The Rishta Diaries – Serena Kapoor

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The Rishta Diaries – Serena Kapoor

I’ve heard some of the older generation whinge (one too many times) about how fussy my generation are when it comes to being introduced to potential partners. Completely dismissing their own role in this so-called difficulty, they go on to moan about how challenging it is to set people up ‘these days’. This particular group of people pass judgment, deflect blame, and take no responsibility. In reality their unrealistic expectations make ‘setting us up’ challenging in the first place.

What never fails to amaze me is the superficiality of some of these expectations. Insignificant things like surnames and dietary preferences take prominence over compassion and intellect. On most occasions knowing what their children actually want in a potential partner is far from their concern.

Disclaimer: I acknowledge that not everyone from the older generation is the same. I’m not generalising, I’m simply bringing to light (certain) problematic thought processes. Plus, what’s better than to talk from my own experiences?

Here are (roughly) how some potential rishta phone calls have panned out for me.

Aunty 1: “We don’t want a girl for our son who drinks alcohol, if she does, she should give it up” (Nope, I am not an alcoholic, I just drink socially)
Aunty 2: Ghosts my mum after seeing a picture of me (I’m guessing 5’3 doesn’t rock auntyji’s boat, even though her son has probably matched with me on Dil Mil)
Aunty 3: “We want a girl for our son who has a particular surname” (Apparently Kapoor just does not cut it)
Aunty 4: “We want a girl for our son that’s younger than him” (Context I was a year older and no, auntyji hadn’t even seen my grey hairs yet)
Aunty 5: “We want a homely girl for my son” (I don’t even know what this means)
Aunty 6: “We want a girl who will live with us in our home after marrying our son” (There is no right or wrong in this matter but, I personally wouldn’t)

Thankfully, most of these conversations aren’t even brought to my attention until a few weeks later (thank you mum), because for the most part my parents know and understand how I feel about certain orthodox views and superficial expectations.

I am yet to hear of anyone who cares to ask deeper questions (if any aunty or uncle is reading this, please genuinely prove me wrong). I’ve not come across any aunty or uncle who wants to know anything other than the (in my opinion) irrelevant questions above.

Apparently, whether or not you eat meat makes for better judgment of character and the hierarchical game of caste is what makes two people compatible for marriage and life (sense the sarcasm). Things such as a possible intellectual connection, emotional understanding and spirituality don’t even make it to the list.

I’ve come to understand 2 particularly important things. Firstly, that in some cases their own trauma and suppression over the years results in them needing to influence the aspects of other people’s lives, that they deem most important. They never had any control over their own, so, many of them miss the point and aren’t actually helping their kids look for life partners. They are participating in a tick box exercise instead. An exercise that might validate them in the eyes of society and which if achieved will make them feel accomplished. There is no denying that parents on the whole want the best for their children, why then does this rishta process on some occasions become solely about things that only matter to them.

If these same aunties and uncles sat with their kids and really explored what kind of partners and marriages their kids wanted, it wouldn’t be ‘so difficult to set people up these days’, because instead of going in with their own preferences and judgements, parents could go searching with the correct information, which in my opinion would make the process revolutionary. Conversations like this could become the essence of progressiveness. In fact, the process could be enlightening. However, open minds are required for that to even remotely be the case, and I’m not sure how soon this will become the norm for this select group. Take Seema Aunty from Indian Match Making for example, she made it to Netflix with a mostly ancient thought process!

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being introduced to a potential partner through family and friends. However, what I do think is that the process becomes tedious and pointless when consideration for what the two people in question might want – is ignored. When the process becomes more about what the aunties and uncles expect and want instead of what the potential matches want, of course it will become difficult to bring people together. The entry criteria writes people off before they can even meet!

I’ve spoken to a number of guys who say things like “I don’t care about caste, but my parents do, and I would listen to them out of respect” … “I don’t care if my partner drinks alcohol, but my parents would so I wouldn’t want her to”. Keeping the peace is one thing but keeping the peace to the extent of missing out on a possible lifetime connection, is foolish. Knowing your preferences but still conforming to what is expected, is a shame. It’s like a silent pressure. The kind that holds you back and makes you seem like the fussy one, when these preferences aren’t even yours to begin with.

In response to that group of people who think my generation are too fussy: Yes, it is true that we are less likely to settle, that we look for compatibility and chemistry and yes, we will not say yes for the sake of it either. But you know what, none of that is fussy, it’s sensibility. A connection is far more important than a surname.

By Serena Kapoor

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