The festival of Diwali is almost upon us. I am sure everyone would have heard of a peculiar south Indian custom of newly married guys spending the festival at their in-laws place. This is looked forward to by the newlyweds, I guess. But it makes life hell for the single people like me. Like when my mom does her pre-Diwali routine of staring at me in great sorrow and saying with a sigh “hmm!! this year too, you will be here. When will you go to your in-laws place?” Now this innocent question usually drives me to rage and foam at the mouth. But not this year I had thought up an appropriate answer to her question. Read on to the end to see what I said
The other tradition seen during all these festivals is the crawling out of the woodwork of these peculiar pests known as the match-makers. Nowadays most everyone is a matchmaker and cannot bear to see someone being single (and happy) without volunteering to find the perfect match for him or her. You run into them in even totally unexpected places, like for example, an alumni meeting. There you are leaning against a table in a corner and looking at the worn out aunties who were once the dream girls on campus, looking at them and exulting in escaping their clutches in days gone by; say at such a moment of profound relief you run into some random junior you don’t even remember and who goes onto announce the birth of a child to him, but immediately switches track to ask why you, the esteemed senior from college is still single, while juniors like him are busy producing their own juniors. At such times if you feel a firm need to remind them why you were the most esteemed senior in college by putting a leg up their backside, you need to control that immediate urge to kick somebody/anybody.
Most men friends are like that. Whenever I get together with my much married men friends they immediately start their matchmaking spiel to me. “my wife has soo many nice suitable girls in her friends circle” starts the conversation “these girls are all rich, good-looking, intelligent, warm, friendly and humorous” and add in an undertone “everything my wife is not” before continuing to say “so what do you say? Shall I ask my wife to set up someone for you from her friends circle?” you politely demur and as its best to nip such a thing in the bud you add your reasons “thanks but no thanks, err..i have met your wife and god help me if I end up with someone like that too. You better tie a rope around my neck and push me down a well rather than do something like this to me after calling yourself my friend” so the friend looks crestfallen and then asks plaintively “at least you will tell the wife that you declined, no? I will call her in now and you tell her something to show her that I did talk with you on this subject and it was you who refused. She has been pestering me for quite some time to talk to you and if she thinks I did not ask you I will have no horse-riding, uh, again tonight” So to assuage the strained marital relationships of your friend like every good buddy should do, you greet his wife when she comes in and asks in a oh, so innocently phrased question about your marital search (as if she hadn’t whispered in her husband’s ears for a whole week about it),and then you lie to her that you are in the midst of a relationship with a wonderful girl (who only exists in your imagination- a part which you neglect to mention) and with a sigh the friends wife gives up her new found hobby of matchmaking and goes back to her favorite pastime of bullying her husband.
Again a variation of this occurs sometimes when your friends without any prompting from their wives try to pass on their near and dear relatives to you in the guise of matchmaking. It starts something like this “How goes your girl search? Still not found anyone good looking, hey? Have you seen my sister-in law? Don’t you remember her from when you came to our house for my baby’s naming ceremony? No? Ha that day you must have seen her only in a salwar kurta dress. You should see her in a jeans and white t-shirt. Or better yet when she is wearing a half-sari. Ah!!! That is a sight for sore eyes. Heavenly she is in a half sari and even in a short skirt which she wears sometimes to college. She has such a fine, nice, rounded, ass that every time you see it you feel like reaching out and..err…if you like I will arrange for you to come see my sister-in-law, do you want to?” he asks in a sad, everything is lost to me and my life is already over, tone. The gracious thing to do then is to refuse politely and point out that if the sister-in-law is as glorious as described than there must already be a long queue behind her with even one very close relative of hers standing in front of the queue trying to gain her affections and I couldn’t afford wasting time to gatecrash the queue and being rebuffed.
