Saturday, October 14, 2006

Your most obedient servant

I was reminded recently of a letter that I had received in a previous incarnation requesting a staff loan. My colleague had signed it: Your most obedient servant.

The 'Matrimonials' classified supplement in an Indian Sunday newspaper provides many examples of the use of archaic language.

With classifications by caste and profession such as 'Doctor! and 'MBA/Professional,' terms such as 'high status,' 'well renowned,' 'respected family,' 'reputed,' 'cultured,' and 'fair,' are common.

Some ads read as if a CV should be submitted: Inviting proposals for smart attractive Punjabi...Proposals solicited by reasonable affluent and sophisticated clean shaven Sikh parents, living upmarket area....

Article from New York Magazine:

Is Arranged Marriage Really Any Worse Than Craigslist?

Recently, i was cc’d on an e-mail addressed to my father. It read, “We liked the girl’s profile. The boy is in good state job in Mississippi and cannot come to New York. The girl must relocate to Mississippi.” The message was signed by Mr. Ramesh Gupta, “the boy’s father.”

That wasn’t as bad as the time I logged on to my computer at home in Fort Greene and got a message that asked, forgoing any preamble, what the date, time, and location of my birth were. Presumably sent to determine how astrologically harmonious a match with a Hindu suitor I’d be, the e-mail was dismayingly abrupt. But I did take heart in the fact that it was addressed only to me.

I’ve been fielding such messages—or, rather, my father has—more and more these days, having crossed the unmarriageable threshold for an Indian woman, 30, two years ago. My parents, in a very earnest bid to secure my eternal happiness, have been trying to marry me off to, well, just about anyone lately. In my childhood home near Sacramento, my father is up at night on arranged-marriage Websites. And the result—strange e-mails from boys’ fathers and stranger dates with those boys themselves—has become so much a part of my dating life that I’ve lost sight of how bizarre it once seemed. More....