Monday, 8 July 2013

Matchmaking by Chinese parents goes global

Late last night, I received a call from my tailor in Shanghai telling me that the few Mandarin collared silk shirts that I’d asked her to custom made is ready for collection. After exchanging some pleasantries, she asked if she can have my email address which I duly gave without second thought. Aha…then came the real reason she wanted my email address - my favor is needed by her to be the matchmaker for her 27 years old daughter.
I have no met her daughter, not a problem, she replied. Less than 15 minutes later, an email came in with the full biography and two attached pictures of her daughter. This girl has a nice feature and a degree from the prestigious Jiaotong University in Shanghai, I was telling myself before the phone rang again. I asked why the daughter is finding it hard to find a boyfriend.
“She is an introvert; she seldom mixes around with people, not even with co-workers. This is giving me and uncle headache and sleepless night.” Then she added: “As you know, uncle and I are already old; we longed to see her marry off well, have children and we can take care of our grandchildren when she goes to work.” Well, Mrs. Chen is in her early 50s and it is not old by any standard. “On Sunday, we even go to matchmaking market at the People’s Park with her biography to see if we can find a suitor for her but none of the guys are suitable. Some have very good education background but they don’t own an apartment. Some comes from other provinces.” I promise that I’ll see how I can help.
The dilemma of Mrs. Chen is shared by millions of parents in China who are having sleepless nights over their unmarried sons or daughters. What went wrong again with the Chinese society 35 years after the end of the Cultural Revolution?
At Zhongshan Park in Beijing.

The so-called “matchmaking market” mentioned by Mrs. Chen is blooming in Chinese cities across the country. I’ve not been to the one mentioned by her at Shanghai’s People’s Square which is next to the Bund but I’ve had a personal encounter at Zhongshan Park, near  the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing during one of my visits there. On weekends, the park becomes a sort of an open air bazaar with parents armed with pictures all necessary information about their offspring, including medical histories, gather to find them spouses. The sales pitch is straightforward marketing. Standing there watching the dramas unfolded before my eyes, I am thankful that this kind of craziness are yet to happen in Malaysia or will never.
My friend whispered to me that the children are usually not there while being auctioned off. When a suitable match is made, the parents will discreetly arrange for their offspring to meet at a determined location while the parents decide on the wedding date. My friend said aloud that he would not know where he would hide if he happen to witness the bartering and he would skulk away dying of embarrassment. “You may not want to come here often for you may bump into your parents”, I teased my friend. “Then nobody will accompany you to tour the Forbidden City for whole day”, he shot back.
Well, now the parents are taking another leap, they goes global.

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