Archive Page 2

i will reject you if #1

You state that you are a blend of east and west, or a mix of west and east, or the best of the east and west, or a combination of the traditional east and the modern west, or that you embody eastern and western values, or, or, or.

jealous

I think people who don’t have to have arranged marriages think I must be awfully jealous all the time of people who have to have arranged marriages but then don’t have arranged marriages. I am awfully jealous all the time, but not of those people. Those people, the ones who choose the intercultural relationships, I’m in awe of. That is hard work. Hard work that I’m hoping to avoid with a non-inter-cultural relationship that may not actually be arranged, but falls under the auspices of arranged. Who am I awfully jealous of? I’m awfully jealous of the people for whom not having an arranged marriage wasn’t a choice.* I’m jealous of my cousins in India who knew from the get-go that this is how it would be, who didn’t doubt that they would get married or the broad demographic characteristics of the person they would marry. I feel screwed not by the prospect of the arranged marriage, but the prospect of the non-arranged marriage.

*Just me, in my particular life circumstances. You don’t have to be jealous or not jealous of anyone. I understand the many, many life circumstances in which this reads like an ignorant and/or privileged statement.

lessons learned #1

Meet. Meet. Meet right away. Meet as soon as possible. Please meet. If you can’t, approximate meeting using the wonders of free technology available on the computer you clearly have. As a veteran (but not a graduate, so make of that what you will, grain of salt and all that) of online dating, I urge you with all my heart to meet. I know that people have amazing long-term long-distance internet relationships for years and they meet and it’s just perfect (I know about this because I googled it to see how possible it was). And I know that’s it’s really hard to believe that you could click with someone so completely on the phone and on email and IM and not click with them in person. But I am here to tell you that it is incredibly possible.

Serious Prospect #2 was a guy I talked with for six months online (on and off) and two months on the phone and then flew East to meet, with the singular nervous jitters of maybe this is really the last time I’ll ever have to meet someone I might marry. I have to backtrack and say that if there were worlds in which relationships were confined to the internet, ours would have been ideal. We talked all the time, and he was funny, and we were funny together, which is much harder to find than people think, and it felt good and it felt right and it felt easy. And it took me 10 seconds after getting off the plane to realize that it was a no-go. And I feel betrayed, a little bit, by the internet that tricked me into believing it was just like not-the-internet, but it’s not.

Emailing back and forth is great. But after the “forth”, don’t stick around for another “back”. Just meet. Because no matter how awkward it is or how forward it is, the point of all of this is not to make a terrific internet friend. And stringing out meeting in person is wasting your time. This was hard for me to understand. I think I felt like emailing was building a foundation onto which in-person communication could be added. This is not real. This is not true. It’s a relationship. If anything other than in-person communication is the foundation, you are screwed. Email is a great set of hardwood floors or crown molding, and in many long-distance relationships, as essential as heat or central air. But you gotta have a house to heat and cool.

So my new rule is that I should feel good about communicating via two out of three of email/IM, phone, and in-person. But one of those MUST be in-person, and it MUST feel the best. Give up the pen-pal-ships and do please meet. Yesterday.

are we the only ones to have to worry about this?

Here’s something I wonder about. In the United States, there was no one worrying about arranged marriages forty years ago. And by “no one”, I mean there wasn’t a generation of young men and women angsting about either pulling off a marriage within the community or pulling off a marriage outside of the community like it was their job, every moment between marriageable age and married. When there wasn’t a critical mass in the immigrant community, you either went back to India for your spouse or you married someone else, but it didn’t matter because the community was so small there weren’t enough people to ostracize you for choosing differently. (I’m guessing; maybe I’m very off in this analysis.) Now there is a critical mass, and there’s a community to be ostracized from, and there are just enough second generation immigrants alongside you that you conceivably have options, or there’s always India. And so some of us choose this table.

But the thing is that most of us are assimilated enough that we already confine ourselves to dating second-generation immigrants only and we try to approximate the dating process of non-immigrants within the parameters of immigrant tradition. And no one, not me, not anyone who I know who did marry within the community, and certainly not anyone I know who married outside the community, plans to enforce the pressure to marry within in the same way with the next generation. Certainly there’s a lot of pressure for the next generation inherent in being brought up within the community and likely wanting your children to fit easily into that community. But I have no plans to explicitly forbid marrying outside. Or no plans to be anything but completely welcoming to a son-in-law or daughter-in-law of another cultural heritage. Hell, even if I did have plans, I would have no idea how to network for a within-community marriage for my kids. Plus, many people I know and love, including possibly a sibling or two, will have already married outside, making the whole in-group out-group thing a little more murky.

I imagine that there will be new second-generation kids at that point, children of people currently my age who immigrated in adulthood. But I know some of these immigrants, and they don’t have the kind of numbers of the wave that came before, and they’re products of a more globalized upbringing already, and they’ll have intermingled with the likes of me (and my values) for another two decades before their children are marriageable.

So are we it? Is this angst generation-specific to this very generation? Forgive me if that doesn’t quite make me feel special.

how do you know (s)he’s the one?

I really have spent an inordinate amount of time trying this particular search string on Google. It feels really important to me to crowdsource this answer, because I feel like if and when this whole thing works out, I won’t have very long to figure out if he’s the one. I wish there was some kind of actuarial assessment available. My research to date suggests mixed findings. Some believe there are ways to know immediately, while some don’t. Some of the former believe that x, y, and z are those ways, while others of the former believe that a, b, and c are those ways, while still others believe that there are no ways, but only knowledge.

Here’s a thought from Bride Sans Tulle I liked on this topic (via a practical wedding).

I think dating/deciding to marry is something like deciding to buy a house and make it your home.  You figure out what’s available in your area, what works for your lifestyle, and what “must-haves” you want, and then you go looking. (note: This is, of course, a somewhat imperfect analogy as some of us aren’t “looking” when the right person comes around.  I certainly wasn’t.  But bear with me…) But the thing is… there’s not a Platonic conceit of “your house” that you just have to locate in reality.  The truth of the matter is that you will see many houses, and most of them will have some aspect of what you want.  One will have the gorgeous bay windows and gleaming hardwood floors.  Another will have the giant kitchen with the granite countertops.  A third will have a turret and built-in shelves. These are all great houses.  You can see yourself living in all of them.  But the day comes when you decide that one house is the one you’re going to buy.  You move in.  You clean.  You do a bit of painting.  You learn to live with the slight incline in the floors and to jump the creaky step in the staircase.  You have dinner parties that last until 2am in this house.  You host holidays in this house.  You bring your babies back to this house.  You could’ve had any of the houses you looked at, all those years ago.  But you chose this one and it’s now the only home you can imagine having.

not mr. right #52

Too bad he inadvertantly wrote “good” as “god” without capitalizing it. Oops.

i don’t think i’m cocky or arrogant, i’m really just playful. and it’s always not a god idea to talk about bad qualities (which we all have) when ur trying to sell urself. ok, u get one. i hate capitalization. unless i write God, Jesus, Church, or Texas.

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.


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.