I met up with a friend from India recently. Indian men are good drinkers, I’d say. I had three pints of beer while he downed four easily like mineral water. Then, one of his Indian friends came along and sucked down a pint in ten seconds. The beer was good. Neither one of us suffered a hangover the following day. Beer, goooood.

Much as I would like it to be, this entry isn’t about beer. This friend from India (interestingly he is not of the Indian race) is easily one of the most colourful characters among the people I know. Through our conversation, I got to know some really intriguing things about India. Their dowry system, in particular. The conversation we had went something like this:

Friend: so in India, we have the dowry system.
Me: yeah I know that one. The bride’s family has to give a large sum of money to the groom’s family right?
Friend: right. It is strange because not only does the bride’s family “lose” a daughter, they lose a large chunk of their wealth at the same time.
Me: how much would the dowry be usually?
Friend: well, it depends on the status of the two families.
Me: say if someone were to marry you, how much would it be?
Friend: taking into consideration my current job and my salary, and the fact that it requires me to travel around the world…
Me: yeah…
Friend: …the dowry would be equivalent to millions of Singapore dollars in relative terms.
Me: (horrified) millions?!
Friend: yeah!

Seriously, millions? Who would be able to afford that? Even for the rich, millions of dollars is still a lot of money! I still can’t get over it even after three days.

He also mentioned that up to today, there are still many arranged marriages in India. The parents get to decide who their children marry. Now, not only would the woman’s family have to give his family a large sum of money, she does not even get to marry someone she loves!

So, why do Indian women still get married?

My friend couldn’t answer this question. Nor could his Indian friends.

One more thing. If the bride’s family could afford a large dowry, it would mean she’s wealthy enough to fend for herself. What would she need a husband for? I just don’t get it. Am I being too practical and missing something here?

Veron Ang