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Lifestyle Womens luxury Magazine premier

November 21, 2016

The Donald Duck Bride

Text by Meghna Pant. Illustration by Surasti Puri

In an exclusive story for Verve, the award-winning author Meghna Pant pens a humorous account of her online encounters with prospective grooms

Indias premier luxury lifestyle womens magazine

I am 30, single, and bored.

The worst part is that I have no one to blame for my plight. In the good old days the onus would lie on the domineering husband, the psychotic mother-in-law, ungrateful children or the rainbow brigade, but being ‘liberated’ leaves me pointing fingers only at my righteous Kafkaesque bosom.

I’ve been on the dating market for over 12 years, but never before have I been desperate. I decide to follow the abysmally stupid ‘7 Days, 7 Dates, 7 Ways Plan’ to find the ‘right date’. In 278 hours I try seven dating schemes: group dating, speed dating, millionaire dating, travel dating, arranged dating, pick-up-a-random-guy-at-Social dating, and the ubiquitous online dating. In the end, all I get for my troubles is a badam-sized ego and a rash on my face, which Wikipedia claims might be syphilis (from being licked on the face by the Social guy). Now all I have to keep me warm at night is gulab jamun!

With each passing day, visions of my obituary become stronger and stronger: ‘Miss Da Bus’ died alone in her apartment due to a saccharine overdose that overcompensated for her lack of love in Mumbai, the city of love. She is survived by a solitary gulab jamun. The service will be held at the dumpster outside Sukh Sagar, the same spot where her love life is buried.

But, just as every sweetmeat has a fattening silver lining (that much I know), these persistent reflections help to improve my hearing. I finally pick up my calling for serious commitment. The time has come to show the world that I am capable of being more than just a hot date; I can also be a virtuous bharatiya nari. All I need is to find a desirable desi husband.

Having exhausted my rather large networks of family and friends, in my quest to find a date mate, the only option I have left is to join an Indian matrimonial website. It seems, that in these modern times, even the Marital God has warded off the cliche of ‘marriages made in heaven’ and is now this moneymaking businessman in dorky glasses who controls a matrimonial server. Women all over the world also seem to have dispelled the myth of ‘He will come riding on a shining white horse’ and replaced it with a more practical ‘He will see my profile and soon we will sit around the warm glow of the laptop, reciting our cyber love story to our grandchildren’.

But, this time around I cannot take chances. So before posting my online profile I consult several matchmaking counselors. It’s then, that for a princely sum of 10,000 rupees, I become privy to the secret club of Des PIGs: Desperately Seeking Prospective Indian Grooms. All its members swear by an underground manual that by virtue of being passed on by word of mouth is considered highly exclusive. The manual states several rules and codes to follow while filling out a good application and snagging the ‘right husband’.

The key is to appear domesticated. So one of the most important steps is to strip your profile of all individuality and steep it with generalisations. There is a category of ‘Unmentionables’ such as ‘ambitious’, ‘outgoing’ and ‘independent’ which, by way of being my innate qualities, are obviously traits that men don’t find endearing. Consequently, words like ‘caring’ and ‘homely’ pretty much clinch the deal. I am also instructed not to mention my real name to prevent interference by the likes of nosy aunts and jilted ex-lovers.

The manual also warns of ‘Closet Codes’. A girl is to describe herself as ‘fair and very beautiful’ if she is ugly, ‘fair and beautiful’ if she is passable, and ‘beautiful’ if she is pretty. ‘Well-educated’ is a serious offence since it translates into ‘ambitious’. ‘Convent-educated’ translates into virgin, which is seemingly a highly-valued possession. Admitting to eating meat is equivalent to confessing to drinking or smoking or cannibalism. To sound moral, a woman is to preferably claim that she is a ‘vegetarian’ who ‘fasts every Monday’, and of course pretends to love cooking. It is imperative to throw in a line about family background so a man will know whether he is marrying up, down or safely. It’s best to be categorised in the last group. Sounding rich labels you a spoilt princess who warrants a fat dowry and the opposite makes you sound like you have a hidden agenda.

With all this information I feel adequately prepared and log on to a popular portal. The registration looks innocuous enough; of course by this time I know better. So I write:

Name: Pavitra Devi (my real name is Tanya Chopra)

Age: 28 years (not counting the cumulative years spent sleeping)

Weight: 55 kgs (at some point in the distant glorious past)

Height: 5’ 4” (a two-inch reduction to avoid scaring the insecure vertically-challenged Indian male)

Profession: Marketing Executive (voluntary demotion for the Indian male who inherently fears a VP of Marketing like myself)

Education: Convent-educated (getting your knuckles cracked by Sister Matardo is great training for an Indian marriage)

Religious Preference: Hindu Brahmin (when in doubt aim for the largest spectrum of Indian males)

Dietary Demands: Prefer vegetarian (but want tandoori chicken)

Social Background: My father is a retired businessman and my mother is a housewife (my father is a gynaecologist and my mother is in the police)

Hobbies: I am fond of travelling, reading, writing and cooking (I eternally mistake jeera for haldi and think okra is frog’s legs)

Description: I am homely, educated, sensitive, caring, easy-going and trustworthy (lies, all lies)

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