride and the groom together
    – They were able to communicate for extended period before they got married
    – Money is not involved
    – Parents being childhood friends, probably didn’t henpeck each other about give and take.. Must have enjoyed the wedding thoroughly
    – Brides parents seemed considerate of their daughters feelings.
    – Even though on the covers it seemed that parents were forcing the kids, kids and parents were able to comes to terms that made every one happy. That way, bride and grooms interests were respected to some extent.

    I think these are the key points that IHM also highlighted in her post.

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  41. I got into arranged marriage which was quite an out of fashion among my friends and
    most my close friends got into the marriage only through love.They knew everything
    from his favorite color and they had planned their honeymoon way before…mine was completely decided by my parents and the process did embarrass me and the expectations were high…

    But after the initial year, everyone of my friends and myself pretty much had the same problem,handling the differences …no matter love or arranged marriage….how to be matured and be understanding for the relationship to nurture…
    It comes with lot of ego bruises and to always do the right thing for the sake of the relationship is not easy …is plain hard work… (as Gounder Brownie says..)

    After some point in a marriage ,the mode of marriage does not matter….it boils down to how willing you are to work for the survival of this
    relationship that involves 2 normal human beings who care for each other with respect and love…And that said, i will never support a forced arranged marriage or blind love

    If the individuals getting into the marriage have reasonable expectations for todays day and age and if they are aware of what they are getting into about the responsibilities,compromises without any sugar-coating it should work out….

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    • Not disputing the fact that all relationships require hard work. But the only thing is that anyone ought to be spared the embarrassment you said you faced during the process. That is my problem with these kind of marriages. And I agree with that point about blind love. Too much is made of first love and we see young people who have barely seen life tumbling into matrimony expecting it to be a bed of roses. Also, I feel some kind of love marriages are also forced. They hurry into a marriage because they are afraid that if they don’t make haste, they would be married off to someone else. Also, they could be getting married for fear of losing that person to the society. If one did not have to fight tooth and nail to marry a person of your choice (good or bad), one would perhaps not make this mistake of marrying to just prove a point.

      Like

  42. GV’s story was absolutely adorable. As silly as it might sound I got all mushy mushy and sat and went through our own wedding photos and video 😀

    I do want to comment on the second story though…
    I read it, and felt hard to empathise with either of them. If he spent some of his time talking to his wife, taking the initiative to make a conversation with her, rather than writing this rant article, it would help him (and her) more. Not getting time to write when he wants to, seems like a issue that can be resolved by conversation. These small issues might add up into resentment and frustration towards being married, if not resolved on time. One of the major (and probably number one for me) factors in a marriage is communication.

    But then, being in a marriage you dont want to be in seems like a very complicated situation, and I cant really imaging myself to be thinking from his perspective.

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    • I need to clarify in my comment above: by “small issue” i dont mean to demean the importance of “writing whenever he wants to”.. Of course this might be important to the guy… All I am trying to say is dont complain publicly about your wife.. If you are unhappy about the arrangement, *do something to fix it*!
      I hope I was not misunderstood in my above comment 🙂
      -Neha

      Like

  43. That was a lovely story. But as some others have pointed out, GV’s story is more of a love marriage, because of the way things panned out – they got two years to talk to each other, understand each other. Even today, not many parents would be willing to have such a long engagement. I have known parents to push couples into getting married, as soon as they first meet.

    There is no way of trying to decide which is better, arranged or love- both could be successful, both could be unsuccessful. Yes, when two people are almost forced to get married, it is even more difficult to get out, so in that sense, maybe some arranged marriages might last even though they are technically dead marriages..

    As for the second story, for a story which was supposedly funny, I found it sad! I can’t help wonder why people enter marriages like this. As for married men, not having the freedom to eat out, is that even funny? And I can’t help wonder how he would have reacted if she were the one who had office work to do or a blog to post?

