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Reaching Iyer Planes

Karthik Iyer is our friend living in the US. His parents in Chennai are looking for the perfect bride for him for the past five years. Karthik is open to the idea of an arranged marriage, he being the ideal son brought up with nice brahmin values. Basically he is left with no other option in front of him as the 30 age limit of do-or-die looms ominously ahead. Advertisements have been slapped in 73 publications worldwide; every single relative has been alerted.

His parents have 14 criteria- Caste, sub-caste, age, language, height, weight, education, family history, medical history, grandpa’s annual salary, gotram (ancestral lineage) , nakshatram (star), horoscope (chart with alignment of stars), general skills like cooking, hemming, making pickles.

He has one criterion- looks.

At least he admits there is nothing else to go by when you get to interact intimately with a photo. No delving into the inner beauty at that point. Ladies, you better look good in the photo, or any hopes of cooking and cleaning for our Karthik had better not enter that wishful brain of yours. Out of 100 applicants who sent their Statement of Intent along with photo, 95 are rejected by his parents. Of the final 5 he gets to check out, he claims they look like they spent a few years in Tihar and might feed him dead rats.

His exasperated parents scream in frustration, ‘Karthik, you are being unreasonable!’

‘But of course! 5 years ago, you rejected the only girl who wanted to marry me, that hot Irish blonde, and now you are calling me unreasonable.'

‘She was not from Iyerland as you claim and there was nothing Iyerish about her and that little chaddi-banian she wore in those photos. Chee tu!’

His parents try to reason with him, ‘When you visit India for 2 weeks, we’ll take you to 10 houses and you can pick the iyer girl you’ve always wanted.’

‘If I go to 10 houses and say ‘no’ to every woman, not girl... I’ll be banned from checking out any more ladies and the iyer community will be convinced that the Karthik family is only interested in eating ‘rawa kesari’.

After 2 years, Karthik remains single; parents go lax on three of the criteria- ‘Grandpa’s salary is not important no? So what if she is fat, she won’t have any problems in pregnancy..it’s a sign of impending prosperity. .. and height.. who cares? As long as she is sitting down and our Karthi is standing in family portraits or vice-versa.’

Precisely 4 years later, after tearing 1,460 leaves from the Murugan calendar dangling precariously from the kitchen window sill, Karthik’s parents are still aware of their son’s unmarried status; they go easy on three more criteria-

‘Dei Karthik, this girl is very nice.’

Karthik pulls his oiled hair, ‘But amma, even for Allagappan who sells spinach on the road-side, she’ll look like a villager handpicked from the remote tribal dwellings.’

‘So what da, she can cook and make babies. Her uncle is a doctor in Bangalore. What more do you want? Plus she will learn English once you take her to the US. How difficult is it? I didn’t know English when I married your father. Now I can read the names of places on the PTC buses.’

Karthik slinks away from the photo, ‘Look at the ad, it says here that her sister had a love marriage! What a wretched family. How can you let that happen to me?’

Mom smiles an all knowing smile, ‘Now now, don’t be so old-fashioned.’

‘And why are you circulating a photo that was taken during high-school?’ Karthik asks, slightly shocked.

‘Who will want to marry a bald guy, tell me? By the way, the astrologer is asking you to change your name for luck.’

‘How about sex change? That way at least I can live with a iyer woman who satisfies all your conditions.

After 6 years,

‘This one has AIDS and she belongs to the Taliban!’ screams Karthik hitting the roof and making a hole there.

‘At least she is good looking. We have finally decided to make you happy, kanna.’

After 10 years, Karthik’s mom is praying to Lord Muruga. ‘That nice negro boy, Shaquille O Neal, whom Karthik keeps talking about…I hope my son gets married to him.’

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