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“All is destiny”: Indian Matchmaking star on her oldest match and how foreign clients are different

A Netflix Originals star spoke to Salon about how she broke into matchmaking, weddings and the pickiest clients.

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Sima Taparia, of “Indian Matchmaking,” is a matchmaker based in Mumbai. Netflix’s popular desi-centric reality series “Indian Matchmaking” follows the dating exploits of a group of young singles as they try to find lasting relationships. The show’s two seasons have taken viewers on a whirlwind trip across the globe, from India to the United States, as they follow two sets of parents and their children as they navigate the perilous but ultimately rewarding process of finding love.

Drama, tension, and unfavorable characters abound in “Indian Matchmaking,” much like in other reality dating shows. However, Sima Taparia, also known as “Sima from Mumbai” or, if you’re lucky, “Sima Aunty,” is the show’s biggest draw.

I’ve always been able to quickly assess, sort, and pair people with whom I’m conversing.

Salon spoke with Taparia shortly after the second season premiered to learn more about her impressive career, her preference for writing by hand, and the lessons she has learned from working with a diverse clientele from all over the world. Taparia’s own upbeat demeanor was extremely contagious throughout the interview, which was conducted via Zoom and was perhaps the most satisfying aspect overall.

Clarifications have been made to this interview for readability.

You brought up the role of matchmakers and how marriage is a “very big, fat industry” in India this season. How did you get your start in the matchmaking business, and what inspired you to go into it?

I’ve always been able to talk to anyone, scan them, filter them, and pair us up so we can have fun at parties. This got me thinking, since these traits are essential for a matchmaker, why I haven’t I tried my hand at it before.

So, let’s go back in time twenty-five years. My sister Priti, who is now settled down with her husband in Boston, was the beneficiary of a match I arranged. Then, after realizing that I’m good at matchmaking, I decided to launch the service publicly, where it would do the most good. And I started arranging dates in 2005. When I help people find love, I am showered with blessings from on high. When that happens, I feel contentment and calm as a result.

Your preferred self-introduction is “Sima from Mumbai,” rather than just “Sima” or “Sima Taparia.” Do you happen to know why?

I introduce myself as “Sima from Mumbai” on air. My name is Sima Taparia, and I live in Mumbai. Or, “Sima Taparia,” which I also use frequently. Many of my students refer to me as “Sima Aunty.” Additionally, “maamee” translates to “aunt” in Indian English. “Sima Maamee” is what many people call me. “Sima from Mumbai” is now a well-known moniker of mine. That’s my catchphrase right there; it’s what I’m commonly referred to as.

It has also come to my attention that you are not a big fan of technology; you use a thick book to keep track of your clients, and you have them physically print out their biodata before showing it to potential partners. Is it possible that using pen and paper is more effective and time-efficient than using modern computer programs?

The written word is my first love. I also don’t consider myself to be a tech slave. That’s something. However, I can assure you that technology is used and present in my workplace; however, I do not make use of it. For me, a pen and paper is a necessity. This preference of mine for pen and paper stems purely from a matter of taste.

This season, many couples did not use your services to meet one another. Pradhuyman Maloo and Ashima Chauhan are a married couple, and so are Shital Patel and Niraj Mehta. Can you elaborate on the role you played as a matchmaker in facilitating these relationships?

What it comes down to is that I do my best to conform. Still, I believe in fate. Since I have no control over the outcome of the match, we have no idea what will happen after it. It’s imperative that circumstances be favorable. So, in this job, I do my best for thousands of people, but ultimately, their fateful pairing is in God’s hands. They, too, are either paired off with someone else or end up finding their own suitable partner. What will be, will be.

I tried showing Pradhuyman numerous suitable partners, but he was unsatisfied with all of them. To be with Ashima, however, was written into his fate. Ashima eventually showed up, and he immediately took a shine to her. Since everything fell into place, they tied the knot. Ultimately, everything will play out as it must. It’s all out of our control.

