Taking a dip in the flourishing industry of Indian matrimonial ads. Being reasonable. Being sarcastic.
What is the one common thing to all Indian newspapers except news? Matrimonial ads. Whether it is a local newspaper barely surviving the market or a national one, there is a page dedicated to helping the youth ‘settle’.
A beautiful buffet platter is served every once or twice a week. Whatever your taste, there’s a dish to sooth your tingling buds.
In the sea of so many ads, everyone wants attention. Maybe, that’s why they write ‘Wanted’ in such big bold letters. We are so accustomed to hearing this word when the police are in search of criminals that the advertisers have to line up the space with gorgeous borders to subtle the effect. While the ads themselves are struggling for space and attention, the borders have a competition going of their own.
The size of the ad is fair game. You get as much as you pay. A person with a hefty salary should have a certain size of matrimonial ad. It might otherwise be interpreted in two ways. Either the person is a cheat who doesn’t mind posting wrong information to get a partner or she/he is a money hoarder who doesn’t like to waste even a penny. Befuddling, huh?
On closer inspection, we can see that the life of prospective brides and grooms is reduced to a fixed array of words to suit the budget. The ingredients are splattered on the paper and garnished with a few adjectives that may or may not describe the subject of concern. I have really stretched the food analogy, haven’t I?
All important specifications like height, complexion, weight, qualification, salary, age, hobbies are written. These are the things to look for. I wish I had found just somewhere between the lines an ad that wrote, ‘a good human being’. But then I realized; why would it even be relevant? It’s not like you have to spend your life with that person. Oh wait, it is.
Writing a matrimonial ad is a craft. Any seasoned player of this game will tell you that these ads have a language of their own. To us it sounds purely mathematical while they can read between the lines to find unsaid information.
Perfectly good words like ‘down to earth’ and ‘humble’ are interpreted as poor. Adjectives like ‘domesticated’ and ‘traditional’ mean that the girl knows cooking, taking care of the home, and doesn’t mind doing it for the rest of her life.
Some ads also thought it was worth pointing out what the bride will wear after marriage. “Modern girl, wears jeans”. This restored all my faith in humanity. Is appearance and choice of clothing the only criteria, what the groom should be looking for, while choosing a partner? I couldn’t find an ad where the groom had to explain what he will prefer to wear after marriage.
Unsaid information is an open area left for attack. If someone doesn’t mention salary it is assumed to be less than the set mark. Whatever you think isn’t important to put on a matrimonial ad for the whole world to see, becomes the thing you must be lacking.
The contact information is also a little too revealing. The pin code gauges your financial ability. Some people specially get an email id for correspondence for this purpose. This dedication of the family shows how serious the subject is for marriage.
Like we refer the dictionary based on alphabets, matrimonial ads are governed by castes. Just like we don’t stroll through ‘y’ if we are searching the meaning of a word from ‘c’, you only look for the caste which you belong to. Some open minded people have come up with a ‘caste no barrier’ section. Goodness is reaching everywhere.
The others will have to perform the disciplined ceremony of reading the matrimonial section until a ‘caste specific’ model of a desired partner pops an ad.
Once you find a model with exactly all the features, you get reviews. From the cousins of uncles and the uncles of cousins, everyone gets a ring asking if their uncles or cousins or cousins of uncles have ever heard of the model that you have shown interest in. Eventually, you find someone who knows the partner you have decided to meet and turns cupid by making sure you have all your questions and doubts addressed before the first meeting.
I wonder if anyone has thought that some decades down the line, the specifications will start changing. Hair will fall and weight will change. The only thing that will remain is love, understanding, friendship, and a good heart. Is there is a newspaper that gives ads for those things?
Image Source: Pixabay