Tag Archives: scissors

A Comparative Study of Marwari and Kannadiga Brahmin Weddings

On Saturday I was at a Marwari wedding. Actually it was a Marwari Hindu marrying a Gujarati Jain (it was arranged scissors, if you’re curious about that), but the ceremony took place according to Hindu rites. As Gandhi and Khushboo were getting married, I was reminded of my own wedding a little over a year back, and I started mentally comparing the two ceremonies. Here I attempt to put those mental notes “on paper”.

I must mention upfront that I have only one data point (this particular wedding) for Marwari weddings. Also, while the wedding ceremony was still on, I was invited for lunch (in a curious twist, bride’s relatives and friends ate out of a buffet while the groom’s relatives and friends were served a multi-course meal on a silver platter. The food for both was the same, though). So I do not have the complete picture, though the lunch was in the same hall so I managed to observe some stuff as I ate. Also, since the groom in this case was Jain, there is a possibility of some Jain rituals having crept in to the ceremony, so my one data point may not actually be representative. For the Kannadiga Brahmin wedding, I use my own wedding as a data point (again not necessarily accurate, since the wife is technically Gult).

The general impression about North Indian weddings is that they are “action packed”, and a lot of fun. There is known to be much singing and dancing, while South Indian Brahmin weddings are generally solemn religious affairs. There was a fair share of fun at the Gandhi-Khushboo wedding. The previous evening there was a Sangeet where relatives of the bride and groom put up dance performances, which was followed by a general free-for-all dance party, and even a Garba session (and also a Marwari Karaoke session). The cars that were transporting us to the wedding stopped 100m away from the venue, where the groom ascended a mare and there was a brass band and we all danced around to the actual venue. I didn’t attend the reception but I’m sure that had its fun components, too.

However, I noticed that when it came to the ceremony itself, my wedding was much more action-packed and “fun” than this wedding. Yes, at my wedding, the rituals took much longer (started at 11am and ended at 5pm, while here it lasted two hours), but at no point of time was either me or the wife just sitting there doing nothing, which was the case for large sections of this wedding. Most of the time when I looked at the stage, the bride and groom were solemnly sitting in their seats (they had a low bench to sit on, unlike us who sat cross-legged on a low wooden board) doing nothing, as the priests chanted mantras into the microphone. On the other hand, we were constantly doing something. There were “fun” elements like throwing rice on each other’s heads, bargaining for an elephant, getting surrounded by a rope that was spun around by relatives around us, tying the thaaLi, the “Challenge Gopalakrishna moment”, etc.

This is a recent inclusion in both ceremonies, I think, but both weddings involved a phase where the bride and groom are lifted by their respective relatives and friends as they try to get the upper hand (literally) in the muhurtham. In my wedding, the muhurtham involved throwing cumin seeds and jaggery on each other’s heads. Legend is that whoever throws first has the upper hand in the marriage. Here, it was the bride trying to garland the groom and he trying to escape it. At my wedding, the large crowd meant that at that critical moment I was unable to locate my big friends, and had to get lifted by two or three relatives. I resorted to jumping to gain the upper hand (Priyanka had a bunch of big cousins ready to hoist her). It was the opposite story at Gandhi’s wedding. The groom’s party was small, and his brother had told us to be ready to lift him, so we used our “matki phod” skills to good effect to hoist him high.

In both ceremonies, it was the bride’s maternal uncle who performed the “kanyaadaanam” (literally “donation of the virgin”) and brought the bride for the muhurtham. Tradition has it that the uncle should carry the niece, and Khushboo arrived that way. Priyanka’s maternal uncle has a bad back so he simply escorted her to the stage. Then, in both ceremonies, there is the “installation” of bride and groom as Lakshmi and Narayana, and their supposedly divine status for the duration of the wedding. The groom’s shalya (upper cloth) is knotted with the bride’s sari, though since Gandhi was wearing a sherwani, he wore a sash over it for this purpose. Our installation as Lakshmi and Narayana had a fun element as the priest described us as (for example) “Venkataramana Shastri’s great-grandson, Suryanarayana Rao’s grandson, Shashidhar’s son Karthik” which was similar to the refrain in Challenge Gopalakrishna where Gopalakrishna’s father addresses him as “Justice Gopalakrishna’s greatgandson … ” (watch from 7:55 in this video).

