Arguing my way to get arranged married<
In India, astrologers and religious pundits seem to be controlling everything; right from results of elections to gender of the unborn babies to success in love, business and marriages. At times you'd feel these people are holding the entire universe in balance and any anomaly, any wrong step on part of us ordinary ignorant beings could be fatal. The pundits attend the divine duty of showing us the correct path.

I remember that after the unfortunate assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May of 1991, there were public mourning, genuine sadness and feeling of depression in common masses and there were also wide and detailed discussions where prophecies by most revered seers of the land were brought to test.

Someone from some city in the Indian state of Punjab who possesses the sacred book of prophecies written by some rishi some zillion years ago had prophesied a few months ago that Rajiv Gandhi would be next Prime minister of India and would reign for next many terms. Then there was this seer in a remote village in the Indian state of Orissa who could tell future of people by looking at their photographs who had predicted that Rajiv Gandhi would live till he is 80 or something.

The biggest shock of the moment, it seemed, in Chartered buses plying to offices in the mornings was not the gruesome manner of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination; nor the reasons and results associated with it but the failing of prophecies (okay yeah - I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea all right). There were soon a lot of explanations posted by a lot of pundits detailing what went wrong where in the stars and planets and why there was no need to worry; the practice still works fine. Everyone was relieved to learn that.

Another moment that comes to mind was rather close to my life. My brother and sister-in-law were expecting their first child and my father very fondly took up the task of choosing the name for the kid. "How about someFunnyName?", he asked me on phone once when I was calling home.

"I don't know, it's a very strange sounding name for sure if that's what your plan is", I said. "What does it mean anyway?"

"You and your brother are both a shame on our culture. Didn't you read Ramayana ever? This is the name of the doctor who cured Laxman when he got injured in the war", my father replied.

"Well I watched the TV series but obviously didn't catch all the names; anyway, it's a fantastic name for a 75 year old but a terrible name for a kid. What else did you come up with?"

"Moksha is another option. I don't see anything wrong with Moksha." my father said with now audible irritation.

"Hmmm, it's a good name if we want this kid to not be able to pronounce his name till he is 20 years old"

"You are turning into a very disrespectful son. I think it is America doing this to you. You're so smart, let's see you come up with a name for him".

"Okay, I'll do it. But also, why are you looking for all boy names? We don't even know the gender of the kid. What if it's a girl?" I asked.

"No it is going to be a boy, we asked Pundit Vishnu Sharma last week. He saw your brother's birth chart and calculated that his first child would be a boy", my father said with a confidence that made me shake.

"Pundit Vishnu Sharma?" I asked, "What does he know about unborn babies?"

"Stop this argument right away", my father quipped, "Vishnu is a very fine astrologer. Our forefathers consulted his forefathers back in time for all auspicious activities and they were never wrong..."

Well, with time, the child was born, and it was a boy. First thing my father said to me after this, when we were talking on the phone was "He he - so what do you think of Vishnu now my American son?"

I was very happy for my brother and anyway, arguing with my father has never achieved anything for me ever, so I took it in good humor and soon forgot about it. Little did I know that my father's increased confidence in Vishnu was going to turn into a big mistake in future for me.

As I said, marriages, like everything else in India, are also controlled by the calculations of the pundits. The final decision about cementing the relation between Suneeta, my probable future wife, and myself had to come from Pundit Vishnu Sharma after he went through our birth charts and decided if we were good for each other or not.

"No one in the West does this amma", I protested to my mother when she told me she's going to ask Pundit Vishnu about this relation today. "Let's just get the engagement ceremonies done and then I'll check my official leave status once I'm back in US; accordingly we can set the marriage date. Is that not a good idea?"

"Stop talking about West; you are too impressed by it, don't forget you were born and raised here and you've lived 24 years of you life in this country; and is there any successful marriage at all in west? Everyone gets divorced sooner or later. No one in our family or families of our neighbors has ever got divorced. Do you ever wonder why? It's because of birth chart comparisons. There'll be no compromise on this", she said and walked out of the home towards the nearby Shiva temple with my and Suneeta's birth chart.

I knew this spells trouble right then. If the recent history was any teacher, Vishnu was going to drop a bombshell today for sure. Maybe I started for home at some inauspicious moment; 'rahu kalam' maybe; or 'disha shool'. How I wish there were good astrologers in bay area that I could consult before planning my trips ... WHOA!! Infinite horrors flash before my eyes soon after this thought - what am I thinking - sheesh. I guess they are right when they say we all turn into people our parents were sooner or later.

>Some days are meant for Gods

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