Nandini Bajpai on writing A Match Made in Mehendi
Love takes many forms and the presence and quality of love in teens’ lives impacts their social and emotional health. In A Match Made in Mehendi love is certainly a major theme.
The teenage years are a hotbed of stress, personal growth, social experimentation and the start for the search for romantic love. Societies have had different ways of conducting this search over the ages from arranged marriages set up by matchmakers to dating apps in the twenty first century. The world in which Simi lives in an Indian American community in New Jersey has the whole range of approaches happening simultaneously from the matches her mom and masi carefully arrange in their matchmaking business to the drama and messy relationships in the hallways of her school. No wonder Simi wants to stay in the safe backwaters of her school’s social scene with her friend Noah, though both of them would like to find and date the perfect guy. But not for long.
Having seen these worlds up close in my life it was both very uncomfortable and very interesting to bring them together and see what happens. What if Simi took the techniques used by the matchmakers in her family and applied them to the high school dating scene? How would her peers, some of them Indian American and the first generation to grow up in America, react? How would kids that are more privileged react when kids they don’t consider worthy start to get attention and find partners the entitled ones have set their sights on? What if everybody gets out of their perceived lane to actually cross the lunchroom floor and be with people that they share common values with whatever their background? And what would happen if their parents found out?