If you’re ‘fair and innocent’, will you marry my son?

Published: December 1, 2010

Why can’t men use their own brains and make their own decisions about who they want to marry?

A few weeks ago, I went to a wedding where upon introduction, an aunty made the following comment: “Oh, beta how wonderful to see you’ve done your MBA.  But why aren’t you married yet?”

The “why aren’t u married yet” was repeated in a derogatory tone as I was dragged to meet another aunty. This aunty seemed to be looking for a “suitable” wife for her son who  was living in America. Her plan was to short list 5-8 girls for her son, who would be visiting Pakistan for just a week, so she could ask him to choose one with whom an engagement or nikkah could be settled within the week. She elaborated about how innocent her son was and how he had told her he wanted a homely, domesticated wife and had therefore asked his mother to choose a Pakistani girl for him.

After this episode, I was asked a series of questions which shocked me, as I didn’t know how to respond to some of them. I was asked if I helped around the house, followed by whether I am a very social person or not. The third question (and I’m not exaggerating) was “Beta, I wanted to ask: do you wear deep neck shirts? Because we don’t approve of such things in our family.”

What shocked me was the bluntness with which an educated aunty asked me such a question. For all I know, her son could have been living abroad with a foreign woman, but yet the aunty believed her son was an angel and deserved a pure, innocent beauty queen.

This is a very common method for people to get married in Pakistan.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying love marriages are better than arranged marriages, since marriage is a gamble whether it’s out of choice or arranged, but I feel the concept of marriage in Pakistan is distorted.

Marriage should be about sharing your life with someone. I would rather wait for a man who wanted to marry me because he wants to share his life with me, than marry a man who, without getting to know me, lets his mother decide if I’m the one for him based on my looks.

Most men in Pakistan get married as an obligation or because their mothers want them to.  Marriage is about compatibility, understanding and adjustment. That depends on how two people connect, communicate or interact with one another not upon what they can cook or how tall or fair they are.  It’s okay to introduce families or people to one another for the purpose of marriage but classifying looks or cooking as criteria for marriage is ridiculous.

In a similar incident, a few people were coming over to my friend’s house to meet her for the purpose of marriage.  During the one hour the family was at her house, the boy didn’t say a word to her; he just stared at his mom and then at his feet. Moreover, my friend was asked by the father if any of the tea items being served to them were cooked by her as “it’s very important to know how to cook”.

His second question to her was if she knew how to drive as their eldest daughter used to drive him around but now that she was married, they had no driver. With the lack of interest from the boy’s side and the questions the father was asking, I wonder if they were hiring a maid/driver instead of a wife for their son.

Why are cooking skills and looks treated as the basis of marriage in Pakistan? Anyone can learn how to cook; being a great cook is a different matter but it is not something that cannot be learnt.

Being a single girl, I can’t breathe when I go to a wedding or social gathering because I know I’m being watched like a goat in the goat market by vulture women.  Moreover what amazes me is that girls and boys agree to such practices and get married that way.  Boys get married just because their mothers approved of the girl but lose interest later as they realised the girl wasn’t their “type” and they have extra marital affairs.

Wouldn’t it just have been simpler had they showed some interest initially and gotten to know the girl? Why can’t men use their own brains and make their own decisions about who they want to marry?

The other day, some family friends were over. I’ve known their son since we were kids and also know that he’s dated many girls, gone to parties, and is pretty much a “player”. Yet that very day, his mom sat in front of me and said “My son has told me to look for a girl for him to get married to as he is very innocent and likes innocent girls. Please keep a look out for homely girls, who don’t go out much. Oh, and she should be fair and tall.”

I wanted to barf in disgust but I realised that about 85 per cent of the people in Pakistan have a similar mentality.

It’s time our matchmaking aunties change the criteria for marriage. Boys should, at the least, make an effort to get to know who they are marrying. Marriage cannot and should not be based on trivial things such as cooking or complexion.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment.  It’s about standing by your partner’s side and sharing his/her life – in sickness or in health.


Nojeba Haider

A corporate banker based in Karachi. Nojeba tweets @nojeba.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Masroor

    I totally agree that selection criteria or way is worst, but I would like to add whatever the way is arrange or love, relationship is only succeful when there is sacrifice from both side, or life is invainRecommend

  • Nazia Khan

    from whole of the artical i picked the idea that you are in need of liberal boy to accept you with all “Ha ANd wo”. M i right sister????Recommend

  • sadaffayyaz

    110% agreed……….This is all what is happening………Materialism and consumerism destroying people………Recommend

  • http://shezzzles.blogspot.com Sheza

    Ugh. I can so relate to everything said here! Parade infront of countless parents “window shopping” a girl for their son. Really not the right way to find a suitable match.Recommend

  • http://aajizattari.blogspot.com Muhammad Yasin

    The question remains: what to find in the spouse ?

    and what's the nice way to do that ?

