In about 48 hours from now, the missus and I will have been married 18 years. Eighteen years! It seems just yesterday that we were sitting shyly in her uncle's house, discussing God, competitive strategy and favorite colors in an attempt to assess if we were compatible.
For those of you who were born in modern times, arranged marriages included a 10 minute "now boy and girl can talk" session, post the horoscope matching and family background verifying. Till that moment, the ship would be steered exclusively by maamis and maamas. It was only after they adjudged the thing securely in the bag that the prospective protagonists were allowed to have an unsupervised conversation.
We were ushered in to an inner living room. My heart was thudding like the proverbial bass drum. The missus perched some ten feet away on the sofa across the coffee table. Her eyes, I noticed for the first time, were a deep greenish-brown.
I smiled weakly. Completely wacky thoughts were running in my mind. What if I were to burp or something? It would sound so loud. Would she run away in disgust? Had I buttoned my shirt properly? What if she suddenly started singing?
She returned my smile with a shy one of her own. There was just the hint of a dimple on the lower left side of her mouth.
I could sense that she expected me to say something but my mouth wouldn't open. I could see her smile wane a little. "I hope he's not a deaf-mute, not that I have a anything against deaf-mutes, just saying" she seemed to be thinking.
I decided to ask her what her hobbies were. Always a good ice-breaker. I opened my mouth to speak and to my complete mortification, heard myself asking "do you believe in God?"
"Yes. Don't you?" came the reply.
Between you and me, what with one thing and another, I've never been able to swallow the God bit. In my dreamy and romantic youth, I had often fantasized about meeting God and demanding, successfully, to be transformed into (at various times) a champion sportsman, a world-famous actor and an irresistible sex symbol but I never managed to achieve the level of gullibility which enables people to go so far as killing each other on the basis of completely unsubstantiated hypotheses.
"Yes, of course" I lied.
That seemed to be the right answer. She smiled again. I managed a grimace.
"What is your favorite color" she asked
To this day, I don't know the right answer to that question. If I'm pouring out a beer, it would be "Golden brown". If I was seated at the local Shetty hotel it would be the "dal tadka" yellow.
"Blue" I told her (or possibly green, don't really recall)
That seemed to please her. I was emboldened. My turn to ask her something. Hmmm. I wasn't clued in to Hindi movies too much, but I knew "favorite picture" or "favorite actor" would be a good bet.
"So, have you read Michael Porter's "Competitive Strategy"?" I found myself asking her.
She turned her eyes plaintively to the door, willing someone to come in and rescue her. And luckily her aunt walked in.
"Yes" we replied unanimously.
Little wonder then, that this marriage has lasted eighteen years, and shows all signs of lasting another fifty. Really solid foundations, as I am sure you will agree.