Orkut Profile Exchange Meets

A few months back, I saw a banner outside the Besant Nagar Fruit-of-Knowledge-Stealer Temple. It read “Besant Nagar Brahmin Association Annual Horoscope Exchange Meet“. For a short while I wondered if it was like philately, Jaadagately perhaps. But realizing that dot-matrix printouts of planetary positions cannot possibly be collector-items, the meet, therefore, must be for other purposes. A relative informed me that it was like a stock exchange for arranged marriages. I asked if they hold horoscopes above their head and shout themselves hoarse till a bell rings in the evening. After a thoughtful pause, I was told “No. It’s not quite like that”.

But arranged marriage is not just about elderly men exchanging horoscopes at meets conducted at temples and presided over by the BNBA. While men continue to wallow in an imaginary, disused swimming pool of male domination, the real action happens behind the scenes and is run by the oldest social network in India – The Maami Network. These resourceful ladies have been twittering from kitchen window to kitchen window before Twitter. They were scrapping and walling at weddings and other social functions well before Orkut and Facebook. Their RSS feeds of up-to-date family information interspersed with occasional tidbits of gossip, have fixed more marriages than any horoscope exchange meet ever has.

But things are changing a bit and their traditional information gathering, syndication and advanced algorithmic pattern matching and pair-finding role is under a bit of a threat. Pairs are increasingly finding each other without the need for traditional ponpaarthification (Guycheckoutifcation, for the Tamil challenged). But as always, Homo Sapiens Maamiens is a resilient species. While the men go around wearing Old Navy shorts and New Balance sneakers on Besant Nagar beach, sulking about the younger generation’s wanting to know each other before getting married, and how, in their times, they only saw the girl for the first time at the wedding, the women, in the meanwhile, have moved on.

A conversation between 2 maamis, a couple of years ago, might have sounded like this

M1: Hello maami. Howareyoufineaa?

M2: Edho maami. Going on. Yesterday Chitthi episode saw-aa?

M1: No maami. Was busy packing Maavadu for younger son. He is leaving for Berkeley today.

M2: Oh. Visa has come-aa? Anyway, serials can wait. So what do you think of M3’s daughter?

M1: Oh. She has cut her hair, you know.

M2: Oh. Haircut-aa? Today’s girls, too much ba. But they say it’s convenient, and I am ok with some of these new things. Nowadays they (girls) have so much freedom. One can’t give them freedom and then suddenly take it away, you know.

M1: Unlike us.

M2: Adhu seri vidungo (That and all, leave matter no). M4 was mentioning that M5 was looking out for her son. So I wanted to find out if M3’s daughter was suitable.

M1: Oho. She went to Anna Univ, Guindy, I heard.

M2: Oh. Adhukku lots of marks required no?

M1: Yes yes. Ponnu (Girl) romba (very) brainy.

M2: Good good. But payyan went to some shady engineering college outside the city. So what do you think maami? Ego problems varumo?

M1: Yes. Very possible. When I was at Sundari Silks the other day, I saw her, wearing jeans and T-shirt and hair totally viricchufied (left untied), with a group of girls. She looks like a bold one. And M6 told me that she saw this girl at the Konica photo studio near Landmark. The only reason people go to that studio is to take US visa photographs. So this girl must be having higher studies plans.

M2: Hmm. Appo sari varaadhu. Engyaavadhu divorce-givorce la poi nikkum. (This will not work out. It will go and stand at divorce and givorce). Ok. I will relay the information to M4.

And thus, M1 and M2 successfully prevent a mismatched wedding. But 2 years from now, I strongly suspect that the following conversation, presented below, is quite possible. I am already seeing signs of this here and there.

M1: What maami, no twitter updates for a while. Busy-aa?

M2: Illai maami, Was busy packing Maavadu for younger son. He is leaving for Berkeley today.

M1: By the way, M5’s Facebook mini-feed tells me that she is searching for an alliance for her son. What do you think of M3’s daughter?

M2: Let’s find out, shall we? (Opens Apple MacBook Pro, presented by her daughter working for McKinsey in Boston). What’s her name? M3’s daughter?

M1: I think “S$%#^#a” or something.

M2: (Does an Orkut search. 1000s of results). Which college did she go to? That will help us filter these results

M1: Anna University, Guindy.

M2: (adds “Anna” and “Guindy” to search field and filters results down to about 20 or so). Hmm. What is M3’s aatthukkaarar’s (House Man) name?