  • Narmeen

    classic! :)Recommend

  • Tehreem Mahmood

    Oh Nojeba! this is so open! You’re a girl and with thoughts (so broad and just) will hinder your happiness (bowing down to your in-laws, spending life as a maid/driver/cook/etc) in future. Be careful in what you say (but keep on writing) :) Good job!Recommend

  • FK

    Well I want to talk to the girl before i get married. I would like to know her and ask her if she is happy with the proceedings but too bad they dont allow it….Recommend

  • Zarab

    Life is full of compromises.I agree to one point the most that; girls like the same notion for guys as they think ‘fair n faithful’.Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    great stuff…just reading about the ‘rishta’ meeting is toe-curlingly embarrassing…i never ever want to go through that and i am a guy……i have seen it happen to others, it is very very weird…Recommend

  • Nojeba Haider

    @ Nazia Khan

    I think you have misunderstood the whole point of my article. This has nothing to do with needing a liberal boy, it has to do with the criteria based on which females are judged.Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    Even though i am a guy, i know exactly how u feel, i cab totally relate to most of that and i get where you are coming from.Recommend

  • Amir M

    Point well made. I have witnessed various such cases where the boy, or his parents come from the US for a short trip to find the domesticated, traditional wife for their “innocent and cultured” son in the US. The boy’s parents in most cases I’ve encountered are oblivious to the activities of their son back in the US, and although he may have had all kinds of “fun” in his time, him and his parents will scrutinize every girl that passes the two things they are looking for: innocence and beauty. Forget that the guy may have been in multiple relationships, may have led an extremely liberal lifestyle that are nowhere close to the traditional values that the girls family may be thinking of when listening to them talk. While noone should be judged for their right to a life of their choice (without harming or hurting anyone else’s life), the problem here is that an extremely liberal minded guy will try to marry a conservative wife to ensure she hasn’t been too adventurous, much unlike himself. What makes it easier for such people to get what they want is the desire of many local girls and parents alike, to get the girl married to some cool, sophisticated, well spoken, and well to do, American guy that they got to know in a few weeks and had a couple of people vouch for him. My advice: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Find out everything there is about the guy, his friends, family, lifestyle, work, etc etc. Do not trust the appearance and do not trust a few weeks of talking to him or his family.Recommend

  • Azeem Shafique Baig

    you are right …………. !Recommend

  • Tahera

    I would suggest watching ‘Arranged’ if anyone can get their hands on it. Contraray to the implication, the film is light and entertaining and shows how arranged marriage is seen as being synonymous with match-making (as opposed to ‘forced’ marraiage) that some cultures still adhere to – Mulsim and Orthodox Jewish, in this case. Recommend

  • saqib khan

    no matter how much education our guys get or whether they’ve lived or studied in foreign universities,they want submissive,demure,brainless girls who agree to whatever idiotic opinions they express,don’t question any of their action & aren’t assertive at all.
    they’ll party & sleep around in usa or uk but want a quiet,domesticated wife because an american wife doesn’t take so much verbal & physical abuse & uses her brain & expresses her opinion,not just blindly letting her husband have all the say in the domestic decision making.
    unfortunatley,our girls encourage such behaviour to continue as they choose not to get higher education or even if they do get it they choose to stay at home rather than pursue a professional career,thus they become dependent on their husbands for their survival & can’t assert themselves as equal human beings.the day our girls start fending for themselves instead of behaving like damsels in distress their status in society will increase.Recommend

  • http://www.pakspectator.com Sana Saleem

    The better thing is to leave the choice of spouse upon theparent because they know the worl better than the young people And the rest upon GOD :)Recommend

  • maitre

    Our Prophet Muhammad’s hadith says: ‘If you want to know about the character of a boy or a girl, do not ask his/her mother. Instead Ask his/her father because he tells the truth.Recommend

  • Tariq


    and pray do tell waht is the right way. At School/college/Uni, where you are supposed to be studying so that you end up with good grades so you get a good job.
    Or perhaps the right place is the numerous bars and dance clubs where singles go to meet other singles. Oh wait, there are no bars and dance clubs.
    Perhaps the right way to meet girls or boys is at parties. oh but wait these parties are for couples only.
    I am confused please tell me what is the right way to find a suitable match.Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    Agreed with both the words “Fair” and “Innocent”.
    I don’t understand why do we have this obsession with “fair complexion”.Recommend

  • Syed

    Spot on !!Recommend

  • Spam Robot

    I blame the parents of the girl who are all but too eager to have their daughter settled abroad. Why? Because while they can’t control how others behave, they should certainly have the self respect to honor their daughters.

    I agree that the requirements some of these “Aunties” have are ridiculous. But on the other side the girl’s family also has some expectations of how well settled a guy should be. I think this is also ridiculous.If the guy is promising and hardworking what is the problem? I think the married couple should make their initial struggles together. Makes a much stronger bond. Recommend

  • zaigham

    Although I agree with most points you have made on ugly social behavior of mothers, but IMHO you are seeing it from a very narrow perspective.

    Most men in Pakistan get married as an obligation or because their mothers want them to. Marriage is about compatibility, understanding and adjustment. That depends on how two people connect, communicate or interact with one another not upon what they can cook or how tall or fair they are.

    Over the years I have discovered that the people with whom I’m most incompatible, are my own family. We differ in almost everything from taste in music to opinion on life. We ‘ve had a fair share of fights but we get along well.
    From my experiences, the ‘magic’ word like compatibility, is superficial and holds no practical significance. A relation like marriage, usually change the people’s attitudes and behaviors. In the end, its not the compatibility, but the willingness to adjust that keep people together and close. And only with willingness comes the understanding and adjustment.

