The year I turned 31 was one of my best years. I married someone whom I believe is my soulmate. Up until that year, I had gone through a string of bad break ups. Three to be exact. Two of them were with ex-girlfriends who I used to love dearly. One of them was with an ex-fiance who I was head over heels in love with. When I say they were bad breakups, I mean they were bad. Awful. Horrible. I won’t get into the nitty gritty as to why I broke up with my girlfriends, and/or vice versa. But they were so bad that in my last relationship, my ex and I shouted at each other at a posh restaurant in Gurgaon, on Valentines Day. You can imagine the many judgmental looks we received from aunties and uncles.
I was a hopeless romantic. I truly believed in the “one” and I strongly felt that if I searched hard enough, I would find her. It would have pleased me to no end had I found her with my own efforts. I did not ever want to ask my parents to help me pick my wife and go down the arranged marriage route. However, I was downtrodden by my luck with love and I decided it was time for a change.
So I went to Mom and Dad and asked them to help me find a life partner. Within a week, Mom had six biodatas at the ready. I would like to think that it was my looks that attracted so many biodatas within a week. But I’m pretty sure my pudgy face and bald head helped me fail that litmus test rather quickly. I did have a decent job though and although our family wasn’t filthy rich, we were well educated. So maybe that contributed to the plethora of biodatas. When I received the stack, I remember thinking that in India, there must be a vast number of young women who are desperate to get married, or perhaps, there must be a vast number of parents who are desperate to see their daughters married off. Anyways, that’s a conjecture/truth I do not want to get into for this story.
So I had a bunch of biodatas in hand. You know how guys use Tinder? We look at the photo, and if she looks the part, we tend to swipe right? That’s pretty much what I did with the six biodatas in front of me. I took a look at each girl’s photo, skimmed through what she likes to do (barely read it) and chose the prettiest one. Her name was Shalini (not her real name) and she wore a jeans and top in her photo. I looked through Shalini’s biodata a bit more closely. She had graduated from a good private university. She had studied English as her major (so she must speak English well) and she worked at a news agency. Hmm, I thought. Doesn’t seem like a bad match. Why not give it a shot? She’s pretty, she speaks English, hence, she probably is more liberal. When I showed my mother Shalini’s biodata, she told me she had a feeling I would pick her. She had already gone through all the biodatas in great detail before she handed me the pile, expecting Shalini would be the one I would most likely pick, given the quality of biodatas in the stack. Clever woman!
Shalini and I were married within a year. We had a big, somewhat fat, Indian wedding. I say big because as tradition dictates, my parents and her parents were forced to invite everyone (including many extended family members we never met) to our wedding. I say somewhat fat because neither of our families was supremely wealthy enough to afford the massive “ho halla” that you would imagine in a typical Bollywood style wedding.
Festivities aside, my marriage with Shalini is rock solid and going strong. There are many reasons why we match well. I’m opinionated, she is not. When I get worked up, she knows how to calm me down. I love taking care of her, and she loves it when I show her affection.
I’ve come to understand that Shalini doesn’t mind (even likes, I daresay) fulfilling traditional Indian gender roles. She loves to cook, and she loves to make dishes I find yummy. I don’t always cook for her, but the few times I do, she loves what I make (she doesn’t let me feel like my cooking is bad, even though I know it is). She loves decorating our house and does not permit me to have much say in anything other than my room. I love this, because that allows me to not get involved at all in the homemaking, something I am completely content not doing. Most importantly, Shalini has a wonderful relationship with my parents. She has fostered this over time and loves bonding with my mother. Whether she is helping her cook for a party or going on social outings with Mom and her friends, my Mom always says that I am lucky to have a wife like Shalini. Truly, I am lucky. I am astounded that my arranged marriage, which my mother brokered, ended up being such a great match for both of us.