M1: Sivaramakrishnan, I think.

M2: (filters for “Sivaram”). There she is. (On S$%#^#a’s orkut profile page). Hmm. No photos. Good, sensible girl. It’s very unsafe for girls to put photos on Orkut, theriyuma (You know-aa) maami?

M1: Oh. Appidiya (like that-aa). Who are all those boys and what language is that?

M2: Oh. Testimonials. Must be her friends writing something nice about her. And all of this is Chatspeak, a powerful new language that has only 2 rules

1. Skip letters at random, and not just for purposes of brevity – Wat u lk 2 hv for brakfst

2. Use ellipses (…) as a substitute for all forms of punctuation- I…lk….2…lsten…2…rahmn…msik

M1: Oh. Hmm. Very interesting. What else can we learn about this girl from her Orkut profile?

M2: Lots maami. Just read through all the scraps. All the testimonials. Find out what communities she is a part of. See here. She is a member of “Surya Fans”. And “My Name starts with a S and ends with an A” community. And “Jane Austen”. And the “Feminism without Borders” community.

M1: Ooh. Feminism! And her hobbies?

M2: It says her passions are “Dance, Music and John Abraham”

M1: So what do you think maami?

M2: Maami. Ponnu konjam (slightly) independent, free spirited and talented. She will find somebody on her own. M5 Payyan konjam slightly sombu character thaan (Son is having slightly empty water-holding vessel character). Ill tweet M4 and let her know. She will ping M5.

Epilogue:

A few months later, as M3’s husband is about to attend the Nanganallur Brahmin Association’s Horoscope exchange meet, she hands him a printout of their son’s Orkut profile – “YEnna (My dear husband) While you are matching horoscopes, match this also no?”

orkuthoroscope.jpg

42 Comments

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  1. Is this sumithra sivaramakrishan a total make up name?
    Ashok: Yes. Completely fictional. And Vetti payal below tells me that it’s a real person on Orkut. Oh well. I should have expected that coincidence. Have changed name to something unorkuttable

  2. Machan

    Sumithra sivaramakrishnan exists on orkut and she is one hot biker chic as well!! (Photos irukku)
    Coincidence? (She is not a surya fan but definitely a Madhavan fan)
    How vetti must someone be before he actually does this? (go an search on orkut?)
    Ashok: yabbaaa.tholla thaangamudiyala 🙂 I should have known that even fictional characters exist on Orkut

  3. //Maami. Ponnu konjam (slightly) independent, free spirited and talented. She will find somebody on her own. M5 Payyan konjam slightly sombu character thaan (Son is having slightly empty water-holding vessel character). Ill tweet M4 and let her know. She will ping M5//

    Ultimate.. hhehhe

  4. I know this maami network exists in Mumbai too and they adapt fairly quick. I was once ‘advised’ by someone to remove the photo from my orkut profile because it makes me look uneligible. At another wedding one aunty told me ‘you’ll find XYZ interesting, just orkut her’ …LOL

    so orkut is a verb too, apart frm bein a noun. Then there are some people who keep ‘scrapping’ on Orkut. I call them Orkutesh – an adjective 🙂 … n i m vry bd at ths cht-spek, hv 2 imprv

  5. maamis on orkut? nambave mudeyala…

    uta orkut-leiay kalyanatha mudechiruvaaga…
    reminds me of a samsung monitor print-ad a few years back. it had two monitors and a caption that said ‘let’s cybersex darling’. /me-thinks first night-iku adu thaan caption-a irukumo

  6. nee thangam pa…..

    well in the yooo yess af yaa, orkut jadagams are very imp. At every conference i attend or if i go to another univ i look up the names of attendees or hottest ppl in the univ community. It also helps wen all these ppl come frm india as we pick them up frm teh airport.

    Too much to type in too little a box. Pardon me for generating traffic saar, but here is my take.

  7. M1: Maami, andha KrishAshok pullaiyandan blog post paathelo? Edho ponnu pera vechi oru post pottana? Andha ponnu nejamavey irrukaalam namma Orkut la.

    M2: Idhu ennadi ma, koothu?

    M1: Adha yen kekkarel maami. Idhula enna kaamedy paarungo. Yaaro poi andha ponnukitta indha post a pathi vera sollirukkanga!

    M2: Orey thamaasu dhaan di!

