Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Smith"s dielemma

The sole credit goes to him, our overseas expert Dr J.J. Smith, a reputed geochemist(his name is altered here for some reasons). We were enjoying our work and now it is more lively because we implemented his suggestions and shall continue to do so. We all work in a multinational exploration company, globally exploring the economic mineral deposits. Currently in eastern India we completed a preliminary part ending with geochemical sampling where we invited Dr J.J smith to guide and advise us. He preferred calling us by the first name and vice versa.

A view of the part of the work spot

Our day began at 5.30 A.M, walking for about 8-10 Km by traversing two hills separated by valley in between. After a while, departing from the common traverse, We used to get divided in small groups. Each group consisted two tribals for digging work as well as guiding us the path to return to base camp. A pit for geochemical sampling at hill top.

A pit sampling begining
Smith suggested that everyday after completing the work in first hill we meet at a common point, the small fountain flowing in the valley, for a break. During work let us avoid talking as far as possible and use more signals. But at this common meeting point we discuss not only the work but also some recreation along with some food. The next discussion should be after climbing the second hill and meeting at the camp. This made our entire work lively and less tiring.

A Hill fountain in Valley Common meeting point after part I work
This being his fourth visit to India, Smith was little fluent in Hindi and soon became close to the entire team including the tribals. He had genuine interest in our social systems and culture and a part of our discussions consisted to answering his queries. In one such session he asked one unmarried tribal about his plans to get married. He answered " It is difficult to get married in our society." Smith said " if you pardon me please tell us the hurdles." A senior tribal accompanying us told " The boy and girl meet each other in Carnivals held during the festivals. If they like each other, the community chief calls them and confirms the mutual consent. Following this, the boy have to pass a test. He has to lasso a running bull or Buffalo before it crosses the village boundary and then garland it. This is part I. The part II is the boy's family shall take this animal but shall compensate the village chief with two such equally good animals and feed the whole village. Many are able to pass through part I but fails in part II for poverty. As a result few in a family are able to marry. Smith was seriously noting the narration in his pad.
Back in the camp Smith was assured by us that this procedure was limited to tribal of this area. I told him that Tribal from other part of India may have other methods.

Following our common dinner he asked "Tell me , How, you, the non-tribal get married." The geostatistian of our group told " There are two modes. In the universal mode they meet each other, fall in love and decide to marry by conventional method with the approval of Parents or just simply they marry through a Marriage officer with or without the approval of parents. In Mode II, The parents or elders, mostly from the girls family, approach a suitable groom's family either from known circles or matrimonial advertisements. The groom's family who continually receive such proposals further shortlist the possible brides keeping in view the criteria the family fix up in which the groom may have some say. Following this the elders of the groom's family further interview the bride and bride's family and further shortlist the possible candidates. Now the bride and the groom meet each other and let the parent's know their choice who upon further discussions fix up a date of marriage. But there are also several derivatives of Mode I and II and Mixed modes also." Smith noting down seriously said appreciatively " My heart is filed up with great respect. But tell me what is the frequency of Mode I and Mode II ?" None of us in the group which is a mini-India have ever thought on this so seriously. But we discussed among ourselves counting the no. of marriages we happen to know. The total no. of marriages that took place in the known circles including their own are more than 200 and more than 70% marriages fall in "mode II." The next day being week end and we all shared our story books and movie Cd's. Smith took a no. of Novels(Hindi and translated into Hindi) and Indian Movie CD's with subtitles.

Work proceeded rapidly in the following week and we completed the work including packing, processing and elementary analysis at our mini lab in the camp one day before schedule. At the end of the camp fire, Smith returned all the novels and Books and said " If all of you are not going to be busy with packing's may I have a few minutes with all of you." We all nodded affirmative. Looking at our anxious faces he said " It is nothing technical. I am referring to our discussions of the last week about your social systems of marriage. I have gone through all these novels and seen all these movie Cd's. The novels are from well known novelist as you say and some of the movie CD's are the work of international reputed directors. They well represent your social systems from age-old times to recent and from many states of your country. In all these, the marriages took place mostly through Mode I. Your opinion poles are also from several states and varied age group and this sampling is also quite representative. The opinion poles that you gave me say that marriages are mostly through Mode II. I am in a dilemma and confused. Why your opinion poles are different from the Novels and movies dealing with your social systems." Looking at our silent faces with wrinkles in foreheads he said " You may take your time and may e-mail me later on. Good night folks."
Dr. J.J. smith sent his report on the geochemical finding but we could not reply him on his last personal query and are still trying to find out an answer. Do you have an answer to his quarry?


SGD said...

As usual an interesting topic...and a study of the human psyche!
That Dr Smith is a scientist with a curious mind with a thirst for knowledge, there is no doubt! And even better that his curiosity is not restricted to the realms of geochemistry and is all encompassing.
His question is thought provoking indeed.
Something which is immediately coming to mind is -
Our social system, to a large extent continues to restrict intermingling/interaction between men & women, girls & boys, and encourages 'arranged marriages'. But human nature keeps romanticizing about the ideal partnership where love forms the basis of togetherness instead of practicalities like family background, bank balance, socio-religious suitability.

Mad Blogger said...

Interesting blog!!!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

I guess films and books project an idealised picture, which is why they depict Mode-I (love) marriages. Reality teaches us to be more pragmatic, and opt for Mode-II (arranged) marriages, rather than keep on waiting for the right partner for a Mode-I union.

But, just to confess, my own marriage was Mode-I.

Smita Tewari said...

Yes, times have changed, so has the human psyche. You have handled it very well.

Koel said...

Well, Mode-II is higher many times over than Mode-I, any day. Mode-I is prevalent mostly in urban India, but not even here it is in majority. And if you talk of India, it is still atleast 70% rural, and there Mode-I would be around 99.99% :-)

Interesting discussion, and I'm sure it would be amusing from people from western world, for whom the concept of Mode-II itself is alien...

Pradip Biswas said...

Thank you Sharmistha, Sucharita, Mad blogger,Smita Tewari and Koel for your comments.
SGD: Agree with you. But it makes us hypocrits which onceagaain a live stream of our social systems.
Sucharita: You have done the right thing and few may even if our society has become so broadminded i find from my young friends that they faced oppositions at least initially.
Mad blogger: Thank you very much. It was so much interesting that even month's after this topic comes back to us during the recess.
Smitadi: Although times have changed but the oppositions have not changed.

Lazyani said...

The dicotomy of the statistics reflect the true form of our socio-economic structure.

The arranged marriages are traditional and are more linked to dowry and other economic gains of the groom. Hence, this is more prevalent.

The love marriages are still a social taboo except in the economically and academically stronger social strata of the society.

But I would stick out my neck by saying that the ratio has corrected itself over the last decade.

Little Girl Lost said...

pradip- very very interesting topic. made for brilliant reading.
its true that mode-ii is more popular in most of india, (at least north india where i've grown up)
but still so many of our books and movies focus on love marriages, maybe as an escape mode. love is very good fodder for stories, espeially if its forbidden...

Greener Bangalore said...

Hi usual you have some wonderful info and snaps...yours an interesting profession which is similar to my interests....mmm......anyway....good luck......