Swayamvara (Keep Reading)

When I was young I learned about ancient Indian myths through a very important method--comic books. I will elaborate more on Amar Chitra Katha at later date, when I am more competent. But that is where I learned about the practice in ancient India of swayamvara--an excellent practice that should be revived. It goes something like this:

A king decides that it is time for his daughter to choose a husband. He invites all the most eligible princes and kings in the neighborhood to come over to his palace and compete for the princess's hand in marriage. Sometimes there were feats of strength or wit or military prowess. Sometimes they just hung out and schmoozed, and the princess never even saw them. Eventually, they were all lined up in the long grand hall (all palaces have at least one Grand Hall) and the princess entered with a garland. She would throw the garland around the neck of the king she would marry.

Now, while this may not be logical in this day and age, there is something rather delicious in getting a group of men to compete for you. I think this is every woman's secret fantasy on some level, and it transcends culture. The ancient Greeks competed for Helen of Troy, for example, and men have dueled for ladies (and ladies have liked it) for centuries. But there's an intrinsic problem with the idea--it's still really a man's game. The father picks the men who get to come, all the tests are masculine ones (which may not be of any interest to a princess) and most of the time, it's resolved according to strength of army, size of coffers, political nicety and diplomacy, rather than love or attraction.

Enter Jerry Hall. Yes, another Jerry Hall blog entry. This, my friends is the reason that I am obsessed with this show. Apart from having great fun at humiliating a bunch of pretty boys, she is conducting her own little swayamvara, having a ball at waxing them down, dressing them up, parading them around until she gets them the way that she likes them. For Jerry Hall, an essential test is how a man looks in a Speedo--or, at least, as naked as possible. In every episode, she has managed to strip them to near-nudity, with virtually no logic behind it. Now the speedo nor the humilation would not be one of my tests. Maybe I'd have him fix a car or shoot some pool. Cook Indian food. Or something useful, like build the perfect litter box or help me balance my checkbook.

Anyway, I admire her insight into what she needs: a buff, hairless, Vivienne Westwood-wearing, 20-something man who photographs well and is groomed like a member of a boy band. Good for her. Her only problem seems to be the fact that she only gets to keep one.

But, hey, if she's bringing back the practice of swayamvara, I'm all for it.