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Thu, 16 Feb 2006

So what is love, anyway?

I'm actually supposed to be in India. At my cousin's wedding. Unfortunately the Indian bureacracy caught me and despite promises and assurances that it'd only take 4 weeks (i.e. plenty of time) to get my visa things sorted out, it took 6 — so I couldn't make it.

Whenever I go over to India, the first question I always get asked is "So, when are you going to get married?". Marriage in India is a Big Deal. Anyone my age, and unmarried, is probably deeply invested in their career, extremely ugly and/or foreign.

The second question I normally get asked is "Are you looking for a love match?". Arranged marriages are still the norm. Rahul, my cousin - like my other cousins before him - has had a 'modern-day match'.

What happens is that your parents (or uncles, aunts and grandparents all together) will place various ads describing you and what they would consider "suitable". They'll get a bunch of responses and you'll be asked to pick amongst the candidates.

You normally get around 10 - 15 'meetings' and most families are willing to put up with you doing this around 3 times; then you'll have one selected on your behalf.

In my parents day, things were slightly different. My parents met practically on their wedding night (it's more common for the ceremony to take place during the night in India). My grandmothers happened to be riding on a train from Delhi to Mumbai (neé Bombay).

My paternal grandmother mentioned she had a suitable boy and my maternal grandmother mentioned she had a suitable girl. Over thirty years later they are still together and in the intervening time I know they have grown to love each other.

So, what is love anyway? For some it is the all-consuming passion for someone you've just met. For others it is a slow awaking / realisation of what you have right under your nose. Well, those are the extremes; I've been lucky enough to swing between both of them all the while knowing I'm somewhat spoony.

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