Vani’s Musings

A Suitable Boy

Posted on: May 16, 2007

A Bit of background: The Girl’s picture, bio data and horoscope have been forwarded to the groom’s family for tallying. After some half a dozen follow-up calls, the groom’s family suddenly decides one day to “see” the girl. They usually give half a day’s notice, and insist that the girl be present, her office, her deadlines and her project commitments notwithstanding.

 Scene I 

The setting is a typical Scene in any Indian Household with grown-up daughters.  House all spring-cleaned with no trace of cobwebs. Interiors scrubbed very neatly. Glass and Crockery sparkling. Furniture draped with the best linen of the house. Fresh Flowers in the Vases. No one allowed to park themselves on the Sofas for fear of creasing the covers. Who, pray, is the visitor today for whom the house is being so beautifully decorated?

 The President of India ?


The President of USA ?


A Minister?


A God Man?


It is …… a prospective groom for the daughter of the house.

The men are all busy with the last minute cleaning and polishing. Half the women are in the kitchen, preparing goodies for the groom and his party, the smell of sweets and savories wafts through the air, while the other half is helping the girl get ready.  

It is seldom an occasion of joy. There are protests from the girl about her choice of dress; she preferring something simple, elders suggesting something more grand. After some ultimatums and crying by either sides, a ceasefire is reached, and some go-between is suggested.

 With some amount of reluctance, girl is ready to face yet another groom. 

Scene II 

Sudden scurry of activity outside. The whole family, excluding the girl rushes out to meet the party. Some forced smiles and un-necessary pleasantries done, the party is welcomed inside. Here starts the fun. Boy’s mother starts a minute inspection of the house. From inspecting the little cracks and crevices in the walls, to the broken chips in the tile flooring. There is an immediate damage control done, either by spreading a mat on the floor, or by hurriedly placing a picture on the wall to hide crack. 

This done, men start off on some random topics like cricket , or if both the families are in the same domain of work, they start talking shop.

 The ladies on the girl’s side, usually an elder aunt or grandma starts and dominates the conversation on the women’s front. It is usually a getting to know of the backgrounds of both families, and trying to find a common link between the two families, which will become an easy reference for both.

 If there is no reference point for both the families, the talk is usually current affairs or politics.Sometimes this is dangerous too, because each person’s political view is different, and arguments may soon follow if things are not controlled. 

At some stage, suddenly, one of the women on the groom’s side realizes that the girl has not been shown to them yet.  She orders “Bring the girl, we are getting late”. 

The ladies on this side fall apart to bring the girl soon. It is at this juncture that the boy’s face must be seen. It will be a myriad mix of emotions, ranging from….”Haa, here is another one” to “God, why have I been forced into this” to “how boring! I wished my parents listened to me at least once’ to “Hey, this seems interesting”, to “Here comes the girl of my dreams” to “How I wish I could murder these people” depending on his age, experience, aspirations about his wife, his mood on that particular day and the whole process in general.

 As the girl walks into the room, she is scrutinized from top to toe. Every aspect of the girl is examined; only thing lacking is a magnifying lens. She is seated in front of this crowd of strangers whose main intention is a close scrutiny and decision of whether she will make a suitable wife to their boy or not. 

Then begin the questions to the girl: The sentences in brackets are what she would actually want to reply, but keeps mum for courtesy’s sake. 

  1. What is your name?

         Girl: XYZ (Did you come all this way without bothering to know my name?) 

    2.   What is your educational Qualification?

         Girl: B … (Why? Are you planning to give me a job?) 

    3.  What is your salary?

       Girl:…. (You want to better or match that? Or your son wants to quit his job?) 

   4.     Can you sing? C’mon, sing a song for us.

         Girl: Smiles and mumbles something like “I have a sore throat….” Or so (Why? Just in case we go  bankrupt, you want me to sing in railway stations or traffic junctions?) 

   5.    Can you thread a needle? Go ahead and thread one for us.

Girl: Doing it , looking daggers at her mother, who is giving her a pitiful look (Thinking, how she wished she could poke the needle in the groom’s eye) 

Then there is the usual question to the boy “Do you want to ask the girl anything?” The groom stammers and stutters and mumbles something incoherent to the tune of “ That’s not necessary…”or so. Both the boy and girl are stared at alternately, and both smile uncomfortably. 

By this time, the eats are brought out. The groom’s party is served a rich spread, and the ladies on the girl’s side take this opportunity to impress upon the groom and his family, the girl’s cooking prowess.  Usual dialog is “XYZ cooked all this today…” Girl is thinking that if they knew she couldn’t even hold a ladle straight, what would be their reaction.


After this rich meal, the groom’s family rise to leave, as though this phase of the program was most important on the agenda. The groom’s mother often leaves last, pausing to tell the girl’s side “We will let you know in a couple of days”.

