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    LifeRelationshipsIntercaste Shaadi… In 2022? Tauba, Tauba!
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    Intercaste Shaadi… In 2022? Tauba, Tauba!

    I grew up in a good-old Punjabi family where we took marriage seriously. And intra-community marriages (most of which were arranged), even more seriously. Since the day I turned eighteen, my chachas and fufas across the globe started asking my father for my bio-data (which in my definition is a CV, except for marriage!) to circulate among their social circle and families, so that we could find a good rishta within our community. My grandmother would tell me to act demure and shy at every family function, Punjabi families didn’t like outspoken women. After all, it is in one of these families that you’ll end up na beta—she’d never fail to remind me.

    In my twenties, my parents decided that they wanted to be ‘modern parents’, and the way to display this newly embraced modernism was that in the event I didn’t like any of the boys they set me up with, I could choose my own life partner. On one condition: He had to be from within the same community. “It’s much easier beta”, they would tell me. “You’ll fit in better”. 

    And so, perhaps conditioned to this logic myself, I went on a spree, meeting one Punjabi boy after the next. I met one who came with his entire family, and the only thing his mother asked me was if I liked children; she wanted many, many grandchildren, you see. Another one whose parents kept insisting that they didn’t particularly believe in the idea of dowry, but you Mrs Gupta, each one of our guests would love it if you gave them a heavy shagun ka lifafa. And then the NRI who kept cribbing how his San Francisco house felt empty because there was no one to make him his mummy’s rajma-chawal on Sundays. 

    Another one whose parents kept insisting that they didn’t particularly believe in the idea of dowry, ‘but you Mrs Gupta, each one of our guests would love it if you gave them a heavy shagun ka lifafa‘.

    And while I’m not begrudging my community, it didn’t take me long to realise that some part of me didn’t quite fit into the mould my mothers and grandmothers had set out for me. I was an independent, free-spirited girl who didn’t particularly think she could adapt to the adarsh bahu role that’s typically expected in women in my community.  Especially where the arranged marriage bit was concerned. To which my parents suggested: “Beta, why not try Shaadi.com, or even Tinder? (Eyebrows raised. I wonder where they got that from). You can find acche ladke there too. But does it come with a caste filter?

    A little frustrated with my family’s obsession with getting me married, and even more, that the groom must belong to the exact same caste, creed and community, I decided to take some time off this entire shaadi business.

    Beta, why not try shaadi.com, or even Tinder? (Eyebrows raised. I wonder where they got that from).

    And then, just when I was least expecting it, I found love and marriage, in the most unexpected of ways. Mr Right cartwheeled his way into my life, in the form of a colleague turned friend turned boyfriend. We met, and conversation and chemistry struck instantly. He was a kind man and loved the fact that as a woman, I was my own person. Just what I’d always wanted. Before long, we were in love and wanted nothing except a life together. 

    In all ways, he seemed perfectly eligible. Except that he belonged to another caste. A Maharashtrian surmai loving soul, to my Punjabi butter chicken one. His family had poha, mine had aloo ka paratha for breakfast.  The only thing my family had warned me about! 

    For one entire year, Mr Right played his cards right at wooing my family. And, he outdid himself rather well, if you ask me. My mother, with home decor for our living room. My father, with conversations spanning from Chinese Communist policies to Federer’s sports career. My grandmother, on her gajar ka halwa, put every dessert he’d ever had to shame. It took them a while, but we got there.

    In all ways, he seemed perfectly eligible. Except that he belonged to another caste. A Mahastrian surmai loving soul, to my Punjabi butter chicken one.

    They fell in love with him even sooner than I did. And realised that even though he didn’t directly share our gene pool, he wasn’t very different. After all, he had a perfect face, ten fingers and toes. And a lethal combination of a warm heart and a sharp mind. I think for the first time in their entire lives, my family saw Mr Right for what he was as a person, eliminating the community and caste filter. And boy, did they realise what a bucket they’d lived in all their lives! And today my father says, the difference in the community is actually a good thing; you’ll have sharper and better-looking children, he jokes! 

    (P.S.: Happy to announce that Mr Right and I are officially engaged. And the family tribe loves him, Punjabi or not!) 

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