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« Poems About Art | Main | Memorial Day »

May 28, 2006


The author of the article seemed rather young to be pushed into marriage with a 'suitable boy' from age 19. Her experience is probably fairly common among Indian-Americans.

Interestingly enough, the same edition of the NYT has this article about another desi wedding too!

Ouch! This article rings quite close to home.

19 IS very yound, no matter how hard the search for a "suitable boy" for parents is. But I feel for her parents as well. Misguided though they are, her parents' actions stem from wanting the best (their definition of best) for her.

The second article that Sujatha lists 6 people with 3 doctors, 2 scientists and 2 lawyers between them! No wonder Desis are stereotypes as the "model minority" in the West.

Having met my own husband in college and as a pretty much hands off parent (in my children's personal lives), my knowledge of parental matchmaking is mostly anecdotal. But I have observed that while most Indian Americans do get married with or without family intervention, a sizeable number of accomplished men and women in the Asian community choose to marry late or not at all. Anyone else noticed the same trend?

My guess is that Indian-Americans do not experience the same social pressure to marry for conformity's sake in the US as they would in India.
In India, this is the current dynamic, at least in the middle class in larger towns and cities --Find your own mate by the end of the college years or within a few years of entering the work force, other wise your parents take it upon themselves to find a suitable match for you. It happened to me, will happen to my sister (2 years working after college.),is happening to my cousins. It isn't hugely different from the sponsored 'meet eligible singles' clubs in churches, synagogues, etc.-just that the parents in the US are not quite as deeply involved in vetting the choice as they are in India.

A lot of my friends in the U.S. actually wish that they had something on the lines of quasi-arranged marriages that are now the norm in larger cities. As Sujatha said, once you miss that "window of opportunity" that exists in college life, it becomes exponentially harder, for most people, to find a mate. Dating within your workplace is treading a fine line and with families geographically dispersed to the extent they are in the U.S., there aren't too many other avenues left to meet people (I'm not counting compulsive bar-hopping over the weekend as an exercise in partner hunting!).

Sujatha & M.W:

I did not mean to be dismissive of the family / friend intervention in finding a mate - here or in India. (I am totally opposed to ostentatious weddings and dowry, however) As both of you point out, it happens all the time, in the form of parties, singles bars, church and synagogue get togethers.

What I was pointing out is that our children here, as members of a small minority community, are somewhat limited in their choices due to ethnic, racial and cultural reasons. While most date other Indian Americans as well as interracially, few seem to settle down as easily as my sister and I did with our "choices." My husband and I met before we were nineteen, saw each other steadily for five years before getting married. Very few of my contemporaries openly dated like my husband and I did. For most of my friends, "arranged" marriage was the overwhelming norm. But irrespective of which route one took, I feel that the playing field was bigger for us as members of the majority community in India. Perhaps that is why I don't quite see things the way my kids do.

I think the issues with dating as an effective mode of finding a mate are not clear-cut, especially for Indian-Americans. In fact, I wonder what it will be like for my children when they reach that age.
Back in India,it wasn't that difficult to inculcate the 'education first, job next, matrimony after' principle.
Here even in high school, the social emphasis seems to be on finding a suitable boy/girl friend who will eventually become a fiance/spouse by the time one finishes college and takes up a job.
Having zero experience in the arena, I will not be able to help my kids in how to navigate the social jungle in high school.They'll just have to chart their own path, with some (probably unwelcome) armchair advice from me.
No wonder many 2nd generation Indian-Americans have issues with finding spouses-nothing quite so invaluable as a parent who has been through a similar experience.

I didn't see your comment as disparaging my or anyone else's experience. Different strokes for different folks, that's all.

Mrs. P,

Neither did I. If anything, I wish I had been less nonchalant in my own approach, as an undergraduate and still in college, with plenty of time on my hands!

Here's an interesting take on Mate Selection!

Thanks. I had seen this one.

The scent/pheromone theory has been around for a while. I also like the "dissimilar MHC for healthier offspring" angle as a biological basis for love.

But all said and done, love experts in literature, poetry and science are assured a never ending subject matter on which to write and speculate. In case of humans, cultural evolution is as strong a factor as our biological one. Literature, popular culture, pressures of societal conformity and peer pressure blunt our biological "love instincts" considerably - successful procreation is not the only driving force. The permutation and combinations of the perfect biological and social reasons driving our mate selection are so numerous that "experts" on the subject will never go out of business.

Our "love" for our mate is as much in our heads as in our hormones. And emancipation of women in progressive societies, allow men and women to interact on two separate levels of satisfaction - the physical and the emotional. Love is now a much more complex affair. Believe me - in the end, nothing beats trust and companionship !

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