Each time I attend a party or meet the uncles and aunties, they would put up a broad smile and ask me about my job, salary, company, etc.

The Hindu, Open Page, February 6, carried an article ‘Why this entrance exam for us?' by Ms. D. Saujanya. It brought a smile on my face and made me think whether it is only the “to-be-brides” who appear for such social entrance exams? Don't the “to-be-grooms” too face similar tests?

I have been a software engineer for seven years now. It is quite common that once a boy completes three-four years in a job, he is considered to have joined the league of prospective “to-be-groom.” Since then, each time I attend a party or meet the uncles and aunties, they would put up a broad smile and ask me about my job, salary, company, etc.

The reason is, they need to search for a good bride for me and they need such basic information. So they took upon themselves the charge of being salespersons for me in ‘the market.'

I would smile back and say, “Yes, salary is good.” They won't give in and ask again, “Yes, but how much? Four lakh per annum?” I would pause and think, how did they jump to this figure? I gave no hint! Maybe, that was the threshold they created in their mind, below which they would not consider me good enough to be in that ‘league' or, considering my experience, they probably couldn't think of a higher figure. So the next time I met another uncle or aunt and they asked me if it was six, I would just nod my head with a smile on my lips. No, I was not lying, they could always verify my pay slip, but my objective was to just make them feel happy. So even if the “to-be-brides” consider salary secondary, that is the first level of test the “to-be-grooms” face.

With the rising number of young graduates joining the IT industry, short or long-term foreign travel is taken for granted. So the uncles and aunties ask me the next question, ‘Have you been to any foreign country?' I pause again to think. Should I say ‘yes,' but for a short term? Would they recognise a place called Belfast? What would be the next question? Again with a smile on my lips, I nod, ‘Yes, to Belfast for a short period.'

The next question is, “Where is it? In America?” “No, in Northern Ireland, U.K.,” I replied. “Haven't you been to America? Our son has been in America for two years,” comes the quick answer with a broad smile. As Ms. Saujanya rightly pointed out, if the guy is in the U.S., that surely increases the ‘market value'. I think of the guys in the non-IT sector or those who are assigned to domestic projects or those whose foreign customers do not approve of big onsite presence for several reasons. How would they be able to compete with the guys with the high ‘market value'!

That's not the end. It happened a couple of times that after asking all this, my dear uncles and aunties and some parents of prospective “to-be-brides” ask, “Have you done your MBA? Or, are you planning to do one?”

If competing with the U.S. boys was not enough, now I need to compete with the ‘cool MBA grads' as well! I ask myself, are they looking for a guy or a wall-hanging postgraduate degree to marry their daughter with! Unfortunately, this time I answer with a disappointed smile, “No. I tried in the past, but no success yet. I plan to do it in future.”

(The writer's email is: abi.nash@yahoo.co.in)

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