The other major point of difference I noticed was in the revolution around the fire after throwing puffed rice in it (it’s a common ceremony in both). At my wedding, I led the way around the fire, but here it was the bride who led the way. I wonder what accounts for this difference, or if it is a minor thing that was missed by the priests.

Overall, I had a fantastic two days in Indore, getting pampered and having sweets thrust into my mouth, catching up with old friends and overall having loads of fun. And not to mention, getting fodder for this double-length blog post.

Happy Birthday 2

So today this blog (on this website, not the earlier avatar on LJ) celebrates its second birthday. I request you to join me in wishing this blog a happy and prosperous second birthday.

It has been an interesting journey since I moved my blog to this website exactly two years ago. Initially, readership just took off, but for a combination of reasons I had to slow down the pace of my blogging sometime late last year so you don’t see this blog as prosperous as it used to be last year. Oh, talking about monetary prosperity, this blog has to date earned a sum total of two dollars in Google Adwords earnings.

I have a resolution to celebrate the second birthday of this website. Starting today, I’m going to make an effort to set aside at least ten minutes every day and write one post on this blog. I must warn you that the quality of writing might go down, that there might be occasions where I might be forcing myself to write which might compromise on quality and stuff, but at least there will be stuff to read. It saddens me looking at the amount of NED that I’ve been putting (on a website of the appropriate name) over the last few months resulting in a fairly barren blog, and strong resolutions like these, I think, are necessary to take this blog back to its glory days.

I still stick to my promises – no more posts here either on arranged scissors or on studs and fighters. Another disappointing thing I need to mention is that I haven’t really been able to do much work in terms of those two books. I hope to start some positive work in that direction towards the end of this year, I hope.

I must take this opportunity to thank you people, my readers, for helping me make this blog successful. I hope you continue to enjoy reading the stuff here and that my readership will grow.

Where do all the smart girls go?

This question had initially popped up in my head about a year back when I was in the arranged scissors market and was getting frustrated about not meeting any smart girls. This was around the time when I had to indicate to some shady “marriage exchange” about my preferences in terms of the girl’s education and I gave some serious thought to it, but for some reason ended up not blogging about it.

I don’t want to get into debates regarding “better” colleges here so let’s just simplify that discussion and rank colleges by demand for admission for undergraduate courses. Again it is not going to be a precise ordering since different colleges have different admission processes but I’m sure that with some approximation and adjustment such an ordering is possible. Yeah this is also not a precise ordering butI supose this is the best we can get. As Prof Ramnath Narayanswamy says, “reality doesn’t matter. Perception does”.

Now make a table with three columns. In the first column write down the above prepared list in order, with the number one college on top. In the second column, write down the average number of boys each college typically admits per year, and in the third column the average number of girls admitted by the college.

Next, add two more columns to the table. In the fourth, make a “cumulative total” of the second column and in the fifth a “cumulative total” of the third column. So if I look at the nth row of the 4th column, I know the average number of boys admitted in a typical year by colleges ranked 1 to n. Similarly for girls and the fifth column.

My hypothesis is that at least for the first 100 rows, the number in the 4th column is at least twice as much as the number in the 5th column. Actually, I would go a step further and say that the above is true for the first 500 rows. If you look at the papers the day after CBSE announces its board exam results, you will see that girls would’ve done as well on average, if not better, than boys. So where do all the smart girls go?

One thing might be that there might be certain courses which girls show a marked preference for but most boys avoid because of which demand goes down because of which they go down in the rankings. Another could be that girls in general have preferences so niche that the best colleges in these niches don’t show that kind of admission demand. On the other hand, boys seem more homogeneous (everyone wants to do engineering) because of which demand for the best engineering colleges is really high.

There is a school of thought that a large number of girls are interested in the humanities which few boys show a liking for so a lot of smart girls are to be found in the better humanities colleges. But then, what happens in cities such as Bangalore or Madras which simply don’t have the same kind of humanities colleges as do cities such as Delhi and Bombay? Do girls who want to do humanities in these cities still go to the not-so-great humanities colleges rather than choosing better (in general) colleges in other disciplines?

