Conversation starters to distract the family from your marital status
Be a conversation ninja this festive season
I am 25. An only child, daughter, and the oldest of my generation on the maternal side. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to guess my family’s favourite way to greet me at any party? “Mulga baghaaycha ka? Lagna karaycha na?” (Let’s look for boys? You want to get married, right?) The question has become the bane of my existence, haunting me since my last birthday. Even the best tantrik baba in the country couldn’t get rid of this shaadi poltergeist for me if they tried.
Buas have turned into Sima aunty sending rishtaas and waiting for my stars to align. Maasis discuss their outfits for my hypothetical wedding day with the precision of Beyonce’s stylist deciding the pop star’s Met Gala look. Dodging these invasions in my love life at any family event has become an extreme sport, from faking phone calls to using my career as a shield and lashing out in irritation if nothing works. Marriage anxiety can be overwhelming and I’ve spent several parties calming my emotional meltdowns by wolfing down samosas and gulping sickly sweet blue lagoons.
Now that we’re in the festive season, I’ve found the perfect strategy to evade shaadi interrogations that don’t end with my parents giving me the death stare, followed by me storming off looking like anger from Inside Out. I’m arming myself with safe conversation starters that will easily distract the family from asking about my dulhe raja criteria – and can you if you’re sailing in the same boat. Let’s swat them shaadi inquisitors together.
6 conversation starters to steer clear of the ‘M’ word during the festive season
Spill the tea
My 86-year-old aaji (grandmother) always loved celeb gossip. She spent many afternoons on YouTube watching paparazzi videos and listening to filmy trivia. Gossip gets a bad reputation, but science says it’s an important social skill that helps humans bond, and discover unwritten rules of navigating tricky situations. The reason why we’re so interested in knowing about secret celebrity weddings and which actor got a nose job, is our primate brain. Evolutionary biologist Daniel Kruger listed two reasons for this in a Medical Daily report — learning about higher-status individuals so you think you might become one, and to sail through different social settings.
As you fetch yourself a Negroni (check out our recipe here) and your maami’s glass of wine, think back to the latest celeb gossip you overheard at the salon and repeat the story as you flutter from circle to circle. It’s a foolproof way of keeping the bae questions at bay. And if that doesn’t work, compliment Reena chachi’s personal style and spam her with the latest celebrity airport looks.
Let the stars save you tonight
Pintu is definitely a Gemini, he barely ever sits still. Pammi aunty is an Aries, always ready to fight with her husband Monty uncle, who’s a through and through Libra, forever sitting in a metaphorical meditative pose.
Nothing will get the conversation up and running like guessing the zodiac traits of your family. There will be that one self-proclaimed palm reader who just needs a prompt, and they’ll volunteer to decipher everyone’s kismat ki lakeerein. At a recent family event, when I was cornered to share details of my love life, I deflected by saying Mercury is in retrogade and it’s a bad time for Geminis to find true love. This was the cue for a family friend to jump in and offer to read my palm. While I excused myself to take a quick bathroom break, the lady entertained the inquisitive relatives with her clairvoyant talents.
Eventually, they moved on to discussing something else and I enjoyed my aaloo dum biryani in peace. Feel free to use astrology in any way to spin them up, up and away from your wedding discussions.
Long live cringe videos
Love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it. Whether it’s twins singing haule haule saajna, dheere dheere baalma or the latest sartorial storm of mouse and laddoo peela colour salwar suits, you simply can’t scroll away from viral Instagram reels.
Cringe videos are now the way of life on Instagram. It’s your guilty pleasure, 3 A.M. companion and now it’s also your social saviour. The moment you sense the ‘M’ of marriage coming up, whip out your phone and distract your family with the latest social media trend. In response, they’ll probably show you some spiritual messages or the latest conspiracy theory doing the rounds on WhatsApp. And just like that, they’re successfully wrapped in a social media spiral with questions about ‘why you’re still single?’ buried long ago. *Smiles in evil*
Leave them stumped
It’s not a sport, it’s a religion. Once you get going about cricket, no one will remember to ask you about anything else. And with the World Cup in full swing, all you need to do is start talking about Rohit Sharma’s strategy to make up for Hardik Pandya’s absence, Virat’s fitness levels, his on-field candidness and the upcoming match. The night is sure to pass faster than the Delhi-bound Vande Bharat Express. And, if you don’t know anything about cricket, throw in a controversial question about the captaincy. That’ll be enough to get everyone started.
While maasis and mamas are discussing whether India will make it to the finals, who’s the better player and past matches, you can sneak out with your cousins to click your annual Diwali photo dump.
Yank skeletons out of the closet
There’s a common flow of conversation all relatives stick to: Comment on weight, career trajectory, daily commute, we’re happy, you’re happy, marriage. Digging up saucy old gossip, I’ve realised is one of the best ways to divert attention away from you. The moment they’re done with my professional aspirations, I slyly drop one of these: “Why don’t we speak to Meena maasi? What happened between Shailesh mama and Kasturi maasi 10 years ago? What’s the property conflict between the Guptas?’
And bam, you get access to information you didn’t have as a child. Getting the family to spill details on scandalous inheritance dramas and interpersonal relationships will either get them riled up or nostalgic, either way, you would’ve successfully evaded scrutiny.
It’s not fog, it’s smog
In my experience, the family elders like nothing more than starting sentences with “hamare zamaane mein” and “your generation is…” It’s a rabbit hole they simply can’t resist falling into. The rapidly dropping air quality is engaging enough to get them to start pulling out their opinion guns and babaji’s all-natural nuskas to clear your sinuses.
When my dad is not reminiscing about the good ‘ol days of bright skies and clear air, fufaji compensates by regurgitating entire newspaper articles complete with facts. Sometimes it’s unrelated to the topic of discussion, but he’s never deterred.
Light the spark for a healthy debate and it’ll be more crackling than any ladi or sutli bomb. It might end with a generational debate and you and your cousins will get dragged into a generic ‘bash the millennials and Gen-Z’ conversation. But, you know what would be long forgotten? The debate on whether or not you need a shaadi.com profile. Kuch paane ke liye kuch khona padta hai.