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An Arranged Love Marriage

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November 2003
An Arranged Love Marriage

A chance encounter followed by long-distance courting, results in an ?arranged-love' marriage. Asha (Pillai) Menon's experience is inspiring for those who are uncomfortable with either mode.

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Ours was an arranged love marriage, across a cultural divide. My husband, Ramesh Menon, a Hindu from Cochin, Kerala, grew up in Mumbai. I, on the other hand, am American-born (Glasgow, KY), with an Indian father and a Caucasian mother, raised as an American in every sense, though with many Indian influences from my father, grandparents and my visits back home.

I first ?met' Ramesh in a most unusual way. One day I called a friend in California and began chatting away when I suddenly realized I was talking to a complete stranger ? Ramesh! I apologized, feeling ridiculous, but he was sweet, and completely reassuring. I had no idea that one mistaken phone call would change my life forever.

A week later I received an email from him. Little did I know that he had heard a lot about me from our mutual friend, and was intrigued by our similar interests. Initially I was reluctant to reply, but feeling no harm could come of it, I wrote back. So began our email correspondence. At first it seemed like he was just a long distance friend.

This continued until Ramesh's father passed away suddenly. We decided to talk directly, and the moment I heard Ramesh's voice I knew I was speaking to someone special. It seemed crazy, but after an emotional two hour conversation, I told my parents that I believed I had just spoken to the man I would marry. They were shocked! Each in their own way had words of caution; mother emphasizing getting to know him better and father advising me to slow down. Then, in a matter of fact way, father asked if I was serious and when would Ramesh or his parents be contacting him with the family details. I didn't know what to say... family details?

We continued speaking over the phone. Then in an email I casually mentioned about my father wanting "details", whatever that meant. To my surprise, Ramesh seemed happy. Things soon gathered momentum. My father spoke to Ramesh, family details were exchanged and there appeared to be some very serious research as horoscopes were analyzed. I didn't know what to think -- the approach seemed so foreign.

Yet I slowly began to understand and appreciate it. I began to see how nice it was to have your family involved; how secure I felt in the idea that marriage is not just a bond between two individuals but of two families. Then news came that Ramesh's family had received an A+ and that they were actually distantly related to us through marriage and a common ancestor, a commonality that seemed very important. In the meantime we continued to develop our close friendship and left our parents do as they saw fit.

It was planned that Ramesh would fly to Atlanta to meet me. I waited in the terminal for what seemed like an eternity. Someone asked who I was waiting for ? it must have been apparent how nervous I was. I told the man, who was waiting to greet his wife and children, that I was waiting for my future husband and that it was to be our first meeting!

Finally Ramesh emerged, practically the last passenger on board. When I laid eyes on him it confirmed everything I had felt. Coupled with the knowledge of what was taking place between our families it left me speechless. I have no idea exactly what I said in the moments that followed.

I glanced over at the man I had been speaking to. He was hugging his wife and children and gave me a big smile.

Ramesh spent a week in Atlanta and we instantaneously picked up from our phone calls and emails. We went on day long dates and discussed all sorts of topics. It was as if I had known him my entire life. At the end of the week, we were both confident that we wanted to move forward so Ramesh returned to San Francisco and a few weeks later he moved to Atlanta. A date for our marriage was soon fixed. Naturally the temple had been consulted to ensure it was an auspicious date.

Our experience was indeed surprising. I know Ramesh hadn't anticipated marrying an "American mix" just as I hadn't thought I would find so much happiness in an ?arranged' marriage. I know arranged marriages differ and that ours is more of what is called a ?love-arranged' marriage. Whatever you name it, I wouldn't trade finding my true love and having some of the Indian traditions involved for anything in the world. Ramesh and I have been and continue to be simply blessed. n

[Asha and Ramesh Menon are currently living in Stockbridge, Georgia, and have happily celebrated their 2nd wedding anniversary. Asha works at the American Cancer Society's Behavioral Research Center in Atlanta and Ramesh is a lead IT Analyst for Ikon Office Solutions Capital in Macon.]


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