Yes I do…Do you? Maybe….
Two things that revolutionized the way we live in the 20th century are the invention of PC and the growth of Internet. We are all bombarded with a new technology, product, and tool everyday that it’s getting increasingly difficult to maintain the pace with changing trends. We humans keep raising the bar every time.
Starting from the days when we thought emails would change the world communication, we bettered it by creating Chat Apps and before we could wink our eyes in awe, the chats became voice enabled. Video took over in no time and now we have apps like Skype that are the only means where Grandpas and Grandmas are interacting with their grand kids. Ever seen the no of users online in Skype at any point of time, man I was shocked (not less than 10 million).
Let me take you all in a tangential direction here to talk about Match-making in our Indian communities. Stay with me and it will all make sense finally. The typical process would be to exchange horoscopes, if they match exchange pictures and then if everything works out well the families meet in a formal way to see the would-be-bride /groom (Pen Paarkum Padalam) and then if all logistics matches, the alliance would happen.
In those days, if the groom is an NRI, the paradigm was totally different. Parents of the girl would be thinking whether he is the one for their daughter. Parents of the boy would be thinking whether their son would like the girl or not? It was more a guessing game. Some fortunate ones have had the opportunity to have a quick call with each other before making the big decision. Almost like a telephonic interview, this time is not technical, it’s emotional and romantic.
Over the years with the growth of technology we have matured this process as well. Most of you who are living outside India, there is a high probability that you would have met/ will meet your better half only on the Internet before saying “I do…”. I am one who got married in that generation of match making process.
We start our narration from Chennai…
The process as always started with horoscopes matching and photo exchanges. This time I get those photos in email. It’s a long process till you get to see the girl of your dreams. As one of my friends put it, “you should get a spark dude when you see that picture for the first time” and I tend to agree. When I saw the picture of my would-be wife - Rama, I got that spark. The spark created a fire of activities back at my place and in no time the meeting of the families was arranged. Both parties met at a temple to get to know each other and of-course see the potential in-laws. I had setup my brother-in-law Shankar to provide me a candid feedback on the girl. He said “of all the girls we have seen for you, she is the best”. The families liked each other and also the would-be daughter-in-law (Good work Rama…). The missing portion here is that the family has not met the groom yet.
We shift our cameras to Chicago now…
That is where I lived at that time; coincidentally Rama’s Uncle/Aunt (Shekar/Hema) also lived there. It’s now my turn to impress or what ever you want to call it. We scheduled a Lunch meeting at the famous Indian restaurant in Chicago Downtown. I meet them; attend the interview of sorts and come back. Shekar/Hema go back to Rama’s parents with a positive feedback about me, stating that I am a very nice guy, good habits etc and to top it all I look like hero “Ajith” ( I hope he meant the “Kadhal Kottai” Ajith and not the “RED” Ajith). A pat on my back here…
Both Rama and I passing our Level 2 assessment were now ready for the final round make or break one-on-one. Date and time was decided and also the mode, the famous “Yahoo video Chat” (December 19th, 2005 at 7.30 PM Central). There was no Skype; no 3.1MP web cams at that time and in India Dial ups was the best you could get. Hazy picture and breaking voices is what we got at that time. We talked for more than 30 mins before saying bye to each other.
For me, the video chat was a formality as I had already fallen in love with Rama (She told the feeling was mutual when I met her in person later). We both told each other on the video chat point blank that we are ready to take the plunge.
You might be thinking, simple story; this is where the twist is. Though we had told each other our decision, not having met each other in person, we both had a nagging question running in our minds (What if the other person does not like me when meeting in person?). Adding to the confusion on Rama’s mind was my color. She thought, I was fair like a Seth boy…will this work out? I always considered myself plump and out of shape (I should say here that at that time, I was little slim and trim than I am right now) and I was thinking, man such a beautiful girl…How did she say yes to me? What if she changes her decision?
A Typical Yes I do, Do you? May be situation…Man trust me a worst place to be in…You are talking to each other assuming that she is the one you will be spending your old age with and a voice in you keeps telling you what if I get a No for an answer?
This voice was nagging me to an extent that I could not sleep the entire 16hrs of flight back to India. BTW I had bought her perfumes, goodies and a 32GB 5th Gen IPod (for Valentine’s Day) as well to make the best first impression.
February 3rd 2006, The D-day of sort in our lives…We met each other for the first time at her place. It was a Eureka moment for both of us, having found the answer for a question that was haunting us for a long time…