My Shaadi Isn't a Dotcom

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Net 30 Marriages.qxp
4/25/2007
11:05 PM
Page 2
SPECIALISSUE »YOUTH & THE INTERNET
W E B L O G
DID YOU KNOW?
TEHELKA The People’s Paper | Saturday, 5 May 2007
CYBER SHEHNAI
MARRYING
My Shaadi Isn’t a Dotcom
IN 2005-06, MATRIMONIAL
SITES GARNERED RS 58
CRORE, AND ARE EXPECTED
TO MAKE ABOUT DOUBLE
THAT IN THE NEXT YEAR.
WITH ONE WOMAN
REGISTERING FOR EVERY TWO
MEN, MEMBERSHIP SURGED
FROM 4 MILLION IN 2004 TO
5.5 MILLION IN 2005
»
WHAT IS IT ABOUT POSTING ONE’S PROFILE ON A MATRIMONIAL WEBSITE THAT MAKES PEOPLE SQUIRM?
SCRATCH THE SURFACE AND YOU’LL FIND MANY MORE TAKE THE ONLINE OPTION TO FINDING A PARTNER
THAN ARE WILLING TO ADMIT. SHALINI SINGH FINDS OUT WHY
PEOPLE WHO SEARCH FOR A PARTNER ONLINE OFTEN
HAVE ISSUES ABOUT NOT HAVING FOUND THE RIGHT
PERSON SO FAR: THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG
WITH ME, I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO FIND LOVE
KAPIL DAS
30
Y
EAH, MY folks are looking, let’s see…” comes
Divya’s clenched-teeth
reply to the most common question in a 26year-old’s life: Aren’t
You Planning To Get
Married? “Of course I want to, yaar,”
she leans in, tension writ large on her
face. “But it has to be the Right Guy”.
We nod, roll our eyes.
“So, anyone interesting these days?”
I tread carefully around my childhood
friend. “I’m talking to a few people
online, nothing concrete yet. But listen, don’t mention it to the others,
please.” I blink reassuringly.
Marriage bureaus, matrimonials
and a network of relatives — all may
be pressed into the hunt for the perfect mate, but no one admits to registering their profiles on matrimonial
sites. “There are mostly weirdos out
there,” says Divya. “I don’t know why
I’m doing this.”“But didn’t your cousin
meet her husband online?” “No way.
That’s what they told their folks, but
they lived in the same colony, yaar,
they just didn’t want people to know
they’d been seeing each other.”
Says Mumbai-based psychotherapist, Dr. Anjali Chhabria, “There is
such a need to be super-successful
today. And everyone wants the per-
fect partner. But they’re also fearful
and seem to be losing faith in the
whole process. People who look for
a partner online very often have selfesteem issues about not having found
the right person so far: there’s something wrong with me, I’m not good
enough to find love. They are embarrassed, unsure and they don’t like
admitting they’re trying online. It’s
considered a second-class way of
meeting someone.”
And what’s happened to the whole
biradari system, where word-ofmouth within the extended family was
enough? Hasn’t it undergone a big
change as well? “It has. No one wants
to get involved in other people’s affairs
these days; they don’t want to take
guarantees for anyone. Earlier, people
were more forthcoming about introducing people to each other but, with
children now being so independent,
even parents don’t want to ‘sign any
undertakings’ so to speak, for their
own kids,” says Chhabria.
S
they may be, it
is not as if the online route to a
lifemate doesn’t have takers.
Recent TV advertisements reflect
that. One hilarious commercial has a
father running with a wedding turban
after every boy he thinks his daughter
might like until the two finally discover jeevansathi.com, through which
they both agree on a potential husECRETIVE THOUGH
band. Says Sanjay Sharma of FCB
Ulka-Delhi, the creative brain behind
the ad, “There’s always a sense of negative energy in the task of finding a
spouse because of the concerns and
apprehensions involved. We wanted
to lighten the mood and take away
that tension.” What about the apprehensions that people have about the
medium itself? “Yes, in India, it’s considered a big stigma if one doesn’t find
a spouse in the traditional sense —
there is a lot of pressure, especially for
girls. The idea was to make the girl
feel more empowered without alienating the parents’ role in the process.”
Another commercial for simplymarry.com shows the daughter telling her
family exactly what kind of boy she expects them to find for her. Says Ullas
Chopra, a creative director at MudraDelhi, which made the ad, “We worked
from the insight that the search
process for a partner is very long and
one doesn’t always get the right person. Of course, the first choice for
most people is through friends and
family, simply because there is more
trust — somebody knows somebody.
The Internet will never be the first
choice in that sense but it will offer
people a wider range.”
Advertising is trying to break myths
surrounding online matrimonials,
but it will take a while for people to
be more forthcoming about having
taken this route.
LOVE BYTES
‘MY PARENTS THOUGHT
I WAS JOKING. I WASN’T’
T
HOUGH AMERICAN and
Australian girls were the
big draw when I began
chatting in my hometown, Saharanpur, I spent most of my time
in Pakistani chat rooms because
of my interest in Urdu poetry. I
would challenge other members: “Hai koi tumhare yahan
shayar jo mera muqabla kar
sakta hai?” One day, ‘Wandering Cloud’, from Taiwan, said
she was “interested in poetry,
ONLINE SHE WAS TALKATIVE, AGGRESSIVE. BUT IN REAL LIFE
SHE WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. CALM, QUIET AND CUTE
but in English”. I, ’Noonmeem’,
translated shers for her. We
added each other to our list.
There was no looking back.
Borrowing money to chat with
her and asking friends to translate Ghalib into English for her
became the norm. After three
months, to her shock, I proposed. She asked for a week’s
time, and accepted. I had no clue
about her age or looks. She
came to India in June 2003, and
we met for the first time at the
Taj Mahal. She was five years
older than I and beautiful.
Online she was talkative, aggressive and naughty, but in real life
she was completely different.
Calm, quiet and cute. We didn’t
say a word for 20 minutes. Then
I said: “I think we should go to a
Net cafe and chat,” at which she
broke into laughter.
My parents thought I was joking when I said I might marry a
Chinese girl. They didn’t have a
choice when Joyce and I married that September. We live in
Taiwan, and we have a daughter, Jasmeen Fatima, whom I
call Oohlala. I am learning
Chinese with her.
Last time I came to India, I
chatted with my wife but it’s no
fun anymore. We don’t chat
when we are apart.
NADEEM AHMED
(as told to Praveen Donthi)
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