    No doubt there exist social pressure to get married. Have you ever wondered why such pressure exist in the first place?
    Think! and be enlightened.Recommend

  • Neeni

    Well written. But lets not generalize all arranged matchmaking as redundant and idiotic. Something may work for someone and may not for someone else. Secondly, it works both ways, it’s bad to be a girl in this situation and I’m telling u it’s not even easy being a guy in this situation. I’m a girl and I have a brother, when I was going through the rishta scene we used to feel bad if someone came and behaved badly or gave some lame reason to say no. But when we went to find a girl for my brother I realized that it wasn’t easy, we ended up saying no several times because for whatever reason we didn’t feel comfortable and we believe that one needs to be fully sure in such matters. The way people behave when they come to see a girl is bad but there are people who behave worse when u visit their place to see the girl. It’s just that one should always conduct oneself with a certain amount of grace in such situations, the girls side should exhibit self respect and the guys side should be courteous. And trust me all desi parents believe their children (sons as well as daughters) are shareef and saints no matter whether the son is a known “player” and the daughter has provided the whole world enough evidence of wild partying via facebook. So such things need to be taken with a pinch of salt. All is well that ends well, me and bro ended up getting married to amazing people. Its just that one should do their homework very well and if u don’t like someone by the way they sound don’t call them home. Parents should know when to say no. Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    You know, I so feel you on the last player classification! I know of a dude that asked his friends to find him a girlfriend because he was ‘alone’ and when they suggested an, ahem, extra-special friend of his, he wanted someone who was ‘pure’. BLEGH. In another context, a player who gets around quite a bit said he’d marry whoever mummy wanted him to marry. How disgusting!

    I read about these aunties so much here, but thankfully I’ve never encountered them, probably cause I always attend family weddings accompanied by my parents and/or siblings. I wonder if I’ll be prey for the vultures once my friends start getting married off and I attend their weddings on my own?Recommend

  • maheen usmani

    Well said, Nojeba. This bakra mandi is just so sad and pathetic.Recommend

  • http://www.misshanif.blogspot.com Noor-ul-ain

    Inspite off all bad habits and bad activities, every boy and his family wants a Namazi, Parheezgar Katrena Kaif!!Recommend

  • parvez

    Enjoyed reading this. Recommend

  • http://toronto Hina

    So Damn True! All of us are sick of this messed-up mentality!
    Great Article!

  • K

    The Amreeka residing “boy” wants a “homely, domesticated wife and had therefore asked his mother to choose a Pakistani girl for him” because he had his fun with the women in his city and now wants a domestic cow he can control.

    I know someone who shared an apartment with a woman (she was not desi) and they pretty much lived like a couple. She helped him in every way but when time came to settle down he chose a 20 yr old girl picked by his mum who had never set foot out of KHI. Because “yehan ki larkiyan sahi nahin hoti”. Mind that the dude is a nice guy from a good family.

    I know another person who said the same thing “yehan ki larkiyan theek nahin hain; I wont marry a girl form here, etc, etc. and literally visited Pakistan dozens of times before he settled down.

    PS – picking girls out of a line up for marriage is mostly done by people/men who moved abroad after a certain age and already had their fun but there are exceptions, always!Recommend

  • Dr.Ghulam Shabbir Rana

    This is a very good analysis of present situation of the society.Some women are no doubt vultures,They do not respect innocent girls.I appreciate this article.This is a sincere effort to bring positive awareness among the people.I like the impartial conclusions.The style and discourse is very effective and attractive.Recommend

  • Talat

    “It’s time our matchmaking aunties change the criteria for marriage. Boys should, at the least, make an effort to get to know who they are marrying. Marriage cannot and should not be based on trivial things such as cooking or complexion.

    Marriage is a lifelong commitment. It’s about standing by your partner’s side and sharing his/her life – in sickness or in health.”

    The aunties you met must have a better idea as to what marraige is about. They must me married for more than half their lives now. It all comes down to family culture. Some people don’t even like the idea of women going to out to work. Recommend

  • Talat

    going outRecommend

  • http://enterakt.com shobz

    It’s just that no parent wants to believe their child can be a player or dating others. They are in denial about what is happening because they refuse to accept the truth. I wonder why our people have not shed this mentality as yet. I used to think that there was a lot of pressure on girls to get married but the same applies for guys now. If I had a penny for every time someone asked me why I haven’t settled down as yet I would be a millionaire by now. Recommend

  • Saraah

    hahaa…gud one… n so true..it’s jst a beginning..once a girl is married..she is overloaded by more qstions from such aunties….Ohh..when r u havin a baby??we all r w8in for urs (as if they don’t hav any other thing to do) …its been this many years(they hav all the calculations).OMG!!!how can one even dare to ask abt such personal stuff openly…Recommend

  • Ahmed Jan

    I completely agree with this piece and am often disgruntled by my mother’s own efforts to find me a girl (of her liking). Being true to my rebellious nature, I’d rather marry the proverbial bakra from the mandi then settle for someone else’s choice. Recommend