I think it’s fascinating that you preach the idea that people should expect to settle for a 60%-70% compatibility level. Where does this adage’s reasoning and sense come from, exactly? Which gender of client do you find yourself reminding more often?

When a customer approaches me for a recommendation, they provide me with the details of their ideal partner and I help them find them. Everyone has different standards of what they consider attractive: some prioritize height, others money, still others upbringing, still others compatibility or beauty. The following are the criteria they’ve presented me with, and it is my responsibility to assist them. I tell them to [prioritize] which criteria are most important if it is not possible to fulfill all of these criteria (since nobody has 100%).

To paraphrase: “You give us four or five or six criteria and if they’re fulfilled, then you have to say yes.” What I usually tell them is, “You satisfy 60 to 70% and then you proceed.” Even after I’ve guided them and explained it to them, they agree.

They need to be led by an expert. On the other hand, they might daydream, “I want so-and-so,” even though that would be an impossibility. As fate would have it, they will only receive what is predetermined for them. They get it when I lead them and explain it to them.

Everyone, male and female, can and should live by this mantra. A good and happy relationship requires little in the way of adjustment, little in the way of compromise, flexibility, giving love and taking love, appreciating each other’s work, and respecting each other’s strength. Also, remember to exercise patience. Indeed, that is also crucial.

All through your professional life, you’ve dealt with clients from all over the world, from the USA to India and even the UK. Which type of customers do you find to be the most discerning?

“I don’t amount to anything. It’s not like I’m anything more than a go-between. The two of them are a match made in heaven. That is why matchmaking is so effective.”

In reality, God has endowed each person with the same basic traits. As far as I can tell, everyone is extremely particular. But they need to be aware that if they’re too picky about [potential matches], they’ll end up disappointed. They will fail, and their plans will not come to fruition. So, I try to educate my customers by saying, “Don’t rush to dismiss potential partners before you evaluate all of their other attributes. Check that your few requirements are met, and then decide yes or no.” Those with the highest standards will run into trouble.

Have you noticed any differences between working with American and Indian customers? How so, and what distinctions exist between them?

However, I did notice one key distinction: in India, both sets of parents play a more active role in arranging the wedding. There is obviously a mutual attraction there. Nonetheless, relatives often participate as well. Then they consider the background factors, such as the upbringing, financial stability, and academic achievements. In my experience with international clients (from the United States or the United Kingdom), it is the children who make this choice. The parents aren’t getting in the way. When the kids meet their matches, they find out if they click. Indeed, a distinction exists.

Do you assist clients who are of retirement age who may have experienced the loss of a spouse or divorce? When it comes to your clientele, how old is the oldest person they’ve ever been?

I have a long list of companies for which I have done work for them. In Mumbai, I had a client who recently got married for the third time. His current age is 60 or 61. When he was 55 years old, he finally tied the knot.

How often do you communicate with each customer? I’m curious as to how many weddings you’ve been invited to because of your employment here.

When I take on a new client, I feel like I’m joining a new family. It’s not like I’m running a business or acting as a middleman. Because they trust me completely and treat me like a member of the family, I feel a deep connection to them and they to me. Additionally, they express their affection by saying, “Sima Aunty, we love you so much and you’re like a family member.” As for me, I’m ecstatic whenever a suitable pairing occurs.

The couple has blessed me with their presence at their wedding, so I make it a point to be there. They have bestowed many blessings upon me. Oh, Sima, you have matched our son or daughter, the parents exclaim. I said, “I don’t amount to anything. It’s not like I’m anything more than a go-between. The two of them are a match made in heaven. As an intermediary, I have been sent by God.” This is one of the many benefits of using a matchmaker.

No matter how many matches I’ve made, I always end up being invited to the wedding. When a wedding is being held in Dubai Palace in two months, I will be there to attend it. I’ve accepted their invitation and will be attending. My clients invite me to their weddings all over the world, and I gladly accept their invitations because I enjoy wishing joy and prosperity upon the happy couple. And they shower me with divine favor.

It’s possible to watch “Indian Matchmaking” right now on Netflix. See a preview on YouTube.