We at Tamil vivakam, think one of the biggest evolutionary leaps is the fact that there are online portals. I’m not saying this because this is self publish post, but because we think it’s the closest we have got so far to dating websites. I would like to see these portals evolve to accommodate online dating, rather than offer only matrimonial hook-ups.
It’s hard to say how they will evolve. But we have a feeling some of the criteria we spoke about, like religion, caste and so on, may break down. One of my interviewees for the book had an inter-caste arranged marriage. She is an Army kid, and her husband is a Major in the Army, and so they have a lot more in common than their birth-charts suggest.
What do you think are the advantages of arranged marriages?
We guess the top-of-mind answer is that you can custom-order a partner. Or so you think. You can tick a lot of things off your list, and find the perfect paper match. But this may not translate into a great match when it comes to the practical experience of living with someone.
Most married people tell me that it soon becomes immaterial whether it’s a love marriage or arranged. You’re getting used to a new family, and living constantly with someone is very different from meeting him even every day and speaking to him for hours and then going back to a separate home and bed. And it’s not like people just nod and say yes to whichever profile they like in an arranged marriage set-up. Often, instinct plays a big role.
One advantage of arranged marriage is perhaps that the families feel more responsible for the marriage, but this can go either way. When a couple is trying to work through its problems, interference may be the last thing the marriage needs.
But we are fairly sure the pragmatism and trepidation that one walks into an arranged marriage with are fairly advantageous. Many of my friends have gone in completely blind, or expecting the worst, and are pleasantly surprised.
You had said you were surprised how successful arranged marriages were? Did your research for the interviews in Hitched reveal something?
We think we were responding to somebody asking me whether I had chosen only happy stories for Hitched, and whether I had disguised the unhappy marriages we had come across. There are, in fact, two accounts of very unhappy marriages in my book. But we find that many arranged marriages are successful. And it surprises us because we have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that you can decide to marry someone based on a few meetings, during which both people are terribly nervous.
Many of my interviewees felt it’s a question of compromise, and as long as you’re willing to be pragmatic and reasonable, you can have as happy a marriage with someone you find in a matrimonial column or a marriage portal as you can with someone you run into at a coffee shop or traffic signal, or train, or whatever Yash Chopra got his couples to do.
To sum up, my takeaway from the research is this – most people get into marriages, both love and arranged, without knowing what to expect. If it works out, they think they did the sensible thing. If it doesn’t, they think they were misguided, or that they made a mistake.
After the success of Hitched, are you continuing to work on marriage as a theme?
I’m not entirely sure. Some of my readers, and a lot of people who like wordplay, have been telling me I should do a sequel on divorce called Ditched, and a sequel to that called Bitched, and maybe a prequel called Bewitched. Others have been saying that I need to do one from the men’s perspective, since Hitched focuses on women.
Honestly, we are still rubbing our eyes at the sales figures, because an author’s biggest fear is that his or her first book will not be a success. It seems unbelievable that it’s actually flying off the shelves.
For the moment, I’m working on two novels and several plays. One of the novels is a comedy of manners about marriage, so it’s definitely a theme that interests me. I may work on more books of the kind. I’m certainly open to it. But I have various other interests, in terms of genre and theme, so it’s hard to say what will happen in future.