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Marriages Are Made on Internet
These days marriages are no longer made in heaven, but on the internet. Well in the former case you can trust god, but in the world of internet, you cannot trust anyone. So are responsible for your marriage!
Hey, looking for me?" someone asked as Sujata walked into a popular coffee joint where she was supposed to meet Rishabh. It was a blind date... actually, partially blind, because Sujata knew what he looked like but she had never seen his face. The man who had called out now extended his hand, saying, "I'm Rishabh."

For a moment, Sujata was taken aback. "I thought you'd look different," she said, trying to think what his profile on the matrimonial website stated: Height: 5' 11"; Complexion: Fair; Body type: Athletic; Age: 31. But the person standing in front of her did not quite match that description.

Rishabh looked only about five foot six inches, had a dark complexion and the beer belly protruding out did not look very athletic. But out of good grace, Sujata simply lowered herself into a chair and struck up a conversation. As they talked, Sujata found that Rishabh had lied about his age, too. He was not 31, but 33 (may be even older, who knew).

Sujata extricated herself from this 'date' as quickly as she could without appearing too rude, giving vent to her feelings only in private.

Since that experience, Sujata has sworn off online dating. "Never again will I go for another blind date," she says. "Why couldn't he be honest about himself?"

False picture
Scores of people who meet with potential partners through matrimonial websites and chat sites face a similar situation. Sure, people do fall in love and marry after getting to know each other through the Internet, but they are among the lucky few. More often than not, the dates look nothing like what their profiles claim.

Sometimes, the mental wavelengths do not match despite the first round of online acquaintance.

Varun, a 28-year-old techie, has been disappointed in the looks department. "Most women advertise themselves as slim and pretty and have their best pictures online. I have met some of them, and trust me when I say there was no grey area for misinterpretation-the pictures did not tell the "truth." He concedes that men are the same. "They post pictures from five years ago, when they were fitter. I've also heard that they lie about their income."

Be site smart
Personal details are also omitted. Take the case of Nina. The 29-year-old had met 32-year-old Samir through a matrimonial site. Everything was great. They liked each other, had a good chemistry and similar mindsets. But it did not work out, as at their third meeting, Samir confessed that he was a divorcee. When she asked him why he had lied, he said it had been deliberate as nice girls did not approach divorcees. Nina broke off immediately.

Sarika is still bruised by the experience of her date with the 25-year-old had met a man after weeks of corresponding through e-mail and phone. When they met, they hit it off instantly. The next day, when she called up his place, his mom told her to stop calling. "She said he was getting engaged to someone that very day and that I should stop calling him up," Sarika says in dismay. "The creep that he was, he never told me about his engagement."

Check mate
So do these portals have any machanism to check the antecedents of people posting their profits? Vandana, PR manager of shaadi.com, says there is a team that checks all new profiles round the clock. "We check for any in congruities in the profile, like if a person's photo looks like he is 50 years old when is he claiming to be 30."

What about those who do not post their photos? "Well, we can't do much about them. Ultimately, it is the user who has to be alert," says Vandana. She also talks about shaadi seal, which the portal has started recently. People submit documents giving details like their address, date of birth, occupation and phone number, occupation and phone number, "We advise everybody logging in to apply for the seal," Vandana explains. Only about 10 per cent of the site's members have opted for the shaadi seal. Shaadi.com has more than 1.7 million members and claims to have half-a-million marriages to its credit.

Srikumar, regional manager of bharatmatrimony.com, says that his company does have a mechanism to check misinformation. "We have a paid service-Veriprofile-in which an agency autorised by us verifies a person's profile. We do a thorough background check about income, family background, educational qualifications etc."

Bharatmatimony claims to be the No.1 matrimony portal. "Veriprofile is available in 55 locations and about 80 per cent of our members have signed up for it," Srikumar says. The website has a free service, too, on the lines of the shaadi seal. But, like Vandana says, "fraud cannot be ruled out in these free services as people can submit fake documents if they want.

So for those who want to find partners online, it pays to be alert. Consultant psychologist Neeta Gupta, "These online relationships are short-term if you don't make an effort to meet the other person. And when you do, you'd either be extermely happy or end the relationship right away. In that case, it's best to find out more about the person before it becomes a serous affair."

If you are still hesitant to take the plunge, success stories like John's should provide inspiration. The 30-year-old met two women through a matrimonial site before he found Annie-whom he met through the same site. Today, the two are busy shopping for their trousseau.
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Posted on : 14/12/2005
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