Melbourne, December 2014, to airport, 55 minutes Driver: from Patiala, Punjab, 32 years old One young pretty Indian girl sat next to me on the plane when I was flying to India yesterday. She was visibly upset and nervous. The flight was easy, the crew was good, lots of food and entertainment, but she was getting really fidgety. I thought that she was scared to fly, so I started a conversation. No, Bianca was not scared of flying, she was nervous about coming home. Her destination was Chandigarh, large modern Indian city about 5 hours drive from Delhi.
- Ok, so what is the reason? Are not you happy to see your family? - Oh, yes, I am very happy to see all of them, but I am getting married in ten days. - Hey, that's great. Congratulations! - This is a problem. I don't want to do so. - Sorry, I don't understand. - This is an arranged marriage. I know this guy basically all my life. Our parents decided that it's time for us to get married. But I am not so keen. You see, I studied accounting in Melbourne, My job is very good and interesting. ( How accounting can be interesting I personally have no idea). My career is important to me. And I am only 23 years old. - Why don't you talk to your parents openly about your feelings and ambitions? - I tried, they don't want to listen. They say it will work out. He is a good boy: hardworking, quite handsome, very light, from the good family. I like him as a friend, but there is nothing romantic there. And what happens if I will never love Raj? - You have all life to fall in love with each other.
A few weeks ago I got a taxi to airport. The driver was a young man from Patiala, Punjab. We had a very interesting conversation ( again). I mentioned to him about my next trip to India and he responded that he is going there as well, in four months time. - To visit your parents? - To get married. - How old are you? - 32. Almost too old. All my friend are already married and some even have kids. But I have never wanted to have a wife or family. After arriving to Australia eight years ago I studied IT, could not find a proper job, started driving a taxi and was quite happy. Later I met an Australian girl and we had a relationship for four year. - Just a minute. Does it mean you lived together? - Yes, we were renting a house. But she worked day shifts and I predominantly nights. It was getting too hard, so in the end we broke up. - What about your parents? Did they know about your relationship? - Sure , they knew. - And they did not object? Were they mad at you? - Not at all. The good thing it was out of everybody's eyes. So everybody pretended that nothing happened. They even did not mind us getting married, but it had to be in India. My girlfriend did not like that idea. - Ok, let me get it right. I thought that in India it's impossible to have a serious relationship until people are married. Is not it right? - Sort of. As long as nobody knows we can do whatever we want. It's easier for guys, of course. But in large cities it's getting more and more common. - But this is very hypocritical. - You told me that you have been to India three times? Have not you figured out it yourself? India is a very hypocritical country. In many aspects of life. This is just one of the examples. Parents know, friends know, and as long as neighbours DON'T know- then everything is fine. - Why is that? - Because at some stage it can come out in a very ugly way. For example, the girl's parents will voice an opinion and anybody can remind them to look after their daughter better, instead of judging someone. Because "yesterday she went in a car with a boy and was out for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Where did they go? She is good for nothing, your daughter". This is a scary part for any parent - the public opinion. Otherwise, everybody understands that it's only natural to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. - So who is your bride? - My parents found her for me. I never met her in person, only emails and Skype. I think, she is ok. I actually feel sorry for her, because she has to leave her parents, friends and everything behind and move on with me. And we hardly know each other. - But what if you don't like her after the wedding? How can you live with her? Divorces in India are not allowed, am I right? - You are. But it's probably is a good thing. I am worried about it myself, so I asked my father the same question once. His response made me cringe. My father said I was lucky , because I saw my fiancé and spoke to her. While he had never seen my mother before the wedding. At all. He saw her face only after they walked around the Holy Book three times. He just knew her name, that's all. But day after day he was learning something new about her, and she did the same. They both compromised a lot, fought a lot, and laughed a lot. Because divorces are not allowed or accepted in Sikh religion, they had to make it work. They were bound together for life. My dad said that he respected his wife a lot for all she did around the house and for him as well. After having kids, they learnt to become parents together. So in the beginning it was just respect, and love grew slowly day after day. You know, They are still married after 35 years . My father said that love is a hard work. 'Even if you don't love each other straight away, you have all life to fall in love with each other'.
I told this story to my new friend. Bianca listened to me very careful. After I finished my story, she sat quiet for a while, thinking. Some time later she turned to me and asked: - So, do you believe it's true? Is it possible? And for her sake ( and mine) I answered Yes.
Music: Itna Bhi Na Chaho Mujhe – Kumar Sanu