Wedding Finance

‘All is destiny’: ‘Indian Matchmaking’ star on his oldest match and how Indian customers are different

“Indian Matchmaking,” Netflix’s popular deci-centric reality series, chronicles the romantic escapades of several single millennials in search of their perfect partners. Over the course of two seasons, viewers traveled between India and the United States to join each couple and their families on a tumultuous but undeniably memorable journey to find a partner.

In the same vein as most reality shows, “Indian Matchmaking” is not lacking in drama, tension, and unfavorable characters. The show’s biggest selling point, however, is its host, Sima Taparia, commonly referred to as “Sima from Mumbai” or, if you’re lucky, Sima Aunty.

“Since childhood, I had a unique ability to talk to people – scan them, filter them and match them.”

Revered as the best matchmaker in Mumbai, Taparia is a household name in the marriage industry and has decades of experience. For Taparia, no specific list of preferences – whether it’s man-buns, an “ovo-lacto-semi-vegetarian” diet, or a strict height of 5ft 8in – is too difficult. to address. And while she likes to remind her clients to settle for a fraction of what they want, Taparia is always on a mission to find them their other half using her network of trusted resources.

Shortly after the launch of the show’s second season, Salon spoke with Taparia about her renowned career, her penchant for using pen and paper, and what she learned about her international assembly of clients. Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of the interview was Taparia’s exuberant personality, which was incredibly infectious on Zoom.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

This season, you mentioned that marriage is a “very big and fat industry” in India and highlighted the importance of matchmakers. What encouraged you to pursue this specific industry and how did you get into the matchmaking business?

Since childhood, I’ve had a unique ability to talk to people – scan them, filter them, and match them – to socialize and enjoy parties. So I thought, “When I have this unique ability, why can’t I start matchmaking?” because these qualities are necessary for a matchmaker.

So I’ll take you 25 years [before]. I did a matchmaking of my sister, Priti, who’s in Boston right now [and] married and happy. Then when I saw that I could do this matchmaking and it was a big success, I thought I should go for the community because it’s a big help for the community. And in 2005, I started matchmaking. And I’m very happy to do this pairing because I get a lot of blessings – divine blessings – from people. And I have a feeling of satisfaction – the peace of satisfaction.

You frequently introduce yourself as “Sima from Mumbai” rather than “Sima” or “Sima Taparia”. Is there a specific reason why?

I say “Sima from Mumbai” on the show. I can also say that I am “Sima Taparia from Mumbai”. Or I say “Sima Taparia” too, several times. And many people call me “Sima Aunty”. And in India, “maamee” means aunt. So many people call me “Sima Maamee”. Now that my title has become famous, I am “Sima from Mumbai”. So there’s a catchphrase – people know me by that title.

I also noticed that you’re not a big fan of technology – you use a big ledger to track all of your clients and you print out your clients’ biographical data before sharing it with potential partners. Is the old way of using pen and paper better and, perhaps, more efficient than online software?

I like pen and paper, number one. I also think that I am not a slave to technology. There is this. But, I can say that my office uses the technology and has all the technology, but I don’t use it. I have always loved pen and paper. It is out of personal interest that I like pen and paper.

This season, many couples have met on their own rather than through your services. For example, there is Pradhuyman Maloo and Ashima Chauhan, who are now married, and Shital Patel and Niraj Mehta. How does your work as a matchmaker contribute to these specific encounters and successes?

I do my best to match, that’s the thing. But everything is destiny. When the match arrives, we don’t know what will happen afterwards because I have nothing in hand. The stars must align. So I try, in this job, for thousands of people, but it’s all fate, and it’s in God’s hands when they’re matched. The same is with them, whether they are matched with someone else or find their own partner. It’s all fate.

In Pradhuyman’s case, I showed him so many matches, but he wasn’t happy about it. But Ashima was in his destiny. So one day, Ashima came, and he liked her. The stars were aligned and they got married. Everything is destiny. Nothing is in our hands.

Your mantra that you’ll never find a 100% match and be prepared to settle for 60-70% is really interesting. What is the reasoning and logic behind this mantra? And do you find yourself reminding more male or female customers of this mantra?

When a client comes to see me for a match, he gives me his criteria and I guide him. Someone wants looks, someone wants size, someone wants finances, someone wants education, someone wants compatibility, someone wants beauty. I have to help them because they came to me with the following criteria and my job is to help them. But I tell them that if all these criteria cannot be met — because no one has 100% — of [prioritize] which criteria are most important.

“You give us four, five or six criteria and if they are met then you have to say yes.” So I tell them, “You get 60 to 70 percent satisfied and then you move on.” And they agree when I explain to them and guide them.

There must be someone to guide them. Or they will dream that I want this and that, and everything is simply not possible. What is written in fate, they will only get this thing. So when I guide them and when I explain to them, then they understand.

This mantra applies to both women and men – it is for both. Small adjustment, small compromise, be flexible, give love and take, appreciate each other’s work and respect each other’s strength. . . all these points are very important for a good and happy relationship. And the other thing is to have patience. It is also very important.

Throughout your career, you have worked with a diverse group of clients who live across the globe, from the US to India and even the UK. Who do you find that certain customer groups are the most difficult?

“I’m nothing. I’m just an intermediary. God has already made the pair. … That’s the beauty of pairing.”

In fact, God gave the same nature to everyone. Everyone is the pickiest, I can tell. But, they must understand that if they are very strict in picking [potential matches], they will be at a loss. They won’t succeed and things won’t happen. So I explain to my clients, “Look at the other qualities and don’t go ahead and start rejecting your matches. Just make sure your few criteria are met and then you have to say yes or no.” Those who are more demanding and more picky will have a problem.

Are American customers different from Indian customers? And if so, what are the differences?

I found a difference – in India both families are more involved in matchmaking. They see compatibility, it’s a must. But families get involved too. Then they also see the other things – education or finances or studies. And what I saw among customers abroad [in the U.S. or UK] is that children make that decision. There is no parental interference. Children see if they are compatible with their matches or not. There is a difference.

Do you work with older clients, for example, those who have lost their spouse or gone through a divorce? What is the age of the oldest client you have worked with?

Yeah, I worked for them too and I have a long list. A client of mine in Mumbai has married a third time. He is now 60 or 61 years old. He had married five years earlier, when he was 55.

Do you stay in contact with all your customers? How many weddings have you been invited to from this job?

When I work with the client, I am part of his family. It’s not like I’m doing business or being a broker. . . It is not like that. I become part of their family and they start to like me and I start to like them because they have full confidence in me and they treat me like a member of the family. And they say, “Sima Aunty, we love you so much and you are like a member of the family.” Even I am happy when the match materializes.

They invite me to the wedding and I make it a point to attend the wedding because the couple gives me divine blessing. I receive many blessings from them. The parents, they say, “Oh, Sima, you matched our son or our daughter.” I said, “I’m nothing. I’m just a middleman. God has already made the pair. God just sent me as a middleman.” That’s the beauty of matchmaking.

I can’t count but everywhere I played the game they invited me to the wedding. In two months, a wedding will take place at the Dubai Palace, and I will go there. They invited me, and I will go there. Wherever weddings take place, my clients invite me and I go there with pleasure because I give the blessing to couples to be happy. And I receive divine blessings from them.

“Indian Matchmaking” is currently streaming on Netflix. Watch a trailer, via YouTube.

Read more

Interviews with Salon: