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Sunday, July 13, 2008

The magic of mail order marriages

Being an ignorant creature, I had always associated the Hainan province of China only with Hainanese Chicken Rice, one of the cheapest sources of calories for people in Singapore. And till I went window shopping in a local mall, little did I know of the excellent qualities of Hainanese ladies. The marriage agencies in the mall spelt out the qualities that make the Hainanese ladies so special. Soft-spoken, gentle, petite with delicate bone structure, these ladies value the groom’s traditions more than their own and also value old age for men as a sign of their maturity. And by deduction, they should be able to prepare the ever so popular Hainanese chicken rice as well, daily. And if one doesn’t prefer the idea of having Hainanese chicken rice every night, the same excellent qualities can be found in Vietnamese and Cambodian women as well, categories equally popular in the mail order marriage industry.

Mail order marriages are highly progressive in one aspect; they help reduce global economic disparities. And the marriage agencies are lined with collages of pictures of couples who have gone through the process, each as happy as pampered pandas in a conservatory. No wonder this inspires jealousy and the practice of mail order marriages is considered with contempt by average families who are still content with the seeming happiness, unaware of the constipated compromises they made for it.

The entire process of finding a mail order bride typically takes three to four months and involves eight to ten thousand dollars, of which a part is given to the bride’s family, rest going to the agency. The agencies organize for video chats between the parties as well as trips to Hainan or Vietnam for the prospective groom during which the couple can engage in “interesting and interactive” activities to test their compatibility; not very different from how most marriages are arranged in say India, only exception being the money flow in India is from the bride’s side to the groom’s side.

As such, the mail order marriage process is not very different from any other marriage, except that a paid intermediary is involved. After all, the basic qualities sought by potential partners don’t really defer from other types of marriage. And though the men seeking mail order brides are parodied as fat, balding, old bachelors with bloated purses, that is the natural state even for most old married man with bloated purses. After all, the law of entropy has been proven.

All the same, the prospective grooms do deserve a moment of sympathy. After all, they have to face the uncertainty of dealing with the segment seen by many as VISA hunters or citizenship poachers. And last year, authorities in Singapore forbade marriage agencies to place advertisements claiming things like “assured availability of ladies certified and guaranteed by doctors to be virgins”. Imagine life for a man looking for marriage without such immensely comforting reassurances.

And then, one must also spare a thought for these Hainanese ladies embarking on their own Long March and these Vietnamese ladies following their own Ho Chi Minh Trail in search for a rosier future. After all, just imagine the prospect of remaining soft-spoken, gentle and petite for the rest of your life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In other words, it's just the natural male order of things ;)