Friday, August 18, 2006

BACK ON THE MARKET: Oh Crap (part II)

My mother nagged me for pics all day yesterday. Each telephone conversation (and there were five of them altogether) went as follows:

Me: This is Sabila.
Amma: Have you emailed the photos to your father yet...
Me: I'm at work, amma...
Amma:...because we promised your cousins they'd have your photos...
Me: I don't have pics on my work computer.
Amma: ...two days ago, but you haven't sent us anything...
Me: I'll do it as soon as I get home.
Amma: ...and your cousin called me this morning asking about the photos...
Me: I'm really busy right now--
Amma: ...I told him you'd send them right away...
Me: --so let's talk later, okay?
Amma: ...so just send the photos, okay?
Me: Okay.

I suspect that a lot of thought goes into which rishta photos a family decides to circulate.

*There's the requisite natively-garbed shot, which illustrates the respect a girl has for her cultural heritage, thus proving that she must be a good person.

*Photos of the girl dressed in Western garb, demure enough to appeal to the parent's (well, more likely than not, the mother's) sensibilities, but edgy enough to attract the eligible bachelor's interest (please note that the ratio of natively-garbed shots to Western-garbed shots is directly proportional to how traditional or progressive an interested family is).

*While one must appear to be happy in most of the photos, happiness must manifest itself in varying degrees:

1) the open-mouthed smile (aka, the big smile) shot: because what kinds of dental monstrosities is a girl trying to hide by not including at least one big smile shot in her rishta portfolio?! No mother wants her son to have a dental case on his hands. And good teeth are indicative of overall goodness of character.

2) the close-lipped smile shot: because the big smile, when displayed too often, might be suggestive of loose morals.

3) the smile-with-your-eyes shot: I was channel surfing the other day when I happened upon reruns of this past season's America's Next Top Model. I watched long enough to witness Tyra Banks demonstrate how to smile with your eyes and not your lips. I'm not exactly sure why a girl might want to include this shot in her rishta portfolio, but I'm guessing that

a) it might further reinforce that she doesn't have loose morals,
b) shows that she watches reality television and
c) is downright model-like, all of which
d) confirms that she is a really good person.

4) the unsmiling shot: one should never frown in the unsmiling shot because no one likes a recalcitrant girl. Instead, a girl must appear to be pensive and lost in thought; perhaps she's dreaming of her wedding or imagining the dozens of children she will birth for her husband. This shot will surely add depth and dimension to her character...and she will come across as a very good and decent person.

*THERE MUST BE AT LEAST ONE FULL-BODY SHOT IN A RISHTA PORTFOLIO because too many close-up photos might lead the eligible bachelor as well as his mother to suspect that the girl is fat. And everyone knows that fat people can't possibly be good or worthy of marriage.

*A few overachieving parents pay to have professional pics (read: heavily airbrushed, close shots) of their offspring taken at photo studios. Prospective families (ie, moms) sometimes fall head-over-heels, not so much for the eligible bachelorettes featured in these shots, as much as for the time, effort, thought, care and money devoted to these shots. Surely, this means that the girl comes from a good family and, as a result, must be a good person, herself.

For my readers who are not familiar with the Pakistani or Indian mathcmaking process, these rules don't necessarily apply to men because a degree in medicine or engineering trumps all photos they will send to a girl's family. The degree, in such cases, becomes interchangeable with the bachelor.
All of that being said, you best believe I'm getting ready to ogle some male glamour shots!

16 comments:

passion said...

Do you also lean towards believing that a degree trumps the bachelor?

SabilaK said...

What do you think?

Destitute Rebel said...

ogle some male glamor shots-LOL

Maritza said...

At first I found this funny but then I realized, they are just being brutally honest. The same must go for any on-line type of dating situation. You know, "Look eager but not too eager" "Be sexy but not too sexy".

In most cultures, an advanced degree or fat stock portfolio trumps everything!

Abstracting Silliness said...

Atleast they aren't asking for your resume (yes, I have heard of that happening). Maybe you should ask for his.

terra shield said...

In the local (descended from India, 3rd or 4th generation local) community here (where more females have a higher education - don't ask me why)... the males (their families actually) have started asking the females how high their education is as part of the getting to know you process.

R. Arlington, Jr. said...

Would your mom agree to doing this whole courtship thing online so that we, your loyal readers, can vote American Idol-style for our favorite future husband?

And I just re-read "Catcher" for goddam school in two goddam weeks.

Anonymous said...

How tall are you? Any other dimensions you'd like to share?

passion said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
passion said...

I hope you dont. Because the content of someones character should trump looks or degrees. And since you seem intelligent enough, I think you would opt for love; not saying that the other process is flawed.

Daniel said...

I agree with. r. arlington. Can we maybe have an online poll where we decide?

SabilaK said...

DR: that's a nice island you got there. And, yes, ogling will be super (er, or not so much).

Maritza: I suppose one must lay what they want out on the line when looking for a mate. However, I'm a big proponent of letting things happen as they will. This process is simply too contrived for my taste.

AS: THAT happens AFTER boys and their moms have taken a liking to my pics. The rishta resume--if you're desi, you already know this--is called the biodata. It's effin' ridiculous!

Anusha: If only that translated into men doing all the cooking and child rearing...

Dear Rich: I'd sooner trust my readers' choice of a match for me than my parents' choice. Why are you upset about reading The Catcher in the Rye. I can read it over and over again.

Anonymous: UGH. Stop being misogynist and disagreeable, whoever you are.

Danny: I concur. Who knows, once this process begins, I may just give you guys the power to pick a mate for me. Or maybe not so much. Depends on the quality of guys my mom chooses for me.

You guys rock, by the way. Truly.

passion said...

Sab, u didnt answer my question. i feel left out. :P

SabilaK said...

Passion: "What do you think?" was my answer. Seriously, do I come across as a person who gives two freakin' rats asses about degrees and the whole desi matrimonial manufactory? I would hope not because that truly isn't who I am.
People like that make me effin' sick to my stomach.
Ugh.

passion said...

Ok Sab. No you dont. Thank u =)

leeQa said...

well there are other shots that i think should be included in the whole portfolio. Coming from someone who assumes too much abt too many ppl, that wouldnt be a bad idea :P

1. One close up shot, with the girl's head slightly raised, and her eyes fixated to the sky ( i.e. the studio's roof). This indicates that no matter whoever the girl is and no matter how educated she is, she is grounded... and also that she is used to looking upto ppl... so it wud be a really good thing, and of course it makes her a better person...

of course, of course.. there are other interesting connotations for it as well