This is the last town we visit in India. It has a border in the middle, half of it already belongs to Bhutan.
I chat with Manish, a 20-year old boy, who asks naively if our marriage is arranged or love. Quite a common question for India, as arranged marriages are more than 90% of the total, but definitely weird for us. We quite enjoy entertaining the idea of our parents meeting secretly somewhere in France, checking our common interests, social status and astrological match, and planning to introduce us to each other, so we can give them the thumbs up if we see it working. No pressure, uh?.
During our time in India we’ve met different people married for love, and mostly those having an arranged marriage. In some arrangements, it seemed to work, in others it clearly didn’t, but the common attitude is to wait until love finds its way.
We have also met others in the difficult age of almost thirty, still with no partner and seeing how their family (not only parents, but also grandparents, uncles, etc) start to get worried about the situation and start looking for possible partners.
Things get complicated when families don’t get along well, there is no agreement on the dowry to be paid or the couple discovers that they cannot tolerate living together.
A couple of streets away from Manish’s office is the border with Bhutan, where the situation is very different. People consider themselves married when they move in together, and divorced when they move out. Men can have up to four wives, quite a long task for the family if arranged marriages were the norm for this country.