Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rishta Exchange: Monetary Brilliance

I think I've spent atleast several hundred thousand hours of my time abroad explaining the concept of 'Rishta' or arranged marriages. So I'm quite well versed in talking about things that make me inherently uncomfortable. 

Imagine this with conversation with your room mate: 
Me: 'No we don't buy our women.....unless you are Saudi and have to give Mehr...but that's not really buying...more like a token of appreciation without which a marriage would not occur, in Pakistan you actually get jahez/dowry'
Friend: 'So you get paid to get married....are the girls that butt ugly.'
Me: 'No, but the furniture you get as dowry usually is, think of it as a garage sale turned donation....only with jewelry, clothes, money, furniture.' 
Friend: Bro, I want to be Pakistani now, it sounds awesome, and you can marry 4, it's like Christmas....but you get laid...and have better shot at an orgy.  

Rishta's is that proposal that puts the arranged marriage together. So it's basically the day your family points at a girl and says go marry her. In fact, they've already printed up the cards for the wedding, we've cleared the holiday time with your boss, just show up & don't be too wasted and isn't it nice how you are going to the Maldives for your honey moon? 

So, us brown folk have all seen how Rishta's work. A rishta comes, it goes, or it stays. We've (well me anyway) all read with assorted levels of amusement, the matrimonial section in the classified advertisement pages. So we know what goes into the making of a good rishta. I think we ought to professionalize it....stock market style. So here's what I propose (all puns and moral depravity intended).

A Rishta exchange, ala the stock exchange, where you can buy and sell shares in a Rishta. Anyone confused? No worries, I shall elaborate, elucidate and enthrall. And no, I am not talking about pimping (though such exchange would make sense).

Basically, A Rishta will become a commodity bond (which it is to a certain extent). Just like with bonds of publicly traded companies you can buy shares in publicly traded rishta's. Of course, a rishta is only a rishta for so long right? So each rishta will have to have a bond like maturity. The maturity being of course marriage. Of course, it doesn't have to end there, we could go into marriages as well, but thats diversification. Lets just focus on rishta's.

Since rishta's mature, they won't have pure ordinary shares like companies do. So they'll sort of be somewhere between bonds and shares. No, not like preferred shares or debentures or whatever else. These will be special rishta shares. They'll work like this:
Say a boy or a girl is born (holla!). We'll go with the boy first, since different things affect the prices of boys rishta's and girls rishta's:

So the boy is born, and after the birth, initial cuddling, naming, pooping and talk about how cute the kid's feet are, there'll be an IPO for the boys rishta. At this point the price will be determined by the parents status. For example if they're big land owners then the rishta's value is naturally higher. If they're big industrialists the value is higher. Etcetera. Now as time goes by the rishta will trade fairly evenly to start with. Changes in the parents status and in the child's surroundings will affect the rishta's value, but nothing the child does initially will really affect the rishta, unless it comes to light that the child has sadistic tendencies or is insane, or some assorted mental or physical deficiency or perhaps he's a little Mozart with the sitar. Anyway the boys own voluntary actions start affecting the rishta later. So if the boy gets into drugs, the value of the rishta will drop. I'm sorry, but this is a fact. A drug addled boy will lower his rishta value. And if the boy is gay....well, then the share price will drop exponentially till he can be 'cured' from the ailment.

So a whole range of socio-economic factors will play into the boys rishta's value. Now, boys tend to have longer maturities than girls. This is not true across the board, but true enough that we can generalize. A boy's rishta tenure lasts from birth till after 25 in most cases. A girls would be generally less than 25. This is not laid in stone of course, and the tenure is subject to fluctuation, which will make valuations harder of course, but thats where the risk comes in. And of course inherent risk is always there, the rishta bearer may die. But hey, a company could spontaneously combust as well. So yeah inherent risk is of course the major Hand. but that's life. You could die too. So yeah moving along...

So the boy gets a green card = rishta value goes up, the boy breaks a leg juggling armadillo's with his feet = rishta value goes down. The boy is a doctor = rishta value goes up, the boy is a sweeper= rishta value goes down.

If a boys parents are major landowners and their political affiliations work out for the better, that is their party comes into power = rishta value goes up, and conversely it goes down. Though not too drastically, a land owner's kids rishta is a fairly safe bet.

If the boy has a rape case against him, thats a different story.

So anyway, the maturity date becomes more concrete when the boy gets baat pakki-o-fied. The rishta now ceases to trade like a share, and becomes a full fledged bond in nature. of course, it can always revert if the engagement is broken, but then the rishta value drops rather significantly. Once the nikkah happens, the rishta ceases and the owners get a payout from the jahez.

