Everything wrong with - Indian Matchmaking

I dont consider myself a lucky person. I have always put in more in life than what I have got back (true esp for work, career related things). I hit the lottery once & an important one at that - I got the spouse I wanted (which also needed a whole lot of work of convincing, charming, cajoling of both sides of the family, which fell on the shoulders of yours truly - and who better to work the Chaudhary Charm!)

So coming to the show in the title - for guys who have been living under a rock, or dont have friends who will share their netflix passwords - Indian Matchmaking is a Netflix original that follows the adventures of Sima Taparia (from Mumbai) a matchmaker who goes around matching profiles (which is commendable as she doesnt use Microsoft Excel to filter out things like height of the girl should be more than 5'3') It just showed up on my recommended shows. Now I am not the kind who watches these type of shows, but I have some respect for the Netflix algo esp after it recommended Joe Exotic in the peak of the lockdown and my wife and I were mindblown by how cringe-worthy and binge-worthy that show was - something we would never watch even with a gun to our heads, but we did & loved it, a good week before it blew up on twitter. 

There was a time when I was a big supporter of Arranged marriages - In a way I still am, it works beautifully for kids (note I said kids) who have usually lived a sheltered life, dont understand what they want from life or what life wants from them (the toughest part, even for grown-ups). It helps bring in combined experiences of parents, uncles & aunts a sort of bonding exercise between the family where they analyze pictures of prospective spouses, predict their nature looking at the shape of their nose, predict earning potential based on their CAT percentile, look at their parents' degrees and hope  they live on the western line south of Borivali. 

The error with this type of matchmaking is, esp if one has crossed the "approved" marry-able age of 25 for girls and 30 for boys - is that there is a dash to the finish. The whole process is corporate-ized, there is pressure to run through as many profiles as possible, the sanskari version of swiping right.

Human beings are like Onions. There is a core, then there are layers. The layers are what gets written on the profile - Anju likes game nights & travelling to Bolivia. Varun likes the show Seinfeld, and is Marvel fanboy. Anju doesnt want her Husband to be a smoker. Varun doesnt want his wife to a meat consumer. Anju likes cats. Varun likes comedy nights with Kapil. 

What gets mentioned on the profile means nothing. Once Anju begins her consulting job, maybe she wont want to travel so much, Varun might pick up taste for sushi on that official trip to Tokyo, you never know - but the core values dont change. 

Core values - Varun is an introvert, likes sometime off everyday for himself. Anju needs to be praised for every new endeavor she takes up for her to feel good. But these things dont sound good on a profile, probably because a profile is a dressed up version of who you are - the main reason I feel that if you arent a good reader of people, you might never be able to understand what that person, with whom you are planning an entire life together, is actually like. 

When I was in the 9th standard, I remember talking to my wife (who wasnt my wife then) and feeling good about myself and the world. In a self made promise that only a dumb 15 year old could make, I told myself, one day I should marry a girl like her. "Like her", not her, as if she was a type & there were a hundred more like her. 

Between that day and before we actually got dating, there were other women who impressed me, most of them were super educated (I dont know anyone who has dated as many PhDs as I have). One of them, (this is before my current (& only) wife had started dating) impressed me crazy, she was the only girl who knew as much about sitcoms and I did, understood cricket, had an opinion on most arts, was incredibly funny but, and that is a big but, had a temper from hell & a fuse that was extremely short. We were set up by common friends, our own Sima aunties so to speak, they thought we would hit it off & hit it off we did, but had there been family pressure and only 1 month to close that deal (if we can call it that) it would have been a disaster. 

The point that I am making is, match making is extremely primitive in this world. Sima Taparia whose only excellence should be to read people and understand compatibility (apart sorting candidates by height without using MS Excel), she ends up doing a real shoddy job. Even us as viewers dont understand why few pairs who seemed such a good fit, didnt click (Like for eg that Nadia girl and that other boy with the horse face) - the reason for this obviously is that none of us are looking at their core values, we are just interested on how people are like on the surface (I am looking at you Pradhyuman) 

This is what I suggest a scoring mechanism to improve this process -
- 1 hour questionnaire (psychometric in nature) to be filled by all parties who are involved, including nanaji (if applicable or alive)
- A set of 5 interview questions  to be chosen from a question bank of 50 odd deep questions that will help identify the core (these questions to be chosen by the client - which are compulsorily to be asked before setting up a meeting)
- Horoscope reading (this is a part of the scoring mechanism)

Have a cut off compatibility score and dont set people up if they dont clear the score. Keep updating the algo behind the scoring & this is how we will finally end up with much happier and stronger relationships. 