    Like

  44. IHM, have you seen the movie “The Householder” starring Shashi Kapoor and Leela Naidu? I think the movie sums up both stories very nicely. If you get a chance, do watch the movie. I would love to hear your thoughts about the movie.

    Like

  45. A very interesting story and a bunch of very insightful and thought-provoking comments. Thank you, author and commenters!

    Like

  46. Question for ladies…Why girls want marriage and then they want divorce? why waste time, money, energy? simply don’t marry. if elders push for marriage have a guts show the middle finger to them. End of the story.

    Like

    • Well, who knows, right? What if your spouse turns out to be a cheater? Or worse, a closet Pepsi addict?

      A lot of men (and women) wait a few years before letting out their inner demons properly. People change, situations change, kids arrive… a lot of things happen. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes you get unpleasant surprises about your partner. You need the option to walk out when things get TOO unpleasant.

      At that point, I guess it’s a lot easier to waste a bit of time, money and energy than to waste the rest of your life with an idiot. Besides, if you have a decent pre-nup, it’s not a waste of money at all.

      Not a lady, by the way, but I figured I’d respond.

      Like

  47. Pingback: GV’s response to comments on ‘A marriage decided by a monkey.’ « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  48. Wonderful story and lovely picture.You narration is very sincere.

    I believe that marriage is basically a market where each individual in it is both a buyer and a seller.There is also a price/value fixed to everyone in this market.Arranged marriage is certainly recommended mode to go for when one has an excellent profile or very good looks.Because that is what catches attention initially.Even today when we see matrimonial profiles, what catches peoples attention is degrees,status and looks.But still some very good and nice people may not find good valuations in the arranged marriage market.That is the main flaw of the process of arranged marriage.They match people by height, weight, color, degree etc.The best form of arranged marriage is ‘arrangement by recommendation’ which is also your case.Since you married your fathers friend’s daughter it might have been much easier for the 2 families to trust each other and go ahead with the marriage.

    But for some really nice people who really don’t get good valuations it is better to go for a self arranged(love) marriage. Most love marriages happen between people who have studied together/worked together or who have lived in the same neighborhood.Under such conditions you get to see and observe the other person in many different situations.Such relationships also generally evolve from plain friendships or acquaintances.

    I personally have no biases to either type of marriage.Both have their flaws.But if pursued well,both methods can succeed.

    Like

  49. I loved GVs story! The pic is how it should be on a wedding day – a happy smiling couple!! But I am done with arranged marriages…have seen too many to have any other opinion on it ( offourse there are exceptions like GVs). Let’s give love marriage a chance now!
    In my opinion GV not only got lucky, he had too many factors in his favour biggest being he is a ‘male’, then his FIL was childhood friends etc etc. Even though an arranged marriage is arranged by parents, its the families that give a bumpy start to it. Expectations are always there even though they will pretend to be modern. The ladkey waley will still expect dowry/expensive gifts even though they will say they dont want any ( and the girl suffers the consequence from day one – in my case, the maid suddenly called in sick the day the relatives left and never turned up untill I got out!! ). Even though ladki’s parents will pretend to give the right to choose to their daughter, they expect her to say ‘yes’ anyway cos they had already checked out the family and all seems ok to them (Gets worse if the girl had already rejected a proposal or two but the parents would have her married yesterday!!)

    Like

  50. What a gorgeous, happy, confident couple in that picture! GV, your wife is beautiful. And what a charming story. I also love that part of it is set in Visakhapatnam, my home town.

    Going through some of the comments, I feel like there is some sort of an arranged marriage versus love marriage discussion going on. But I don’t see why one should be worse than another. Both of them will work, depending on the people and the context.

    Most of my closest friends have had arranged marriages, and they are very happy. They met the guy their parents introduced them to and spent a few months getting to know each other before agreeing to tie the knot. They were doubts and hesitations before the wedding, there have been fights after the wedding, but they are all happy in their marriages.

