If so, I might need some tips from you.
It was my usual daily morning call to my mom. After the usual checklist of complaints – you know it is getting too cold or too hot or too rainy in Kalyani and the granddaughter is simply not sitting down to study and dad is not listening to her and so on and I doing my part of morally supporting her with “tai to”, “tai to”, (“of, course”, “of course), she suddenly perked up.
Turns out she had called her elder sister today and the discussion led to her sister mentioning that her son (my cousin) and daughter-in-law are now looking to get their daughter (her granddaughter) married off and are using the “net” to find a groom. “Net” is what everybody in India calls the Internet.
My mom straightaway asked her “Net-e ki korey chhele khunjbey?” (How can you look for a groom on the internet). Her sister was mightily relieved at that question. Understandably, she said, “Tui-o jaanis na? Aami to bhoy-e jiggesh korchhi na kaukey!”. So, she had a nary a clue either but she was too afraid to go around asking her folks how were they planning to catch a groom on the net. I am sure she had figured out that you do not go around with a big fishing net and cast it at the first eligible bachelor / bachelorette you see. There must be something more it than that in the “net”.
According to my mom they had a thirty minute discussion on this. Now, I have to explain to you that my parents and that generation was used to putting newspaper ads in the matrimonial columns to find grooms or brides. And those newspapers usually charged by the “centimeter” (length of the ad since the width was constant). You have to be a Bengali mom of a suitable age boy or girl to understand the sheer cruelty of forcing a proud mom to discuss her kid within a centimeter. That is like asking me to tweet my Facebook posts in 140 characters or less.
Now, Bengali moms might be proud. But they are very smart too. So, they have code words for these kind of situations. Much to the dismay of the revenue generation department of the newspapers, no doubt! Your daughter is not exactly fair skinned? (This is somehow a big thing in India). But, she got first division in Higher Secondary? (This is your high school exam). No problem. 5 single letters – each with deep exhaling “bisorgo” sign after it will do it. In English, it would read something like Ooh! Shya! Ha! Se! Fa!
There! Easy does it. Now you can use the rest of your centimeter in focusing on more important aspects of Bengali matrimonial happiness like “Cooking Hilsa Fish with Sorshey bnata a must” or something like that. When it comes to need for skills in cooking fish, a centimeter does not even come within a mile of hitting the sweet spot.
With that as the background, we had these two septuagenarians trying to figure out what a matrimonial website is on the “net”. I have no doubt that in their mind, the prospective bride and groom sits in front of the computer whole day long. With the modem switched on, mind you. Else how would people find them on the net? Somewhere the original DARPAnet guys turned in their graves this morning.
Finally, she said “porer baar esey eta amader bhalo korey bojhabi to”. I admire her willingness to learn new things but I expect it to be a rather not-so-smooth process. I can picture myself sitting with my aunt and mom and starting to explain the much-feared-net in a true soccer coach “from the deep defense” style. “See, this is a keyboard. And this a mouse”. I can almost visualize my aunt shrieking “Eendur? Kothay?”. And on that note of miscommunication on what a mouse is, she would stop laughing and say “Dnara. Ektu cha baaniye aani”. (she will run off to make one more round of tea). Pretty much that is where we will conclude our first lesson. I am sure the final lesson will be around the time when my cousin would be expecting their first child.
I can’t wait to go back to India 🙂