Monday, November 13, 2006

Pre-shaadi snooping

So it's wedding season -- not just for me, but for thousands of couples throughout India. I'm not really sure why November-February is considered so auspicious, but I suppose it probably relates to the fact that the weather is bearable. Anyhow, everyone's getting hitched, and, always desperate to discover the next big trend, HT City brings us "Knot guilty: Is marriage on your mind? Someone may be stalking you -- perhaps, a detective your prospective in-laws have hired..." (Monika Adlakha, Nov. 13, 2006, Delhi edition).

Essentially, it seems that people are hiring private investigators to track (primarily) brides to be to make sure that the girl is "suitable" for marriage.

So what do agencies check, according to the article? "The bad news continues to be for the single-and-ready-to-mingle gang, particularly if you are a girl, as 'too much of openness is a complete no, that's the first thing we are asked to check,' says Sanjay Singh of Indian Detective Agency, adding, '...the enquiries for the girl's character have seen a rise.'"

Let me get this straight: women are spied upon by their potential families, and doing something so innocuous as, for example, talking to a man who is not the prospective husband can lead to a report being filed about how one is unsuitable? This is insane. Yes, with the proliferation of e-dating sites and marriage classifieds, you may be thinking about tying yourself to a person with whom your family is not intimately acquainted. But wouldn't it be more fruitful to, oh, spend time getting to know a person and their family, and judge from those interactions whether or not you think it's a good match? I am constantly told how impersonal and rude Americans are, but this strikes me as a far greater slight to the human spirit than my decision to read a book during my car ride to work.

Now, of course, people are free to waste their (thousands and thousands of) rupees as they see fit, but is this really necessary? No person is infallible; must I really live in fear that my decision to talk with a friend at a cafe is an irrevocable denunciation of my loose ways? Sigh.

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