Have you ever sat in front of a rishta committee and felt like a qurbani ka bakra being inspected for perfect teeth and skin? When it comes to the SH-word, progressive parents who once told you that you were the Pakistani version of Christiane Amanpour, now want you to act like the hyperventilating and very traditional Shabnam.
As far as the shaadi-biyah scene is concerned, rishta aunties (and sometimes even uncles — awkward!) with their superlative social skills and admirable foresight have become the executioners of the plans God made up in the heavens, acting as liaisons between the boy’s family and the girl’s. Unfortunately, this situation has not made things any less stressful or awkward for us single girls. While your parents lecture you on how ending up an old maid is the biggest blight in our society, the rishta aunty will look at you with X-ray vision, tut-tutting and shaking her head at the sad dearth of desirable characteristics you possess. In the end, you’ll be ready to tear your hair out (don’t though — that’s a desirable characteristic right there) convinced that you’ll either die alone with seven cats or that you must resign yourself to marrying the first chota, mota, kaala, underemployed guy who has the stupidity to accept you as his bride.
If your self-esteem is taking a hit, we suggest you look at some of the typical requirements chalked out by the ‘larkay walay’ to find a match for their sons. When the wish list takes shape, you’ll begin to understand why you haven’t yet met Prince Charming.
Back in the 90s, Junaid Jamshed was bashed for singing Goray Rang Ka Zamana but if we think about it, poor guy was just saying what he probably always heard at home. From Fair & Lovely advertisements to rishta ads in every C-grade newspapers, isn’t a fair complexion our biggest yearning after world peace? We like women whose pictures do not require brightness adjustments and whose skin does not need too many layers of pasty white foundation. Matchmaker Rubina Khan, who draws clients from upper-middle income localities in Karachi, says, “Even the darkest guys ask for fair girls. I blame the media for totally ruining the mindsets of our youngsters.”
And if one tries to persuade the larkay walas to be a little more reasonable? “The boy’s side is usually extremely demanding and if you shift even a little bit from their rigid requirements they refuse to meet the girl’s family after the first meeting,” says Nusrat Anjum, founder of the Defence Women Welfare Society.
Thanks, guys! I should probably go dip my face in peroxide now.
The day I was born, my daadi decided I’d be a doctor. Sadly for her, I became a female journalist which, according to my grandma, are “women who go out in the field without dupattas and come back home at inappropriate hours.” Despite my continuous questioning she would never tell me the reason behind her obsession with doctors but rishta expert Rubina sheds some light: “The larkay walas have this inexplicable obsession with girls who are doctors or are studying to become doctors.” Nusrat adds that to the demand of the typical slim, fair and tall girl has been added the requirement of earning money. The families who come to Nusrat often demand rich in-laws because the job market is unstable and they want their bahus to meet their own expenses and not be a burden on the ‘poor son’. “A wealthy background and professional career have made their way to the long and sometimes unrealistic list of traits the larkay walas want in their bahu,” says Nusrat.
Oh hey, you might want to add ‘should know how to walk upside down’ to your list!
Caste and creed
Rubina Khan expresses concern over the increasing sectarian divisions which is gradually making match making extremely difficult. “Previously people wanted girls and boys from their own sect but now the demands have been narrowed down even more,” she says. “Urdu speaking people now prefer Urdu speaking families from Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow and Moradabad which makes it difficult for us to meet all these specifications.”
Now we know why the Egyptian Pharaohs married their sisters: their requirements were so specific, that they eliminated the ‘panga’ and went for their ‘behnas’ who were equal to them in every respect. The next I know, I’d probably get rejected because I like cheese sticks better than chicken wings.
According to rishta aunties, larkay walas sometimes also have an issue with the number of members in the girl’s family. “The mother of the potential groom wants a small family because she doesn’t want her son spending too much on his in-laws,” says Rubina.
Heads up girls, the next time you have a proposal committee coming in for you, make sure you hide your siblings, burn their birth certificates up and use them for potpourri. And if God forbid they get spotted, just pretend they are avant garde furniture.
The rishta aunties have bad news for all you curvy girls out there: size 0 is hot. The subcontinent may be notorious for its pear-shaped women but when it comes to the rishta scene, boys and their mothers are looking for that elusive ‘dubli patli larki’. If the starved look is not your thing, you can forget all about finding a suitable boy.
Dear potential mother-in-law, if you’re reading this and if it makes you feel better I look much better in Photoshop — I’m just not real-ogenic.
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, January 20th, 2013.
