Six weeks from its release, the Netflix docu-series on arranged marriage continues to be a part of dinner table conversations–and more importantly as per 2020 standards–of memes. We got one of the most talked-about contestants, Aparna from Indian Matchmaking, to speak on her experience. Loved and disliked by the audience in equal measure, she shares how to straddle being an independent millennial female and simultaneously accept the traditional route of arranged marriage.
Aparna from Indian Matchmaking talks about her experience on the show –
As a woman in her 30s who was looking for her life partner, I had tried all the “common” routes from dating apps to being set up by friends, allowing aunties to suggest their contacts and meeting people organically at weddings and parties. None of it was working for me and then, in the airport waiting to board a plane, I saw a friend’s Facebook post asking, “Are you single? Are you South Asian? Do you want to find your life partner? If so, apply here to be a part of a matchmaking project.” I signed up right there in line.
For me, this wasn’t about trying my hand at an “arranged marriage,” but about opening up another avenue to meet someone. For me, it made sense. In another scenario, if I were looking for career growth and my new ideal job, I would try everything – my personal network, LinkedIn, and even a headhunter. For me, a matchmaker was going to be headhunter in finding love. The way I saw it, I would be given thoughtful, vetted options to choose from by the matchmaker, but I would retain my voice in the matter and be able to say, “yes or no”. It made perfect sense to try it.
To be clear, I live in the United States, and in my world, there is no easy access to a community matchmaker. So this was also an unusual opportunity for me. I am also a hopeless romantic, and I thought when I applied, “What if this crazy way of meeting someone – through a matchmaker on a docu-series – is what was supposed to happen or me all along?”
As most of you know, the show didn’t work out for any of the contributors, except Rupam who found her match on Bumble during the matchmaking process. But when people ask me if I would do it again, I always say, “yes!”. You never know how you’re going to meet your life partner, so always keep an open mind and explore every possible way.
Aparna says: Since the show, I have received thousands of DMs from women around the world who have felt quieted by traditional matchmaking and that their voice was taken out of the process. And that was hard for me to hear because living in my bubble in Houston, Texas, I had never been exposed to that kind of silencing. I was overcome with gratitude for my family and friends who applauded my successes in life and who agreed wholeheartedly that the right person would come along at the right time – there was no need to rush. Even with the matchmaker, I was blissfully unaware that I was expected to be “flexible” and “compromise” while meeting those men until I saw the show and her comments in its entirety later. I retained my independence and decision-making throughout the taping and made my preferences known.
For those individuals who are not in the same position as me, for those feeling societal pressure or pressure from parents and siblings, I cannot sit here and pretend I know exactly what you’re going through. But I can empathise, and I can tell you that finding a spouse is the only choice you will ever have at selecting your family member. You didn’t pick your parents or your siblings. You won’t pick your children if you choose to have them one day. But you do pick your husband or wife. So in your bubble, in your life, carefully consider what that looks like for you.
The viewers don’t see this, but I only had a few preferences that I shared with the matchmaker. I wanted my future spouse to be laid back and introverted, and I also wanted him to be very intelligent and willing to always learn about the world around him. For me, physical appearance like skin colour or height wasn’t a criterion. Finding someone who suited me and balanced me was the goal. I would urge everyone to make their own direct and thoughtful list and then do their best to share that with their family, friends, and yes, even a matchmaker.