I Married a Total Stranger
By Anjali Mansukhani
Despite the fact that she was college-educated and he was a successful banker, she saw her husband exactly three times before they took their vows. But how would their arranged marriage play in America?
Most Americans have sex on the third date. I married my husband after meeting him for the third time. I'm Indian, and having an arranged marriage is something that my ancient culture still thinks is a great idea.
Since the day I was born, my parents had been planning this occasion. When I was 20, they presented me with my first proposal. I found him overbearing, and I desperately hoped there would be more suitors. There were. But I passed on every Raj, Arun, and Sanjay — too fat, too boring, too short.
By age 26, after attending more than 150 weddings, I was fast approaching my "expiration date." So my parents put pressure on our community — not to mention my relatives — to find The One. They urged me to be more flexible, and I had no reason to argue. Being a spinster in Indian society is considered an embarrassment, a burden on the family. I was raised to think a smiling groom, approved and blessed by my parents, was the ultimate achievement. While Western teenagers spent summers working the cash register at the mall, I spent mine learning to sew and cook so that I could someday be a successful wife.
After endless auditions of eligible bachelors, my family short-listed a Wall Street banker — an Indian living in New York, who happened to be in town on his annual 10-day visit to see his family. My cousin had arranged for a casual encounter between our two families during high tea at her home. He was tall, dark, and 29. Sporting funky eyeglasses and a sharp blazer in Mumbai's 100-degree heat, he spoke with an American accent that I found knee-knockingly sexy. The second time I saw him was at a dinner orchestrated by both families, where our parents decided on the spot that this was my guy. There was something about his demeanor, his soft, lilting voice, and the pleasing way he interacted with my family — frankly, we all fell for him.