Brides and Grooms Wanted. Looking for a wife in India - not for the faint of heart
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The photo was a knockout postcard-size picture of what looked like a movie queen in her early 20s. What to do next? I decided to consult my neighbor who originally showed me the ad. He has been anxiously searching for a spouse for several years but has not yet found the right girl.
``Shambhu,'' I asked, ``what should I do about Punit?''
``She looks like the right girl for you. She doesn't care about your caste, nationality, or religion, and she seems very smart. I would visit her if I were you, or invite her to come here. Talk to her on the telephone just to hear her voice. I find that's a wonderful way to get to know someone.''
I was surprised at how fast things seemed to be moving. I had a much slower time frame in mind, but I was quickly altering my perspective.
``If I invite her to come here,'' I asked with some hesitancy, ``where would she stay, etc.?'' The answers were all well-established protocols worked out over eons of experience.
``She will take care of the overnight travel and you pay for the hotel and meals. No, she will not share a room with you. You will get her a room in a nice nearby hotel.''
``But Shambhu, do things always move this quickly?''
He explained his latest effort at wife-hunting. ``I just returned from Calcutta where I went to see this girl who happens to be from my same biradri (subcaste). I met her family and she is very nice, although she is not very pretty. Not ugly, mind you, but not very pretty. She speaks well, knows English, and I was pleased.''
``So you went all the way there, and what happened?''
``We met, we talked, and she said she was ready to make a firm commitment, but I didn't go that far. I have two other girls in Bombay and Bangalore to see first. The one in Bombay is very clever but always talking about her karma and astrology. The one in Bangalore, my brother met and he says she is OK, but physically we are a misfit. I am small and slim. She is a tall, heavy-built Punjabi girl. But he said I should meet her and make my own decision.''
``So you want to check out these other girls before you give Calcutta a definite answer.''
``That's right, and anyway her father wants to make a site visit to see for himself if all I said checks out. Apparently she had an unfortunate experience recently when a marriage was all sewed up and it turned out the prospective groom was an alcoholic.''
``I am getting the hang of this business now. Your advice is to go for it?''
``With a vengeance, my friend,'' said Shambhu.
``I am now getting my postcard-size photos ready. I have changed my attitude about long-distance phone calls and travel to unheard-of places. I am still not ready to make a commitment after moments of introduction, but I am working on that, too.''
``Good,'' said Shambhu, ``that's progress. Remember, this marriage business is not for the faint of heart.''