Индийские брачные объявления и, как следствие, брачные детективы

автор: Денис Песков

Вспомнил  ещё об одном любопытном месте в этой прекрасной книге об Индии — брачные объявления, полные похвальбы, и детективы, позволяющие проверить достоверность рекламируемых качеств женихов и невест. Сами объявления, конечно, нечто.

For most Indian families a marriage is as much a business proposition as a romantic affair of the heart, and perhaps for this reason many of the advertisments sound as if they are marketing objects rather than advertising potential spouses:

WANTED: Kayastha match for employed ordinance factory beautiful, slim, wheatish Ghari double, convented, well versed in household affairs, adaptable.

Some of the adverts, like western lonely hearts columns, are slightly sad:
WANTED: Handicapped girl, caste no bar, for handicapped blind Bengali boy. Lost parents at a young age; lame in one leg. Able to move around with limp.

Some are embarrassing:
WANTED: Life companion for 28 year old, good-looking boy, well settled in decent job, suffering from sexual disorder, i.e acute premature ejaculation. Girl should either be suffering from same disease or is not interested in sex otherwise.

A few defy credibility:
Alliance invited for innocent, beautiful, charming, compassionate, sober, soft-spoken and good natured divorcee.
But my favourites are definitely the ambitious Punjabi boys out for what they can get:
WANTED: very beautiful, fair, slim, charming, educated, well-connected Green Card holder for very handsome, athletic, energetic and elegant Jat Sikh boy of high ideology. BA and yoga practitioner. Working hard in excellent position in Gurgaon factory. Send photograph and horoscope.

The Indian marriage advertisements are in fact a British invention, a hangover from the period when highly educated and thoroughly eligible ICS officers would spend their youths in remote postings in the jungles of Central India. There they had little hope of meeting, wooing or wedding even the most hideous and unsuitable English-women. For these people the marriage adverts acted as a kind of mail-order lifeline: from deepest Nagpur or Ujjain, a young man’s credentials could be easily brought before the eyes of an anxious Mama in Chelsea or Kensington.

Yet, like so many other Raj survivals, the marriage adverts have been mutated out of all recognition from their understated British originals. Today the tone of so many of these adverts is so unashamedly boastful — full of triumphs in beauty competitions, prizes won and degrees achieved — that I often wondered whether these perfect matches are all they claim to be. For this reason my eye was caught one day by a small box-ad at the bottom of the column:

A telephone call confirmed my suspicions. Mr Pavan Aggarwal, an ex-paratrooper, specializes in investigating the truth behind the adverts — usually by the simple expedient of sending one of his agents to the groom or bride’s home village.

‘I was trained to see behind enemy lines,’ Mr Aggarwal told me, ‘and I am knowing how to observe properly.’

‘What sort of thing do you look for?’ I asked.

‘I will check anything — see if boy is knowing too many girls or girl is watching too many Hindi films and not pursuing her studies,’ replied Mr Aggarwal. He added: ‘I am even checking-out mothers-in-law.’