Now onto the Girls:
So a girls IPO differs only slightly from the boys, in that theres no khatna. Of course the perceived tenure for a girls rishta is shorter. Anyway, they trade in a similar mien. The parents Socio-economic classification is a major determinant of the rishta's intial value, and how it trades in the early years. Of course, education and other things come into play. The girls reputation of course bears more heavily on the rishta's value than the boys, due to of course the dual moralities prevalent in our society.

So, the girl moves on in the world, and of course the same factors dealing with the girls physical and mental state play into the rishta value. However the voluntary actions of the girls weigh heavily on the girls rishta's value. If the girl is into drugs, the value of the rishta fall a little more steeply than the boys. If the girl drinks, the value plummets (we are assuming perfect free markets where there are no closet drinkers). This is because a girl who is intoxicated can be taken advantage of by boys, whereas a boy who is intoxicated is less likely to be taken advantage of by girls (that poor tied up waiter not withstanding) or by boys (albeit the ones who deny being gay) for that matter. Needless to say the hotter the girl the more likely is her value to increase and this can be fore casted based on her genes.

So intoxication of all sorts bear more heavily on the girls rishta value than boys with nasha's. Again, it's the dual morality and double standards prevalent in society... well actually, no, this is just more common sense. Its the same as saying a girl can write her name in snow as easily as boys. No, it doesn't work that way.
Now if a girl gets pregnant, thats a major problem. The rishta immediately ceases to trade, and the maturity date is decided suddenly. The rishta effectively becomes a junk bond. However fret not, you can actually get lucky in this case and make a killing (assuming that the girl isn't killed). If the girl is taken to wife by a wealthy old man, you can actually make out good. Of course this is rare, and extremely risky. High returns for abnormally high risk....

So a girl approaches her maturity, and then it works much the same way as with boys, except that the maturity period is shorter. The older a girl gets and remains unmarried, her rishta has been restructured as unsecured debt, though this could be good as her parents may be willing to take enormous amounts of loans to provide for a good dowry. So there is still potential in this distressed asset pricing model.

Traders will make a killing.....BUT ALL ASSETS WILL BE FAIRLY PRICED!!! In fact some issues value may be artificially revised due to plastic surgery, and this investment would make all commodities listed in the exchange appreciate in value plus we'd have alot more good looking people around....and who wouldn't want that? 

So I think I've made it somewhat clear, other factors that Ive either not thought of, or I've not bothered listing because well, this isn't a book or a thesis...though it should be, as it would have made much more interesting reading than my thesis. 

NOTE: Majority of this has unapologetically been stolen from Asmer. 


Anonymous said...

I just love this, in fact the superlatives you drag from me are becoming debased. I'll have to start again! I get quite close to loving this post. That will from henceforth qualify as quite high praise. You have a complicated, devious, creative, and admirable mind. I quite like it!
Just one very minor qibble. The value of a gay boy's rishta 'will drop exponentially' (not too sure how 'exponentially' works in this context, but putting that aside) so wouldn't be a good idea to accept that a 'cure' isn't coming, and offer hope to the connections of the poor gay boy, by issuing a sort of niche rishta for gays? Oh, silly me! This is Pakistan. It would have to be traded on the black market. Love, Alec xx

Alpha Za said...

Alec, thanks for the comment bud, I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Devious-Check, Creative-Check, Complicated-Check, Admirable-Check: Yep sounds like me.

Pakistani parents would refuse to believe that being gay isn't curable and since they are the ones with the money, they'll be directly influencing prices.

Black markets are a fact of life, some unlisted trades will be going on...particularly with boys with large closets and large bathroom product cabinets.

Anonymous said...

Yippee! xx

Sonia said...

Very interesting as usual. I feel that some “rishta” stuff is going on for you these days.
Good Luck in this case and don’t forget to post the wedding invitation card on your blog for your followers ;) Hmmm! Just wondering (keep in view your creative mind) how that card would look like?

Alpha Za said...

@ Sonia: Thank you for the comment. Sorry to disappoint, but no rishta stuff is going on for me right now!

If I did have to design a wedding card (which i doubt, as that sounds like part of the bridezilla process)I'd probably have the card in a jewelery box, and within the box the card would be substituted with a small green silk scarf with all of the appropriate details on it, which would include waving them in the air as the bride makes her way in.

There'll also be a some jasmine flowers in the box to give the cloth some scent.

Then again, this is all the top off my head.

Sonia said...

How romantic, even if its top off your head.

Alpha Za said...

Thanks ;)

Becky said...

hey za. what i gathered from this is that you're getting married. that's it. off the market, shucks. anyways, interesting nonetheless!

Alpha Za said...

Hey Becky, thanks for the comments and it's good to hear from you! I hate to ruin your supreme deductive reasoning, but I'm not getting married. I just have a very random meshy mind ;)