Love at first byte
They used to be the words every girl approaching her late teens or early 20s dreaded. “Dress up nice,” her mother would say, excitedly. “There’s a boy coming to tea.” This stranger wouldn’t turn up alone. He would bring his family with him to size up the girl’s prospects as a suitable wife. That meant a host of awkward questions; Could she cook? Was she kind? How much did she like housework? The most obvious question went unasked – a woman’s fertility was simply assumed. Of course, she would give the boy’s parents their grandchildren.
Throughout this, the girl would bustle between the family, trying not to look at the boy, instead handing out cups of tea – and smiles – between platters of home-made samosas, kachoris and sweets. The boy’s role was muted – he simply had to be presentable, not even good-looking, and have great career prospects. In other words, money. It was a traditional – but for many undignified – way of finding a spouse.
Now, with the break-up of the nuclear family and many children moving away from home or even abroad to study, these meetings for an arranged marriage are not – thankfully for many – possible. Which is why dozens of matrimonial websites have become big business – boasting around 16 million users in a market worth Rs3 billion.
As our report on page 32 reveals, it has empowered the single men and women to search for their own bride or groom online – or to send their families their choice to vet. Every year thousands of couples marry after meeting online and falling in love at first byte. Let me know what you think of that story and the rest of our very special India special!