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in the uk the best ? i hear time and time again from friends who are in he process is "do you have a BMW"! now how will it help the girl what he drives madness
Well- written article. However i dont think its fair to critique only the boy's mother's interest in a girl's family size. I have seen cases where a girl's parents are concerned about the number of siblings their potential son-in-law has and the family set up he lives in. A younger sister may demand her brother's attention and their daughter's potential husband may spend lavishly on his spoilt younger sister thereby ignoring his wife's materialistic needs. Also some parents would not want to marry their daughter into a family in which her husband to be would be the main breadwinner of the family financing his youger siblings education and paying for the upkeep of his house. I strongly condemn the culture of lengthy question and answers session girls are subjected to by thier potential in laws and the scrutiny the girls have to undergo. Such treatment makes it seem that the potential brides are on display in the market for sale and the potential mother in law is the customer who is going to buy that commodity(potential bride) that best satisfies her rigid and tough criteria before presenting the newly purchased commodity to her son.
May be its psychological. Many years back they had suffered the same ordeal so repeating it with some poor soul provides them a wicked satisfaction :)
Taneeya Hassan will you marry me :)
well written,i would like to say its a disgusting and disturbing experience altogether being treated by people seeking rishtaz as mere commodities!! like a person is on sale!! sickening
@Cynical: Good points. But I'm not too convinced that all these points are contradictory. these women come to mind: Yvonne Ridley (you all know her I'm sure), Yuna May (singer /songwriter from Malaysia, who has a record label in the USA, is the lead singer of her band and is modesty/modern combined), Dina Tokio (up and coming fashion designer from Cardiff, again modesty/modernism combined), Hana Tajima Simpson (similar to Dina, but is from London) and finally a girl called Imaan (a PhD student in Michigan who does a blog on fashion, but is also doing some hardcore politics based PhD http://thehijablog.wordpress.com/). So they do exist, but I guess we have to broaden our horizons a little, they might not be Pakistani etc....so they ARE out there, they're just a little harder to find. Google them all if you have the time, they are all amazing ladies!!
But yeah, like some others have said, it's the aunty jees etc that give these demands...but you have to remember, they aren't the ones who are going to have to spend the rest of their life with them....so yeah just tell them to back off (in all politeness of course!)
In a society where dating is taboo, you have issues with boys or their families having certain preferences over things they can at least observe before getting married?
@abbas yes, we get educated so that we can support ourselves and our families in case of need. but lets see if it is the man who works like a donkey from 9-5 or the housewife who works 24 hours a day every day of the week with no sick leaves, no casual leaves...nothing. we want this choice becasue we are held responsible for keeping our house clean, food ready, children behaved and what not. can you even imagine coming home at 5 or 6 in the evening and then preparing dinner...NO. you wont even think of helping your wife with the dishes because its against your man-ism we are not confused....we are clear...let us choose if we can manage both our household and professional demands or not. if can we'll be glad to help...but if we cant, we should'nt be forced if anyone really wants to force his wife to work to share financial responsibilities then be ready to share some household responsibilities as well.....
Well written. Thumbs up ! There was this time when we were recommended by the Rishta Auntie that the 'Girl' has eleven brothers and sisters...Damn ! My Mom said, "We don't have those many sofas is our Drawing Room' :)
one article in ET after a very lonnnnggggg time that made me laugh out LOUD specifically because of that pharaoh comment. Spot on! BTW, in all fairness (no pun intended) to Junaid Jamshed, he also sang Sanwali salooney... but we never took notice!
Just when it was getting really interesting and you were hitting your stride..............you just stopped.
@Roti, kapra aur..: the article was good but the phrase you used about Pharoahs going for their … was gross. I did not know about this Pharaoh thing before. I know many Pakistanis and Afghanis in USA. Most of them are married to their first cousins.
@Cynical: lol. These demands are mostly put forward by aunties.
I haven't seen any of my friend looking for girl with such contradictory personality. All these demands are put forward by mothers (and sometimes by fathers as well) and most of the time guys don't even know.
Most of the time girls and guys both are looking for a decent and suitable spouse. And they are not even worried about the cast, creed and sect. There is a generation gap between children and their parents. Parents want something else and their kids want something else. That's why marriages fail because what seems ideal and suitable to parents is unsuitable for their children.
We live in a society where children don't have much say in "rishta finding process".
They expect the girl to be: - Educated yet not self-assured/talkative/confident (confidence is seen as chalaaki by aunties, they are too dumb to know the difference). - Modern yet conservative- she should know about latest fashions and keep up with the times, but should NOT have capris and sleevelesses as part of her wardrobe. - she should be a good cook (know how to make 'parathay' from scratch because they are the boy's favourite). - If she works, she should excel at her job and compete with men, but at home she should be docile, subservient and obedient - she should be a practicing muslim observing all pillars of faith without fail (to ensure a conventional islamic upbringing for the kids)
Sorry to dissapoint you boys/aunties out there, but one person posessing all the paradoxical traits above, does not exist in real life!
