When we meet new people, without realizing we tend to categorize them. Coast person vs mid-west person, Tea drinker vs Coffee drinker, Dog person vs. Cat person, Trump person vs. sane person and so on. Oh yes, we all do it, don’t deny it. We are a judgmental bunch!
The next time you are getting to know someone look carefully into the person’s eyes as you make introductions. The moment you mention your particular affiliation there will be a look of relief in his/her eyes as he/she slots you successfully into a bucket. He/She will find similarities, differences and paint you in carefully marinated opinions and then place you ceremoniously in a category. Once that is done he/she can open up or build a wall, befriend you or end the conversation. There is no escaping this. We all do it. It is an essential ritual, a norm of social interaction.
Boxing Applies To Marital Status As Well
Some of the most confusing and amusing slotting has been when people inquire about my marital status. No, its not ‘Married’ or ‘Single’. This one is more about the ‘how’ of it. It is the ‘Love’ or ‘Arranged’? For some background, I am a South Indian origin by birth, Mumbai bred girl by upbringing married to a North Indian boy from a city in modern day Uttarakhand.
When people hear this or decipher it from our different last names, there is a hush and lull. Then a look of either awe or disappointment flood their eyes depending on the categories that I myself have assigned to them by now.
Love marriages in the context of middle class life in Mumbai that I grew up in entails a certain formula – Usually it means girl meets boy and they fall in love in miraculous seconds. Then there is societal and parental opposition. After that follows the fight, the drama, the eloping and a grand finale of a ‘happily ever after’ marriage.
‘Arranged marriage’ on the other hand is a meticulously planned event by harried parents, mysterious well wishers and the entire Aunty-dom. It goes like this. Aunty sees ‘Boy’ or ‘Girl’ at wedding or other event where one decorates oneself. Aunty asks for boy/girls horoscope. Aunty matches horoscopes, sometimes creatively. Aunty brings proposal. Girl and Boy agree docilely. ‘Happily ever after’ ending of marriage follows.
My Story Defies The Assumption
When people ask me Love or Arranged, I can almost hear the plunk as they throw me the ‘Love’ category. But my marriage had none of the drama that comes in the conventional love marriage. I met my husband in my thirties. We took much more than seconds to get to know each other and then decide to get married. Parental and societal objection had reached a fatigue point by then having been futilely active for 10 plus years. There was no eloping. A mutually agreed upon ceremony occurred. It all resulted in a marriage that was more like a continuation of an imperfect but enjoyable life than the, if I may call it, unrealistic ‘happily ever after’ illusion.
So, no I don’t feel comfortable with the categorization of the ‘Love marriage’ bucket. But I guess I didn’t have much from the Aunty-dom either to call it ‘Arranged’.
So where then do I belong? Which bucket is mine? There’s got to be a Goldilocks solution to this too – somewhere in between. Afterall, there is always much more room in the middle. For marriage categorizations and our new political situation too. How about something novel, something bipartisan? There’s place for so many more in the middle.
We can all be happy here the Midwesterner with coastal risque, the coastal with Midwestern values, the non-caffeine drinker, the dog/cat neutral person, and the, maybe, ‘finally recovered former Trump supporter’? As far as marital statuses go, I henceforth propose a new category for people like me.
How about calling it the ‘Self-arranged with love’ category? Which box do you fall in ?
BOOKS BY SANDHYA ACHARYA