For every Indian woman in her 20s, there comes a time when the parents start panicking about her single status and relatives and family friends are hastily summoned to find her a suitable boy. What follows next are interminably long meetings where the families meet and greet and egg the prospective groom and bride to fall for the candidate that best suits the family. Here are 15 thoughts universal to all the women who've felt the awkwardness of being paraded in front of strangers, all in the hope of finding marital bliss with a parentally approved stranger.
1) "Oh god, I can't imagine having sex with him!"
How do you explain sexual chemistry (or the lack of it) to parents who look at you with beseeching Bambi eyes every time you meet a suitor? How do you tell them that even though you are a great match "on paper", you aren't even mildly turned on by him. So frustrating, when that happens.
2) "I can't believe I scrubbed my skin into oblivion for him."
You were made to wax, scrub and polish your skin within a few millimetres of its existence for someone who looked like he tumbled out of bed and fell into your living room by accident. Ugh.
3) So... male-pattern baldness clearly runs in the family."
They judge you by the colour of your skin. You judge them by the quantity of hair on their head. That's just how you bargain in the arranged marriage market.
4) "Grammar should be a compulsory subject at IIM"
His mother won't let yours forget that he went to IIT somewhere or IIM something. Your parents couldn't stop impressing upon you that his "future is very bright" in the mandatory pre-date pep talk and yet, his language skills make you wonder how he cleared his English exams in school.
5) "Oh he is the Founder and CEO of his startup? Means I will be paying the rent for a long, long time"
You might as well freeze the eggs. It's going to be a while, if this works out.
6) "I saw him on Tinder and swiped left!"
You squint and narrow your eyes, and rack your brain, trying to figure out why his face looks so familiar. And then it hits you. Tinder. You swiped left. Or worse, unmatched after an uninspiring exchange. Does he recognise you too? Eep!
7) "How do I tell him I hooked up with his childhood buddy?"
You've stalked him on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram in the days leading up to the parentally-approved date. And then suddenly a photo pops up that makes your blood run cold. You had a fling with his buddy. How to back out of the date without a very embarrassing, very uncomfortable exchange? Of all the gin joints, in all the towns in all the world... That feeling.
8) "Oh, no, no, no, NO! Chetan Bhagat is not the right answer."
He said he liked reading. How were you supposed to know he'd drop the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named bomb on you?
9) "Someone needs to come up with an intellectual kundli."
You've been told repeatedly by relieved relatives that your stubborn, unmatchable astral chart has finally found compatibility in the arms of a gabru jawaan from Delhi. Sadly, your intellectual stars belong to different galaxies. And unlike your many gunns, the twain shall never meet.
10) "Oh, his mom wants to see me in a sari? Does she know her son takes pictures of unsuspecting women and posts them on Facebook?"
Thanks to your best friend's investigative skills, you know that while Mummyji is scouting for a bahu who gives bado ko izzat, hamumro ko apnapan, chhoto ko pyaar and cheeloes matters with abandon, laadla beta has been skulking around the beaches in Thailand behaving like a sexual predator.
11) "Does he know how to cook?"
Every girl who's been archly asked, "beta, what all can you cook" looks at her "intended" and wonders what will happen if she was to ask him the same question.
12) "Oh, so, they will allow me to work after marriage? How kind."
You will be told, with a very self-satisfied smile, that the boy and his family are very modern and progressive and will happily allow you to work provided you can manage the house and the kitchen along with your job, of course.
13) "This one will pucca ask about my virginity."
You just know when he is the virginity sniffing-types, don't you?
14) "Yes, yes, we got it. You have a kothi of your own in Delhi!"
How many times in one conversation can people humblebrag about their family jaydaad without any embarrassment?
15) "Mom, dad, please don't send me to "show him the house!""
Sometimes, you know within minutes of meeting someone that you're not interested in them and never will be. And you silently will your parents to read your mind and not send you on that dreaded "house tour", which is shorthand for the alone-time so you can get to "know each other".