Blind date, beauty or beast?

Published: December 8, 2014
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The folk tales classification puts this fairy tale under the umbrella of `the search for a lost husband’.

Beauty and the not so beast

Saira is once divorced, twice married. Her second marriage is to her best friend, and this is a tumultuous one too. She claims that she knew the man extremely well before tying the knot but can’t seem to come to terms with his baggage or beastliness, whatever you may prefer to call it. She occasionally thinks of walking away from this marriage too.

Sophia, on the other hand, married a man who she was introduced to through friends. They met a few times at her house, went out once and decided to get engaged. They have been married for a while now. Sophia too has dealt with her husband’s baggage but with that ‘beastliness’ came a whole lot of tolerance and understanding. Maybe theirs being a semi-arranged match implied, at least in the initial bonding period, less expectations and more patience, hence less disappointment while the marriage was taking root and the love was building. What I imply here is the obvious, a blind date set up can be wondrous too if given a chance.

Beauty and the Beast is a folklore that was gifted a fairy tale status; it was written in 18th century France to protest the matrimonial arrangement of the day where women had no right to choose or refuse a man. In Suzanne Villeneuve’s writings of Beauty and the Beast, the latter is a somewhat non-abusive being who is trapped in a bestial body. It would be interesting to mention here that the folk tales classification puts this fairy tale under the umbrella of ‘the search for a lost husband’. Villeneuve writes about romantic love and marriage, while also touching women’s marital rights. Hence, it is safe to suggest that a young man and a woman, who may have been introduced by their associates, peers or family, have a great chance of making a courtship and marriage work.

It is considered somewhat old fashioned to be set up by family, friends or acquaintances but there is much wisdom in it. The assumption here is that most arranged set ups work better when the social, financial and religious backgrounds of the two involved are somewhat similar. Similarity of the basics creates bonding, respect, equality and with it follows the understanding of the personality.

Let me clarify that I’m not comparing the union that is termed as ‘love marriage’ and ‘conservative arranged marriages’ (where the intended may not be allowed to see each other, or engage in any kind of a dialogue) to a modern blind date set up. Instead, I’m making a case that the latter is very workable and makes for very happy endings too.

Here is a case – maybe you’ll find yourself or someone you know in it:

I looked at him across the trolley, the quintessential trolley, our families sat scattered in the drawing room. ‘Will he come back to meet me again’, I thought? Should I hint that I want a chance to get to know him better? So I did, in my own non-committal casual way. I indicated to tell him a story next time I would see him.

His cousin worked with my sister and that’s how I was introduced to him. And now, after having met him once, I found myself wanting to meet him again.

The very next day, I found myself sitting with him in my parents’ drawing room, getting to know him a little. I chatted, he laughed; he talked and I smiled shyly and giggled at times. A little flirting hurt no one, I told myself.

There was definite chemistry, and on my second meeting, I knew I wanted to marry him, all he had to do was ask.

A few people opposed my decision, saying

“No, you don’t know him.”

“Oh but I do, it feels right. The road to discovery seems very promising, almost magical,” I said.

I sat at a glitzy hotel with him, wondering whether it would work. If I move into his abode, would the tea kettle sing a song like it did in the Beauty and the Beast? Would the broom dance?

Maybe, maybe not, and living in the modern middle class society, I knew of many a successful semi-arranged marriages that worked so well. The success rate was high, the divorce rate low.

Will I fall in love with him?

Is that putting the cart before the horse, promising to marry first and falling in love after?

Will this gamble work?

“In Las Vegas, the gamble seems to be working pretty well. Maybe it’ll work with us too”

I found myself cracking a joke, and that was a good sign.

Yes, that is a modern day Beauty and the Beast; Beauty meets him through family or friends, across a trolley, coffee table, at a café or a hookah bar. If they hit it off the first time, they meet a few more times and decide to get married and love follows.

Simply speaking, getting to know someone who may appear to be somewhat similar yet different is usually fun, and if we add good chemistry to the mix, it may just be the recipe for a successful match.

Mystery makes for an adventurous beginning and can easily develop from friendship to a deep passionate love. I once heard a sage say,

“When someone suggests milnay may kaya harj hai (there is no harm in meeting), there is much wisdom in it; you never know who you might discover across the trolley in your drawing room, a casual cup of tea at a coffee house or an informal meet arranged at a friend’s place.”

Falling in love is easy but staying in love is the hard part; after the first rendezvous, one usually knows if the blind date/arranged setup is a success. The few following meetings are ample indication whether the deal is set to seal. And then arrives the fairy tale wedding and the sweet charm of discovery begins.