You are welcome. 
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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but mostly best of times back in 1994. I was 9, my cousin Aroop was 9 & my other cousin Kushagra was 7 - both these kids were enlightened because - cable TV watching Discovery, Zee, Star etc while I was stuck watching 'Aamchi maati Aamchi manase' on Doordarshan (come to think of it, that wasnt a bad show at all).

So we would like to spend our vacations in our village with our grandmother (I say "our village" coz it really is our village - we dont get called "Chaudhary" for nothing). The thing about villages back in those days was that there was no electricity for 4 hours of the day and no cable TV for 24 hours of the day. So what did we do to manage our time and boredom - these 2 kids would tell me about the wonderful world of Cable TV - the sights and the sounds - coz come to think of it, my life was pretty close to being a villager, only with 24 hours electricity  (well mostly - Mumbai kids wouldnt believe but there were years when we would have regular load shedding!) being the separator.

So Aroop tells me about this show called "Beyond 2000". This is a futuristic show telling us that everything would change post the year 2000 - so there would be flying cars and all cycles would be solar powered or something  -what they meant was 2050 or something, what kids took it to mean that somehow come the night of new years eve in 2000, everything would automatically change.

Aroop (at the end of a 15 min monologue): Arshat, sab kuch change hojaayega 2000 ke baad. Sab kuch.
Kushagra (realizing he hasnt contributed to the information at all): Haan Arshat, sab kuch change hojaayega - fir din bhi change hojaayega, sun bhi change hojaayega, moon bhi change hojaayega (looking skywards)

To this day we have made fun of him. He is now a neonatologist the last time I checked - I have stopped counting the number of degrees he amassed, if somebody asks, I just say he is a kids doctor. Now of course like Aroop and myself he is married, and keeping the tradition of our family started by our forefathers, his bride is also better educated and smarter than him.

But this post is not about my cousins, it is about Karan (or that is what I think his name is). Karan, or some other naughty name like Krunal or Jatin - these guys are rebels. In fact the original Karna was also a rebel. Anywho, so I come back to school loaded with this new found information about "Beyond 2000" show and start showing off. When the aforementioned Karna/Krunal/Jatin comes to me and says - "But 2000 mein toh world end hone wala hai"

I think to myself - What! - How did Aroop and sab-kuch-change-ho-jaayega-Kushagra not tell me about this part.

"Haan, Shiv bhagwan ka 3rd eye open hone wala hai" He said.

Now I have a scientific mind. I was not going to believe this till at least 3 other people agreed with this. And more than 3 kids did agree. Apparently their grandmothers had a club or something where they had read something - somehow this part of pop culture had evaded me. If this is going to happen - it will happen before my board exams - If yes, then why the hell was I studying so much. I should be living it up - like Karan/Krunal/Jatin

I asked my parents who said it was obviously a load of crap & then I asked a few other grown-ups because what sane 9 year old believes their parents, right? I got conflicting views - some said end of the world is near but 2000 is not the year, some said some astrologer has predicted this will happen, some showed me newspaper clippings.

Anyway, by 1998 I was 90% in agreement with my parents but 10% of me still felt what if it was true. But better, what if it wasnt, I couldnt wait to stuff in the faces of Karan/Krunal/Jatin a big "I-told-you-so-burrito"

Come 2000 new year countdown, with Australia celebrating it first, I was waiting for some explosion to happen somewhere. Nothing. Then when India celebrated, I checked if everything was alright - it was! Then I waited for the next day. Nothing. Board exams were on then, I assume. Nothing on Y2K either. Everything working as smoothly as possible. I should have been happy but something was a miss. I needed to rub it in the faces of my detractors to feel good.

But the problem was I changed schools in 1997 and was no longer in touch with my old pals, this was before Orkut or the mobile revolution.

But I did get closure later in 2000 when I met Karan/Krunal/Jatin in Veena Nagar, Mulund, a place close to where I stayed back then -

He said - Hi Arshat, How are you, hows the new school, are the girls any better.
I said - Leave that, first tell me why did the world not explode in 2000? We are in November, nothing has happened.

I waited for him to fall at my feet, for feeding me lies, for wasting my time carrying out investigative interviews. But he said -

Arre, 2000 nahi, dadi ne 2001 bola tha!

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Are we in a simulation?

I have always been a deep thinker, me and Elon Musk have that in common. While he thinks about tech, electric cars and rockets to mars, I think about life, its meaning and what happens post life. There has been a deep divide amongst people as to who among the two of us is doing the bigger job, but let's just agree that both of us are helping humanity in our own way.

Isnt it funny that we have put letters of the alphabet to understand ourselves, our DNA, we can look at a string of letters and predict what colour eyes that person would have, whether or not they would go bald at a certain age, the probability of them getting cancer, and even their sexual preference! How did we put our entire existence in a code!