  • anyportinastorm

    Generally speaking there is a disconnect between the younger generation i.e. those looking to get married and their parents. This disconnect extends to the communication that takes place between parent and child and can cause a significant difference in the parents perception of the child vs. the reality. Double standards also play a tremendous role in the way parents view their children. While girls are treated like precious jewelry locked away and protected, guys are allowed to pretty much get away with anything barring impregnating a girl outside of marriage. The author addresses this double standard quite clearly in her blog but whats left out is the pressure men face in Pakistani society. Generally forced into a career stream or occupation that yeilds high returns yet offers almost no satisfaction outside of the green color of the money. Working extremely long hours under high stress conditions these men barely have time to meet people let alone engage in meaningful conversations or interaction in order to find wives. To sum it all up its damn difficult for men and women to find spouses in Pakistani society!Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    These Aunties must be Silenced, I am certain it is some personal or political agenda, which is why they try to pro actively hop into the matchmaking band wagon. Think about it people, for example Aunty X, sees a girl she finds appropriate, and suggests it to her sister or cousin or his/her son. If that thing works out, she gets elevated status despite being an extended family member, because the Aunty was responsible for their sons marriage and the grandchildren that would be on their way.
    If you ask me personally, I think it bothers a lot of Aunties that they submissively gave into their parents pressure and got married at a young age, having made a lot of sacrifices in their own lives, and the thought of other people not being married at that age and pursuing their dreams bothers me. Just ask the Aunty, Aap ki Shadi Kiss Age Main Hoee Thee ? LoLRecommend

  • http://habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    so damn true!Recommend

  • rahmat

    pakistan is a client colinial state of imperial powers when they were leaving or shedng the cover of their dirty planes they imposed their servants as leaders upon those crushed people . we are addicted of copying ill things,,and followng always wrong things,and consider women r girls are a comodity put on sale in the market. our actions are extremely stupid and nonsense ,,,,Recommend

  • Saraah

    @ Noor: lolllll…m luvin it..Namazi parhazigar katrina kaif..so true..Recommend

  • http://zealforwriting.blogspot.com Sarah B. Haider

    I don’t believe in most arrange settings because the sole criterion of judging a girl is her physical appearance. I have been through this because one ill-mannered aunty jee once told me at a wedding bluntly, “beta itni saada rahogii to kon karega pasand?” aj kal ke larkay well-groomed larkiyan mangtay hain” I was offended and felt bad, but later on my family and friends made me feel better somehow :)
    And as for these men, I am sorry but I hate all such men who flirt around since the age of 13 to 30, date different girl, make promises, exploit many of them, and when they reach their 30’s, when they become nothing but frustrated beasts waiting for an 18-year old dainty wife who would also serve the family with her mastery over household chores, and in most cases, she must be an MBBS doctor too, these shallow people settle for their ” ammi kii pasand ” and marry any girl their mothers choose. :PRecommend

  • http://billaytoot.wordpress.com Bilal

    Agreed with author…. But if mothers don’t select bahus, then there is a certain war between bahu and saas… Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    @Sarah B. Haider:
    Lol, Sarah, if you think looks are the only criteria for families of marriage eligible sons, you haven’t met mine, they have laid down an entire A-Z criteria for me, everything from looks, to education level, to colour of her hair/skin/eyes, to number of siblings, you name it, the whole shabbang
    all this hocus pocus has infact managed to turn me a bit marriage phobic, LolRecommend

  • Ehtisham Rizvi

    I think we all need to chill and realize that we live in a third world country with a very conservative cultural setting. The middle class man has a few problems of his own and he ‘has’ to settle for a wife that his mother choses for him. Coming from a long line of middle class people who got married in their thirties, I will try to explain this phenomenon from the man’s point of view.

    In Pakistan, when a boy gets a degree he starts looking for a dream job, it takes almost ten years or more to get that dream job and be financially stable enough to support a family, during this time, the boy turns into a middle aged man, the hair line receeds and the thinking becomes more pessimistic. The girl he had a crush on in college/uni usually gets married during that time, swept off her feet by some rich uncle, and so the guy turns into a rich uncle himself and tries to fulfill his fanatsy by marrying someone just like that girl he adorded, even if the age difference is more than ten years. It is unfortunate but we are all trapped in this circle and going round and round.

    Also, on average, in a joint family system, the wife spends more time with the parents and siblings of the husband than the husband himself. Is it not realistic to marry someone your mother likes because the mother would be spending more time with the girl anyway?Recommend

  • Shaz

    the most boring and unimaginative take on the subject I’ve ever read in my lifeRecommend

  • Farooq Ahmed

    Awesome blog mam keep it up we should curb this menace.Recommend

  • Ata Ur Rehman

    I agree with the part related to aunties being vultures in a goat market. They should keep their scathing and good-for-nothing remarks to themselves. But, Nojeba, the part where you emphasize that the girl and boy get to know each other may seem well-placed in western or other societies but this solution would hit a brick wall here. Most Pakistani families will not take the concept of a girl and a boy getting to “know each other” very lightly save for a few liberal minded individuals. This eventually leads most people to resort to(fall prey to?) such aunties as match makers voluntarily or otherwise.

    Honestly, I believe in getting to know each other before settling down, but how does one go about it? Recommend

  • Ali

    I’ll agree with Ehtisham a bit. But he forgot to add another important point: guys are also getting married in their 30s because it is a tradition in many families that a sister should get married first, even if she is 10 years younger than the brother. Mothers also like to first marry off their girls because they are afraid that their boys will become ‘slaves’ of their wives and will not support the family.Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Yet another Girls favorite topic.Recommend

  • Asfandar Chandio Balouch

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah LOVE it!Recommend

  • Talha

    In reality, your parents can suggest, but as a man you should follow on from there.

