“You can never get 100 per cent. You need to adjust …” “You need to be flexible…” I’ve been hearing these lines for a while now and when I heard someone saying the same on a Netflix show ‘Indian Matchmaking’, let me be honest, I for a second thought, maybe that’s the right way to approach life. Oh, I forgot to introduce myself — I am a 30-year-old ‘unmarried’ Indian girl and my parents are definitely looking for a potential partner for me. It’s not as easy as it may sound and the process often leaves me with self-doubts.
When the first season of ‘Indian Matchmaking’ was released in July 2020 on Netflix, Sima Taparia from Mumbai had set some unrealistic goals for single women in their late 20s’ or `30s’. She is back with season 2 and even more unrealistic ideas. However, she is just showing the reality of our society.
The show opens with Taparia saying, “In India, marriage is a big fat industry. It’s between two families and not just the bride and groom.” And that sets the tone of what’s in store for the viewers. She has journals with details of ‘eligible’ men and women waiting to get married. She talks about how people in India want everything in a person they want to marry — Slim, tall, beautiful, good-natured, good upbringing, horoscope… she tries to match everything. Oh, did I miss talking about sex life? Yes, she matches that as well. How? She has an astrologer who predicts if the couple’s sexual life will be a hit or a miss. That’s not all, Taparia’s mantra is, “You need to adjust and be happy with what you are getting.”
Before talking about what’s new in store, season 2 introduces us to the eligible and still single men and women we met in the first installment of Indian Matchmaking. Remember Aparna Shewakramani? A 34-year-old independent lawyer, who refused to settle for less. She still believes in finding the right match irrespective of how old you get. During the first season, things didn’t go well between her and Taparia as their values didn’t align. For Taparia, Shewakramani should adjust and settle for what she is getting in her mid-30s’. Taparia says, “If people see women lawyers in India, they get scared and think she is cunning.” She also claims that “Aparna is a tough nut to crack and she is trying to find a life partner as if she is ordering from a food menu.” We are also introduced to Nadia Jagasar, a wedding planner, who is still looking for her soulmate but needs some sort of attachment to take things forward. However, Taparia feels she is “greedy,” has “high standards”, and should learn to “compromise.” Praduman got married on his own and looks happy.
At one point in the series, Taparia says, “If the girl is pretty, she has an upper hand.” And that has hit me hard. Who defines what ‘pretty’ is all about? She also says that “You should marry the person first and then think about love.” Shouldn’t it be the other way round, Sima aunty?
Wondering if she has the same standards for men? Well, no! In one of the episodes, the guy didn’t turn up for the meeting because he forgot about it and Taparia tells the girl, “He is a boy and he can do it. He must be having a difficult day at work.” Like really?
My parents have been looking for a ‘perfect match’ for me for over 3 years now. I have spoken to a couple of men and trust me whatever Indian Matchmaking has shown is REAL. Yes, it’s regressive but trust me that’s how society is.
There was this guy who was living independently in Bengaluru for years but his questions were something that made me think about how sad his childhood must have been. He asked me, “So, do you know how to do all the household chores – cleaning, cooking, managing the house, etc.” I was taken aback but told him that it’s been over a decade that I’ve been living alone independently and, of course, I know how to do things but I have help for almost all the ‘household chores’ as I don’t get much time. His reply made me furious but I could understand that he is someone who has seen his mother working in the kitchen all through his childhood and feels that’s how things are meant to be. He said, “Oh, you know I am looking for someone who could do it all by herself. Your profession (a proud entertainment and lifestyle journalist) is different and we don’t match.” Dude, I couldn’t say this then, but you need a house help and not a wife. The two are different. You cannot handle a strong and independent woman. Period.
While watching the series, I could relate so much whenever some mother would ask the girl “Can you do household chores,” or some guy would ask the girl “Are you ready to start a family.” I mean why can’t a man cook or why starting a family, and having kids so important? Why does it define a woman?
There was this other guy who decided to send a request on LinkedIn on the pretext of a job. Maybe, it was for a job but we clicked. Though he was two years younger than me, we managed to vibe well. We started speaking for hours and almost a month passed by and he proposed to me. I expressed my feelings, as well. You know what’s funny, we didn’t even meet but it all felt right. He understood me and supported my work and dreams, we were pretty much similar in our taste and were ready to start a life together. Feels like a fairytale? I felt the same until we met. He was this cute and adorable-looking man but something didn’t feel right. We decided to spend time together, but it didn’t go as planned. He went back early and I was clueless as to what went wrong. Maybe, he didn’t like me physically. But I expected he would give me a reason. I am an emotional person and I have no shame in accepting it. When all of it was happening, I couldn’t understand. When I saw Indian Matchmaking and Sima aunty talking about beauty standards, this is why it hit me hard and I could relate. She is not wrong. Vinesh from the season 2 reminded me of this man. Vinesh, an average looking guy rejected a girl because she didn’t meet his beauty standards.
I gave too much time and space to this guy who could not even give me a reason for breaking up. Let’s move to the next one, I started speaking to him recently. Again, it went all well but it was all superficial, with him talking more, mansplaining things, cutting me in between, and asking if I would be okay without a job in the future. That’s weird? Right? That’s not all, he wanted to know me better but refused to ask anything, instead, felt it was okay to tell me irrelevant stories about himself. One day, I decided to ask him questions about his life, past relationships, likes, and dislikes, etc. and that was the last time we spoke. He stopped texting without a reason. Maybe, accepting an independent, outspoken, and confident woman was difficult for him. And accepting a man who is so naïve and underconfident is a deal-breaker for me. Shital, Aparna, Nadia, Viral, all the women in the show are super confident women and why would they settle for less when they are offering their 100 per cent?
Indian Matchmaking and Sima Taparia have left me with so many questions. Yes, the show is regressive and we might say “Oh, this is not how it should be” but that’s how our society is. Men can’t handle successful women, they want a perfect-looking woman even if they are below average, and their families want someone who can take care of their son and the house. I wish that could change…
Yours sincerely A 30-year-old unmarried Indian girl