Pak Girl Has Created An ‘Arranged Marriage’ Board Game Made For Every 20 Something Desi

“Kudi kudi kudi, choose karle munda, one two ya three, ya anwa ya anwa ya anwa!”

First comes love and then comes marriage, that’s what we used to sing as kids while teasing our friend with her crush in school. How did we know that as desis that’s really not the progression we would have in our love life!? It’s first comes khandaan, then comes financial background and then comes shaadi (and after that MAYBE comes loves!) All thanks to our very own pyare relatives!

Picture Courtesy- Dharma Productions

However, obviously in these times arranged marriages aren’t forced upon kids but is a choice they are presented with. And in fact this game designer is trying to break the myth all over the world that desi children are forced into being with a life partner their parents choose for them.

Pakistani designer, Nashra Balagamwala has produced an interesting board game called ‘Arranged!’, and you guessed right it’s about arranged marriage. WHAT!?

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According to Mangobaaz, she always had a keen interest in game designing. Growing up, she and her cousin would buy many games and throw out the rule manual and make up their own rules and play. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and it was not until she took a course on game design that she thought of it as a career opportunity.

She told BBC that the game has a dual purpose, one is to start a dialogue among South Asian families on what is expected of women. And the other is to educate the west about arranged marriages so that they could understand South Asian traditions more.

Balagamwala has been through experiences very similar to most desi girls. She has been raised in a way so that she is appealing for rishtas and to excel at all the things that would make her ‘marriageable’! She said,

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“We’ve all grown up hearing ‘don’t dress like that, don’t sit like that, everyone’s watching you etc.’ I was tired of being judged by the colour of my skin, my ability to cook a perfectly round roti, or make a good cup of chai. So in an effort to vent my anger, I turned it into a board game.”

One of her biggest problems after the game was created was getting the correct message across. She believes that people in the west confuse arranged marriages with forced marriages. They confuse her light-hearted game with grave social issues like acid attacks and honour killings; things that flood the western media.

Now I know you all are wondering how the board game actually works. Don’t worry I’m about to tell you (and be sure that you’ll now forget Ludo and Snakes and Ladders!)

‘Arranged!’ starts with a rishta auntie chasing down three girls who she wants to fix up with one of the suitors she has on hand. And wait for it, some of them are “pervy perversion”, “the womanizer”, or “mama’s boy”.

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The girls on the other hand, have to basically run away from the aunty by drawing a deck of cards that are filled with ‘scandalous’ things that would make any desi adult click their tongues and say, “Hai Ram!”

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The girls can do this by talking about having a career, gaining weight, being seen in the mall with boys or photoshopping alcohol in their pictures. They can even blackmail the aunty if they find out truths like she has a 23-year-old unmarried daughter.

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The aunty on the other hand, keeps moving closer to the girls thanks to her own deck of cards. They are cards such as  “girl with childbearing hips” or “girl whose parents have been collecting dowry for 10 years”.

The game ends when all the girls are married.

Balagamwala said that the game has changed the way people see her in Pakistan. While her immediate family is supportive, others either ignore her or tell her that she’s against Pakistani culture. She said,

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“My dad joked, ‘Well, you didn’t want to get married and now you’ve made sure that no-one in Pakistan will marry you!'”

However, she has got a great response from South-Asian women whom the game has resonated with. And to her surprise even desi men gave her a positive response thanking her for a female perspective.

In the beginning, she didn’t receive any rishtas from Pakistani men because you know, she’s unsansakiri AF! However, now after six months she is on the kudi-kudi-choose-munda-radar again.

Talking about how obsessed desis are with a certain prototype of female beauty, Balagamwala said,

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“The sad part is that I’m a girl with light skin and light eyes, and that’s the reason they’re proposing again. These aunties, when they call my mum, actually say, ‘Oh we’re going to have a green-eyed daughter-in-law.'”

She however, is still playing the field and has declined all proposals so far.

I’m sure this has resonated with all of you at a spiritual level. A game based on arranged marriages, WOW! From now on, screw bingeing on TV shows, Imma play ‘Arranged!’ non-stop! If not in real life, at least in a game I can run away from aunties constantly saying, “Ab toh shaadi ki umar ho gayi hai ladki ki!

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