(Original post appeared here: http://www.timeoutdelhi.net/books/reviews/book-review-hitched-modern-woman-and-arranged-marriage)
What would you do if your family gently shoved you into the arranged marriage circus and introduced you to several clowns? Throw poisoned darts at the obviously photoshopped pictures of the losers you meet, or turn your hand to something a little more creative and as much fun? Nandini Krishnan experienced an overpowering urge to write a satirical take on her experiences. Her publisher, however, directed her to write a serious book instead.
Hitched is an earnest attempt to understand the modern, urban, well-educated, working woman’s attitude to arranged marriages. Krishnan kicks it off with a series of interviews of a cross section of women (and two men tucked away at the end of the book as well, for good measure). Don’t treat it like the Bible, though: the people interviewed here belong to a relatively homogeneous group – Krishnan states in the preface that they’re mainly her friends or friends of friends – which means they are not reflective of a larger population.
Even so, the book does throw up a few interesting trends in the modern arranged marriage scene, and some of the meet-the-boy anecdotes are quite riveting, with horror stories that will make you scream (with laughter too, quite often).
There’s also a series of articles where important issues are discussed like, how easy is it to jump into bed with a stranger, should you lie about your past relationships, how to handle rejection, should you change your name after marriage, etc. This would serve as a great ready reckoner if it wasn’t for the fact that there are no absolutes here. Spirited for and against arguments are helpfully laid out – you take the final call.
Now, here are a few of the things we learnt while reading this book Horoscopes are still in. The God-awful caste barrier is being breached (albeit tentatively). Salaries are the new dowries, paid in monthly instalments. Never ever marry a small town boy. Some people do opt for the arranged married route after a series of failed relationships (no, no, don’t arch your eyebrows here – the argument is, if speed dating is cool, what’s wrong with this?).
We have one big complaint, though: this book isn’t as fat as a telephone directory. Pity, because it would be just the perfect thing to hurl at some of the creeps who surface in the meet-the-boy episodes. Consider this statement made by a charming IIT and IIM alumnus to his prospective bride: “If I figure out my wife is not a virgin, I will beat her out of the house.” Fortunately, not all the men in the arranged marriage market have minds as small as Khaps. Krishnan has also quoted a “civilised” person who said that he fervently hopes the woman he marries has had at least one boyfriend, because he dreads the idea of marrying a “Miss Goody Two-Shoes”. And thank god for people like that!