    Lets look at it from my point of view. If I am financially stable and ready to settle down, I can find a girl myself while also allowing my parents to suggest someone suitable.

    If the latter happens, then my parents can only suggest and then I should get to know the girl myself, that is if she is also interested in me. There should be some casual dating so you can be sure if you want to marry that person.

    Someone might look very good but your personailites have to click so that is why pre-marriage meetings are important.

    Thankfully, my parents are the opposite to ones described in this write up and I am trying to find someone suitable this way.

    Now tackle the religious and sect differences that persists in Pakistan and cause marriage problems.Recommend

  • Talha

    I also do not understand why Pakistani men are so timid and weak in front of their parents. They might do everything otherwise but in front of parents they become goodie two shoes.

    Even if you were sitting at a girls house for ‘rishta’, just speaking to the girl would not be the end of the world not would it.

    Its neither vulgar or wrong so say hi or hello atleast and then say a few things.Recommend

  • Qasim

    I’m on the fence on this one. Look at the western world – they marry based on appearances and infatuations, and >60% of marriages end up in divorces.

    People “try the field” and have many romantic parters in this quest to find “the one”(someone who would appreciate all your flaws, but change and morph to eliminate any flaws in them that you do not approve of) and after that, find it impossibly hard to commit to just one life partner. Pretty soon, the infatuation dies out, in a few years the person isn’t in their 20’s anymore, doesn’t look that young, you find younger better-looking people and it’s hard to resist the urge to “dump” the wife like one dumped previous romantic partners. And then there are children who find step-moms with their dad, and step-dads living with their moms, broken homes, and high suicide rates in children from broken families.

    Despite all the glamour-ification in their media, I don’t think I find this entirely appealing in the long run.Recommend

  • Imdad

    Great article.
    I think a big problem is the generation gap that exists between us and our parents. Im not against arranged marriage and I feel I have a good relationship with my parents but whenever the topic of finding a rishta for me comes up, they have never asked me to sit down with them and discuss what qualities I might like in a girl and im sure the same is the case with all arranged marriage guys and girls. I mean how hard is it to sit down with your son/daughter and ASK them beta what interests you in a girl/guy? Im sure they would get a much better idea as to what to look for than just the cooking abilities and not-so-deep necklines in a girl!
    (I dig deep necklines btw…my mum will kill me if she reads this!!)Recommend

  • Minelle Khan

    hahahah I was asked if I was any good at gardening!! WHO does their won gardening these days? or WHO even cares about it at 19 years of age!! I N S A N E aunties have taken over this marriage business. Rumour has it that such aunties carry a ‘black book’ with a list of names of single girls and guys, and try to pair them up. OH and that it gets updates regularly.
    You could be on it :p Recommend

  • Minelle Khan

    their own* Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    Man, I agree with you on the notion, the stuff you have mentioned at the end of your bit. Even if the folks do try and set the guy up with some one, firstly they do not see your compatibility, they only see theirs. Secondly, even if we keep an open mind, and say we wish to spend some time with the girl and get to know the girl and vice versa before making a decision, all hell breaks loose. You know from what I have heard things were like this in the early 90’s in many respectable families, guy gets introduced to a girl, both of them try to get to know each other, see if they can connect, before committing to family pressure. Our country has unfortunately gone through a hypocratical religious revolution which has only been limited to emphasize on ultra orthodox symbolic rituals and gestures.Recommend

  • faraz

    dear writer!
    I agree with the idea of marriage being distorted in pakistan. But you seem to have it all against boys. A common belief is that its girls who have to go through the ordeal of being seen by a family of strangers and interrogated for the trivial of things. I myself call this b
    process “shopping for brides”. But you need to appreciate that mostly boys who are decent also go through an awkward experience. Imagine sitting in somebody elses living room with a girl who u might be marrying in the future with her parents around, how would to navigate and talk to her.you can talk about professional things and studies and that matters, but can you ask her about her personal interests and etc.
    One very important thing i would like share: i have lived in Pakistan for 25yrs studying in the best and “modren” unis, but i have never seen a girl without a whats called “attitude”. Now you may name this a confidence issue on my part, but the truth is that paki girls are most of the times unapproachable. I think girls should be appreciative of the fact that there are plenty of boys who go abroad and stay decent and prefer marrying pakistani girls even though they could be living or getting married to white girls who ARE “tall and fair”.Recommend

  • Tariq

    Right on dude. You are absolutely right. what the writer (and most of the commentator) need to understand is that every point has a counter view point. The coin has two sides. The scenario that the writer has portrayed, happens; but not always. Recommend

  • iac

    @nojeba haider….

    The first question is what all characteristics are necessary to look for in a wife/daughter in law to be.

    By your article it should be like the common sense that the boy and girl should know each other and connect/attach/attract each other.But will you, while living in Karachi agree to go out with some guy or talk about marriage at first sight/thought.Or agree with the matchmaker/mother-in-law to be, if she asks you(and many others,since you are not the only one in Karachi.lols) to go out/chat/talk with his son/groom( since she deems you to be fit as a daughter-in-law.)

    (btw one of my friends here in america who is well educated and is well-employed is bachelor while he is 40 (lols),since he wanted to know the bride ,talk to her and see if they click/connect/match. And guess what no-one agreed to his terms.)

