5 ways not to be rejected off the bat (indian edition)

Let’s say you’re a lovely young fellow from Southern India looking for a spouse, or you’re the parents of said lovely young fellow. You log onto the internet, where you can find literally hundreds of thousands of potential spouses. Some of these spouses are born and raised in America, which raises your eyebrows a little, but then pushes them back down because that certainly wouldn’t be the worst train to get on. So as you hover over the express interest button, let me give you some tips to keep you out of the immediate reject pile.

1. Shave. I can’t be the only one who uses the presence of a bushy mustache as a heuristic for your Indianness. I actually like this one a lot because it’s still not uncool to have a bushy mustache in Southern India (given the facial hair of the otherwise modern young fellows my cousins are marrying) but falls almost immediately out of fashion about 0.2 generations into emigration. This sucks for you, but this is my shorthand. If you have that under your nose, we have many a cultural barrier to cross and I’m really not worth all the changes you’re going to have to make.

2. Proofread. wHn U rT n CRzY txTsPk…lol wOt spAcz n lts o’ comAZ qT, I will not accept you. Proper spelling and grammar are preferred, but proper capitalization is essential. In general, the first letter of the first word in every sentence is capitalized and none of the others are. Here’s a tip. If you fail to capitalize all the words, but otherwise punctuate correctly, you’re much more like to get through than any other combination of capitalization and punctuation, excepting of course the actual proper one.

“I really like your profile. I would like to get to you know better.”


“i really like your profile. i would like to get to know you better.”


“i really like ur profile…i wud like to, get to know you better…”


“I rly Like Ur profile QT…dear, wud Luv 2 know U, more…”


“u R profile s qT,… SMS me now – K bai Qt…”

3. Question the use of “homely”. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. For the last time, asking for a homely girl, intending one who is domestically adept, will only work if your intended skips to definition #4. The common accepted usage of homely is unattractive. So think twice. And specify. Or really, just get rid of it.

4. Eliminate skin shade provisos. The insistence on a “fair” spouse is off-putting, even to “fair” prospects. At least make a range acceptable, for instance, from “very fair” to “wheatish” (an actual available complexion choice on shaadi.com).

5. Write something. In my experience, profiles of those born and brought up in India are extremely sparse. I don’t know if this is because your parents are writing for you, and they’ve only had 15 words to play with in the matrimonial papers in offline searches, or because you feel that the rest of your qualifications will speak for you, or you are just really a man of very few words. It’s a profile. For the love of God, profile yourself, just a bit. No one really wants to be on shaadi.com. It would awesome if the world was such that romances happened more organically or less artificially. But we’re all there, so dive in.


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sec·ond-gen·er·a·tion (sknd-jn-rshn)

adj. 1. Of or relating to a person or persons whose parents are immigrants.

n.b.: arranged marriage

When I use "arranged marriage" here, I'm talking a very specific type of marriage, in which one (often a second generation immigrant) is socialized and pressured by their community to marry someone from within that community as part of a way to bind two families together. It's often accompanied by a cultural prohibition against dating, especially serial dating, such that there is typically a short timeline from meeting to marriage. In the United States, where I am, and in other diasporas, an arranged marriage isn't necessarily arranged anymore, although parents and grandparents shoulder much of the responsibility in networking and making introductions. The bride-to-be and groom-to-be yield veto power at all times and their happiness and consent are among the most critical criteria in proceeding. In general, the kind of arranged marriage that I know is enforced only by family and community approval and disapproval (although let's not underestimate how powerful these are). At no point am I talking about a truly arranged marriage in which there's no options, no veto, and enforcement by violence or restriction of liberty. I don't pretend that I know anything about living that kind of truth or that anything I experience is comparable to that kind of future.

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