Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love by Spreadsheet Part I

I wanna love you and treat you right;
I wanna love you every day and every night:
We'll be together with a roof right over our heads;
We'll share the shelter of my single bed;
We'll share the same room, yeah! - for Jah provide the bread.
Is this love - is this love - is this love -
Is this love that I'm feelin'?
Lyrics : Is This Love
Bob Marley

It's a standing joke within our organization that one of our colleagues - lets call him Mr X - choose his wife by using a spreadsheet. Coupled with that, he had only met his wife to be twice before they got married - once for 15 minutes (when the families met), and the second time for five minutes when he went to give his wife to be an invitation to their wedding! Last week, I decided to get to the bottom of things by asking him about his formula and the process. After all, he has been happily married for fourteen years so there has to be some method to his 'madness'. The discussion about his spreadsheet 'affair' led to some interesting views and insights into culture and relationships. All against the backdrop of all the frenzied Valentine's day articles and ads which seem to take up at least thirty percent of the Kenyan newspapers - with another twenty being dedicated to Zuma and his twenty children! These insights (and reflections on my side) I will try and summarize in the next couple of posts.

Firstly the four categories (in no particular order) :
  • should be from a good family, well brought up and with a solid value system; he went on to explain that while outer beauty was important, he placed more emphasis on inner beauty - which for him was more sustainable;
  • should have equal educational qualifications, including the ability to speak and write in English;
  • should be socially acceptable and socially compatible;
  • Indian dowry system - in his culture, its the woman's family who pays the dowry to the man. This from what I understood could be influenced by several factors including caste, religion, market value based on job and job potential etc. Interestingly enough, at the time he was looking for a wife his worth was estimated to be close to USD 250,000! (by 1994 - 1995 standards) as he was normally offered a car, a house, a kilo of gold, health care for the first three or four children etc.
For each 'candidate' - my words not his - to even be considered they had to score a minimum of 15 points in each category, and have a cumulative score of at least 75 points.

After having a good laugh, it also made me reflective on the 'categories' we define for ourselves and our potential partners. Do we spend time actually defining what we want, or do you simply adopt a hit and miss, or Mills and Boons type approach? (note to self, never let my daughter ready Mills and Boons!). What do we define as a good family? Is it the family values, or simply the apparent position of the family - economically or politically depending on what really we are looking for?

Tomorrow (or maybe Wednesday to be a bit more realistic!) : His wife to be cumulative score and other issues of culture.

1 comment:

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Haha! Thanks for diving into this issue and reporting for us. I also find the Indian arranged marriage system intriguing, especially since their marriages seem to be so stable (is divorce even an option though?)