    Let me explain in reality what are the basics that one can think about for someone who wants to get married.

    1.Do you feel attracted towards him/her without talking to him/her? That’s the reason someone would seek a fair complexion/beautiful/slim in case of matchmaking.
    2.Can she/he talk nicely/appropriately/wisely? Because while being married boy/girl would talk to each other daily.and if she/he does not know how to talk, what to talk,where to talk.then God bless both of them.lols
    3.Human does need to eat something? Who will prepare that meal?her/his son/daughter?.So most commonly(even in america it’s the wife, who will cook and husband will assist her,if he has time(or who soever is free at home). While considering the fact that some matchmaker is taking a bride to ameria/europe, you would be the one jobeless/free at home and have to cook.(unless you can afford a maid just after landing in america,lols)
    4.While looking for job, or bringing up the kids its necessary for the partners to be educated or knowledgeable.that’s why she asked/praised you that you had done your MBA.
    5.Now lets suppose by your article, the matchmaker/seeker’s approach is wrong and she should just chooses the first one that comes infront of her as her bride without even asking her anything. Now what all characteristics do you/anyone you think should look for and then plan and how to decide to live the rest of your life with? I would request you to please elaborate gradually/thoroughly in your next article. Recommend

  • Sophia

    How many times will this discussion take place? I mean seriously – yes, Aunties are the bane of every 20-26 fair-and-lovely deprived woman’s life. Get over it. Recommend

  • A _mir

    ‘why aren’t u married yet”?? thats the worst question ever asked to me , if i m not married wats ur problem anyways…Great article i loved it. . Recommend

  • Free

    i read the article and a few of the comments. all this just shows how shallow and materialistic we all have become! this in no way portrays the characteristics of a good muslim man/woman. islam provides us with all the guidelines we need to live, why look elsewhere or make up our own silly rules..!Recommend

  • Free

    and by the way islam came into existence waaayyy before pakistan, so how did we bring about these silly rules/regulations about marriage??? and who started all this…???Recommend

  • Syed Mohummed

    Assalam u Alaikum,

    Dear Nojeba,

    Agreed! Cent percent true indeed. This is an undeniable tragedy in Pakistan that people, irrespective of their not so good past, when it comes to marriage, become as if they are the epitome of innocence. Why don’t just both the boy and girl take and accept each other as they are???? We are the youth and shoulder bearers of PK and now its our turn to change the aging irrelevant traditions by eradicating the so called “trolley culture” & useless interrogation like some secret agent.
    Keep up the good work by writing such informative articles

  • kalim

    The other day, some family friends were over. I’ve known their son since we were kids and also know that he’s dated many girls, gone to parties, and is pretty much a “player”. Yet that very day, his mom sat in front of me and said “My son has told me to look for a girl for him to get married to as he is very innocent and likes innocent girls. Please keep a look out for homely girls, who don’t go out much. Oh, and she should be fair and tall.”—————————->
    if u (the writer) couldn’t narrate the whole article and the theme to the family friends how come she expects boys to talk in front of their moms.Recommend

  • Asim

    Acrid Reality !!! good article n I love this sentence “because I know I’m being watched like a goat in the goat market by vulture women…”

    it was superb !!! :)Recommend

  • zeeshan haider

    i think i have to agree with you. whether its arrange marriage or love end of day you must know the person. we shouldn’t make marriage as a gamble. try to keep things simple.Recommend

  • Sajjad Abidi

    Well Noj…..!! point rightly made about the crude way the ‘BAHU Search Operation’ is carried in our society but just want to make one point that, living as per the Islamic Values has its own code of conduct which as far as I know does not allow a guy and a gal to get acquainted with each other the way you want it………So its kinda difficult……now don’t label me as a ISLAMIC EXTREMIST but just want to make my point that how this culture has evolved over a period of time………..

    Secondly…..as far mom chooosing the Bahu Game is concerned…….I think more than 90% happens the same way in Pakistan and of that I believe atleast 80% are somewhat successful marriages……so the scheme has been a successful one…….

    Thirdly,……..I personally think that marriage is nothing but compromise…….and ADAMs and EVEs are made by the Almighty to get attracted towards each other………(UNLESS the either one of them is a lunatic)……to people eventually end up having a balanced relationship and thats how its been from the begining……..

    Having said alll this, I do agree with your point about the ridiculous way of ‘BAHU Search Operation’ by the aunties these days……All in all a well written perspective……..Cheers Recommend

  • Jee Jee

    Choose her religion over beauty, lineage(zaat) or [email protected] Yasin: Recommend

  • Jee Jee

    The problem is rooted in lack of Islamic education. if they knew that it’s allowed and RECOMMENDED to look at the girl, talk to her in presence of her wali and get to know her, then there would be no problem. But too bad, most of Pakistanis Muslims follow a Hindu culture, u will c most of the pakistanis will know more about Indian culture and tradition rather than their own Islamic tradition(bcz thats all they watch e.g star plus, indian movies). and the worst, they’ll follow their customs and culture which most of the time go against Islamic values e.g giving jahez to girls (many time girls don’t get married bcz parents or their bros r collecting jahez, and the wedding ceremony costs immense amount of money, and if u don’t have an expensive and extravagant wedding, u will be considered cheap. why can’t we have a simple nikah as prophet(pbuh) said. Seriously, how do u start a relationship with – (by taking loan for an expensive wedding ceremony). lol i’m done arguing with my parents, what is say, is simply not in their frame of reference bcz they don’t have good Islamic Education, all they know is how to perform basic rituals( and even though when they r praying, they don’t know what they are saying, most of the ppl i asked didn’t know the translation of Surah-Al-Fatiah) @Talha: Recommend

  • http://hibahnaz.wordpress.com Hibah Naz

    Nojeba you’ve truly spoken my words, my sentences. Can’t agree more with Spam Robot and K.