After this, the groom’s party leaves, and a calm descends on the household. There is anticipation about the result. In case things turn positive, it is fine; otherwise, it is back to scene I every time.


This is a program that happens across society. It does not consider social and economic status, but is common throughout India.

I feel it is time both boys and girls realized the futility of this exercise. After all, how much about the girl’s character can the groom gauge or vice versa in the 45 minutes or 1 hour that they spend in front of a dozen people?

Isn’t it high time both boys and girls opened up to their parents about any particular choice or if they are actually ready for marriage?

Can’t this whole exercise be made more informal?

The winds of change have touched everything in India, but this is one system that seems to go on and on….even 50 years from now, maybe my children will be doing this for their children.


41 Responses to "A Suitable Boy"

title odhi i thought it might be a vikram seth book review!

you have a very good eye for details. liked reading this post coz i never experienced this scene.

couldn’t help remembering the purandaradasa devaranama:
yarige vadhuvaguve

best wishes and good luck

Are girls actually asked to sing and thread a needle even today??? I’m frankly amazed 😮

Vani, wonderfully written! I could picturize the whole scene as if it was happening right before me.

You are right, it is high time this nataka changes. Its a total farce in today’s situation. It was perhaps valid in those days, but not any more.

Vani… hilarious.. really liked the “hidden meaning” to the answers…

(Why? Just in case we go bankrupt, you want me to sing in railway stations or traffic junctions?)

As I mentioned in Adi’s blog… I was given only Kaapi.. no thindi…

hehehe thats funny! I used to make fun about uppittu kaapi and I never had a chance to go for several of those or not even one. I met lakshmi for the first time 2 months after our engagement and missed that first visit uppittu kaapi, i guess 🙂

thumbaa chennaagi picturize maadidheera.

you are right – people make decisions with 45 minutes of interview or perhaps, i also heard that the purpose of the visit is to understand the communication between boy and the girl, though they didn’t talk. i don’t know how this works.

eegloo heege andhre aashcharya.

this reminds me of a movie Lakshmi and I recently watched – Vivah – and we were making fun of ourselves of not being in such an interview situation. and thanked MSN messenger , hehe

This is on behalf of BRU 🙂

Ha ha…Very detailed post Vani

Reminds me of the Insipid procedures my sister and I had to go through.

In the beginning all meetings started off with home made savouries of khara and sweet (mind it freshly prepared) i cannot express my mom’s efforts here… and the pain of cleaning the house sacrificing outings. Later we brought this formalities down…

And i used to hate them arriving on sundays before rahukala and after rahukala … kala en madutte avre rahu-kethugaLu . As they spoilt my fav program schedules.

Ondh sari… one elderly gentleman had asked if i was a science graduate after collecting my biodata a month before this meeting or if i knew bharatnatyam atleast looks like he had planned a busiess venture back in the US, maybe was not sure of his sons income. I had laughed later so much.

I still wonder why these things are still done to make big jokers of themselves …

andha haage, thindi-gindi thinnakke nannadu very SUITABLE BAAYI.

your write is just beautiful and is an eye opener. Even though this has got refined now a days but it is still vouge. Intentions were good to know each others family and familarisation. But like any other rituals over the years it has become a uppittu kapi ( SKC sweet kara coffee) and making a mockery of the whole istitution of marriage. with marriage brokers this is much more. they really make the situation complicated by telling galore lf lies ( savira sullu heli ondu maduve madu)
any how no experience for me also on this.
Nowdays grooms side some time are caught on wrongfoot by so many Q by the otherside also.
let the process of selection become much more meanigful and it should be on low key.

all the best and good wishes to be grooms and brides

kudos to vani for a wonderful description

All, thanks for the good words.

Most of this post is based on observing people at such programs when yours truly has been the girl in question.

I can proudly call myself a veteran now, after having sat through more than two dozen such programs.

Diya, singing is very much part of the scene even today.
I myself have been asked to show my singing abilities in front
of several sets of strangers, who order girls to sing just for the heck of it. They cannot understand or appreciate music.

One chap got very offended in fact, when I politely declined to sing. After that it is an unwritten rule that no one mentions my music training in front of any groom’s parties.

Needle and thread is there in some communities…no program is complete withouth them I hear.

Thanks everyone for wishes and compliments.

This is extremes…

Now…in the mobile age, boys and girls are not interested in all these things.

First things first….there must be a basic line of “Nambike” b/n the two parties. Ground work must be done before coming home.

In my sister’s case, we went to the groom’s house, so there was no cleaning the web stuffs for me….huh!! And when they came home, it was almost decided, so not much was intended out of the parikshe 😀

These things are coming down, not as much u explain in ur post, I think. Definitely, I dont want to go thru all these…looks stupid.

