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September 19, 2016

50 Worst Dates of a 20-something In Search of The One

Text by Huzan Tata. Illustration by Farzana Cooper

In Verve Wedding Diaries, discover how the journey down the arranged marriage aisle is fraught with meetings that range from the mundane to just plain zany

It was the first date of my life. He was, one could say, perfect on paper — USA-born, well-educated, handsome, with a great job and from a good family. Then he opened his mouth, and burst my ‘We’ll-live-in-bliss-forever’ bubble with the most bewildering series of questions anyone has ever posed to me. “If you’ve lived in India all your life, how come your English is so good? Followed by “What do Indians do for entertainment?” (We ride around on our elephants, looking for snakes to charm, don’t you know?), “Does the magazine you work for get printed in English too?” (No, it’s exclusively in Sanskrit) and “If you’re an independent girl, why did you agree to a meeting for an arranged marriage?” (Because I was under the impression I’d meet an intellectual, not a dodo). Though I fought the urge to empty my glass of red wine on him and walk off, it was clear that he and I weren’t entering the throes of matrimony anytime soon.

Cut to three years later and I’m still doing the rounds of the ‘arranged marriage dates’ circuit. At first, I did rebel. Growing up on a strict diet of Bollywood flicks, I’ve always dreamt of my very own love story — rain dances, sappy dialogues delivered by an overexcited Khan, et al. There’s only one small problem: I’m Parsi, and there are maybe 30 eligible bachelors left in my tribe. So, an arranged marriage was the only way to go, if I expected to meet someone who’d help me increase the patra-ni-macchi-loving population! (“I had to see 18 boys before I met your dad, be happy you’re only on your seventh” have been my mother’s pacifying words to me). For now, I’m game for anyone that life, matrimonial websites and old Parsi aunties throw at me. And boy, has it been a ride.

Rendezvous at coffee shops have usually started off with potential partners insisting that they pay for my Starbucks latte, even after I make it quite clear that I’m perfectly capable of paying for it myself, thank you. “But you’re a girl” — a line that is sure to floor a lot of women, I imagine. Then, they proceed to either putting me to sleep (my record for sitting-in-complete-silence-save-for-slurping-of-drinks currently stands at 28 minutes) or being outright hilarious (“My dynamic hair is the highlight of my personality”). And there have been a few ‘gems’ too. One — an investment banker by profession — had a completely fascinating hobby. Watching movies, reading, travelling or even playing an instrument — these were too run-of-the-mill for him. His was, to my surprise, “investing”. An investment banker who likes to invest in his free time; what a catch! A second, after three relatively pleasant meetings, revealed how he had cheated in every exam all through school and college, and how “hitting my friend with a belt” was his idea of a fun weekend. While one momma’s boy extolled the virtues of his mother and spoke about little else all through our two dates, another hounded me with close to 250 WhatsApp messages, some asking if I were free to “do timepass” with him at 2 p.m. on a weekday afternoon, during the brief period we were in touch. Clearly, I have the superpower to attract the cream of the crop.

I’ve often heard, from friends, family and colleagues, how they met over 50 or 60 people before they found their Mr Right — but this is before Facebook happened. Though I salute their endurance levels, I’m thankful for the internet. Now, social media sites are a single-and-ready-to-marry girl’s best friends. As soon as I’m told someone’s found another boy for me, my online stalking skills go into overdrive. From men sprouting lines on their profiles like “A costly dress is of no use unless worn by a ‘buttiful’ women who inspires men to remove it” to those with pictures of themselves covered in obnoxious tattoos and more, I’ve saved myself from many a disastrous date.

And, contrary to a lot of people’s opinions (read: aunties, whose advice is never solicited but is shoved on you at every social gathering), I’m not asking for a lot. Yes, my head is full of “romantic mush”, as my mother likes to call it, but I’m also not expecting a proposal in a sarson ka khet. What I am looking for is a well-educated, well-settled man who shares my interests (for the boys who are reading this, smoking is not a hobby) and who I’m compatible with. A good surname would be a bonus, of course (can you imagine signing a cheque as Mrs Sodawaterbottleopenerwala?). Yes, there are probably only 30 young Parsi bachelors left today — I’m just looking for one. Yes, I know that when you’re in for an arranged marriage, you have to compromise on some things — but I know my worth, and I know there’s someone out there who will understand it too. Come on, destiny, do your thing. Make my perfect match.

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