    All I can say is that marriage is a joke to the 95% of the population of this country even if they live abroad. The mentality is ZERO to ZERO!
    Guys should speak up and not be a mommy’s boy. Why not marry the girl you spent years and years with? And the girls should also take a step forward and not bow down to everything wrong happening. Recommend

  • faraz

    @Hibah Naz:
    you are missing the point I tried to make and which the writer totally ignored in her writing. Mostly boys DONT spend years and years with girls, they don’t even have girl friends, its because of the social setup we have. IT IS A TABOO HAVING A GIRL/BOY FRIEND IN OUR SOCIETY. In that case girls and boys rely on their parents to find them a match. SO: if YOU want freedon of self choice, then responsibility lies with BOTH girls and boys to speak their minds.
    This article frames boys to be whole culprit. Thats what I tried to say. Recommend

  • sufia

    ill add three more lame reasons for rejection here, which have actually happened to me. the most amazing part is that the grooms mother in all the three cases actually told my mother all this to her face too:

    the family that came to my house to see me had a problem that my parents rent the house we live in which meant that wat appeared to be a good house could not be given to me in my dowry.
    im the only daughter, and a certain family was afraid that id turn out to be too spoilt for their son
    my fathers from bangalore, india, and he has a very pronounced south indian accent. apparently dads accent turned the family off. funnily enough ive spent my entire life in karachi and speak with a perfect karachi-ite accent. who were they marrying? dad or me?

    Just goes to show how shallow people are.Recommend

  • Hira

    So true!!!Recommend

  • Aamir Adnan

    i truly love it!!!great article….Bravo!!!Recommend

  • Amtul Mussawer

    Couldn’t agree more. I believe even if the parent’s are choosing the the partner for their children they should chose a girl or boy with similar habits and not the social and material status. Sadly in our society, most of the matches are made to strengthen business or family ties and those aims are achieved but the marital bliss is missing in most of the casesRecommend

  • http://iqi-musings.blogspot.com/ Iqra

    I agree, gone is the time when marriages like this were successful. At least both should know each other so that they couldn’t regret later in life about their parent’s choice.Recommend

  • Marzieh

    Great article took the words out of my mouth :p Itd be great if these ‘eligible bachelors’ had ‘eligible’ brains also to go about it like Talha mentioned in his comment.Recommend

  • Maryam Khan

    Great job! Keep up the talk that comes from either intellect or exposure;)Recommend

  • Yousuf

    I can’t believe I read the entire article. Anyhooo, Ms. Haider you can take the initiative and set an example when its your turn as a ‘match-making autie’.Recommend

  • KK

    Oh please. How about someone write about the male perspective.Recommend

  • Kinzah Raffat

    Living it up in a country where a girl’s achievement is by her marital status doesnt bode well for those whose aspirations expand beyond that. You could go to the moon, climb mount everest be the top 100 rich ladies of the world but nothing beats the good ole ring on the finger and children in tow. Dnt get me wrong…marriage is a beautiful thing provided it remains between the two involved. the whole elaborate 3 tier circus arnd it is just dumb. With the arrival of technology everyone knows everything. So if these mothers believe in a one-dimensional image of their children, we shudnt dis-abuse them of it. Lets avoid and ignore! But a perceptive! :-) good job! Recommend

  • maimoona

    marriage makes the 2 uncompleted ppl complete it is not a matter to wins any kind of beauty pageant Recommend

  • S

    I agree to Each and Every word of it!!!
    and the most heartwrenching thing is that having done all this maid / driver interview for one hr .. in most cases the boy’s family simply rejects the girl!!
    What were they thinking?? is the girl or her family not humans?? dont they have expectation or hearts to feel?? thats Rediculious!!
    Its high time that we start thinking where are we actually going? this is just one life and i hope no one wants to ruin it!!

    Very nicely written Nojeba!!Recommend

  • basim

    Why is she so angry? the question is rhetorical because she’s probably just pmsing or not getting laid, but these are assumptions of course. The universal purpose of marriage is to further the human race, not “sharing your life with someone”. And since the probability of a marriage working out is arbitrary anyway, then why put in all that effort to really get to know and connect with someone?

    AND, if its really that important to get to know the other person, then its probably not such a bad idea to get to know auntys son, who knows he might be someone you can really “connect” with, irrespective of how creepy that aunty is. Mothers are not really good reflections of their young ‘uns.

