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Deranged ‘Arranged’ Love

Deranged ‘Arranged’ Love

7pm, Delhi, India. Conversation between Mother of ‘Marriageable’ Son and Father of ‘Marriageable’ Daughter: “So… your daughter is beautiful?” “Errr….yes, she is beautiful.” “How beautiful?” “Errr….what??” “I mean, beautiful or very beautiful?” “Errr…I haven’t thought about that really, she is pretty beautiful.” “Oh but is she very beautiful? You see, our son is very handsome!”

Father of ‘Marriageable’ Daughter muttering to self: “Why couldn’t she just fall in love and marry against our wishes!”

Meanwhile, two houses away, father of another marriageable daughter is asking mother of another marriageable son exactly what his current salary is and exactly what his future financial prospects are!

The world of Arranged Marriage

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the world of arranged love. If you are looking for a soul mate, go no further, we have one…in fact thousands for you! Just sign up to the arranged marriage mart and get your parents crackin’ (yes you heard it right, parents please; who do you think will negotiate beauty and financial prospects?)

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The age old tradition of arranged marriage has been followed since 200 BC in India (yeah that old!). Families decide a suitable match, boy and girl meet briefly and the ‘happily ever after’ is fixed.  As times have changed people have modernized in all aspects of life, but, this system remains very much relevant. Of course people can and do find their own partners, but they are a minority. Even today, 7 out of 10 Indian marriages are arranged. Just log onto any matrimonial website (designed specifically for arranged marriages) and you will see multiple descriptions of the ‘perfect partner’

“Beautiful and slim, ambitious yet homely, modern yet traditional, fitness freak yet foodie, loves to travel, loves to cook, loves to dance, loves to read and of course a great sense of humor. Employed in a job which is high paying but not too high paying, with hours that are not too long but not too short and enough travel that makes her well travelled but not too well travelled. Hails from a cultured family with liberal values but traditional outlook.”

While the description might conjure the image of a 10 headed, 50 armed wonder woman, this is just a regular custom made ‘Marriage Material Indian Girl’ for the Confused Indian Boy. He wants a wife who can drink beer with his friends while also making regular religious trips to the temple with his mother. A wife who can have an intelligent intellectual conversation with him but go demurely quiet in front of his family’s elders.

No no no, this is not another male bashing session on women’s emancipation. For every girl trying to figure out what the hell is ‘liberal values but traditional outlook’, there is a boy dealing with the Confused Indian Girl who is independent and seeks equal partnership (A.K.A I ain’t doing your laundry buddy!), but just the same wants a man who pays for dinner, drives her home and never ever needs her money (A.K.A you better be paying for the maid doing our laundry buddy!)

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Arranged Marriages are changing

Gone are the days where needs were simple. Pretty girl who does household chores + Decent boy who earns well + One Meeting = ‘Happy Arranged Marriage’ to you. (Well, thank god those days are gone or I would be compelled to commit suicide!)

At the same time we have not exactly entered the era of ‘society who that’ where marriage itself is optional and sometimes an obsolete concept.

Caught in the midst of an evolving society are a hoard of ‘Marriageables’. We have flown out of our nests and experienced a global way of life, at the same time the conditioning of early years and family bonds stay strong. This results in a happy array of choices in certain aspects of life – chicken curry one day, fillet mignon the next. Religious pilgrimage with family, Thailand with friends. A rainbow life indeed!

But what do you do when it comes to arranged marriage? Years are spent looking for love, but a few break ups and many tears later if you are still single, BOOM, it hits you right between your eyes – time is up!

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The realization dawns either with the help of a nagging mother or by friends’ wedding pictures splashed across Facebook (which ideally should be illegal, just saying!). The decreasing supply of single friends and the increasing blood pressure of parents ultimately leads you down the alien path of ‘arranged marriage’ which sticks out like a sore thumb in our no compromise rainbow lives.

It doesn’t have to be perfect

It goes against all our evolved belief systems – people who pride themselves on making independent career choices have to now enter a parent dependent process, there is no ‘falling in love’, no heartfelt romance, only practical calculations.

The idea of making a choice itself is difficult because we want everything – we want our chicken curry and we want our fillet mignon, we want a partner we can connect with and we want a partner our parents can connect with. We want independence and space but also want the security of boundaries. We are caught in rationalizing everything. If he doesn’t drink he is boring, if he drinks too much he is unstable. If she doesn’t work she is not an intellectual match, if she works too much she will never have time for family. The magic balance eludes us, not to mention this is the most life defining choice you will ever make, no pressure!

As I grapple with the conundrum, I can’t help but feel that we need to stop looking for ‘Mr./Ms. Right’ who fits accurately into our carefully planned lives. There is no ‘all-in-one’ someone that will appear one day like a super saver all flavor combo pack of biscuits. There is no one soulmate made for you who will guarantee a happily ever after. It’s about finding a person who ‘feels somewhat right’ and building a life together. No guarantees, brace up!

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So of course a lot of your plans will go to hell, of course she will fight with your mom, of course he will need your financial support and of course you will attempt to pull out your hair every once in a while (or every day).

The beauty is in telling yourself ‘That’s OK’. It’s OK if your partner is not your perfect fit  ‘soul mate’ on your wedding day, you will get there one day and the ride would have been worth it!

Featured photo credit: Eudaimonia Recovery Homes Blog via google.co.in

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

More About Self-Learning

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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