    Many other friends and I have had love marriages. We’ve met our spouses in various manners and spent a few months/years getting to know each other before agreeing to tie the knot. They were doubts and hesitations before the wedding, there have been fights after the wedding, but we are all happy in our marriages.

    At the same time, I have seen about an equal number of arranged marriages and love marriages result in a divorce. So I think it is really difficult to see one can guarantee happy marriages more than the other. I think arranged marriages work because they couple comes from a similar socio-economic and cultural background, thus minimising the differences in the couple’s lifestyles. However, in an increasingly cosmopolitan world, this alone isn’t enough – the couple needs to get to know each other and spend time together before deciding to get married. And hopefully, an increasing number of parents realise this too!

    Like

  51. I’m late to the party but I had to add my two cents.

    Mr Vishwanath, I loved your style of writing, your story and the picture. Your wife does indeed look lovely but more than anything, it’s the happiness that’s oozing in the picture that had me. Candid shots capture emotions rather sharply and to see so much happiness in this one, it’s heartwarming. You know what they say? A picture is worth a thousand words? Well, that one just said a thousand for arranged marriages then. Actually, so do the other two. Best wishes to you both.

    Having said that, I don’t necessarily have an opinion for or against arranged marriages. They work for some people. For others, they don’t. A number of my friends, close ones too, have had arranged marriages. So maybe they’re the poster-people for such matches but what I think is that more than anything, they are the poster people for mature and harmonious relationships. That, to me, is a Marriage. And it really doesn’t matter how you met your partner if you end up with that.

    I think what I’m trying to say is, there is far too much judgement, most of it unnecessary, when it comes to relationships that are essentially very very personal — between two people and two people only. We live in a society where everything is judged. Being single, being in a relationship, being a long committed relationship, wanting to get married, not wanting to get married, having a bid wedding, having a small wedding, having an arranged marriage, having a choice marriage. That is a whole lot of judgement, and the sad thing about it? It helps no one! In fact, if anything, it puts far more pressure on the whole concept of a relationship than it probably ought to. I think we’d all be much better off if we were to focus on appreciating the good bit of the equation and where there exists a bad bit, trying to proactively change it. Arguing that apples are better than oranges doesn’t do anything. It’s no good giving apples to a person with Vitamin C deficiency. Or thinking someone’s an oddity because they were born an brought up in a place that grew oranges.

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  52. Thanks Ramya and Dewdrop Dream for your kind words even though it is late and the focus in this blog has shifted to another topic.
    I almost didn’t read your comment as I thought this was a closed topic.

    I agree with Dewdrop Dream.
    We needn’t sit in judgment.

    I also thank other readers for their responses.
    I haven’t been able to respond individually to each comment but I have read them all more than once and I have saved up this web page.
    I will cherish this for all time to come.
    Thanks once again to IHM for turning the spotlight on me and making me feel like a minor celebrity on this page even if was for just a couple of days!
    It was almost like reliving my pre-wedding days and the ceremony itself.
    I never dreamed this post would be so well received by so many of you.
    After all it was an intensely personal experience and I did hesitate a bit before sending it to IHM for consideration.

    I look forward to future participation and discussions in this blog as frequently as possible. I must say I am enjoying my visits here in spite of disagreements with some of you, on some issues.

    Hopefully this is the concluding comment on this post but as a precaution, I am checking the “Notify me of follow up comments via email” box. I will respond if there are further comments.

    If there is any person who wishes express himself/herself privately, you can mail me directly too. My email address will be available by clicking on my picture in my profile. Normally bloggers discourage disclosing email addresses and telephone numbers on their pages and I am therefore not giving them here.

