There is something to be said for "seeing sessions" . As a prerequisite for arranged marriages.
About 30-35 years ago, when families heard about the impending arrival of some one's son from a wonderful job , be it overseas, or even in another Indian city, several wheels within wheels would start moving as far as parents of eligible girls were concerned. Cousins abroad were contacted, old classmates were pressed into service, family connections were explored, and everything possible was done, to find out the antecedents of the boy.
Boys parents would typically receive formal "letters of possible intention of matrimony" with photographs of the girl, highlighting how simply wonderful she was. These letters were perused, analysed, checked for veracity by various means, and the parents of the boy would normally reply.
If the boy was yet to arrive, the thing to do was to ask for the girls horoscope. Some smart parents of girls would also ask for the horoscope of the boy. Which was, interestingly not always given, as a prerogative and proof of the slightly higher societal level attributed to the boys side.
While some communities treat the horoscope, as the final decision maker, particularly in the South, it was actually used in these cases, for avoiding an undesired match.
I have known folks who maintained an actual file of such letters, complete with inward date and number, photograph, sundry details , special notable facts, education, skills, and of course , overall comments from the boy and his family. If the initial reaction was not favourable, the easy way out was to send a very nice letter praising the girl, but regretting greatly, that the horoscopes did not match. This method ensured that the concerned photos and horoscopes went back to the correct party.
Subsequent to the boys arrival, there would be several tea meetings, perhaps a few with the boy and girl getting to spend some time together, often with a little brother, as a bored chaperon.
The reason I mention this is to indicate the various checks and balances that happen in organizing an arranged marriage, where families are checked out, fellows /girls are investigated and so on.
Papers today are full of the Sania Mirza-Shoaib Mallik marriage stories, which get more and more complicated day by day.
The man seems to illogically swing between 2 extremes.
He at first follows a system where he has a relationship from Pakistan to Hyderabad(India) via post and photographs . When he speaks to who he thinks is the girl, it is actually someone else. But he doesn't know that. Neither does he suspect anything when time and again, on his visits to Hyderabad (to meet her), she is away, in hospital, out of the country and so on. When he supposedly goes for his own marriage, the captain of the Pakistan cricket team accompanies him in the car in Hyderabad. Now he says he was tricked, he got married over the telephone, and is being troubled by the girl's family. (The girl's family confirms they were married, and strangely, Shoaib Mallik refuses to continue the marriage because the girl has put on weight, and this embarrasses him!) .
Did he ever hear of video phones, conference calls, video conferencing, webcams and the like ?
Cut to 2009-2010, and he has a modern romance across Australia and Dubai, with Sania Mirza, and announces his impending marriage to her . There is news about apartments in Dubai, expenses in millions, five star receptions, and Page 3 guests.
Inexplicably, Mallik lands up in Hyderabad. And they slap a case on him for cheating. It is terribly unclear as to who is cheating who. He could have stayed in Dubai, and got married there to Sania, since that was to be their home anyway. His religion allows him 4 wives.
So why did Sania Mirza's family not check out his antecedents ? His matrimonial history as such? Something they would have scrupulously observed had this been an arranged match. There are video clips from a few years ago, where he is shown accepting some cricket award after a match saying it was more wonderful as it was his wife's city.
There are questions about telephone marriages, Net marriages. Not valid in Pakistan, but possibly allowed by the Indian Muslim Law Board. How do you decide whose rules apply, when one party is in Pakistan, and the other in India ?
Maybe we will now have Orkut marriages, Facebook marriages, and Twitter marriages. There is also suddenly a question , about why all the fuss, since Mallick's religion allows him 4 wives, simultaneously. If his presumed first wife is asking for a divorce, which is actually 3 words pronounced by him within certain boundary conditions, why doesn't he just give it and become free and unencumbered, as he gets ready to marry Sania ?
All this has the makings of an interesting Hindi movie, maybe even a suspense movie.
Maybe he should have just done it the old way, his parents sending letters to Sania's parents, with a proper proposal. A lot of muck that's being thrown around today would have dissolved under the family scrutiny procedures on both sides.
I suppose they don't have horoscopes. And all those letters from parents and the replies would make for excellent documentation in such a case.
The only thing is, the guy has been banned from cricket for a year. So he has lots of time to sit and sort out this very troublesome issue.
Maybe there was something to the arranged marriages of old, after all......