Human evolution is 200,000 years old, and we came to know about DNA and decoded it less than 50 years ago - so if Human evolution is 1 year in the earth's life, we have discovered the code only 2 hours ago! Only a matter of time that we begin to "write our own code" - construct people with favourable traits - I believe in our lifetime we will end up with being able to choose traits in the kids being born, ensure they never have certain diseases, are more athletic than their parents, have a higher IQ - there is no end to the possibilities.

But I am not going to talk about the science behind this - I am going to talk about it like there was a creator - a coder, if you will, who designed this "simulation" so to speak - for maybe his own enjoyment, or maybe to test a hypothesis, or for his/her school project,  & maybe what seems ages for us, is just one school semester for them.

So life started with multiple master codes (lets assume this) these master codes developed into multiple organisms, one of which was humans as we know them today - codes were hashed and rehashed and we got multiple races, sub races, families. The family bit is where it gets really interesting for me and allows me to understand patterns & make assumptions of what is really happening.

What we call soul, is nothing but a string of codes that describe how courageous we are, or how jealous, how greedy, how helpful or kind - when we reproduce, we send a part of the code to our kids, then they send it to theirs and then theirs - which is why people find similarities in their ancestors and the kids and feel they have been reborn as them - the truth is, the old ones (at least a part of them) are living again within the new ones. My grandmother would cook for her father-in-law (my grandfather's dad) - like a good daughter in law, she knew his likes and dislikes and how he liked he food - and when she cooked for me whenever she came to the city leaving the idyllic country life behind - I would request her to cook my favourite things, she would say my taste was similar to her father in law, which of course is my great grandfather - so shouldnt be a surprise since there are quite a few lines of code in me that might have belonged to him within me and some of them might have to do with taste.

Let's talk about taste - 10 years ago when I was in Germany my friend remarked how my diet was so much like a farmer (she was talking about German farmers) - she meant it in a sweet way (I think!) I like wholesome food that is filling and dislike pretentious innovative small bite expensive foods (Frenchies, I be looking at you) - well now I know why!

Sometimes I look at my elder daughter and am amazed at how alike we are - she likes freedom, is creative, likes justice, likes pattern finding at the same time she is also like my wife in so many ways - likes structure, can eat the same thing everyday, likes telling me what all things I do wrong etc.

So this is what a soul is - a string of characters that get passed on to your kids - the more characteristics you use, the more are the chances of them getting passed on to your kids  - if you are helpful, your kids will become helpful, if you are jealous, your kids will get that part of the code - this is what karma really is, whatever you are, your children become - or whatever you are more of, the children become.

The older I become, the more I feel that nature vs nurture is a very weak argument. It's all nature or at least 90% is nature - a horse is going to run faster than a, say dog regardless of how much we train the dog - it is not to say that running faster is good, maybe it is, maybe it is not, depends on the situation. I compare two very different species, but this is also true of humans belonging to different families.

We are in a simulation, that I am quite sure of - the design is outright incredible & the fun part is, we are so close to realizing that we are. There is a formula for Force & gravitational pull & intra atomic forces. How did we, with our little brains, come up with this! Decode the laws made by the coder - Maybe 100 years into the future people read this & think it is so obvious.

So where does it leave karma? And what about reincarnation? What about doing good deeds now so that we could be reborn or better go to heaven? This might be a simulation but doesnt mean we dont be nice, because after all, what we are, our kids become & while we might be someone else's code - but our kids are ours & we owe it to them and the world, simulated as it may be.

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How to man... correctly

This is the second post in my "How to-" series, which I obviously am so well suited to write as I know so much about so many things... 

Now, for those of you who have been following my blog religiously (I am looking at you Vijay) you must know what a good man I am and must have wondered numerous times on how to be a good man, & if I would ever teach you - well, your wait is over. Read on.

(I wanted to put my picture given that how much I look like Clooney, grey hair, piercing eyes and all, but I dont want to draw undue attention to myself, and away from Clooney - I mean thats all he's got!)

First of all, throw away everything society has taught you about being a man. Society keeps changing and so do the ideas. What is good and bad however should be universal and timeless, no?

1. Clothes Dont make a man:

"Clothes make a man" was a marketing ploy brought about by those Mad Men types in the 60s to sell more suits. While I agree that good suits, tailored shirts etc do add certain amount of value (esp in client facing roles) but that is true only till the point you open your mouth. God knows I have spent a small fortune on cuff-links and they are sometimes a conversation starter, but thats all that they are - conversation starters! Post that I am on my own.

I dont understand why someone would want to buy a 70,000 suit from Hugo Boss or Armani (Both among my favourite brands) - Sure, buy all the suits you want if you are Harvey specter, but if you make 2 lacs a month, a 70k suit indicates to me that you are trying to hide something that you lack in (usually, its intelligence) Little surprise then that I have mostly met idiots in Armanis.