Many a passionate love stories are based on that one chance meeting, many a romantic poetry written is after that one glance at the beloved, many a fairy tales from the East and the West are love stories that take place after marriage. The physical bond in the poetic sense and the real sense is a beautiful thing to share with that one person, and culturally and religiously, most enter the sanctity of marriage pristine; that coupled with compatibility creates a promise of attachment and for many it develops into deep love.

We watch movies like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, it leaves us with a warm fuzzy feeling, we root for the nerdy professor, and we cheer him on. Why? Sweetness of temper, an amiable disposition, decency, likability; it has the audience and the heroine falling in love with the main man.

We must ponder on a simple question – do marriages that spring from romantic love and arranged marriages arrive at the same destination but from different paths? If the arranged set up is with a compatible partner how different is the opportunity for love and happiness from the wedded bliss of a romantic love union?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions; lucky are those who find love, luckier are those who find love in a marriage, and luckiest are the ones who can write their own Beauty and the Beast, and live happily ever after.

Have you ever been on a blind date, how was it? Write to [email protected] and share your experience with us!

Would you be willing to go on a blind date?

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Bisma Tirmizi

Bisma Tirmizi

The author lives for the simple pleasures and her musings over a cup of tea almost always find a way to be the written word. She also writes for pakteahouse.net.

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

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Well you summed it all up in one word. A Gamble.Recommend

  • Abuzar Jamil

    Now a days the amount of beast in the beauty is threatening.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Being a hopless ( and harmless) romantic at heart , I would echo ” Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all ” . Just go for it man . If your intentions are genuine , then its bound to click some day with some one .Recommend

  • نائلہ

    The key to any successful relationship is RESPECT, whether it be a romantic one or otherwise. In my opinion, love (solely by itself) isn’t strong enough to hold up a long term relationship- minus a parent-child one. Other attributes like trust, communication and respect play such a big part.

    An arranged marriage should be with someone who first and foremost respects you. If he/she cannot respect you, they cannot love you. Simple as that. Women, heaps of them, kid themselves into thinking “I will change him” and what not. But the reality is, one needs to marry a MAN not a BOY. And a man will not need to be changed! If you respect each other, you two could have nothing in common but by living together, you learn to appreciate the differences.

    The thing with romantic love is that you cant be sure if it is real unless it is proven and most of the time (in bad cases) the victim is oblivious to the fact that he or she is being used. If he loves you, he will honour the relationship by marrying you and if he cant do that, he isnt worth it.

    But then again attraction is also a very important facet of a relationship and thus influences one to completely disregard the potential of having an arranged marriage. I really liked your drawing room story btw, which just further elaborates on how much of a role initial attraction plays in our perception of someone.

    So in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with arranged or love marriages, only their requirements for working out are different. For the former, you need to think with an open mind without any prejudices and make sure the other is atleast content with this decision of the families and for the latter you need to evaluate your choice without bias.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Marriage is a lot of hard work, much give and take, something both must understand. You can be as picky, choosy as you want but in fact, as MDM says ‘ its a gamble ‘ but one worth taking ……… and years later one realises how very worth it, it all was.Recommend

  • Agrippa – The Skeptic

    The key factor in a successful marriage: mutual respect. And, the desire to make the marriage work. Marriage essentially is like a cup of tea – it’s how strong you want to make it. Out of personal experience in a 32 year old inter-continental marriage.Recommend

  • Asad

    Poll taken before reading this article would tell different story.Recommend

  • umair

    What a wonderful read this was.Recommend

  • Feya

    “Sweetness of temper, an amiable disposition, decency, likability; it has the audience and the heroine falling in love with the main man.”
    ..but she didn’t fall in love with the main man.
    This is such a pathetic article (does it even count as one?). Whilst I have nothing against such marriages, the cheesy way you spelt out something so basic is cringe worthy.
    This opening 2 paragraphs were nothing more than neatly crafted little diatribes – let’s refer to them as ‘stories’ – to back-up your personal preferences. Someone who believed otherwise could have easily reversed that tale – honestly, a stereotypical spun up fable being all it was.
    Again, marriage can work both ways. Love and attraction isn’t all that a successful marriage is built upon.
    So long for giving two sides of the story..Recommend

  • umair

    Sorry since Im an engineer I cant agree with this :DRecommend

  • Feya

    The opening*Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Whether you agree or not , its totally up to you. Whats your being an engineer got to do with this anyways ?Recommend

  • Arsha

    For a relationship to remain healthy and positive a certain level of maturity is a pre-requisite. Unfortunately in our socieities the lack of exposure leads too often to miscategorization of infatuation or lust as love. Our versions of love marriages are not very different from the gamble of arranged albeit with a little more due diligence. In both cases there is usually too much pressure to sprint to the altar. To consider the author as nearing expiry date at 26 is ridiculous in itself. It would be so much better for men and women to have experienced some love, some heartbreak, some passion before finally choosing the one person to commit to for the entire life.Recommend