With the rise of the Indian business superstar (be it in banking or technology) has come an invigorated interest by the press in things Indian. One of the subjects I have enjoyed seeing develop in the news is the changing picture of Indian dating and marriage rituals.
Is it something she ate?
Traditionally, as many of you know, Indians tended towards the arranged marriage model. But increasingly that idea has been ditched in favour of love matches or now this new hybrid that Saritha Rai wrote about in the New York Times (www.nytimes.com) wrote last week, in article entitled, When ‘Love Marriage’ Needs a Little Help”. (It is further proof of India’s general rise in importance to note that this article was found in the regular Times column INDIA INK– Notes on the World’s Largest Democracy).
Who wouldn’t want this?
With the advent of more widespread education, job opportunities, upward mobility cutting through traditionally rigid class barriers, came the erosion of their arranged marriage tradition. Some casts have taken to this new romantic freedom with greater alacrity than others. But clearly the trend is the more educated you are, the more options you have, the more you are going to want freedom to choose your own partner.
Ms. Rai writes about the dating services, “Both were created to fill a growing need for urban Indians seeking educated global professionals like themselves, without regards to caste, region, language or any of the other traditional matrimonial requirements, but the two networks are not immune to parental influence.”
The funny thing about this is that while India now has its equivalent of Match.com its versions appear to be patronized and funded by the parents of its clients. In other words, the parents are the ones signing their kids up and funding their memberships. Online dating Indian Style. By the way, the tagline, of one of the dating webistes is: “Happily Un-arranged!”
It’s yet another thing I love about India: they’ll take something contemporary and Western and turn it into hybrid that could only come from India like say a Bollywood movie. Yes, it’s a movie which uses all the same technology and tricks as a Hollywood production, but it is its own unmistakable genre. Even Chinese films don’t have that uniqueness.
That is why I called my novel Curry Apple Pie. I love the way India has come to the West and the West has gone to India but rather than absorbing Western culture whole it has amalgamated it.