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新視野大學英語讀寫教程第四冊unit5-c Section C An Indian Arranged Marriage




An Indian Arranged Marriage

We sat around the dining table, my family and I, full to bursting from yet another home-cooked South Indian dinner. It was my younger brother who asked the question.

“Shoba, why don't you stay back here in India for a few months? So we can try to get you married.”

Three pairs of eyes stared at me across the width of the table. I sighed. Here I was, at the tail end of my vacation after graduate school. I had an airplane ticket to New York from India in 10 days. I had accepted a job at an artist's colony in the U.S. My car and most of my possessions were with friends in America.

“It's not that simple,” I said. “What about my car…?”

“We could find you someone in America,” my dad replied. “You could go back to the States.”

They had thought it all out. This was a plot. I frowned at my parents angrily.

Oh, another part of me rationalized, why not give this arranged-marriage thing a shot? It wasn't as if I had a lot to go back to in the States. Besides, I could always get a divorce.

Stupid and dangerous as it seems looking back, I went into my marriage at the age of 25 without being in love. Three years later, I find myself enjoying my relationship with this brilliant man who talks about the yield curve and other financial statistics, who prays when I drive, and who tries bravely to remember the names of the modern artists I adore.

My enthusiasm for arranged marriages is that of a recent convert. True, I grew up in India, where arranged marriages are common. My parents' marriage was arranged, as were those of my aunts, cousins and friends. But I always thought I was different. I flourished as a foreign student at an American university, where individualism was expected and women's rights encouraged. As I experimented with being an American, I bought into the American value system.

I was determined to fall in love and marry someone who was not Indian. Yet, somehow, I could never manage to. Oh, falling in love was easy. Sustaining it was the hard part.

Arranged marriages in India begin with matching the horoscopes (星座) of the man and the woman. Those who prepare the horoscopes look for balance so that the woman's strengths balance the man's weaknesses and man's strengths balance the woman's weaknesses. Once the horoscopes match, the two families meet and decide whether they are compatible. It is assumed that they are of the same religion and social level.

While this eliminates risk and helps to insure that the man and woman will be similar in background and outlook, the theory is that the personalities of the couple provide enough differences to make the relationship interesting. Whether or not this is true, the high success rate of arranged marriages in different cultures — 90 percent in Iran, 95 percent in India, and a similar high percentage among Hasidic Jews (哈西德派猶太教徒) in New York and among Turkish and Afghan Muslims (阿富汗穆斯林教徒) — gives one pause.

Although our families met through a mutual friend, many Indian families meet through advertisements placed in national newspapers.

My parents made a formal visit to my future husband's house to see whether Ram's family would treat me well. My mother insists that “you can tell a lot about the family just from the way they serve coffee”. The house had a lovely flower garden. The family liked gardening. Good.

Ram's mother had worked for the United Nations on women's-rights issues. She also wrote funny columns for Indian magazines. She would be supportive. She served strong South Indian coffee in the traditional steel cups instead of china; she would be a balancing influence on my youthful radicalism.

Ram's father had supported his wife's career even though he belonged to a generation of Indian men who expected their wives to stay at home. Ram had a good role model. His sister was a doctor in the United States. Perhaps that meant he was used to strong, achieving women.

Nov. 20, 1992. Someone shouted, “They're here!” My cousin gently nudged me out of the bedroom into the living room.

“Why don't you sit down?” a voice said.

I looked up and saw a square face and smiling eyes anxious to put me at ease. He pointed me to a chair. Somehow I liked that. The guy was sensitive and self-confident.

He looked all right. Could stand to lose a few pounds. I liked the way his lips curved to meet his eyes. Thick hair, commanding voice, strong laugh. To my surprise, the conversation flowed easily. We had a great deal in common, but his profession was very different from mine. I learned that he had an MBA (工商管理碩士學位) from an American university and had worked on Wall Street before joining a financial consulting firm.

Two hours later, Ram said: “I'd like to get to know you better. Unfortunately, I have to be back at my job in the United States, but I could call you every other day. No strings attached, and both of us can decide where this goes, if anywhere.”

I didn't dislike him.

He called 10 days later. About a month later he asked me to marry him, and I accepted. I am convinced that our successful relationship has to do with two words: tolerance and trust.