It's a good article. Finding a good rishta for girls isn't easy but it isn't easy for guys either. Everyone sees his side of story. As guys demand all the things mentioned in the article. Girls side also demand a lot of things like huge amount of haq mehar, a big car and a fancy house. Even if a guy is educated and earning well that doesn't matter. He has to have all these things. We all complain about unreasonable demands but no one is willing to drop their demands and be reasonable. People in our society are becoming materialistic. We all face these demands because we all have our own demands. And in all this fuss created by parents their children suffer. I think girls should have freedom, if girls want to work they should be allowed to work but sometimes It's difficult for girls to work. So they shouldn't be forced to work. Be reasonable and then expect reasonable.
You forgot to add: Height for girls 5'1-5'3. I have seen from my own eyes so many rishta wala reject girls because they are too tall.
Preferably wear no glasses or contacts
Be at LEAST 5 years younger than their sons
Not too "tezz or chalak"
Be a good cook
Bring ample dowry
Not too many pimples
The situation is the same on both sides...The unmarried boys suffer as much as the unmarried girls. The guy feels like a complete circus animal when he is sitting in the home of the 'larki walay' and everyone- the larki's three married sisters, 4 aunts, and two Neighbour aunties together with the larki's menacing father and her hostile mamu are looking critically and vengefully at you- the poor boy. They ask you all sorts of silly and degrading questions, and make you feel like a beggar who has the audacity to sit in their home and look at their daughter!! When the girl comes, the boy is not even allowed to look at the girl even once. If he looks at her twice by mistake, you hear murmurs of 'Taaru' from the married sisters of the girls!!! and the girls's father and uncle (mamu) in a menacing way, keep on staring at your trousers, probably checking that there is no bulge- ie the guy is not daring to look at their daughter with desire!! aargh...its crazy!!
Isn't that what every woman want, to work, to put their education to its purpose?? isn't that all the rant about gender equality in workforce and education?? A woman should have the luxury to choose to work or not to, While a man is an ultimate donkey who MUST work all his life from 9 to 5??? is this where it comes down to. on one hand you want, the society should not restrict you from working, and on the other hands, if someone expect you to work according to your potential, you become like "umm let me think if i actually want to do this or not". Your gender is massively confused, in reality you don't want gender equality. all the fuss about gender equality is a hypocrisy.
May be you should write an article like that first and THEN complain if it is not being published? Considering an article outlining a man's plight in the rishta world hasnt been printed yet, probably shows its not an issue :).
Also please note, Larki walas have the first say in the matter as they approach the girls family with their wish list first. If the larki walas retaliate with an equally demanding wish list, you can hardly blame them!
In other words, if girls' eligibility is judged in terms of her height complexion and weight, its only fair that the boys are measured in terms of their money/status/job etc.
"marrying the first chota, mota, kaala, underemployed guy who has the stupidity to accept you as his bride."
Oh it's totally ok to find defects in guys, but when someone analyzes you, we have a blog post right there to condemn it.
omg! i love how you played with the words. This is an amazingly hilarious yet reality describing piece. Thumbs up !
Kudos to the author for writing this article, The "dupli patli larki" and the fair and lovely maiden has become an obsession with the larkey walas. Sometimes you just want to ask the "auntie ji: to take one glance at her "handsome" son before asking for 18-year old slim fair MBBS doctor teaching at a medical university :D
I don't know why these nonsensical posts are allowed to publish.
Why aren't there any blogs and columns published regarding the injustice that (larki wala) do ?What about their ridiculous and unreasonable demands ?
Why not shed light on them ? Women are not innocent in today's era.
I can so relate. I knew that aunties coming to check me out was an inevitable part of the rishta seeking process but even then it threw me off guard. I wouldn't say that I was thin but I wasn't really fat either. But every one had some issue or the other- not tall enough, not skinny enough, too ambitious etc. It left me perpetually depressed and made me feel that I amounted to nothing in spite of my excellent academic and professional background. Alhamdulillah I have gotten married to someone who truly appreciates me for who I am and accepts me with all my faults. No thanks to the rishta system, had to find him on my own.
@ManofSteel!: To allow and to force are two different things lady. To work for one's own satisfaction and leading a purposeful life and to work for appeasing someone's greed are entirely different things lady. The idea to fight for is to have freedom to choose, not be dictated. The article clealry lays it out that they demand a working-bahu! YuckK
Stopped reading after : Nusrat often demand rich in-laws because the job market is unstable and they want their bahus to meet their own expenses and not be a burden on the ‘poor son’
Damned if you do, Damned if you don't - had they not allowed "bahus" to work, they would've been called religious extremists, fundamentalists and what not!
the article was good but the phrase you used about Pharoahs going for their ... was gross.