Another explanation is girls only colleges where naturally demand is low since half the population can’t apply. But then I would expect the better of these to have enough demand that they rank fairly high. I’m again not satisfied by this explanation.

So the question remains. Where do all the smart girls go? Don’t tell me some of them actually choose not to go to college or something!

The Benjarong Conference

According to the Hindu calendar, today is the first anniversary of the Benjarong Conference. The said conference took place at Benjarong, an awesome Thai place on Ulsoor Road in Bangalore on the second day (dwitiya) of shukla paksha of Chaitra maasa of whatever samvatsara finished two days ago. The main topic discussed at the conference was arranged scissors and considering how things are now, I must say that the conference was indeed a success.

The occasion was a long weekend that also included Ugadi. Monkee and I (I lived in Gurgaon then) were both down in Bangalore for a weekend of bridehunting, and both of us hadn’t been having much luck in the market. Giving us gyaan on how to go about the arranged scissors process was K, who had just gotten arranged married, and Mukka who had just gotten love married. Also present with (as usual) lots of general fundaes in life were Kodhi and Harithekid.

Back during the conference, I had been entrusted with the job of noting down minutes of the meeting and blogging them; however I didn’t have net access back then in Bangalore and by the time I got back to the Gaon I got busy in other things and so here I am a full year late trying to share with the world things discussed at this great conference.

So here we were, two twenty six year old (maybe Monkee was still twenty five then) guys who had never had girlfriends wondering where and how people would fall in love, and where we could find interesting and single girls (yeah we did talk about the Goalkeeper Theory also). We chatted about various kinds of girls, where each type would find boys, the odds of each type being currently available for marriage, what parameters for search to put in matrimonial websites to maximize our odds of finding good girls, and the like.

One specific kind of girl that we spent a lot of time discussing was what K called as “township girl” – girls who grow up in PSU townships. He proposed that girls who grow up in PSU townships are more likely to be smart and liberal compared to girls of comparable family background and intelligence who don’t grow up in townships. This theory was largely seconded by a lot of others at the conference and I passed on it since I didn’t have a clue.

As alternatives to this, I had proposed the non-home-state theory claiming that girls who grow up otuside their home states are smarter and more liberal. The others supported this claiming that girls who have less contact with relatives and family-social engagements are likely to be more “outgoing”.

Then there was this puzzle about boys-majority colleges which a number of us had independently wondered about. If you notice, a large number of the more preferred colleges in India have an overwhelming boys majority (yeah this applies especially to engineering but considering that engineering is one of the most preferred undergraduate disciplines I suppose this assumption isn’t too wrong) and so any girl who goes to any of these colleges is extremely unlikely to land up in the arranged scissors market.

And then, if you would notice, in high school (10th board exams), distribution of marks of boys and girls is roughly equal. So the question is about where the smart girls go! Especially in cities like Bangalore and Madras which lack quality arts (a course which is usually dominated by girls) colleges. We had probably closed the conference promising to investigate this mystery – of where all the smart girls go.

I don’t remember too much about the food at Benjarong that day but I remember we had an extremely overbearing captain who kept coming to us every minute asking us how the food was. We followed our dinner at Benjarong with ice-cream at Corner house – excellent as usual. That is probably the last time I ate a full cake fudge.

A lot of questions raised at that conference are now probably moot, considering that both Monkee and I are on the roads to our respective marriages (he in May, me in November). However, I do need to apologize for taking one whole year to make and publicize these notes. My apologies to the general public for holding back such awesome thoughts from them for one whole year. And my thanks to Harithekid, Kodhi, Mukka, K and Monkee for making the Benjarong Conference possible.

Update

Another issue that was raised at the conference was about the fate of this blog after I find a long-term gene-propagating partner. The other attendees were all of the opinion that I will need to stop blogging after I find someone, or at least not blog on relationship-related topics.

A couple of weeks back,  Pinky shouted at me for NOT blogging enough about her.

Defining Teenage Relationships

I got into my first ever romantic relationship at the ripe old age of twenty six. By then I had already got into the “settling down mode” (you might remember i was already in the arranged scissors market before that) and so essentially I was looking for a long-term settlement. I was essentially looking for “someone who’ll need me, someone who’ll feed me when i’m sixty four” and fortunately things have worked out well and I’m due to get married sometime later this year.