While I have mentioned all my men friends on trying to play matchmakers for me, I have deliberately not mentioned any of my women friends as having played matchmaker. The reason for it is pretty obvious. They have not. And no self respecting women would ever will. Ask anyone around. Any guy around. If ever they had any women friend try to set them up with any other friend of hers. The answer would be in the negative. The reason lies in their overwhelming kindness. Knowing their friends intimately, as they do, no women would wish to saddle another woman, even her best friend, on a helpless, innocent male friend. They are actually doing us a good turn by not indulging in matchmaking because they know both sides intimately and out of pity for the guy they let him enjoy his carefree bachelor life a little more time. Plus as the great Tolkien says in LOTR, women are like dragons, they love to keep their riches to themselves and not share it around, even if they have no particular use for those riches. Actually Tolkien doesn’t say that about women, he only says it about dragons. But would I call my women friends selfish? (and hope to escape unscathed?). So it’s better to blame it off on someone dead like Tolkien, who cannot be got at that easily…
And finally we come to the relatives. These are a peculiar species who hang around places like wedding halls trying to smell out who is married and who is still single to practice their matchmaking skills on. After having conducted one or two marriages in their own immediate families they believe they have become experts in making matches. And to prove it they are ever vigilant in smoking out unmarried people and outing them in front of everyone assembled at the wedding. However much you try to escape their eagle eyes, sometime over the course of the wedding they will end up spotting you and hail you over in a booming voice which can be heard all over the wedding hall, waking up even the groom sitting on the dais day-dreaming on his upcoming activities. To prevent any public damage to image, you hurry over to where they are seated amidst a group of their cronies from the village and then the uncle would start of like this “what happened to your marriage?” “We are still looking” you reply half-insolently hoping to get off with that, but the uncle has other ideas. He will go on to say “still looking uh? How long? I know one fine girl in our village, very good worker. She will get up at 5 in the morning, wash half a dozen buffaloes, milk them, put coffee for everyone and then go on to cook food for twenty people at a time – all before noon. And without taking any break. Very hard Worker. Always busy, always cleaning the house. Always cooking something. Very, very hard worker. Shall I fix her up for you?” You are not impressed by the offer but mention something in an undertone like “looking for an educated” but that’s all you are allowed to say before the uncle rudely interrupts in his loudspeaker voice to shout at half the hall “educated? What are you going to do with education? As long as she sleeps beside you and gives you children what more you want? Education it seems, education. Hmmph. These modern boys. You go. I will talk to your father”. Shaken beyond endurance you disappear from there in an instant and wonder about the uncle’s wife who must have been selected only on the basis of lying beside him as he recommends to everyone else.
If uncles are like that, the aunties take on a different track. Most of these idle aunties go around visiting assorted god-men, astrologers and people like that and after mugging up half a dozen trashy astrology magazines; they end up thinking they are specialists in horoscope matching’s. They sidle up to you and suddenly throw questions at you which you cannot understand the reason for “what time were you born?” if out of politeness, you respond candidly “morning time” they are still not satisfied with the reply but impatiently go on interrogating “arre baba, time? time and day? Tell me. So I can check if you were born on a Rahu Kalam or a Yama Kandam” As you stare at them wondering if they are joking they go on to ask “what is your date of birth? Nakshatram? Raasi? Your birth star? There is one girl among my relatives who has remained unmarried for a long time, I think we can fix you up with her. I say, do you know if your mother has any copies of your horoscope with her now?” and the only thing to do to duck such rapid fire questions is to point the way up to the parents and escape.
And finally we come to the greatest match maker of them all- time. We go around with the hope that when the right time arrives the perfect match would drop right into the lap provided by that ultimate matchmaker. And oh, if you are wondering, what I told my mother off this year it was “mom, I have half a dozen girlfriends who are waiting for me to come celebrate Diwali at their house. Shall I go?” and that shut her up. So who wants me to come to their place this year, uh, who, who,? Just kidding…
And Wishing A HAPPY DIWALI TO ALL of you….single or married..have fun.