Wednesday, March 02, 2005

eMatrimony - Part II

Still with me? Much appreciated!

So, as I said earlier, with the advent of the age of individualism (I refer to the our generation and that of our parents to some extent), considerable changes in the total outlook towards the matrimonial issue were brought about. This was possible because of paradigm shifts in our socio-economic, cultural and psychological profile, brought upon by enhanced scope and necessity of travel, whether work-related or not, lifestyle changes, and increased exposure - direct or indirect - to influences that were formerly alien (Not the saucer-racing, reed-thin, glassy-eyed, green-tinged, big-head-pointy-jaw kind...).

That engendered a broadening of mind, exchange of ideas, free expression of thoughts and so forth - in short, it created an environment in which the individuals interacted with each other more freely, got acquainted, expressed interest, articulated feelings, and in the end, if everything worked out well, settled down for matrimonial bliss. And thus was born "Love Marriage". The individual now had a say in who he or she wanted to spend the rest of the lifetime with; romance, passion, chemistry and so forth became the watchwords of the new generation and cornerstones of new relationships. Again, we have scores of movies and sitcoms that dedicate themselves solely to the glorification of this end.

I must make one distinction here. Unlike in the Western world (often portrayed as 'permissive'), in India, the system, and associated paraphernalia, of dating did not exist - at least until recent times. People did not go out with casual acquaintances or strangers, hoping to strike the right chord somewhere and igniting some spark; there was no organized self-advertisement. Sex is taboo in India anyway (such a pity - in the land of KamaSutra, too), and casual sexual gratification, though not unheard of, was not popular, and was certainly not running through every fibers of a man or a woman's mind whenever they found an interest in someone.

People met in common circles, in workplaces, and sometimes in strange lands. Expression of common interests would often lead to courtship, which was considered a very important time for both parties concerned. They would invest time, energy and effort in knowing each other, and many a time infatuation or even interest would burgeon into romantic involvement, leading finally to marriage. As you would have guessed, more than anything, the Indian man and woman primarily seeks stability in a relationship, and since we have been conditioned to consider the marriage vows as sacred and immutable, marriage essentially represents the sought-after stability in the conjugal relationship. This is where most Indian movies end, too. You may call it the 'happily-ever-after' syndrome, which, it is becoming increasingly clear, is not as graven in stone as was imagined earlier. In order to make a marriage work, both partners have to work at it; what is encouraging is that people have now started recognizing that. But I am digressing as usual.

The generation of parents did not give in that easily, though. Often, the son would leave the household after fighting his parents, because they would blindly refuse to accept his choice of a bride. Or, some daughter would elope with a young man of her choice, and get married in a temple or a civil court in presence of friends but no family, because the young man did not measure up in the eyes of the parents. Rather than some genuine incompatibility between the family and the young bride, most of these situations were created because of a steadfast stubbornness on part of the parents to accept that their children had grown up and were capable of making intelligent decisions about their own lives. Many of these marriages worked beautifully, some did not - but that happens every where, with every thing.

Thankfully, in modern day India, this is changing; the change has been coming on for quite some time now. Many of today's parents interact with their offsprings in a positive manner, giving them space and helping with their wisdom, and allowing them to make a good decision and be responsible for it. Of course, as with everything, there are weird people - those who still see love marriage as a stigma, and often having been forced to accept it (because a son or daughter has chosen his/her partner without their consent), pretend that nothing of that sort ever transpired.

So, where does eMatrimony stand in all this? To me, it represents a reasonable synthesis of both worlds. People caught up in today's hectic lifestyle - students, professionals et cetera - often run short of time, and do not have the opportunity of meeting others and prospective partners. But they may not be ready to acquisce to anyone else's concepts of a suitable partner, particularly since today's young people are quite savvy and fastidious about who they interact with at all levels. Parents, on the other hand, often feel guilty and responsible for what they see as their child's predicament. The eMatrimony offers a common solution. You carefully word your profile, in which both you and your parents contribute in outlining the choices, and put it up on the website of the matrimonial service. Simple, right? The profile is then made available to individuals who are seeking a match. Thus, a dialog can be initiated amongst all interested parties, family, relatives, friends, neighbours, the cook, the chambermaid, the butler, the ex, and so forth.

Since there is absolutely no obligation to choose any particular individual, the total control is in your hand. All that the service is doing is catalysis - it is bringing together two individuals bridging artificial and natural barriers. If you are familiar with the concept of Brownian motion, the service is working in the same way - by enhancing the probabilities of interaction between two molecules, it is increasing the chances of a chemical reaction ensuing. There are some who equate the putting up of a profile to exhibitionism, but in the complex and never-ending saga of human lives and emotions, aren't we all already Exhibit A, B or C?

Ah, such a relief to get that off my chest...

Peace, dudes and dudettes, even if you did not read it all.

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