Looking at people around me – friends, cousins, friends’ cousins and cousins’ friends, I realize that people get into this “relationship industry” fairly young. You have people who are barely out of middle school who have “boyfriends” and “girlfriends”. Actually there’s nothing new in this phenomenon. I remember wanting to have a girlfriend when I was twelve years old. That it took fourteen years to find one is another matter. However, the point is I’ve forgotten. I’ve forgotten what I’d’ve imagined regarding my possible romantic life back then. I’ve grown so old now that I don’t remember at all why I wanted a girlfriend when I was younger.

Possible reasons I can think of:

  • It’s cool to be in a relationship. Its cool to have someone proclaim you as their significant other. It elevates your social status, makes you a more confident person and generally improves your outlook towards life.
  • It is good to have one person with whom you spend a lot of time. It is good to have one person with whom you share everything and who knows more about you than anyone else. It is good to have that one person who you know will always be there with you, beside you, through times happy and sad, and it helps that if you get addicted to each other you have the option of living together for life. Hence you want to get into a relationship.
  • You have a default partner for every activity that you want to do. There is one person with apprximately similar tastes whom you can bug to acccompany you in whatever you want to do. This way you never end up not doing something just because you couldn’t find someone to do it with
  • Economically it helps since in places such as clubs, discos, concerts, etc. couples get favoured treatment in terms of entry etc. I suppose this won’t be the major reason for getting into a relationship for anyone
  • It shows you as a responsible person who is able to think for himself/herself at a young age; who is able to make potentially life-changing decisions early

Anything else you can think of? On a related note, what do teenage couples do? How do they spend time with each other? If you get into a relationship in your twenties you can start planning for a shared future, etc. But what do you do when you’re still young?

Head, heart, phallus and arranged louvvu

In response to my arranged scissors series, my stalker has started her own thing called the “karabath series“. In the first (and so far, only) post in that series, she talks about this concept that she describes as “arranged louvvu”. It is a bit convoluted but the essence is that in “arranged louvvu” you don’t blindly get into it. Instead, you put on a rational approach to decide if the counterparty is best for you and if the cost of giving¬† up on all the other women in the world is covered by the joy this woman brings you, and then make sure that the counterparty satisfies all CMP constraints and only then, in a phased manner, do you fall in louvvu with the person.

It is a nice concept but unfortunately I think the way the stalker has explained it is extremely convoluted, and I think using the head-heart-phallus framework (Kunal Sawardekar, you can abuse me for this also) I can explain this a lot better. So basically the idea is that the phallus is the quickest to react, followed by the head and the heart takes the longest to react.

The way most louvvu happens, the way they show it in the movies is that phallus reacts first (it’s a purely biological reaction, so it’s quick and trustworthy). And then, quickly enough, the heart gets involved. And the thing with heart involvement is tthat it is an extremely illiquid investment – it is really tough to liquidate the “heart investment” without booking significant losses. And since the heart entered the scene before the head also gave its verdict, when the head finally comes into the picture, it finds the whole thing irrational, and thus it goes “love is blind”.

The typical arranged scissors process, however, doesn’t leave you with enough time for the heart to enter the process. And since relatives can’t help you with the phallus process (and since that’s anyway instantaneous) it’s the head that gets involved. It’s the head, the rational head that takes all the decisions there. The heart enters only later, in most cases after marriage.

So the funda is that the stalker is confusing “head involvement” for “arranged process”. What she calls as “arranged louvvu” is a case where one holds back the heart (yeah, it takes effort to do that after phallus has said yes) in order to allow for the head to take a rational decision, and then go ahead with “heart investment” only after head has said yes. This way, the head always has buy-in on any relationship that the heart has gotten into, so irrationality gets minimized to a large extent. And some of the problems of “pure louvvu” are hedged off.

Yeah, it takes effort. It takes effort to hold back the heart once the phallus has given go-ahead. But getting the right amount of head involved at the right time helps in preventing much disaster. It’s the logical way to go about things. “Arranged louvvu” is only a fancy name people give it. And now I don’t really know if the head-heart-phallus framework has made it any easier for you to understand this.

