Everyone knew that Boothalingam SastrigalShastriji/ Punjit was a fabulous matchmaker. Over the last four years, he had begun to specialize in alliances with engineers settled in the US and UK. He had a certain golden touch. You could take the same boy and girl, but if you had a different matchmaker Sastrigal as a go-between, the matrimonial alliance didn’t have as much of a chance. Everyone also knew that he had a fondness for pizza. He was partial to Margherita, because he felt the name sounded almost Tamil. Margherita, Kaushika, Kusumika, Avakka, Parangikka.
The Maamis in the neighbourhood knew that he must never be offered pizza directly. Instead, a story must be spun about how pizza had been ordered, and though one knew that traditional and esteemed people like him would never touch such foreign food, but because it was hot and had tomato, it could be offered. The Domino’s in the neighbourhood had caught on, and had introduced a Sastrigal Special.
Boothalingam insisted that the prospective bride and groom chat first. What the groom may not know however was that the chat was not only supervised by the girl’s mother, but closely determined by Boothalingam himself. So when the Sastrigal entered the house that day, the computer stood gleaming in the corner, its new broadband pumping many lazy kilobytes by the second. He felt a little nervous. The girl was named Vishwasundari, which was a challenge even two hundred years back. He nodded, and held his pizza slice close. The chat began.
Boy: I am a little uncomfortable about this.
The girl’s Mother wrings her hands. How was she to deal with? If he had come home in the traditional way, she would have him well stuffed with bonda, bajji, laddoo and coffee. The gastric discomfort would have overwhelmed all other jitters. The Sastrigal nods and tells the Girl to type that she’s a bit uncomfortable too. “But add that smiling face in the end. So he knows that you are still willing. He will know that you are adjusting. Not complaining.”.
Vishwasundari and the Boy exchange more pleasantries. The Girl, in accordance with instructions states that she has a job, but does not utter the word “career”. She is made to ask him questions about his career, family and interests. Boothalingam tells her that she should ask him about his dietary habits.
Boy: I am a pure vegetarian. Not even once touched NV food. But here it’s so tough. I eat junk food so many times.
Boothalingam is delighted. This is exactly what he wanted. He hated it when boys said they cooked well. Ruined everything. He tells the Girl that she should respond by saying she cooked very well. But to sound flippant. The Girl is confused. He says she should add a “Heh!” after the line. Like this
Vishwasundari: I cook really well. Heh!
Chewing on his slice thoughtfully, Boothalingam looks as the Mother and tells her that these engineer type boys liked girls with a sense of humour. Homely, but with humour. The Mother is grateful for this guidance. He then tells the girl, “Here’s my masterstroke. Tell him that you like Pink Floyd.”.
There is a sudden flurry of raised eyebrows. What was this Pink Floyd? The Girl was keen to marry, but there would be no indecent talk. He calms them and says it’s like a North Indian Bhajana Mandali. They sang songs, and a lot of people swayed when they sang. But nobody understood what they were singing. There is some hesitation.
Vishwasundari: I too like music. I like Pink Floyd.
Boy: Wow! I love them. Adore them. Am so glad you like them too. Looks like our wavelengths really match.
The Mother is happy. The boy is a real engineer. He talks of wavelengths even in casual conversation. Sastrigal explains that all engineer type boys were taught to like Pink Floyd in college. They all said they liked Pink Floyd.
Somewhere along the West Coast, the Boy sits back and is thoughtful. He’d always said he liked Pink Floyd because one was expected to say so in college. All the senior boys liked it. So he also liked. A bit like when he said he liked playing Chess and doing the Crossword. He was a little apprehensive. What if she were to find out that he knew very little about Pink Floyd.
But on the other hand, when his American colleagues looked at him sharply mouthing the words “Arranged Marriage”, he could say, “She’s not that kind. She likes Pink Floyd.”.
Boothalingam, as it turns out, had it all figured out. Pink Floyd was Tamil too. Just like Margherita.