Do you take this stranger?

For an India in California, a visit back home invites a fresh look at the notion of arranged marriages. Swati Pandey (second from right in photo) in LA Times

Gorakhpur: It was near midnight at the Railway Club, a posh spot at the train station in Gorakhpur, close to the Nepal border. Hundreds of guests had gathered four hours earlier to eat made-to-order dosas and Indian-Chinese fusion finger-foods, to watch green, red and gold fireworks explode over palm trees and to dance to bass-heavy Bollywood tracks.

My cousin’s wedding would soon begin.

A family astrologer had recommended the date and advised that the wedding start after 10 p.m. and conclude before 4 a.m. Those last hours would end six days of ceremonies, the first reunion of my maternal family in two decades and my first full Hindu wedding. They would also end my uncle’s efforts to arrange a marriage, and a future, for my cousin.


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