Before we get to the post, one unrelated, irrelevant factoid: Does anyone else think these Bongs are so cute when they get riled up and sound angry? They are usually all calm and nice and funny and saying nonsensical things that it is so nice to see them angry (in their quiet little way) and making a forceful point. One of these is enough to make my day, but in the past 24 hours I have seen it twice. And one of it from the usually-resident Bong himself. Too cool, I say.
Okay, back to post. Mean streak over. Next, we shall talk about matrimonial ads, especially the kind that have been entertaining SB and moi (special thanks to BM) over the past week. Some people BM and I know are going through the whole matrimonial process, so between us we have a decent sample of these ads. The question we shall attempt to answer today is this: how exactly does one come up with such comic ads? The answer is that one doesn't. Many do.
Here is how we think this works:
(Friends' ads not used as we aren't that mean. I mean, seriously)
1. The family version
Consider the following 'Bridegrooms Wanted' ad: (mangled version from last week's Hindu if you are interested)
Sow. Ifdontgetmarried Iyer, D/O I.A.V.Alwaysdone WhatIshould Iyer, Iyer, Vadama, 18-09-1981, 08:46 am, Thanjavur. Simha, Bharani, Kausika, height 168 cms, fair, good looking, completing PhD Dec 2008, USA seeking fair, US settled Brahmin groom, age below 30 yrs. Email id - email@example.com
(1: Before someone calls us casteist, wait, this is just first of a series. And you have to agree that especially on the Bridegrooms Wanted side, there is so much more variety with Tam Brams if you are looking Stateside. And we get gothram, nakshthram and raasi as opposed to just the latter two. So please excuse - we will come to non-Bram Tams in our Brides Wanted edition
2: For those of you who do not know gothram from raasi: in this case, gothram = Kausika, nakshthram = Bharani and raasi = Simha (I think))
There is no question as to who put up this ad. It most definitely wasn't the girl in question. In any of our households, if a similar ad were to make an appearance in the Hindu or in one of the umpteen caste magazines (whose only point as far as I know is to have matrimonial ads) and our heroine were to find out about this, it would be cause a minor earthquake. I thank all my stars if I happen to be at home at this point - the shouting match is totally entertaining. But basically what comes out of it is this - heroine's parents ask her for an ad that she is comfortable with so that they wouldn't have to endure any more shouting matches.
2. Our heroine's version
Our heroine is troubled. Ya, she didn't like the parents ka ad and all but she has to think of something now? How is she supposed to do that? She has enough trouble writing her resume as it is. She attempts a few lines but they all sound quite bad - not exactly what she wants. Then she gets idea. Her officemate! He writes well, why did she not think of this before? So she feeds him beer and pizza, takes him to a few concerts, and finally cons him to write it for her. Officemate is convinced that this arranged marriage business is never going to work out so he might as well have some fun and write some of the corniest lines he has ever written. And anyway, she likes Love Story.
The result is something like this:
What can you say about a 27-year old girl?
That she's brilliant and creative. That she likes travelling long distances or talking for hours across them. That she loves Hafiz and Rilke and Tarantino. In strictly alphabetical order. That she loves XXX because it's not cold and it's not damp.
What can you say about a girl who's that interesting, that alive? What can you say to her?
(No, I did not write this, just happened to find this in my Inbox from about 2 years ago. If anyone wants to admit writing this or if anyone else wants to admit that it was written for them, go ahead. Since I am not mean, I ain't saying anything about that. Since I am also this nice person, I will also say that the subject did not find out about this joke until it was all over)
3. The negotiation
Parents see this and like all sane parents, freak out.
"Are you suggesting we put this in the Hindu?"
"Well, this isn't exactly Hindu material, is it?"
"You can say that again. And who the hell is Tarantino?"
"He makes movies"
"What's wrong with Satyajit Ray? Or Adoor?"
"Then why do you need Tarantino?"
Amma chirps in.
"Ask her what she is going to do with the guy she is marrying? Make movies?"
"Maybe I will"
"Right. This is what happens if your send your daughter to the States"
"You keep quiet. What has alphabetical order got to do with anything?"
"Its from a book"
"What book? I thought you wrote this yourself"
"Well, its about me. But its also a book"
"I don't understand. What book is this?"
"Okay, we are not considering your ad. We are going with our version"
"But Appa, who do I need Brahmin boy? And who mentions gothram nowadays?"
"If we don't mention gothram and not ask for Brahmin boy, nobody would reply. They'd think something is wrong with the family and that's why we are going out of caste"
"What is Sow?"
"Sowbhagyavathi like Chiranjeevi" (I shall point out here that we non-Bram heartland Tams would never use these Sanskrit words in our ads. That and other such subtle distinctions in later editions)
"You mean you don't want me to be immortal?"
"No, but that's what we use for the girl"
"I don't like it. I want Chiranjeevi"
"Don't be silly. We can't do that"
"Then no ad"
"Okay, we will put Miss instead"
"Ms you mean"
"Whatever you say"
"I am not fair"
"Compared to whom?"
"Okay, I will change that to wheatish"
"Wheatish? What is that?"
"You don't get wheat in the States?"
"Appa, I am not a wheat grain"
"You have the same complexion. It is alright"
"I don't want random men to apply. They should like arts"
"I figured as much when I saw the movie chap. We will include it in our ad"
"What will you include?"
"Should have an interest in arts"
"And he should be intellectual"
"So I should say in the ad my daughter wants to marry an intellectual? You are being totally unreasonable"
"And I don't want to marry any of the narrow minded chaps that you bring"
"That we know. We will say broad minded"
"Okay. Why should he be below 30?"
"You want to marry an old man?"
"What if he is 31?"
"30 is a nice round number. We like 30"
"I don't. Because knowing my luck, the man of my dreams will see this ad but he will be 30.5 and therefore he won't be able to apply"
"30.5 is alright"
"Then say that"
"We will increase to 32"
I could go on and on with this conversation but you get the drift.
4. The final version
i.e. the version that provides us wholesome entertainment. (Especially if you know the subject in question because then you can spend a good half hour dissecting this and figuring out which specific items the subject and parents haggled over. Try it. Its fun.)
Ms Ifdontgetmarried Iyer, D/O I.A.V.Alwaysdone WhatIshould Iyer, Iyer, Vadama, 18-09-1984, 08:46 am, Thanjavur. Kausika, height 170 cms, wheatish but good looking, completing PhD Dec 2008, USA seeking fair, broad-minded US settled Brahmin groom from a good family with deep interest in arts and literature, age below 32 yrs. Email id - firstname.lastname@example.org