2008-10-06

Too much is not enough


This might be a familiar scenario. A group of (young) people have gathered for a party or on an outing or for no reason at all. A scene where one person has remembered to get a camera for posterity sake. A lot of pictures are clicked, group photos, candid photos, photos with tongues sticking out and rabbit ears. And there is always that moment when in those random hundred photos, a beautiful smile is captured, a pose which even hours at the studio would not perfect emerges.

And when all the heads crowd around the 2.5" screen with its limited viewing angle there is inevitably the one person who says ... "hey! that's perfect for shaadi.com!!"

Why?

When I examined pictures of my friend's red Civic, did I say ... "hey! that's perfect for motors.ebay.com!!" or when I clicked another friend's new furniture, how come there was no comment that went ... "Now that's a craigslist picture!!"

Which brings me to my second point.

In the year and some days I have spent here, I have bought the following things online (in no particular order and off the top of my head)

a. Camera
b. Accessories for (a) - Memory Card, Filters, Spare Battery, Tripod.
c. A USB powered LED snowman
d. 3 x 500GB external hard drives
e. Ipod dock / speakers
f. 100 pack of DVD+Rs ( and a 25 pack of DVD-Rs)
g. 3 plastic folders and a Sharpie (there was free shipping)
h. Wireless Router and a 802.11g USB adapter
i. T-shirt
j. Textbook

In the 23 years I spent in India (ok, only in 2 of those did I have plastic and the cash to back it up), I bought the following things online

a. N/A

Which makes me wonder ... Is the marriage sector the only significant contributor to e-commerce in India?

After all, if we think about it, the typical matrimonial listing and the motors.ebay.com listing I mentioned earlier share a lot in common...


matrimonial

*A term which is so brilliant in its ambiguity that it could only have been invented in a land whose media can endlessly talk about the 'minority community'. So if your fairness is like a soft roomali roti or if your not-insignificant melanin content classifies you as a whole wheat tortilla, wheatish is the umbrella you stand under. I would like to extend this further so that people like me can use ‘multigrainish’ or perhaps ‘thalipeethish’.

So in the heady world of Indian web commerce, shaadi.com is like a sweet, gooey amalgamation of ebay, amazon and deals2buy with extra chocolate chips. I can imagine anxious parents logging into their profiles and frantically punching F5 with the same thoughts crossing their minds that Shrinath had when he saw this for $499, only to have it disappear an hour later after he had 'consulted' me and three other people.

Taking it forward to a world of assorted grandmothers and uncles-with-nothing-better-to-do plugged into the cloud and utilizing the full power of web2.0, one can only imagine the 'enhancements' to the whole experience. A brave new world.



matrimonial copy



A world where you can sort the prospective matches by 'Last Name' or 'Height' or 'Color' and for the NRIs who come to India for a month to participate in this shindig, even 'Time: Ending Soonest'. A world where you can call up a google maps mashup of the locations where they reside and sort by 'Distance: closest'.

Which brings me to my third point, the need for all this in the first place.

So how is it that the guy with the yellow undershirt and red shirt with upturned collar is 'objectifying women' when he whistles at a passing girl at the bus stop but the parent who sees a textbox labelled 'Body Type' and proceeds without batting an eyelid isn't?

How is it that these sites are not the forum for exchanging ideas that they ideally should be but marketplaces to get the best deal?

How is it that I can churn out a more carefully worded ad for selling my used microwave on craigslist for $10 than most of the classified matrimonials in the newspaper on which presumably the lives of two people depend?

Isn't marrying into the same sub-sub-sub caste going stagnate the gene pool a bit and increase the chances of your offsprings' IQ going down the toilet? Unless you don't believe in evolution of course.

Does anybody wonder that if Bhishma had just left Amba alone and let her be with the guy she loved, maybe the whole Mahabharat - war - genocide - cousins killing cousins en masse - episode might not have happened.

Or whether the whole massive invasion and shock and awe tactics deployed in the Ramayan were because he loved and cared about his wife or because it was embarrassing that some villain snatched her from under his nose with the age old 'Look there!' tactic. Because I think a person who did care about his wife would not arbitrarily banish her under suspicion of infidelity.

Maybe its the way these tests were designed. While picking up uber-bow and shooting fish in the eyes may be handy skills on the battlefield, everyone knows that the real test of a good husband is the ability to accept that he is wrong all the time, put the toilet seat down, give a good foot massage and parallel parking.

So if we don't live in a world where one can wage war for countless years against evil dictators without worrying about the anti-incumbency factor or the tanking economy, why do we act like we do?


So next time assorted uncle, elder relative ticks me off about my 'internet' lifestyle, I can say that while I may order pizza on dominos.com and check weather.com before stepping out, I don't hawk my daughter online with poorly worded and demeaning advertisements which totally ignore the fact that what a person is all about can never be adequately described by even a large sized book, let alone a pay-per-word listing.



Note 1: Just dipping toes into the larger question of the existence of the whole 'arranged marriage' business. That is whole big debate by itself.

Note 2: The female imagery is because I would be looking at such a screen and copy-pasting pictures of random dudes into photoshop and rubbing a soft brush all over them makes me uncomfortable. Not sexism.

Note 3: This post came about in part due to the conversation #2 from this post, random discussions with friends and the realization that at its core religion just asks you to Eat, Drink and be Merry. All the rest is flapdoodle that
a. has no business being there. Try playing Chinese Whispers with a few million people for a few thousand years.
b. is simply not relevant anymore.
c. was used at one time by the ruling class to exploit the ignorant and the poor. We don't need that now, we have The Bailout.
d. was used to ensure that you carried on what your dad did for a living. To save on letterheads presumably.

e. we assume is the bees knees because it was written by some really clever dudes. So is windows.

Note 4: All said and done, this person is my idol. I hope he pulls it off.



7 comments:

mak said...

one sided post ka bara! where are the pros of arranged marriage system?? don't tell me you are not enticed by the free 'chaha-pohe' offer!
ani tu sure hotas na... ki your idol is guy is either indrya or me? :P

jokes apart, nice post :)

Akshay said...

I don't really see any pros as much as I see cons.

Indrya is my idol as long as he serves fish curry and pav bhaaji. If you have birdyachi usal there, no gift for you.

mak said...

chaha-pohe baba!!! shya kay tu...

ani birdyachi usaL mahaan aste. ti asnarach. haan, pan reception la nveg aslyashiway me lagna ch karnar nahiye [:P]

and what I meant was, hi matrimonial ad me kinwa indrya ne ch takli asNar asa tuza mat hota na?

Akshay said...

well ... indrya resigned from the competition long back ... and I realised that even you wouldn't go so far as to make up all those adjectives ...

bhar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Malavika said...

echoing thots....I was an 85 born and hence 'selling like hotcakes'...sigh :(..nice song collection up there

Dagny said...

Marriage is *highly overrated* in the Indian society where major part of most people's life revolves around social acceptance. Most of the times its out of peer (or is it parental?!) pressure. And this sort of 'hawking' has been going on through newspaper ads (remember the extra 'matrimonial' supplement with TOI on Sundays?). shaadi.com simply reflects that people are becoming net-savvy and are now exploring the broader geographical arenas as the web makes the world a smaller place.

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