One of the little windows into the soul of a land is to read the classified ads in the newspaper. I find the matrimonial particularly interesting. I get the feel of a land that is deeply conservative and caste oriented, but seems to be in transition.
- It seems that nobody puts out their own ads. One particularly struck me. A woman is working in the HR department of a tech company in Bangalore. The contact email is on an ISP in Australia.
- Nobody says that they are looking for romance. Often, they are looking for an “alliance”.
- They read more like resumes than anything like a personal ad in the west. They don’t talk about walks in the moonlight or the kinds of books they read. Instead, they list educational qualifications, profession and income if it is high enough to be an asset.
- Sikh men – sorry “boys” (only boys and girls seem to be looking to get married, no men or women) – who are clean shaven always state it up front. My best guess is that this avoids the inevitable conversation that happens when Sikh families where the “it is ok to be clean cut” battle has yet to be fought meet the boy in question.
- People really stick to their own kind. The listings are segregated by language, religion, caste, and profession. There is a category for each of the different religions; Jain, Christian, Muslim and Hindu. There is a category for doctors and others for engineers, management, MBAs and techies. There is an entry for every state, so if you are looking for a nice Punjabi or Tamil boy for your daughter, they are all categorized for you. There are entries for each of the castes. Lastly, there is an entry for NRI/Green Card.
I really wonder about the entries that people choose. I guess that they will choose the one that puts their child in the best light. What does a Brahman engineer put his ad under? Brahman is the top caste, but being a highly educated professional is also highly desirable. I posed this question to my driver and his response was, “He would put it under Engineer Sir”. So being an engineer is better than being Brahman? Or do they put what is the most important part of their identity? Do people who list by state of origin do so because they don’t have any serious peacock plumage, such as high caste or professional qualifications? Lastly, why would someone enter themselves under Scheduled Castes (untouchables) instead of by state? Is it to avoid the inevitable “no way is my son marrying a Dalit girl” or is it because that defined their identity and identity is more important than peacock plumage?
So many questions!
Interestingly, there is an entry for “Cosmopolitan”. These people are early always highly educated, high earning professionals; about half of whom live in the US or UK. They nearly always say “caste no issue”. I presume this to mean that they are more interested in marrying other highly educated professionals. This would put them in line with the west by replacing caste with class.
Lastly, the language use is sometimes loads of fun read…
…seeks beautiful, educated, homely, girl…