    I once saw an aunty conducting the interview in question, and she actually smelled the girls hair when she wasn’t looking… now THAT, is creepy…!Recommend

  • basim

    yes, rediculous indeed!Recommend

  • http://mysticsmuses.wordpress.com Le Mystique

    Dear Author:

    I totally understand viewpoint and I am sorry for how you are made to feel by aunties and their ‘farmabardar’ sons. But here is a bit of details from the boys’ perspective:

    A couple of problems which seem common in case of every man who wants to marry a girl of his choice and wants to meet her:

    His own family opposes to such meetings and specially the mothers (who is a woman afterall ;)) starts emotional blackmailing by saying ‘oh is din kay liye bara kia tha tum nay’. I think one thing that the guy’s family fears is that if the guy marries a girl of his own choice, he will stop caring about his parents and will become a ‘joroo ka ghulam’.
    The family of the girl refuses to let the guy meet the girl (even ONCE!) by saying ‘oh log kia kahain gay’ and/or ‘what if you refuse our girl later on? no one would want her rishta afterwards’.

    Perhaps you might say that ‘oh but these two problems occur only in lower and middle classes who might be more conservative’, but let me tell you that these conservative classes of people consist of 85% of the population of Pakistan.Recommend

  • AK

    Very well described. One more thing which i don’t understand is why aunties “window shop” for girls… I’ve seen many who maintain “registers / records” of at least 50 to 60 families and at times, even more!! How can they even remember what the girl listed at s.no. 1 was like when they reach s.no. 60?

    Why can’t aunties just decide after meeting 5 or 10 people? Its just like actual window shopping! The day when i decide to get shoes or accessories for myself and if i can’t find them in the first few shops I check out, I end up “window shopping” and then ultimately getting the wrong thing.Recommend

  • Jibran

    ‘I’ve known their son since we were kids and also know that he’s dated many girls, gone to parties, and is pretty much a “player”. Yet that very day, his mom sat in front of me and said “My son has told me to look for a girl for him to get married to as he is very innocent and likes innocent girls. Please keep a look out for homely girls, who don’t go out much. Oh, and she should be fair and tall.’

    Best part.Recommend

  • Faisal

    Very short-sighted and specific-to-the-situation article. Doesn’t happen most of the times !Recommend

  • Riffat Alam

    How true…Recommend

  • Bilal

    Very well Written Piece. I Am glad we still have peoples who can think and right on our social issues i must say social taboos.

    First of all, i am 110% on feminist side on this issue. I personally believe that nothing can be cheaper than going to girls home only to see her and select her.

    On the other hand i believe Females as responsible for this Taboo as well. Look when a Female is a Girl she wants a Man appear and marry Her! And when that Female reaches an age where she has to marry her Son or Brother— She Unnecessarily try to prove Her son/Brother the Most Innocent Guy on this Globe. BELIEVE ME GUYS NEVER WANT THEM TO BE PORTRAYED INNOCENT!

    I think We need to Learn our Religious Rights, Go through the Islamic Literature and we will learn the ways we are practicing these days in Selecting Spouse is no way close to our religion. Islam is the Broadest Religion, & Religion of Nature. Our Religion has provided us, Both Girls and Guys, Right to Select/Choose our Spouse, and for that a criterion has been Laid. If we follow them its better, but if we dont we won’t be sinful!

    I am a guy of age where my Mother also tried to prove me the most INNOCENT guy of this Universe :D But i am not. Why are my GHAR WALAZ portraying me wrong.

    Unless we rise for the cause, these Vulture aunties will keep treating us as Goats. Recommend

  • http://www.dhaneshspeaks.wordpress.com Dhanesh

    Really a very entertaining read. On the other hand there is a small ramification to this issue which I find equally amusing.

    Many guys who get into a successful career expect that people respect them for that and want to be “most-desired-bachelor” mindset. No matter how rude, arrogant or stupid they may be. Hence arises the “I want a homely-fair-submissive-cultural-pretty” wife.

    But a major reason for such shallow expectations is the attitude of the nubile girl and their families. The girl might fancy an outlaw biker, a writer or a musician in college. But the same doesn’t hold true when they want to get married.

    They expect financial stability and that’s about it. So what you get is a motley mix of alpha males looking out for gullible girls. And voila more often than not it’s a match!Recommend

  • freethinker

    the blog highlights only certain portions of the male female match making….

    its true that marriage should be about compatibility/ communication and someone one is comfortable with. however that is where the balance ends in the blog.

    its true single guys are biased in favour of fair and pleasant personality girls however the reverse holds as well – girls also want good looking and well established (read moneyed) guys only who would agree to their wishes.

    further in the pakistani social paradigm it is very hard for a guy to get to know women. most women would simply find it creepy.

    it is not just guys only who are players – what about the women with the players? care for a bet that those girls also want a “fair and innocent” guy?

    let’s be fair and call the spade a spade – every one (regardless of their gender) wants the “best” for themselves. Sexist arguments like this blog showing one gender’s perspective only should be discredited in favour of more balanced views.Recommend

  • Akbar

    loved the dramatic narration, but what the hell, I kinda agree with the writer here!Recommend

  • Furqan

    Selection criteria is the worst thing. Every guy wants a girl with fair complexion. now what the hell is will do with that fair complexion.
    secondly i think its the time girls should become brave & bold & they should speak agaian these kinda matchmaking aunties.Recommend

  • Junaid Alam

    “Most men in Pakistan get married as an obligation or because their mothers want them to.”.. although I’m myself one of this kind, but I strongly disagree with this “hypothesis”.Recommend

  • Leila Rage


    I think you mean that compromise is necessary sometimes. But I feel marriages/relationships based on self sacrifice and constant compromise can turn absolutely disastrous.Recommend