Aasha Mehreen Amin
Finding a life-partner may seem like a lifetime search for many who just have not been able to come across 'the one'. Despite frustrating personal quests and sincere but humiliating matchmaking efforts of friends and relatives, Mr or Ms Right just does not make an appearance. Hence the resorting to the most practical method of trying to find something that is hard to find: placing an ad, preferably on a Friday to get maximum coverage and response. Among the usual To-Lets, 'Tutor Wanted', 'Car Sale', TENDER NOTICE and 'Lost Passport/Notebook ads, therefore, one finds the impressively long list of matrimonial ads specifying height, width, bank balance, skin tone, immigrant status and so on of the Prince or Princess Charming required.
What is striking about these ads that may lead to marital bliss (or mayhem), is that people really know what they want or at least think they do.
As convention goes, the basic requirements (as much as can be fit in a one column-two-inch space) for the bride-to-be include that she be fair of skin with a minimum height of 5ft, an educational background of at least Higher Secondary level (so she can help with the kids homework) and must come from a 'good family'. The groom-to-be on the other hand can look like a troll for all they care but credentials must include an advanced degree, a well-paid job, some property would be a bonus.
These are the usual demands we have been reading in the matrimonial ad sections for decades. But times are changing and with it the specifications demanded of the ideal life-partner.
Take the Citizen Patri Chai (Female Candidate with Citizenship Wanted). A single 32 year-old, 5ft 4ins tall man wants to marry a divorcee or widow who can take him to the US or Europe. Obviously not a fusspot when it comes to the woman with whom he will share his whole life (hopefully); his only goal is to go to the land of the Dollar and Euro.
Foreign passport holders have always been hot sells in the marriage market and it is common to find ads where highly qualified male or female Canadian or American passport holders whose biggest virtue is that they can take their would-be spouses to the El Dorado of their dreams. Sometimes the requirements are quite novel. A Hindu US passport holder with a stable government job wants a pretty, not more than 35 year-old and no shorter than 5ft 2ins woman from a simple, well-mannered family. Preference will be given if she comes from 'a lower-middleclass or poor background'. Depending on whether you are an incorrigible romantic or a jaded journalist, this will seem like the height of altruism or a sly way to get a wife who will uncomplainingly do all the household chores. Another generous woman foreign passport holder seeks candidates living in Europe, America, Canada or London but have no legal status!
Many people have a flying fantasy and when they can't do it themselves they dream of being married to someone who will literally fly for work. A London-educated engineer wants an 'air hostess', perhaps in the hope she will look like a super model and be the perfect 'hostess'. A 'Muslim fashion designer' only wants one thing from her husband-to-be that he be an airline pilot. Obviously this is an adventurous woman who doesn't mind her husband flying off thousands of miles above ground level every other day. Then again maybe that's the whole point.
Speaking of the unconventional, there is the 35-year-old divorcee working in a multi-national corporation who wants a 'westernised' divorcee woman and a 46-year-old, woman with children who have settled abroad seeking an educated, cultured man with a strong character, and not more than 55 years old. She does not mention her marital status.
On the high side of market demand are the doctor candidates who will always top the list of the eligible, male or female. A doctor son of a doctor couple wants a doctor wife. What could be more simple? They can start a hospital all by themselves.
An official belonging to a BSC cadre only wants a doctor for a wife. He obviously appreciates the merits of having a doctor in the house.
Perhaps the real winner, however, in this unromantic quest, is the young woman from a fairly well-off business family who will settle for 'a man with a good heart'. If this was a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale it's easy to see who would get the real Prince Charming.
(R) thedailystar.net 2010