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Marrying Anita: A Quest for Love in the New India    by Anita Jain order for
Marrying Anita
by Anita Jain
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Anita Jain was born in the United States to parents who emigrated from India. Although her parents believed in arranged marriage, her father was an early feminist, so she was given a lot of freedom to find her own husband. Her father kept his hand in, though. As Anita explains, 'Fulfilling his parental duty, my father placed matrimonial ads for me every couple of months during my twenties in such immigrant newspapers as 'India Abroad.' They read something like, 'Match for Jain girl, Harvard-educated journalist, 25, fair, slim.' I took it as a personal victory that they didn't include the famous Indian misnomer 'homely' to mean domestically inclined.'

While still in her twenties, though, Anita was less interested in an arranged marriage than in her jobs in journalism, which took her out of the country for long stretches. Also, she was dating and certain that she would find a suitable mate by herself. When she was still unmarried at thirty, she decided that it was time to get serious about looking for a husband, so she moved back to New York.

After Anita had been living in New York for a while and there was still no engagement, her father's worries about her unmarried state were becoming more desperate. It was then that he discovered marriage sites online, and 'it was as if he'd stumbled across a magic key in a fantasy game that unlocked the door to a world full of untold wonders.' Her father wrote her profile and uploaded it on several of these sites, giving out her phone number to promising sounding prospects. None of these callers were right for Anita, and after three years in New York, she moved to New Delhi. This book is the fascinating result of Anita's search for Mr. Right in the new India.

Anita's parents had emigrated from a very poor region of India in the sixties. Unlike many Indian families, they didn't go back often for visits. What Anita found in the large city of New Delhi was a much different world than her parents had left. Young people were working in a boom economy where jobs were easy to get and well-paid. The new affluence coupled with more freedom for both sexes was changing India at a rapid rate. In many ways, Delhi wasn't that much different from New York.

Anita's story about her return to India tells about her continuing search for marriage, but also gives her impressions of what it's like to look like everybody else but still be an outsider. In New York she looked exotic but spoke like a Californian, since she grew up there. In Delhi, she looked like other Indians, but spoke with an American accent and had different attitudes toward life than many of her new friends. In India, she continues to actively participate in the marriage site, while meeting people through friends she makes there. She writes about these new friends and experiences in a lively, humorous style that is educating as well as entertaining. I really enjoyed reading about Anita's search for marriage.

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