Chennai Journal
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Finding a Partner
I don't pretend to understand all the ins and outs of finding a marriage partner here, and within the country the practices and customs vary widely---weddings in Tamil Nadu, for example, are usually very early in the morning whereas in North India they would be in the evening---so that even those who come here from other parts of the country have to learn new ways.

But every Sunday I find myself drawn to the matrimonial ads in the Hindu, which never fail to be a source of learning, and sometimes, of bemusement as well. Here's a typical one from today's paper:

"Vadamal Srivatsa Vishakam alliance invited for boy (27 yrs) B.Com, CA employed in a Finance BPO drawing Rs. 15000 pm and pursuing CA final, seeking a good looking girl pursuing any post graduate course in Science age between 23 to 25."

Translation? This is Brahmin family whose son is working on his chartered accountant qualification (roughly equivalent to a CPA in the U.S.) and is employed in a business process outsourcing concern making about $350 per month. This family has probably consulted their astrologist who has pinpointed the most eligible match to be a girl interested in science. (Vishakam is one of the positions of the moon as it passes through the sky---similar to the zodiac, but more detailed because of the numerous phases of the moon.)


Hindu MBBS, 30/154 Good looking Wheatish from well educated family. Seeks good looking Doctor (MD/MS) or Engineer. Caste no bar. Send bio data, photo, horoscope.

This is for a 30 year old woman, 154 centimeters tall (weight is usually not included, but sometimes there are descriptions like "slim" or "lean" ), with a fair complexion. (Fair skin is an advertising point for many, and there are lots of skin care products on the market promoting "fairness." ).

For girls, it is common to find ads placed by brothers and/or parents. And for those who are educated or working abroad and who come back to India to find a bride or groom, the parents often take matters into their own hands and advertise proudly that their son (or sometimes daughter) is working for a well known MNC and has a green card (or more commonly, an H1-B or employment visa). When responses are received, astrologers are consulted and those with the best qualifications and horoscopes are contacted. Both families, as well as the potential bride and groom, will help decide if there will be a marriage. One of my employees who went through this process came in excited to announce that she and her would - be (as fiances are called) astrologically matched on 8 of 9 different factors, which is considered very good indeed. (The number of factors may vary depending on beliefs.).

But my favorite ad from today was this one:

Vanniya Chettiyar 27, B.A.C.S., Well settled Business man having own company good looking, seeks homely looking girl.

Here the meaning of "homely" is closer to the Yiddish, "haimish" , or "warm and comfortable". Do hope this guy--and the others listed above--find their beshert (soulmate) soon!

"Here the meaning of "homely" is closer to the Yiddish, "haimish""

When I first came to USA 6.5 yrs ago, I actually told an american girl that she looks homely.Not to mention the look the she gave me and sweat flood I has when I realized what it meant.

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