Marriage customs are different in Mountasia. Our driver Din mentioned today that his daughter’s engagement is being announced this weekend. He is picking her up from the university then having a celebration. I’m interested because I happen to have a single daughter that may or may not (no pressure sweetie) want to marry someday. Plus I’m a woman who loves happy brides, and weddings. I asked if there would be a party celebrating the engagement. Din said no, just close family. I pressed on, how did the happy couple meet?
This is where I found the differences; it seems the young man watches a young lady that catches his eye (in America I think we call this staking). After he decides he’s interested his family inquires with friends as to the character and reputation of the family and girl. If all is good, the family approaches the girl’s family, if the girl’s parents agree, it’s a match made in Mountasia.
I asked Din what other customs surround the engagement, (I’m still hoping for some good news) he said they had to agree on a bride’s price. WHAT?? Please repeat that. Yes, the groom pays for his bride up front. (Does that sound like he’s selling his daughter?) I really wanted to ask how much a bride goes for here, but just couldn’t bring myself to ask, because if he said the price of a goat I wouldn’t have been able to contain myself. Thank goodness Welder Dave was in the van. Dave asked, ‘what did ya get for your daughter’. (Yeah, he’s to the point). Din was very proud, he is receiving RM10,000 (I’ll save you the math that’s $3337.29 US).
I asked if his daughter was going to work or continue her schooling. He was very pleased to tell me she has one year left at the university, and then he started sounding like the rest of us parents. He told us she needs to graduate before marriage, then she will better suited to find a professional job, and, they will be able to purchase a nice home. I asked how the groom felt about her education. He said, the groom insist she complete her schooling, then they will marry. OK so maybe he’s an OK guy.
The one thing I wanted to ask but didn’t is, will she be his only wife? In Malaysia, Muslim men have the right to take up to 4 wives. Din has only one. He said he couldn’t afford to support more, than there would be more children which means more education. I really like Din. He has common sense. Unlike Jacob.
Jacob is 57. He owns the local laundry and café, his businesses have really grown since the expats have moved in. Sunday, 2 weeks ago Jacob dropped off my laundry and asked if he and his wife could come in and visit. Seemed odd, but he had his wife with him so I invited them in. They sat and asked questions about my family, so I whipped out my 8X10’s and showed off my grandkids, my kids, my husband, my mom, and all my sisters, friends…..etc. he was probably sorry he asked. After going through all my photos he says, this my #1 wife. Seemed odd, I said how many have you had (thinking he was widowed)? As proud as a peacock he says I have 2, and am looking for #3. You mean you have 2 living wives and you want another one? Thank goodness I told him I was married (but wait I have a daughter, he is successful, maybe she won’t mind he’s missing some teeth). I asked do you have children? 12 sons and 9 daughters. I’ll save you the math, he has 21 total, (and 12 grandkids) and he wants more. The oldest is 38 and the youngest is 13. I looked at wife #1 and said, really, he has a second wife? She smiled and shrugged her shoulders, something like, what’s a wife to do…. I looked at Jacob and said, in my Bible men with multi wives created a lot of extra grief. Too many wives isn’t good, read about King David. He laughed. I laughed. Then he went home.
Fast forward to laundry drop off this week, and Jacob brought both wives with him to meet me. Wife 2 is as quiet as wife 1. I asked if I could take their picture, because nobody back home is going to believe this, he stood proudly between the two women. Afterwards they all wanted to see the picture. Do you think I should print it for them? How many copies do you think they would need?
After this little enlightened moment with Jacob I went to work and started asking about marriage customs. We have a few Muslim women in the office who do not want to marry Muslim men so they don’t wear scarf covering their hair. They’re hope is to marry outside their faith and have a husband and not share him with other wives. The Hindu’s are a little more western in that they date, but if they get into their 30’s and aren’t married the parents will start match making inquiries and find them a mate . I was told Hindu’s prefer to marry for love. I would have assumed all cultures would prefer to marry for love, but as I found in Mountasia, sometimes love isn’t a priority.