2. Courage is what differentiates men from the boys:

In Cinderella Man, one of my favourite movies, there is a scene where before going into a fight, our man Russel Crowe is shown a specially rowdy fight between his next competitor and another decent boxer, who ends up dying in the match.

He looks at the guy playing the clip & says - You think you are trying to tell me something? That boxing is dangerous? That one can die in the boxing ring? You dont think working at docks is dangerous? That you cant die on the street?

Courage is not the lack of fear, it is but knowing that something is more important than fear

The corporate world doesnt like risky courageous ideas, they take comfort in ideas that are tried and tested, that are safe. Over time, in such a set up men lose this ability and become paper pushers, even the best of men. You will be surprised how easy it is to fall in line. Not falling in line is a skill, if you learn how, teach me too.

3. Take responsibility

My elder daughter (5yo) comes to me at 11 pm in the night as I entered home after a long day of work, (the younger daughter & wife had slept) & says - "Daddy, you know what my problem with people is - they don't keep promises. They say they will do something and then they dont do it."

I thought maybe it is I that she is talking about (Daughters can be passive aggressive like that) but thankfully she was only talking about her nanny. My elder daughter is among the nicest people I know, notice I said people and not kids, because she behaves like a woman not a kid. If we were to deserve nice people like that then we have to keep our promises.

The best men, I have found are dependable. They do what they say, it is comforting to know that promises made will be kept.

4. Seek wisdom, not information

I am always impressed by some people as to how much they know about the specifications in the latest phone or which country is going down the drain or why the fuel prices are going up. They are genuinely aware about their surroundings & that is a good thing. A friend of mine once said information is wealth, but it really is not.

Information is just money, wisdom is really wealth. If you stop reading the newspaper or TV or disconnect social media, you have no information and hence no money, but wealth, that bitch sticks with you no matter what. Also, don't say bitch, unless you calling someone that lovingly.

5. Take pride in your work

The best men take pride in their work, regardless of how small or insignificant that job is. This has baffled me for years. I havent been able to take particular pride in my work. Even if I am absolutely amazing at it.

Like take for instance writing (I kick butt, who am I kidding) but I wrote my first novel thinking, even if nobody published it, I would just save a copy of the word document in A4 spiral binded book for my grandchildren. It obviously went on to become a big hit and has touched lives of many men who are now in their late 20s & are able to "Get their girls back!" - The point being, I didnt take immense pride in it or anything. But I have come to think there is some merit in a man who is sweeping the floor and wants to do it right. Or someone who makes excel sheets for a presentation and does that right. These small things add up and if you arent doing something right now, because it is beneath you today, you wont be able to do it when it is really worth something. I fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, the worst of them fall at the far end, and in the end dont manage to do anything big because nobody trusts them with it.

6. Marry the girl who you will keep happy and who you will be happy with

Identifying characters of people around you and their worth is a learnable trait. Do this right and 90% of your life will be sorted. I have seen so many good men make mistakes judging women (usually when they are young, like in college) and then spending their lives with them unhappy, wondering where did they go wrong. Surrounding yourself with good people (of which good women are a subset) is a very important man trait.

I will someday write about how to Woman as well, and that might help, but for now, look at a woman as you would look at a man, if she was a man, would you be good friends with her? If she didnt have those big kajal lined eyes, long hair and smelled of vanilla, would you still want to be with her? If all it involved was talking about the weather or netflix (but not chill) or life in general, would you still be friends with her?

7. As a dad just ensure the mom isn't overwhelmed. If she is it will invariably go to the kids

A good man who doesnt choose to be a father, is a man who has wasted some of his potential. It is rare for good men to not want to father, but when I find someone like that, I recheck all the other characteristics and find him lacking in "taking responsibility" which makes me rethink whether he is actually a worthy guy.
Being a father is so much work if done right (and hugely rewarding btw). Read more about it here

8. Learn how to cook for yourself and a little bit for the people around you

If you have to open an app everytime there is no food in the house there is a problem. There is something terrific about taking raw materials and making something delicious out of it. It tells me there is a creative side to that man, and we have survived as a species because men came up with creative ideas to keep predators at bay. Then that maybe making metal weapons to safeguard one's family, or tools to dig up a well for water. While this may no longer be necessary, cooking up a meal still features as a life skill and a man should have at least some of it

9. Don't be ready for a fight

- that's what 13 years boys do. Be ready to diffuse a tense situation develop that skill. And animals, hippos, lions etc fighting for a mate or territory. Getting this without blood or losing one's front teeth is a kickass (pun intended) skill. This is what makes us different from animals & kids (who we all know are just little animals)

This post is a culmination of all my judgement about different men. This is all that I can think of, if there is something I might have missed that you think is important to man, correctly, do let me know.

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