Memories refreshed… 🙂

Vani definitely I don’t want to do this for my daughter.. sadhya namma kaDe istondu harassment illa.. infact sometimes I used to raise so many topics to talk that the grooms side would stay with a surprise.. haaDu geeDu ella keLidre ashTe.

The funny part is, ninage chennagi aDige maadok baratta, namma hudugani mane ooTane aagbeku & he loves food.. Gosh!!

Now people can list out Pizza, doughnuts, etc,

veena, daughter antha gottagbittiro haagide?!

rk, reading between lines?? 😉

Bellur, jeevanadalli aasenu pado haagilva ?
Daughter ge taane ivella samaradhane adakke heLide ashTe, ee time illa andrenaaytu next time gaadru daughter aagli antha harasi.

En nimma magange maduve maadkolli antha keLolla bidi 🙂 amele paapa Dr. Raj haadiro haaDe haaDbeku andre govinda ?

It seems to be written with Experience….. Nice Blogu..!! Thumba Chennagidhe!!
Straight From an OLD Movie Scene With Modren Today’s IT GaL!!!!

One suggestion to all Girls to be Married… If they asked to Sing…. Kindly Sing “”KARIYA I LOV U……… KARUNADA MELANE…….”
NeXT time avaru Ellu Hadoke yavude HDUGINA KELOLLA…….. LOL!!!!!!

Vani, Incidentally ninne Manthana episode nalli idara bagge discussion ittu. Sumathi says these lines when it came to shruthi’s heNNu noDo samaradhane.. they were very good dialogues, aag nimma blog post na tumba gnaapisikonde.. so this change will also happen !!


Namm makkaLa kaalakke naave decide maadbeku…yaavdu sari, yaavdu tappu antha.

in my house, whenever I have protested about this, I have heard my chikkammas say “why do you make a fuss about it? Dint we submit to this without a word? Waht’s special about you?”

Srik, what I have said, as mentioned earlier, is purely experience, that too, mine.

Only thing I have not been asked to do so far, is thread a needle. Otherwise, questions and answers are all very true and what I have answered umpteen times.

Naren, thanks for the compliments, and welcome to Whitephsophorous. I am tempted sorely to try your
suggestion, but I dont think I can be so brave…..

Nice suggestion anyway, and do keep visiting.

veena, mobile kalkondu innu kanasina lokadalliro haagide! bhoo sparsha maaduvantavaragi.

bellur, full OHT(Over head transmission).. idu with reference to which comment ? 🙂

regarding “….. chikkammas say “why do you make a fuss about it? Dint we ….. ” – I guess most of the times, we get into many such emotional pressure in households. Even if we want to change certain things, those things rarely happen – especially if there aged people still thinking their past timeframe making comments, eeginavaranna dilemma-nallidaththe – whether to abide/respect them or go against. It is good to keep the traditions and at the same time someone in a household has to draw a line. i have also heard grandma’s in some households are very adaptive to current situations and they make some concessions to their grand daugthers and help draw that line 🙂

regarding “….and insist that the girl be present, her office, her deadlines and her project commitments notwithstanding….” – I remember a coworker of mine (10 years ago) was called hom during work for this purpose without any notice ahead of time.

Luckily Lakshmi didn’t have to go through these interviews although she said she had to sit through once. 🙂


reminded me of my one and only vara pareekshe. C’s relatives urged me to sing. I reacted by plucking out some straws from the mat as I was against such a custom. I had warned my mom that I wouldn’t -at any cost.
After a moment’s wait ,C announced that I should sing Jana gana mana….signalling the end of vara pareeksha. we bid them goodbye and went home smilingly.C had won my mom’s heart with his sense of timing and humour.

Hi Vani,
I am reading your blog after a long time. As someone here mentioned, I could visualise the whole process in front of my eyes. Thankfully I didn’t have to go through this… but I was expected to cook something on the first day in my in-laws place… While I was wondering what to cook, my mum in law came and said that everyone loves the south Indian rasam. It was something like “rogi bayasiddu” … sort of a feeling then.
Also, your writing style reminds me of R.K Narayan. In fact if you read his ‘ The Writerly Life” you will know what I am talking about.

Just hang on there…your prince is around the corner… In our customs its the reverse, the girl comes home and meets the boy. The exact crevice examination to clenliness is done by boys home.
I dont believe singing, threading and needling is part of the FAQ even now!!!!

Using some crude maths, i have concluded that most people born after ( pls read most does not mean everybody) 1972’s take the love marriage alternative skipping this package deal.

In fact very soon the institution of education and family system itself is being thrown out under modernization so it woudnt last very long i suppose.

Neela, Lucky Lady ! C is defintely a charmer!

Su, once again, lucky lady…

Mohan, Thanks, yes, he must be some light years away!
usually, it’s the same way you mentioned…we do the rounds of the boy’s house….but off-late, some boys prefer to do the opposite.