  8. hehe,too funny to read,sirricchi-sirricchi vayur valikarudu.romba nalla irukku indha post.mamis are always hot topics,sell like hot cakes,good work.

  9. knowing the clever maamis they will soon be looking at linkedin to gauge brightness of future.

    k a, why dont you just write a book, retire and make work an unnecessary evil. 🙂

  10. My Alwarpet maami has just stopped her son’s horoscope from being passed around to Gandhi Nagar maami because she orkutted this “ponnu” only to find her having friends by the names of James, Peter and worse, with a photo of herself in a beachfront in youyess with, siva siva, a voluptuous cleavage on display.
    My maami says, “Endha gaalathu ponnugal, romba jaasthi”. Never mind her son is shacking up with Beatrice.
    If only we had orkut in our times, we wouldn’t have cast the net wide to find love in far flung and unexpected quarters.

  11. have been closely following ur blog for a while now and hv enjoyed every post. this one made me comment. i for sure kno two maamis frm my family who are on orkut “looking out” for whos scrapping whom..!!

    way to go….

    psst. i m a friend of rekha.

  12. A few days ago when u came to office(SNR), we had a similar sort of conversation right? for resumes and career. U told that a person’s web presence makes him easily scanable.

    After u left we continued the conversation and arrived at something like what u have written here. Not only web presence could help shortlist a canditate, probably the background checking gumbaniee can check his orkut and f/b to know him better.

    We chit chat about this and finally we came down to a conclusion that we can even bg check a person before marrying him/her. (We are bachelors talking @ T kadai benj).

    Were you hiding behind the trees of that T kadai? 😀

  13. “My Name starts with a S and ends with an A” community. Sheesh.

    And it’s looks like you’ve started replying to comments Rambodoc style.

    Maami, please link to aforementioned profile.

  14. (walks in. surveys everybody with shake of the head and hands on hip)

    (looks pointedly at) Ambi Krish Ashok,

    long time since I came here. After my comment in an old post, it looks like another maami has evolved and started commenting regularly.

    We have been handling password protected horoscope, password protected girl photographs, emailing prospective mappilais through Bharath Matrimony and Taml Matrimony sites for the past 5-6 years. Ithellam engalukku puthusu illai. We even look at the likes/dislikes section of boy or girl to make a quick evaluation of theruvaana/maatana.

    You ‘future maami’ is so far behind that she actually thinks she is first.

    Maami,

    Sowkyama?

  15. yedho di ma sowkiyam. vettiya irukken. vela pannamaatengiren. ippadi blogu-keegu indha chinna kozhandaigal activity la participate pannindu naala kazhikiren.

  16. I agree with Mylapore maami that nowadays all aspects of the boys and girls are analysed by parents through orkut.
    The horoscope exchange programmes are mainly for
    1.boys/ girls who were not married for long.
    2.young widows and divorcees.
    3.physically handicapped
    4.boys and girls who leave the responsibility to their parents to find a match for them as the could not find a match themselves etc etc.
    Now the present days maamis are “Eedho Blog
    geegula pozhudha kazhikara mamis and going with the present generation maamis. Andha kaalathu mamiya irundha pozhikamudiyathu

  17. Very very funny:). My moms a part of the newtork. But sometimes, even the mami-network-juggernaut, comes to a halt. They have been trying to fix a particular cousin for the last 5 years. The surpising this is there is nothing wrond with the cousin.

    Another, related story is that of a friend who’s dad decided to drop a prospective groom after he checked the groom’s orkut page. I got my orkut page ‘mami-certified’ ;). I suggest the other do too!

  18. Ambi, Adyar maami seconds Mylapore maami that we have been net savvy way before orkut (or Tamil Matrimony for that matter) came into being ! In fact, the first thing mama’s mother and my father exchanged was our respective web pages on geocities (gasp ! THAT long back?!). Even before the Jatakam stage ! And when we found that our web pages matched to the last detail, mama and I decided to just bypass the jatakam routine.
    Today mama and I not only share our life, but a blog too !!

  19. Woah! Pooh had just scrapped me abt my name figuring somewhere here 🙂 Woah Pooh!It def looks like a coincidence 🙂

  20. This is my first visit to this blog. Fab content and lovely / lively.

    Attagaasam.. Love the way you script it and the way its translated.. Pinrael pongo…

    Wud love to be a frequent visitor from now on..

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