Parul A. Mittal’s “Arranged Love” provides a humorous take on the differences underlying love and arranged marriages

In a generation brought up on a cocktail mixture of eastern and western influences, love induces a warm mushy feeling, fuelled by 90’s hits like Wet Wet Wet’s “Love is All Around” (or for the more adventurous Aerosmith’s “Crazy”), sly dates over coffee, hair raising phone bills and the overwhelming fear of some aunt or uncle catching the love-birds red-handed which would obviously lead the Great Indian Joint Family to great shame.

Capturing this bizarre mix of ‘forbidden love’ and the ‘arranged marriage’ syndrome afflicting the lives of India’s eligible youth, Parul A. Mittal offers her second book, quite aptly titled Arranged Love.

A distinct shift from her first book documenting the lives of girls at the coveted IITs in Heartbreaks & Dreams! : The Girls @ IIT, Parul feels that her writing has matured over time. While the previous book was a first hand account of her days in IIT-Delhi, this one had her researching and talking to over two hundred people, in her quest to find the solution to the quandary of love versus arranged marriage.

“I have not given any answers in the book because quite frankly, there is no one size fits all. I am a strong believer of falling in love. You get to know about the person but in arranged marriage you get to know the background. So it’s a debate that can go on and on,” says Parul. Parul refrains from turning her writing into preachy literature with moral overtones.

Parul confides that humour and the ‘Facebook’ connection are the USP of this novel. “Travelling in the metro one day, I overheard two girls discussing about some guy trouble. One confidently told the other to keep posting on his Facebook wall till the problem is sorted. This is exactly what I wanted to capture. Nothing is private now. Every relationship goes through ups and downs and it is all flashed in public,” sighs Parul.

The book’s protagonist Suhaani, in a long distance relationship with her Indian-American boyfriend, is shown to suffer the online humiliation of a publicised break-up, against the backdrop of trying to figure out her own feelings towards her boss who accidentally happened to be a suitor of her parent’s choice.

Some of Suhaani’s decisions however are in stark contrast to her depiction of a sexually liberated woman. “I wanted my protagonist to be different. The youth of today attach so little significance to physical relationships that there is no seriousness left. Even though Suhaani is upfront about her thoughts and ideas, she has very Indian values,” says Parul.

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