And yes, Singing, and needle & thread are definitely a part of the scene in a few communities even today, and I can recall the names of several of my friends who have gone through this.

Thanks vani akka,

u guys are good friends i belive, i came across ur comments on msanjays blogu on Muktha!!!! that was awesome!!!

Do visit mine…..

And, Namaskara and Hello to alllll Other Folks!!!!!!!!

Specially to bellur Ramki…. My collegue Bala Shetty is big FAN of U…!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I have been through that action packed ventures of visiting boy’s house too.. Typically dressed (Me decked up in the unusal attire ,my parents and moor jana shakuna antha innondh cousin piLLayno athva one of uncles used as company) meravaNige horatre,neighbours used to see us , marne dina kitiki kamakshigaLella yaru huduga, yenaithu antha questiongaLA surimaLe… aha yentha yaathane … 😀 Aga papa nammappa Neighbours envy.. owners pride thara pose kodtha idru….


Nice post, especially those tongue in cheek statements !!!.
The interesting thing is, after all the action, the boys parents’ (either mother or father) would say, ‘namma kainalli enide ?, ella namma hudugana decision ! Avanu oppidare, namagu oppige’.
Nowadays, however, the parents are more liberal, the girls much bolder, who can influence the decisions.

In my case, the girl visited our house. So it was a reverse gear action. My prospective father in law, had carried out a test check about me. In fact it was truely a case of my ‘jataka in his hands!’

Incidentally, I wish to narrate here an episode as told to me by my friend.

My friend , as a social worker, was visiting US on a training fellowship and stayed with an American couple for a few months. The US couples’ children were staying away from them. They treated the Indian guest as one of their own children.

During one of the days of the Indian’s stay, the couple’s son came to visit them. The son said, ‘Father, I want to inform you that I am getting married , the girl is xxxx and I am getting married on such and such a day. I want you to attend my wedding and bless me.

Father, “Congratulations , Son !. We will surely make it”

What a contrast between our cultures !!

with best wishes.

Specially to bellur Ramki…. My collegue Bala Shetty is big FAN of U…!!!!!!!!!!!!!

hello naren,
i am elated by those lines! say hi to bala shetty.
take care and nimma blogalli INFOrmative aagi LINE hodiri.
good luck

Yes…wonder what dwarka would comment hearing your words, ok next time he is in my vicinity will do that check 🙂

But, you have a point there too. Its the society which creates more of nuiecenses just because they were subjected to similar tourtures..

when the RULER has agreed, what say for LINEing of the subjects sir?

Light years…. LoL BTW, have you updated the resume with latest changes 😉


Yeah, nowadays my bio-data is being circulated with “changes”…my mom mentions the changes with pride whenever she speaks to any prospective groom’s family.
Usually parents are more interested first, afterwards, the boys are convinced by their dads….

TSSM, yeah, neev heLiro dialogue is the most often repeated one. In reality, boy’s father or mother will be making the decision.

cool template!

Great presentation template. Now that i see a change I am trying to recall what it was like before 🙂

suitable boy post haki immediately nimma blog get up super agi madiddira wonderful nice picture on the top

Good one. Nice write up. These are some of the reasons arranged marriage is losing popularity.

Alas, I dint I have never seen such a thing in my life ( and I have no idea ). I could have written the same post in “guy’s “side of views. Not for revenge … just fun 😉


Thank you……..

Did you read Aditya’s post on the same topic? It is a neutral third party sort of write-up.

Yup, I would love to hear how guys react to these Uppittu-Kaapi sessions 😉

“Did you read Aditya’s post on the same topic? It is a neutral third party sort of write-up.”
link haki madam aditya’s post nodill nanu yelli BBnalliya anyhow link madi for people like me

Hi Vani,
Very well written!

I happened to land here (quite by chance) when I was searching for something on Manthana.

I’ve never seen one of these sessions first hand (only hear-say and movies). Got a pretty good picture with this.

Can’t believe this whole scenario still exists especially the needle-thread “ceremony”…



Thanks for the good words….as I have mentioned several times, it is purely experience, and most of it, mine, so you will find each line written with full sincerity……

Keep visiting!


What do you think about love? >:)

Hi vani,

Tumba chennagi bardideera .kaanu munde haage nadeda agide. Good article.

Nammakka maduve preparations exactly eege ithu.
Gandina maneyavaru 40 janaru bandaga ..naavellaru maneyalli bharathnatam aadabekagitthu..andre maneyavarigella kelsa andre kelsa.
Nidre bittu raathriella olige, adu idu antha adige madiddaithu….ellarigu bennu novu bandithu.
Eeglu adu yaake eetharahada sampradayagalanna paalistaro thiliyadaagide.


hjahahahaha….good one..tumba chennagidey nimma ee post

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