Words: 903

    我們圍坐在飯桌邊,我的家人和我。 又是一頓自家做的南印度風味晚飯,把我們都撐壞了。 是我弟弟提出了這個問題。
    "莎巴,你干嗎不回印度來住幾個月呢? 這樣我們可以幫你找對象結婚。"
    三雙眼睛從餐桌的那邊盯著我。我嘆了口氣。 現在已到了我研究生院畢業的那個假期的尾聲, 我買好了10天后從印度飛往紐約的機票。 我已經接受了一份在美國一個藝術家聚居區的工作。 我的汽車,還有大多數的個人物品都在美國的朋友那兒。
    "我們可以在美國給你找一個,"我爸爸回答說。 "你可以回美國。"
    噢,另一種想法卻辯解道,何不嘗試一下這種包辦婚姻呢? 好像并沒有很多事情等著我回美國去做, 而且,隨時都可以離婚啊。
    現在回憶起來似乎是有些愚蠢、危險,但我當時真的是在25歲時,未經戀愛就結婚了。 三年后的今天,我發現自己與這位出色的男人之間的關系十分愉快。他談論著投資收益曲線及其他的財經統計資料;我開車時他祈禱; 我所崇拜的現代藝術家的名字,他都盡力去記住。
    我對包辦婚姻的熱忱是最近才發生的轉變。 不錯,我是在印度長大的,包辦婚姻在這兒十分普遍。 我父母的婚姻是包辦的,我的姑媽、堂兄妹、朋友的婚姻也都如此。 但我一直認為我與他們不同。 作為一個外國留學生,我在美國的一所大學里過得不錯。在那里,個性發展得以鼓勵,婦女權利也倍受尊重。 在試著當一個美國人的同時,我也進入了美國的價值體系。
    于是我決心要與一個非印度人戀愛、結婚。 然而,不知怎么的,我總也做不到。 噢,戀愛倒是容易,而要維持這種關系才是困難的。
    包辦婚姻在印度往往是先從匹配男女雙方的星座開始。 為人匹配星座的人試圖找到一種平衡,使女方的強項彌補男方的弱項,而男方的長處也抵銷女方的不足。 一旦星座配上了,雙方家庭就會見面看看他們是否合得來。 一般認為雙方都應有同一宗教信仰,屬于同一社會階層。
    雖然這種做法排除了風險,也有助于確保男女雙方有相同的背景和觀點,但從理論上來說,是夫妻個性方面的差異才使得婚姻關系引人入勝。 不管這種說法是否正確,不同文化中包辦婚姻的成功率之高,卻不由得使人駐足沉思:伊朗90%,印度95%, 在紐約的哈西德派猶太教徒中,以及在土耳其和阿富汗的穆斯林教徒中,也有同樣高的成功率。
    我的父母正式拜訪了我未來丈夫的家,看看拉姆的家人是否會善待我。 我媽媽堅持認為"從上咖啡的方式,就能了解這個家庭的許多情況。" 這家人有一個可愛的花園,他們喜歡園藝。很好。
    拉姆的母親以前為聯合國工作過,是關于婦女權利問題的工作。 她還為多家印度雜志寫風趣的專欄。 她會成為一種支持的力量。 她不用瓷杯,而用傳統的鋼杯給我們上濃烈的南印度咖啡;她可以平衡我由于年青而產生的激進思想。
    拉姆的父親屬于期望妻子在家呆著的那代印度人。即使如此,他仍然很支持妻子的職業生涯。 拉姆有良好的行為榜樣。 他姐姐是美國的一位醫生。 或許那意味著他已經習慣于面對有成就的女強人。
    1992年11月20日,有人喊道:"他們來了!" 我表姐輕輕地用肘推我,示意我從臥室走進客廳。
    "你為什么不坐?" 有人說。
    我抬頭看到了一張四方臉,微笑的眼睛熱切地想使我放松下來。 他示意我坐到一張椅子上。 不知怎么的,我喜歡他那樣。 這個人敏感而又自信。
    他看起來挺好,當然可以再減幾磅體重。 我喜歡他嘴唇向上彎曲的樣子。 他頭發濃密,聲音威嚴,笑聲爽朗。 令我感到意外的是,與他的對話進行得十分輕松。 我們有許多共同點,但他的職業與我的卻大相徑庭。 我得知他從美國一所大學取得了工商管理碩士學位(MBA)并在華爾街工作過,后來到了一家金融顧問公司。
    兩個小時后,拉姆對我說:"我想更好地了解你, 可惜我得回美國干我的工作了,但我可以隔天給你打一次電話。 不存在什么約束,我們兩個人都可以決定這件事該怎樣發展--如果能有所發展的話。"
    10天后他給我打了電話,大約一個月后他向我求婚,我接受了。 我確信我們成功的關系與兩個詞有關:容忍(tolerance)和信任(trust)。

內容來自 聽力課堂網:http://www.cwrixh.tw/show-5190-2339-1.html

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