Monday, April 30, 2007


Thoughtful reader gabbiana asked:
Hee. Your mom is totally my mom. And apparently also Chick Pea's mom. THEY TRUST US SO MUCH.

But what is biodata?
Why, thank you for asking! "Biodata" is a well-known term in the South Asian American community for what is essentially your dating resume. It includes not only important CV-type stuff, but also information about your siblings and parents, like where they went to school and what they do; basically it tries to give a sense of how well-established not only the individual but his/her family are. When the lucky son/daughter reaches marryin' age, those biodata are flung far and wide to every distant cousin or friend your mom can think of, in the hopes that someone has a child of the opposite sex in the same approximate age bracket whom they wish to pimp out as well.

In addition, the biodata includes descriptions of one's hobbies ("Square reads, dances, and cooks full north Indian dinner!"), interests ("She loves to wear sarees and play classical Indian instruments"), and MEASUREMENTS. (Yes! Height and weight are STANDARD on a traditional biodata!) It may also include an unflattering photograph or two. "Cringingly awkward" is the name of the game here.

These biodata are usually concocted not by the subject, but by the subject's mother, which is why my hobbies would lead a potential mate to believe that I am Captain Dork. My mom claims not to have created a biodata for me but the fact that she was so eager to see HOHOPIS's biodata leads me to believe that there is surely some terrible document saved somewhere on our home computer as "Square's biodata for future life partner."

(Also, as I'm typing this, I remember this one time I was at a bar and this very attractive Caucasian guy and I were having a humorous conversation about our parents' disastrous efforts to set us up on dates, and I made the mistake of using the term "potential mate." I forget sometimes that ONLY MY MOTHER says things like "life partner" and "potential mate" because we talk SO MUCH ABOUT IT that they have started to feel like terms that can be tossed about casually. He gave me the weirdest look and I had to try and explain myself, and it was hugely embarassing.)


gabbiana said...

Hooray! I'm thoughtful!

Wow, biodata sounds really detailed. It's funny; I feel like my parents instruct me *not* to give out too much information about our family to potential suitors (while trying to find out everything about their backgrounds, of course). Because, y'know, they might be gold diggers, and who needs that? On the other hand, it might be really nice to have all that information on the table. Like I said, my date and I are always trying to sniff that stuff out anyway (at least, I am, because I'm the girl).

I'm curious as to what "marryin' age" is. Post-college? Sooner? Later? I'm just thinking of the time AT MY BAT MITZVAH (so I was 13, flat-chested, and had braces on my teeth) when my grandma's friend pulled out a picture of her equally dorky 13-year-old grandson and told me how he wanted to become a doctor. How early is too early, is what I'm saying?

Also, how much fudging goes on in these documents... I mean, on JDate, if a dude lists his body type as "average," you can be almost sure he's a little chunky. On a biodata sheet, is it height (plus two inches), weight (minus ten pounds)? Is there elaboration of job titles, etc?

My parents haven't really tried fixing me up in any real way, but that's only because I've conveniently removed myself from Atlanta since the age of 17. My dad once gave my number to a business associate to pass on to his son, back when I (and the guy in question) lived in Chicago, but it never went anywhere. I wonder what Dad said about me... beyond "She's Jewish and premed." Probably nothing; "Jewish and premed" is enough.

"Future life partner" is one term my mom would never use. "Bastard," perhaps. Oh, and "prenup." Those come up in our conversations a lot. Believe it or not, she really does want me to get married.

square peg said...

That's a good question, and I think it depends on who you ask. For my mother, "marryin' age" was when I started college. "It takes time to get the ball rolling, you know." (Considering all the time and effort she spends with it, I'm surprised she hasn't done a better job. And now I use it against her -- anytime she criticizes me for not being "settled" I say it's her fault for not finding me someone. That usually does the trick.)

Yeah, I think there's a lot of fudging on biodata. Keeping in mind that I'm only working on an n of 3 here, guys usually say they're much taller than they actually are. I'm 5'9". If you're 5'6" and try to say you're 5'8", I WILL NOTICE. I'm sure there's a lot of padding to other aspects as well, much like real CVs!

Speaking of which, I am going to make my kids drink milk like crazy. My mom used to make me drink 4 tall glasses of milk a day when I was growing up ("makes your hair and teeth pretty!"), and she says that's why my siblings and I are so frickin' tall compared to my cousins.

chick pea said...

ahh.. marrying age for my father is after school is finished.. hence my long ass time in residency. (pick the longest one, before the noose gets hung)..

my mom has a different opinion.. (go into pharmacy or dentistry, do not become a doctor--too much school, no time to get you married off).

biodata. my mom asked me for one the other day as they are leaving for india trip 2007. gave her the 'oh i'm getting paged, gotta run and save this patient'.


square peg said...

Chick, I know! Like, how do you write a document that is supposed to make you look like the worlds biggest dork? It's so shameful. It's almost better to have a really terrible one that your mom created for you -- it's going to be bad, but at least you can't be blamed for it.

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