Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Classified Ads

Not long ago, I picked up a copy of an Indian-American newspaper after dinner at one of our standby Indian restaurants (House of India). Back at home, I skimmed the articles about Indian diplomats visiting New York, read one about a 13-year-old environmental activist addressing the UN, and rolled my eyes at the Bollywood gossip column. All pretty standard stuff for a New York-based publication aimed at this audience.

And then I came to the classifieds. These are not about selling cars and looking for apartments; these are personal ads, desi-style. Here's a typical sample:

There was a section for males, too; I found the one at the top of this photo particularly interesting because of the age of the advertsier and the outright mention of divorce:

The one in the middle of this photo might be my favorite, because it makes me imagine the writing process. Were the parents huddled over a kitchen table, debating the veracity of their claim of "outstanding personality"? Was the guy there, insisting that he be referred to as "extremely handsome"?

The ads made me think of my brief, entertaining, unsuccessful foray into picking dates from ads. I tried to picture myself meeting those guys (who, by the way, did not comply with truth in advertising standards) for the sole purpose of seeing if I might want to marry them. I couldn't; it's too much of a leap for me, even though I understand and respect the traditions of arranged marriage and matrimony by classified ad.


  1. So people as commodities or chattel still exist in the ads... Interesting how we connect with other people, isn't it? I know lots of people who met their significant others online, so the personal ads are really just another form of that.

  2. Among South Indians, these matrimonial advertisements are a huge improvement over what went on before this

    Prior to this, you mandatorily married your
    sisters daughter, mothers brothers daughter, fathers sisters daughter, or if you got lucky, a second cousin or the daughter of a friend of your parents of the same sub-caste

    These days, people go to which is replacing these advertisements and has actual photos

  3. I'm so glad the system has improved, Anonymous, and I hope the results are better for the couples involved. I recall seeing a stat somewhere that the divorce rate is lower for arranged matches, but I would imagine this has a lot to do with cultural taboos. And I think the reality is that relationships are a very private mystery, sometimes even to the people in them.

    At some point I'll do an in-depth post on arranged marriage, but in the meantime, has some great posts and discussions about it -- including one by her Bengali husband.

  4. I can send you by private email, the exact nature of how this thing works
    I am afraid of offending you if I post the lurid details on the open blog

    Is there an email address that I can send you the full story

  5. I would love to have your perspective in detail; I've added a widget through which you can contact me privately.

    Just click on the "KontactrMe" button at the bottom of the page.


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