Sunday, July 6, 2008

Match making

It was June of 1972 and extremely hot in Delhi. I had just managed to get a German scholarship for two years and landed in Delhi on 1st of June and put up with my class mate Swapan. Though I was supposed to fly on 6th, I came to Delhi a little early to complete the visa & other facilities. That was my first visit abroad and I did not have any experience with German efficiency. Surprisingly all the formalities were over within two hours on the first day itself and I did not know what to do for the rest five days!

Swapan was in midst of changing his job (he almost took it as a hobby!) and was naturally very busy and had no time for me except during late evening. Due to extreme hot climate, I was also not venturing out during the day time and passing my time gossiping with Swapan’s mother, father and younger sister.

Next day one of Swapan’s friends, Sanjay came for tea. He was looking little nervous and informed Swapan that he has to meet a Bengali family near by in connection with a match making proposal for one of his close friend, Arup. Since his friend stayed away from Delhi, Sanjay was entrusted with making the “First Information Report”. He was too scared to go alone and wanted immediate help from Swapan. As usual, Swapan was most benevolent and agreed to help

“Arranged marriage” is still a common practice in India and about 40 years back “love marriage” as an alternative, used to be quite uncommon, if not a taboo! Once some proposal has come either through match maker, relative or friend, it is customary for the girl’s parents to send the photograph and other details of the girl (an elaborate CV starting from family history to complexion) to boy’s parents for initial approval. If it is tentatively approved then boy’s parents along with some senior members of the family would go for seeing the girl. The processes are, however, quite long drawn and on occasion, could be quite humiliating for the girl and her family. Since I have six sisters of my own, I was quite familiar with the procedure and did not like it beyond a point.

Swapan & Sanjay decided to meet the girl’s parents and if possible the girl that day itself and wanted me to accompany (Swapan had a very old Morris car which requires occasional manual encouragement and two would always be better than one!). Though initially I declined, Swapan’s mother prevailed over me. Anyway I did not have anything else to do and she had the misconception of I being more mature of the three (lady’s instinct I suppose!)!

We all set out in Swapan’s car by the evening. I was very nervous since I had never had such an encounter. “Biplab, don’t be nervous. We have enough experience. You just sit back and relax. We will do all the talking” boasted Sanjay may be just to smoothen his nerves and mine too in the process.

Girl’s house was only a few blocks away. A small footpath leading from a wicket gate to the main entrance of a typical government quarters in Delhi. Sanjay was leading the charge with Swapan as second in-command. I opted as rear guard (only position available in a three men army) and kept the gate slightly ajar as an after thought to take care of any eventualities. Sanjay confidently rang the bell. Within a few minutes the door was opened by a huge hulk of a man who could be a contender for WWE championship. He looked at us very suspiciously and demanded with a matching gruff voice “Whom do you want?”

Seeing the giant and hearing his voice I already took a couple of steps backward with a pretext of admiring the non-existent flower garden and could also observe all the confidence vanishing from Sanjay’s face.
“We are looking for Mr. Bhavani Banerjee. Is he home?” stammered Sanjay.
“No. He is not at home. I am his younger brother Chandi Banerjee. Is there anything I can do?” boomed the door keeper without lowering his guard or allowing us to cross the threshold.
“There was a matrimonial proposal for his daughter and we came in that connection. We would like to meet the girl and her parents” whispered Sanjay.
Mere mention of matrimonial proposal for his niece changed the scenario completely. The giant became most docile.
“See, this is a very important event in girl’s life and we would require some time for preparation. Could you please come back on day after tomorrow when my elder brother Bhavani will also be back? Said the giant in a sweetened voice.
“By the way, how are you related to the prospective bride groom?” he further quipped, probably as an after thought
“I am his friend. We were class mates in college” answered Sanjay.
“And you?” question was directed to Swapan.
“I am Sanjay’s friend”
For a couple of moments giant was pondering whether it would be prudent to ask me about my credential but the curiosity got the better of him “and you?” he asked me in a some what puzzled tone.
“I am Swapan’s friend “I replied, half way down the path, keeping in mind unpredictable nature of giants for humor.
Anyway, there was no violent reaction and Chandi Banerjee closed the door with a puzzled smile on his face probably thinking whether he has taken a right decision in inviting us day after tomorrow evening to meet his niece and what his elder brother would think of him. We all hurriedly got into the car having settled the issue for the time being. Once inside the safe refuge of the car, Sanjay & Swapan both lighted cigarettes to tone up their nerves. I being a non-smoker subjected to passive smoking from the back seat. [to be continued…]



Dear Biplab,
Good that you included me in your mailing list.
I do not use blogspot much these days.I was once inclined to use it to bring in connection to and contribution of IIT_Kgp's Mech_68 batch.Since I found no response apart from Satyen, my enthusiasm died its natural death.
The link exists with a good nos of photographs of events and people we know !
I enjoy blogging. A bit of niche tourism and a bit photography.I am mostly with intimate when a new article of a 'friend'is published.Since,I am not much in, I am not aware if blogspot does the same.If so, you can add my name in your list of friends to be intimated when you write a fresh piece.

Rabindranath wrote : 'Amra dujan ekti g*aayei thaaki...'.Now-a-days, with technology advancing ,it can be 'Amra dujan ek-i blog-e likhi..'

Best wishes and happy blogging!

Shyamal Chatterjisd

jdrhere said...

Great going....holding my breath for the next episode :-)

biplab said...

Dear Shyamal, Sine you have sent your comments also thru' email, i have already replied tru' emai. Thanks. Biplab

Dear Jayashree, the second episode will be posted this week. Thanks. Biplab

Anonymous said...

Hi Biplab,

I was (mis?)directed to your blog by dear old( not in age but......) Dipankar Roy.

Glad to see the literary side to your personality. Keep it up. I too have started blogging (but in my mother tongue Kannada) intensely since retiring more than a year ago on topics not even remotely connected with my life and career. It does keep me occupied and readers stupefied and confused

The title of your blog gives me an idea of starting a blog in English remembering some (tor)mentors who worked on me while serving the the great Land T. Don’t be surprised if you read them one day too soon.

Glad to touch base. Take care of yourself and wish you many many years of happy blogging.


biplab said...

Dear sudheer,

I consider you superior in so many fields and literary activities is no exception. Please start blogging in English as well. Regards. Biplab

Nirjhorini said...

Kaku - eagerly awaiting the next episode. Like your dry wit.

biplab said...

Dear Kamalika,

Thanks. I will post next part on "match makin" this week end.

With best wishes


................. said...

wow mama ...goppo to hebby jomechhe

biplab said...

pupli, thanks, wait for the next part and there after which will be more interesting