She quietly sat down, sari neatly tucked in, hair tied in a demure bun and back straight, smiling at the man sat before her.
His parents shot each other a look, the woman pulling the tail end of her sari(palloo) closer around her shoulders like a shawl.
“So beta, I heard you studied engineering, IT or Computer Science?”
Eyes slightly pulling together before she smoothed her expression out, she replied “Electronics and Telecommunications”, the smile ever present.
She watched his father nod approvingly, his mother, not so much.
“What part of it did you like the most?”, she heard a man’s voice say.
Turning to the man sitting directly across from her, she noted that he seemed to have gotten closer to the edge of his seat, knees almost touching the table set between them.
“The soldering”, she replied with a twinkle I’m her eyes, smile widening a bit.
He returned the smile, nodding and delving into his educational background, moving closer and gesturing animatedly, roping her into the conversation, only cutting off abruptly when a hand touched her shoulder.
She watched her mother passive aggressively nod towards the kitchen for a minute until she realised she was supposed to get the food to serve the guests.
Just as she was about to excuse herself to prepare the food, she heard his mother mention under her breath,
“In this generation, I wonder if the rotis are still round”
She stopped midway between getting up, blinking in disbelief towards the woman. Her son seemed to be glaring at her and his dad was not-so-subtly nudging her to keep the comments to herself.
“I believe it is best to not restrict a thought process, aunty-ji.”
She watched the man turn to her, looking apologetic.
She glanced at him briefly before turning back to his mother.
“I think we think out of the box, round rotis are not characterized by their roundness, but by how they taste. How else would I teach any future children the countries of the world if not through my rotis!”, she joked, never losing her smile.
Stifling one of his own, the man shared a look with her before excusing himself to the kitchen for a glass of water.
He had barely crossed the threshold of said room before he heard the maid call out,
“Didi, the rotis you rolled out are kept on the platform behind you, the tava is hot, you can start.”
From the threshold of the kitchen, he caught the eyes of the woman standing bravely in front of his mom, deciding she was the one as soon as he caught sight of the kitchen platform.
There, neatly arranged in stacks of 8, lay perfectly round rotis.
For my international friends, the scene above is a traditional arranged marriage scene where the boy(prospective groom) comes to see the girl(prospective bride) with his parents.
Generally the parents interrogate the boy/girl and then they are given some time to talk to each other (prospective groom-bride) in private to find out more about each other.
At the end of the discussion, typically a few days later, both sides decide whether they would like to marry or not.
It’s fairly common in India. What is even more common, and being looked down upon now-a-days is the concept of the round roti.
Roti is a type of Indian flatbread which has to be rolled out with a rolling pin. It takes a fair amount of practice(or superior genetics) to get it round without using a very large cookie cutter/ bowl to cut it to a perfectly round shape.
Round rotis, therefore, typically and stereo typically, show a natural inclination towards the kitchen and household activities. Very traditionally (Not the usual case in an expensive city like Mumbai where I lived), the woman cooks and stays at home, looking after the household work, while the man is the breadwinner.
This is a “desirable” trait for many traditional mother-in-laws.
Also, I have nothing against round rotis, I dot hem pretty well myself!