    Regards
    GV

    Like

  53. GV,IHM, I know I am very late here but…..
    In a caste/clan based feudal system marriages were always forced on women and to some extend on men as it happened in case of GV.Such marriages always survive because the wife is conditioned to play a subordinate role.Since the level of expectation from the wife is very low most of those marriages can be called ‘happy’ marriages if they exceed the expectation of the wife.
    As we progress into a money based capitalist system women are not that much conditioned to play a subordinate role. They can now earn their living and are confident enough to decide for themselves their future. Women and men start finding their own mate as clan/caste relationships have a diminishing role to play in the society. That is why it became imperative and easy for GV’s children to find their own mates. This may not mean ‘happy’ marriages because in this transit phase marriage is still given a sacred place and the couple expect too much from it.As the woman is no longer ready to play the subordinate role friction increases, but the couple try to continue in an unhappy relationship because of the presumed sacredness of the institution of marriage.
    Later we will enter a phase in which marriage is considered less sacred and then live in relationships will thrive. Many countries in the West have reached that phase now.

    Like

    • Thanks Charakan for your very pertinent observations.

      I agree with your views.

      I should not present my marriage as a model marriage for modern times.

      Times have changed indeed and are still constantly changing.

      Once, marriages in our society were perhaps decided during childhood.
      Just as one never got to choose one’s parents, one did not get to choose one’s spouse.
      No one felt it was an issue at all. You just learned to accept and live with your spouse, just as you learned to live and accept your parents, siblings and children.
      The spouse is just another such person in your life. If you got a bad spouse, it was your fate and you stoically accept it.
      Don’t we today accept as God’s will, the birth of a child with some handicap?

      My late mother’s marriage was decided when she was only 14.
      She got to see my Dad (just 18) on the day of the wedding.
      Not once did I hear my mom and dad cribbing about this.
      It was common during those times.

      Later we progressed to allowing the couple to see each other even though it was expected to be a mere formality. My parents believed they were compromising with the times in allowing me to have a weak say in the choice of my partner.
      No one expected either of the partners to decline the alliance, once the horoscopes had matched, and the family elders had settled all issues including dowry if any.

      My parents opposition to the love marriage of my elder brother and their reluctant yielding after weeks of tension in the family is still fresh in my mind. Relations between my brother’s wife and my parents were very formal, never warm. Contact between my parents and my brother’s in laws were also stiff, cold, formal, and minimal. Fortunately my brother and his wife always lived separately from my parents and they met only met during family occasions.

      The next step was logically choice marriages initially within the same caste.
      This progressed to choice marriages out of caste, outside the religion too and sometimes marriage to foreigners.

      One by one they are all gaining acceptance after the initial opposition.
      I can see the writing on the wall and I am sure live in arrangements will soon become common, initially as a prelude to marriage, and later perhaps in lieu of marriage itself.

      We, in our generation have no choice but to accept it.
      We may oppose and talk ourselves hoarse, but we cannot stop it.

      What makes us uncomfortable now now will be common to another generation.
      May be, the next generation will be uncomfortable with some other development.
      This will probably be marriages between partners of the same sex.
      Some of us are horrified today by the suggestion, but the next generation will be tolerant and later generations may see nothing to get agitated about.

      I foresee marriages, with children being postponed till retirement.
      People may store their sperm and eggs to be used in their middle ages.
      I also foresee diminishing resistance to having children born of eggs and sperm donated by others. You could get to choose the genes of the baby.

      Some men and women with desirable qualities may become professional sperm/egg donors.

      Far fetched? It may seem now. I won’t be surprised if it becomes a reality.
      Of course I won’t be there when these things become common.
      Thanks for your feedback.
      Regards
      GV

      Like

  54. Pingback: Dear 35 year old would be groom, | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  55. Very well written, Sir! Such at lovely story. Wish you both a great life.
    I would be more than happy to read how your relationship has grown more and more fonder in the two years gap you and your wife were away. And maybe scan a letter and upload too? 😉
    Or may be, the story is already up here, and i somehow missed out on finding it.
    If it is already here, please provide the link.

    Thankyou.

    Like

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