Arranged Scissors 14 – Losing Heart

I’ve been in this market for a while now. It was sometime in February that my mother decided that I had utterly failed in my attempts to find myself a long-term gene-propagating female partner, and that she needed to step in and find someone for me. It was sometime in March that I went to this shady photo studio at DLF Galleria in Gurgaon and got a “wedding profile” snap taken. Later in March, I got listed at some shadymax exchange in Malleswaram. And there was the “market visit”.

The last weekend of this March I was in Bangalore, and was taken to this shady-max exchange in Malleswaram for a “market visit”. My uncle had told me that we needed to go sufficiently early, since there were apparently profiles of six hundred girls that I had to inspect that day, and make a shortlist. We had had a hurried breakfast at a Darshini in JP Nagar and then headed out to the exchange. My uncle, aunt and mother took turns to go up to the counter there and fetch the “smartha brides” files one by one. And I would spend about a minute on each file – which had fifty profiles. The six hundred profiles were done in less than a quarter of an hour. Phallus had simply refused to budge.

Aadisht, via his friend Vishakh, came up with this awesome framework of “head, heart, phallus“. The basic funda is that in order for you to enter into a long-term gene-propagating relationship, your head, heart and phallus need to independently like the counterparty (women insert appropriate substitute into the 3rd component). There is nothing earth-shaking about this framework as another of my friends pointed out, but the important thing is that it distinguishes between heart and phallus. Which I think most other explanations of louvvu (including bollywood movies) tend to ignore. And people also ignore it and get confused between heart approval and phallic approval, leading to disaster.

I had taken a long break from this arranged scissors market – a combination of being generally disgusted, poor health and being in between jobs. Recently (with the advent of Navaratri) I’d gotten back, and realize that I’ve lost my heart. Yeah, you might think this sounds funny but it’s not. I’ve truly lost my heart. And the only good that can come out of this is that if a crocodile catches and threatens to eat me, I can tell it the truth.

This whole arranged scissors concept seems to dehumanize the wonderful concept of long-term gene-propagating relationships. You are expected to make your decisions quickly, and you are expected to design “questionnaires” so as to get the maximum amount of info through each meeting. You are expected to browse through files containing six hundred profiles and make a shortlist. And when you are in the process of making the shortlist, you have your mom and aunt peering over your shoulder with helpful comments such as “this girl’s mouth is too wide” or “that girl’s nose is too blunt”.

For a while you resist, and resolve that you won’t get sucked into this mess. You resolve that you are still looking for “true louvvu” (whatever that is) and won’t settle for a common minimum program. You resolve that you’ll use the arranged marriage exchange as a dating agency. And soon it begins getting to you. You begin to see the merits of judging noses as too flat and mouths as too wide. You start breaking a girl down into components, and giving marks to each, and taking a weighted average to see if it is beyond “pass marks” (ok I’m obviously exagggerating here). You agree to meet potential counterparties even if you know that it’s improbable that you’ll like her.

My head, I think, is doing quite fine. So is the phallus. However, I think I’ve lost my heart. It’s been three and a half years since I even hit on someone. My heart seems to have forgotten how to love, and to have a “crush”. I’ve forgotten how my heart used to react during prior blades. In each of those cases, if I remember right, it was the heart that initiated it, and the head and phallus only gave approval later. Now, I have no clue how that used to happen. That seems so improbable.

This whole concept of meeting people with the explicit intention of evaluating them for long-term gene-propagating relationships is seedy. I think it goes against the laws of nature, and completely ruins that wonderful feeling that one usually associates with louvvu. It makes you too judgmental (I’m judgmental otherwise also, but not this judgmental), and you are so busy evaluating her that you don’t enjoy it at all. And how can you trust your judgment when you know that you haven’t liked the process of judgment at all?

Yesterday I met a friend, an extremely awesome woman. Once I was back home, I sent a mail to my relationship advisor, detailing my meeting with this friend. And I described her (the awesome friend) as being “super CMP”. I wrote in the mail “I find her really awesome. In each and every component she clears the CMP cutoff by a long way”. That’s how I’ve become. I’ve lost it. I’ve lost my heart. And I need to find it back. And I don’t know if I should continue in the arranged scissors market.