Till about two years ago, IT company project manager Shreya Bhalla maintained an Excel database she would update every night — sometimes, till 3 am. Was she trying to meet office deadlines? Not quite. Shreya was working on Excel sheets with details of potential grooms she had met on matrimonial sites.
But when she turned 30 and still hadn’t found anyone, she stopped that exercise. Shreya thinks it’s her high salary that put off many.
“My profile clearly specified that only men who earn at least as much as me — Rs 10 lakh and more — should contact me,” she says.
But instead of prospective husbands, she found herself flooded with abusive messages. “You have such proud (sic), just coz u have Lakshmi ki kripa.” Infuriated, she shot back: “Yes, I am blessed with Lakshmi ki kripa, but you aren’t even blessed with Saraswati ki kripa — you can’t even write proper English.”
Then, there was someone who read the bit on her profile that mentioned her grandparents hailed from pre-partition Pakistan. He responded: “You Pakis! Just go back to your country!”
But the years that she logged on to find love after logging out of office, Shreya had a busy, if not satisfying, dating life. It had become ‘one potential groom a day’. Some men had a peculiar demand on the first date: ‘To test the chemistry’. Some took it even further. “Some guys tried to grab my hand in the first meeting and bombarded me with lewd SMSes. When I didn’t respond, they spammed me on Orkut and Facebook.”
Boys too, are harassed on matrimonial sites, found Shreya, after she got a call from an “interesting NRI” in the US she had met online. “He said, ‘I wanted to make sure you are indeed a girl. Gays posed as girls on shaadi.com have troubled me earlier.’” Things didn’t work out with the gay-stalked NRI either.
Instead, as she neared 30, Shreya found herself becoming a ‘freeloader magnet’, with younger men earning below Rs 1 lakh a year suddenly inundating her mailbox.
Shreya’s friend Malika, a 32 year-old project manager in an internet company, hasn’t had much luck either, despite being on shaadi.com for 4 years. Every day, she scours hundreds of profiles to get to potential grooms who are MBAs from the IIMs. The last time she shifted her focus to a ‘nice middle-class engineer’, she got a rude shock.
“I had uploaded three photos, and I look fairer in one of them. The guy went completely ballistic. He insisted that I had Photoshopped my picture and was duping him.”
Malika was finally forced to see a psychotherapist after a disastrous near-engagement with a US-settled MBA, who wanted a virgin bride. “We had decided to get married once he was back. But when we met, he changed his mind.” Then came the old chestnut: “He suggested we have a physical relationship since we had ‘great chemistry’.”
So what keeps her going? The fact that a male friend — incidentally, they met on shaadi.com — tells her that one day while checking her profile at 3 am, she will click with someone perfect.