The future of matrimonial classifieds

I noticed something interesting the other day as I walked into the offices of
the Times of India to place a classifieds ad for some waiters for my
. As I was handing in the form to the lady at the counter, a sign
on the side caught my eye (mostly because I saw a "10% off" screaming
from it.) Unfortunately, I wasn’t carrying my digicam with me, so I’ll have to
paraphrase what the sign said.

Here’s how it essentially read: "If you place a matrimonial classifieds
ad and do not specify any religion, caste, or regional criteria, we will give
you a 10% discount on the ad. We are doing our bit for the betterment of society
and eliminating bigotry."

I was quite pleasantly surprised to see an initiative like this from an
otherwise morally bankrupt publishing group. We "educated"
middle-class and upper-middle-class Indians love to tell others that the caste
system does not have a strong grip in this country, yet we are unbelievably
hypocritical when it comes to marrying off our own sons and daughters. "We
don’t believe in the caste system, but my Sanjay can get married only to a [some
language] girl from [some caste] caste."

Speaking of matrimonial classifieds ads, I think that the growing popularity
of online wedding sites like will
mean the slow death of the print classified ads, at least in English newspapers.
They will do what the spread of cellular phones did to the pager industry (yeah,
remember pagers in India?) It won’t happen immediately, but I give it about 3
years. The print medium has severe limitations: you can’t write more than a few
lines, which have to as short and sweet as possible, giving you only enough
space to write a bunch of numbers and abbreviations. Here’s an example:
"Smart beautiful homely [caste] girl 25/157/6000 seeks [caste] qualified
well-settled boy. Contact Box no…" Now this could fit almost anyone,
giving you very little info to go on. Online, however, you don’t have any space
restrictions, and adding more fields isn’t that complicated. It also allows you
to easily build databases that can be searched on various criteria. What’s more,
it has that most important bit of information – a photo!

When I mentioned the above Times of India signboard to one of my friends, he
pointed out to me that one of the matrimonial sites, instead of leading the way,
was actually being regressive in its approach.,
that advertises heavily on many sites, has an annoying "feature"
that’s also a bug. If you want to search for a bride or groom, one of the
parameters required is "language". This isn’t a multiple choice thing;
you can only select one language. It then redirects you to one of its
language-specific sub-sites where you can search away. However, if you are
slightly more modern and don’t particularly care that your prospective partner
come from a particular state, you’re out of luck. There is absolutely no way to
specify "any" as an option or even to search through more than one
language. If you want to check out women from all over the country, you just
have to conduct 29 different searches. Isn’t that amusing?

Lastly, I must mention an interesting conversation I had about our
matrimonial ads with John Rhodes (he runs
– a usability site) who was visiting Bangalore for some business. He pointed out
some differences between personal ads in the USA and over here. He found that
the most important criteria here seemed to be the person’s caste, religion and
family, while in USA, people would put their interests and partner requirements.
He was amused to note the classifieds were divided by language. I just shrugged
my shoulders and said, "well, it will take another couple of generations to
get rid of our deep-rooted prejudices."

17 thoughts to “The future of matrimonial classifieds”

  1. IIRC the ToI has been doing this forever — IIRC putting “caste no bar” in an ad got you a 10% discount.
    Incidentally, while classifieds in papers may become less important with time, I’m reasonably confident the Times Group will not suffer — apparently matrimonial ads in their own online portal is a big revenue generator for them.

  2. Two weeks ago,someone rang up my dad telling him about an ad in the newspaper. He insisted my dad would be impressed, and my dad was. The ad was about a 29-yr-old with amazing degrees(IIT,IIM),a great job, great salary,bigger perks, and great family.Even my dad who is not easy to impress,was impressed.He thought someone with these credentials would be perfect for me.So he picked up the phone and called the number.
    Then we found out that the number was from an agency.They put up fake ads,so they’ll know about prospective brides. Then ads for these brides are put up,after pocketing a sum from the bride’s father.
    Big sham.

  3. he pointed out to me
    What’s next ? – “Return back” ?, use of ‘can’ and ‘able’ together?, or have a discussion “about”?
    The Libertarian passion for good English is losing steam. This pleonasm is unexpected, especially from those who pride themselves on “less is more” 😉

  4. Hilarious! So the TOI group does a little more that publishing fake news and semi-porn on their website? They actually provide a “service” to some (and entertainment to others) in form of matrimonial ads?!
    I agree with your post. Having interacted folks of various nationalities in the U.S., I will have to say Indians carry a bigger baggage of racism and caste prejudice than most. It is unbeleivable how in today’s modern world, there exists a huge so-called educated mass in thw world’s “largest democracy” completely run down by bigotry, prejudices and shall-i-add superstition. Hopefully the more progressive Indian generation on the net will slowly change these ways.

  5. A friend of mine — PhD, working for a well known company, $100K + salary, only 26 years old — posted an ad which said caste/language no bar. To his astonishment, a number of people enquired if there was something wrong with the guy (handicapped etc), since his surname clearly shows that he is a “high class brahmin” (sic).
    Most matrimonial ads go on and on about the bride/groom’s father, mother, brother, sister (who happens to be married to someone settled in US… hint hint), uncle, aunt, dog, cat, elephant (oh I got carried away)… but nothing about the bride/groom her/himself.

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