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October 26, 2007

I Married a Total Stranger

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After a few weeks, I learned that I'd married a "jetrosexual." He had an exhausting travel schedule (four cities in four days). I joined the ranks of corporate wives who saw every show, opera, and ballet in town, just to fill the hours.

To make friends, I joined a gym, went to the library, and took Italian classes. I discovered that having an arranged marriage was a great icebreaker, and my social circle mushroomed each time I retold my story.

As peers in India opted for motherhood and worked on post-baby waistlines, I took Spinning and pole dancing at the gym to work off exotic dinners of sweetbreads, foie gras, chocolate mousse. After reading about America's obsession with Venti decaf skim mochas, I went to try one — but came back instead with a spiced chai latte. Amazingly, Starbucks was providing my childhood drink on every corner.

Marriage, I soon learned, wasn't easy — especially to a modern man. My husband had acquired a mistress, and her name was BlackBerry. She had the power to stop discussions midsentence, her red signal lighting up his face in the way I only dreamed of doing.

With his work schedule and my burgeoning social calendar, our love story unfolded on fluorescent Post-its stuck to the fridge: "Water plants." "Out of toothpaste." "Make baby tonight." Nothing, it seemed, was left to chance.

Slowly, I was getting to know my husband, even starting to fall in love with him. Though we were from the same ethnic background and had a similar upbringing, he had spent his impressionable years in America. He liked baseball, oatmeal, tofu, and bran muffins. I followed cricket and thought of oats and bran as the stuff we fed horses. I had no idea how to do laundry in machines. On my first attempt, I shrank his favorite Burberry sweater. Luckily, he didn't expect me to conform to the traditional roles within a marriage. Even so, he had always wanted an arranged marriage because he felt it would be easier for him to share a life with someone who understood his upbringing and culture.

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