Sunday, September 21, 2008

Together Forever

Seeing so many people around me getting married is putting me in this frame of mind where I can't find much else to write about - because I can't find much else to think about. Some of these marriages are arranged marriages, some are "love" marriages, with a significant number of them ones where I know both the bride and the groom. I was just trying to figure out, based on whatever I've gathered from all these friends, what it is that leads one to decide who they want to spend the rest of their lives with. It's pretty varied. Different things click with different people. There are those who will decide in their first meeting, within a matter of hours. Then there are those who will be doubtful and have second thoughts after years of dating.

We all know that, in India, a wedding does not take place between two people. It takes place between two families. And that makes a huge difference to the way things work. Because, I think, once two people get past the initial phase of getting to know the basic things about each other and the slight awkwardness that exists in the beginning, there are not too many things they can disagree strongly about. Once they agree on the significant things in life, the little things can be discussed and worked out. It is when you try to please everyone in your family and everyone in your partner's family that the trouble starts. Because, let's face it, it's not easy to please that many people at the same time, all the time. Whether you are marrying the guy you've been going out with for years, or the one who's always been your best friend, or the one you just met, it's pretty important to be familiar with his family background. Because you are going to be taking them on as your family. I'm using this set of pronouns here because, in India, this is more applicable to girls. I think venturing into marriage is venturing into completely unfamiliar territory. If you know the person beforehand, then you have a map to guide you, but you discover, gradually, that some of the landmarks mentioned on the map no longer exist and the ones that do, aren't on the map. As some wise person said, "It doesn't matter who you marry, for you are sure to find out the next morning that it was someone else." This may be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on the ways in which this "someone else" is different from the person you thought you were marrying.

We do a million things to minimise the risk involved in getting married. We try to go out with the other person for as long as possible before deciding. We hope that the position of the stars and planets at the time this person was born can tell us if the union will work. We consult all the friends, relatives, astrologers, priests, everyone we deem qualified enough to voice a useful and consequential opinion on the subject. But after all this, it seems to me that it's a stroke of luck that determines whether or not things work out, coupled with a strong, determined effort from both sides to make them work. But well, the map of the unfamiliar territory needs to have enough attractive tourist spots on it to give both partners reason enough to put in this effort.

That's just my view. You may say I've become cynical about all this stuff. I just think I've become practical. I am no longer living in my fairytale world which houses the hope for a Prince Charming who comes riding on his noble stead. I am now looking for my Shrek. Someone who does not necessarily fit the image I always had in mind. Someone with whom the relationship requires a lot of hard work, but who is also willing to put in the same amount of hard work.

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