Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Happens in the Salon Stays in the Salon

My mom keeps dropping the “Salonat” (arranged marriage) bomb on me ever since I broke off my previous engagement. At first the time intervals between each bombing would be a bit large; a couple of months. Lately, the intervals have been getting smaller and smaller, especially that a lot of her friends’ daughters seem to be getting hooked Salonat style.

I’m not completely against the idea. It worked successfully for lots of people, and it’s not that old fashioned. The would-be couple meet up in a public low maintenance place, they talk for a while and if they click, they decide to meet again, and again, and again, until they figure out if they’re willing to move on to something more formal. It has its pros which are actually perfect for lots of people. The guy or girl get to meet someone based on their reputation and important traits that they are sure they would like to see in their significant other. They are sure of the social and financial compatibilities. Confidence that the people in the meeting are serious about getting into a relationship is undisputable. Moreover, the families get to meet beforehand so if rejection should take place from the parents’ side, it would be done before any strings get attached which spares the couple a lot of conflict should the match have happened outside the “Salon”, it’s more of a blind date with parental approval in case it evolves to marriage. I still have some concerns though.

I’m just going to list my concerns, with no ordering. Some of these concerns may seem to apply to blind dates as well, but the difference here is that blind dates are just dates, no strings attached, there is no commitment based on them, which is why these concerns seem to be accentuated with the whole “Salonat” situation. To me, they’re all major concerns with red lines under them. The idea of meeting a guy a few times and based on it, I should decide if I’m going to spend the rest of my life with him, give him my complete and undivided attention, and have his babies some day is scary. Not to mention that the idea of going to meet someone so that he can get to “assess” me is absurd. What if I look bad that day, will he have a completely shallow opinion and reject me based on looks? What if I had a bad day at work and gave him an “I’m disgusted” face? What if I got nervous and froze, or mumbled, or said something stupid? Does any of the above qualify a person to pick me as his wife? Not to mention the idea of “picking” is by itself degrading enough. At that moment, a woman turns into a well-bread cow (that’s just my opinion, no offense to anyone who actually went through with those meetings), that a buyer comes to examine and see if it’s worth the sale. In addition, I don’t understand what kind of man asks his mother to find him someone to marry? Why isn’t he out there looking for someone that would fit his wants and needs based on his own measures, not his mother’s! it’s understandable for a girl that may be shy or quiet or naïve to want her mother’s help when picking someone to marry. She may not have much insight into how some men might be due to her conservative nature or upbringing, but for a guy, that just sounds wrong! Although, I will defend some of the men that they may be too polite or shy to be able to approach a girl under normal circumstances, like work for example. Or they may not even come in contact with a suitable girl during their line of work and so would have trouble finding someone.

My biggest concern has probably emerged from the fact that I am a bit paranoid, and anyone who will ever have to commit to me one day will have to suffer with my paranoia. I’d like to think I’m worth it though ;-). I don’t believe that in a meeting such as that, a person will be able to see the other person’s true nature. If I’m this girl going to a meeting, I’d like to be on my best behavior, act polite, speak in low tones, do not assume any feminist opinions that may scare the potential customer, I mean husband, off. I will wear my best, wear perfume, and wear makeup even if I don’t usually. I’ll have to weigh my words carefully, I mean I can’t possibly be spontaneous; this is way too fragile a situation. Finally, It wouldn’t hurt to agree with everything he says. As for him, he’ll probably also try to look his best. He’ll probably try to tell me how successful he is at work, and how he’s the envy of all his friends; a man is a man, always trying to act like the alpha-male to impress his potential mate! He’ll probably throw in a couple of statements about how the guys these days aren’t manly enough. He’ll show off his culture, even though he may have none. He’ll give a couple of examples on how he doesn’t tolerate any indiscretions relating to his family or his “woman”, i.e. the “7emesh” look! That sounds a lot like what a normal guy would usually do to try and impress a girl, but the situation just gives him a bigger chance to play the part since under different circumstances, he won’t have that space due to the presence of other people around, or even because his normal day to day behavior has already been on display for quite some time now. So the thing is, what if either of the couple are really good at acting and are able to hide their true identities for as long as the engagement lasts? What if they get married and suddenly, the masks come off and there is no way out? The risk exists of course in any marriage; be it arranged or otherwise. But in the arranged meetings, there are no observers to warn the girl if the guy is a jerk, or to warn the guy if the girl is not as angelic as he may think. The lack of seeing the person at their natural environment is a risk that everyone going into marriage must be aware of. This is coming from me where I lived the natural environment of my ex-fiancé all through college and work and was apparently too blinded to see any of the signs that everyone else in my world seemed to notice, but that’s water under the bridge :-)

Bottom line, arranged marriages have pros and cons just like everything else in the world. to some people, their pros outweigh their cons. To me, their cons way outweigh their pros and I hope my mom stops with the “salonat” grenades. The last time she dropped this on me, I told her I’ll make fun of the guy and would be incredibly impolite and it will be embarrassing to her in the end. If however, she forces me to go with something like that, I’m pretty sure I’ll go to the meeting wearing my everyday jeans and sneakers, without a bit of makeup on, and will make sure to ask him about his opinions about how work life affects married women and his views on the current political situation, in addition to his review of the latest book he’s read, and if he likes Tamer Hosny (God forbid!) so if you ever hear about me going to one of those meetings, pray for the poor schmuck!


Did you like this?


  1. Dandouna I liked it so much but the pros and cons are known for both ways and the risks are the same just I want to tell that this stage is normal to happen with every girl in our world and it will pass. I never gave my mum a chance to arrange such meetings for me even in weddings, birthdays bla bla bla I used not to go with her and I used to understand her. Only one time I agreed to go just because I told her the same words you said ( I will make fune of him), I will wear my normal clothes and I did BUT after all my comments and bad way and look, he liked me and I went to another circle which is why not to try again and of course I had my reasons to say no not just no and My parents understood this and my dad was really proud of me but this was ya33333 3 days receiving calls from my mum's friend saying why, try, another chance, talk, tell him your concerns ... this was ya333 and finally it is all the destiny who guide us I used to refuse all ways not only salonat and here I am falling in love with your brother, accepting the commitment and a wife. 3o2balek and be sure in this case also you will have other concerns and fights;)
    Life never stops. Luv u dear (K)

  2. so if you ever hear about me going to one of those meetings, pray for the poor schmuck!

    eih el eftera dah ?? kol zalem loh youm !!

    nice article. hab2a a-share-ha 3al facebook, w ab3atlek kol el comments elly hatet7at 3aleha :D

    w neshof meen ely hay-pray for meen :P