Launching a high-tech company is one of the two riskiest ventures he has ever undertaken, says a 34-year-old Silicon Valley man whose success story has recently been chronicled in The Wall Street Journal. His second risk: An arranged marriage in a coastal city in southwest India.

"Like many Indians, I too fell in love after marriage," he says, talking about his four-year-old marriage. "My American friends do not understand how that could happen."

Some of them had warned him: "Even before you buy a car, you spend a lot of time shopping around. But here you are going to marry someone you hardly know, and then live the rest of your life with her."

The high-tech entrepreneur, who asked that his name not be used for this story, does not want to disclose his arranged marriage. "Many Americans ridicule the notion of arranged marriage," he says.

But for him, getting to know his wife, who is a medical doctor, and working out their relationship was "as exciting as starting up yet another Internet business." And the honeymoon was an incredible experience. "There was a lot of innocence, mystery, and fun."

If he were marrying someone he had been dating, perhaps the only surprising thing about the honeymoon would have been the choice of location, he says, chuckling. "In a successful arranged marriage, there are so many things to explore in each other. It is a very giddy, demanding, and suspenseful process."

It is not uncommon for Indians in America to go through marriages arranged by their parents or relatives back home. "There is a sense of duty in it," says Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the author of "Arranged Marriage," a collection of short stories. Part of it has to do with Hindu philosophy, which says you will marry the person you were destined to marry, she says. (Divakaruni's own karmic destiny was unconventional: She married the man she fell in love with during her graduate studies.) Arranged marriages, she says, give some people the feeling that they are very much tied to traditional Hinduism.

It is duty -- and the trust that your parents have chosen the best person for you -- that leads many people in America and India to prefer arranged marriages. By accepting someone their parents chose, people feel that they are pleasing their parents, but also hope that the spouse will have a harmonious and loving relationship with their in-laws.

"When I decided to settle down in America, my parents thought they had lost me," says the Silicon Valley entrepreneur. "So I wanted them to have the satisfaction of helping me choose a wife who was not only a Hindu, but could also speak to my parents and grandparents in an Indian language they knew."

Practically every Indian movie celebrates love stories and supports young people who want to defy society and marry after their hearts. But in reality, about 80% of Indians depend on matchmakers, who in many cases happen to be parents or near relatives.

Ashok Amritraj, a tennis champion and Hollywood producer, found love after marrying Chitra in San Thome cathedral in Madras a few years ago.

"Had I married 10 years ago, I would have opted for one of the Americans I was dating," says Amritraj, the executive producer of the upcoming film "Picking up the Pieces," starring Woody Allen. "But when I entered my 30s, I began to appreciate my Indian roots more. And I wanted to marry someone from India."

He concedes that there were hundreds of eligible Indian women in America. But they were too American for his taste. He wanted someone who was comfortable in both worlds -- India and America.

"I had no time for an elaborate search," he says. "Naturally, I asked my mother to look around, and I met with her selections and their parents several times." An arranged marriage can be not only more romantic than a love marriage, but can make the bonds between parents and their adult children stronger, he says.

Like Amritraj, many Indian Christians and Muslims also choose arranged marriages. "Arranged marriages are also a cultural phenomenon," says Vijay Pallod, a businessman in Houston associated with a Hindu resurgence movement.

Divakaruni says many people in the West do not understand that there are many types of arranged marriages. In some, the bride and bridegroom meet each other a few moments before they tie the knot and walk around the sacred fire. Then there are "hip" arranged marriages, in which young people are introduced to potential mates by friends and relatives at parties.

"There is a certain amount of democracy involved in the latter," she says, adding that friends, relatives, or parents help a person find and marry someone who is compatible with his or her sensibilities and desires.

Divakaruni acknowledges that sometimes Indians are coerced into marriages and that women are particularly vulnerable. At times, young women from poorer families end up marrying older, moneyed men and are often ill-treated because their parents cannot pay the promised dowry. The increased incidence of bride-burnings -- in which women are burned in "accidental" kitchen fires by their greedy in-laws -- is one serious concern of arranged marriages when they are linked to dowries.

Women's advocacy groups across India have been fighting against the darker side of arranged marriages, she says. "Awful things happen in other marriages, too," she says, referring to domestic violence against married women in America.

Meanwhile, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur wonders if his son will one day ask his parents to look for a bride for him.

"We'll be delighted to do it," he says. "But I guess we will look around for someone nearer home. We have Hindu temples here, we have Hindu priests here. Looking for a bride in India is too much of a hassle. We just won't have time for it."

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