Halfway through watching La La Land and I was already yawning at a rate of who-cares-how-much. The point is I was bored. This was unexpected from a movie nominated for Best Picture. Maybe I was not on a romantic level required to get what the movie was trying to convey. Maybe there was too much to which I couldn't personally relate, but deep down, I wanted to. Perhaps I lived in this parallel universe where love is more of a utility than a purpose. All the 'maybes' were just to tell you how I felt. I know the reason. It's because of the place I grew up and constructed my perspectives about love around — the place I would like to call Blah Blah Land.

Blah Blah Land is a tough place to grow up in. Here, love is almost a taboo before marriage and a must-have after marriage. Here, boys and girls are told to maintain a distance between them and at the same time expect them to understand each other, after they get married, of course. Here, you cannot hold your lover's hand in public, but one can get away with groping someone. Here, if you hate someone, that is entirely your problem, but if you love someone, it is everybody's problem. Welcome to Blah Blah Land!

A few months back, I was playing with my seven-year-old cousin when she asked me, "Why are you smiling while using your phone? Texting your girlfriend?" My mom was there too, who, to my surprise, replied, "What is so amusing? He is old enough to have one now!" And I was sitting there embarrassed. Embarrassed because one, I didn't have a girlfriend. And two, my mom knew I didn't have one and poked fun at me anyway! I was like: my friends are enough to make fun of my love life, or the absence thereof, I don't need you for that mom!

As part of poking fun at me, mom and mostly the ladies in my family talk about my marriage prospects already because now I am the first one in line. All the marriages in my family have been arranged. I don't have any malice against arranged marriages, but I certainly have some disagreements with its practice and philosophy. One reason for that is that I would like to see a lot of changes in the existing structure of society and arrange marriages don't promise that. I believe they are one of the most empowering agents of conservatism.

Most marriages in Blah Blah Land are arranged. And for arranged marriages, the boy and girl have to be from the same religion and caste. The only change I have witnessed is the family's approval rates for the same caste love-cum-arranged marriages have improved. And that is how people expect love to happen, between the same caste, religion — not challenging the fundamental design of the so-called richest civilization on earth. Models like the caste system are not only discriminatory but also outdated and even unscientific. Because scientifically, a child born from parents coming from two different caste/religious backgrounds generally have a higher IQ than a child born from parents of the same caste. We need to diminish our differences. Arranged marriages don't help in achieving that.

The second reason for disagreeing with arranged marriages' principles is that I believe one should be capable of choosing who s/he would like to live with. Did you know only human parents get involved with their children's love life? This is probably another thing we can learn from animals. Just let your children fall in love with who they want to fall in love with. I know animals have an advantage; they don't have a caste system!

The front seat in a Kathmandu tempo is my most favorite way of traveling. And sometimes, I feel love is like a Kathmandu tempo. It looks ugly but runs on clean energy. Constructed from previously worn-out materials still serving as much as it can — not the most comfortable but eco-friendly. Love is not yet comfortable for society but is socio-friendly. In a Kathmandu tempo, people sit facing each other and try to escape long eye-contact, realizing the awkwardness of the whole thing. And like in love, there are no discounts.

Blah Blah Land offers a limited environment for love to grow, which also means less life to grow. I know "Love is life" is one of the most childish sounding slogans ever, but sometimes most profound meanings are hidden beneath childish makeovers. Love is one such thing with a childish makeover. We need to accept people who love people just because they are people. As prerequisites for love increase, love decreases. And when love decreases, how will Blah Blah Land turn into La La Land?

A version of this article appears on our Medium Page.
First published on Jan 10, 2018.