Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
The Case for Arranged Marriage
Monday, April 07, 2014 - 10:00 AM
Here's my arranged marriage story...
Years ago, I was told to scope out a prospective bride. Not for myself; I was actually the scout. One day, I got a call from my dad, saying that my cousin, who lives in India, had a prospective "alliance." She lived in New Jersey, and as the only member of my entire extended family within driving distance, I had to head out to her family’s house, to check her out.
So I left my place in Williamsburg one evening and made the trek. Her family warmly welcomed me into their home and we sat down to a nice dinner. About an hour into my visit, I realized the potential bride had barely said a thing. She seemed to sort of hover in the background, brooding.
Then dinner was over, and her dad wanted to get down to business. Clearly, however, he had to get something out of the way. He first said all the obvious things about his daughter -- how she was a nice person, a smart girl, a good cook.
“But she has one problem,” he said. “Her one toe is shorter than the rest.”
And then, in a lowered, somewhat desperate voice, he said, “Would you like to see?”
For a brief moment, I weighed this tantalizing offer. I knew I’d never again have a chance like this, to motion somewhat imperiously at the unwed girl, as if to say, “Take your shoe off. Let’s see the toe.”
Seriously, how short could it be?
Naturally, I declined his offer, but I did go back and report everything I had seen — and not seen — to my family. But they’d already heard from her family: that she wasn’t really interested in the alliance. And as it turned out, my cousin wasn’t either. He would, in fact, turn down all potential alliances, before becoming self-realized and developing an international reputation as a Man of God.
Arranged marriage: listen in to see if you think there's a case to be made for it.