Mirror reporter poses as a candidate to meet Dinshah ‘Din’ Vimadalal, a Mexico resident who paid top money for a matrimonial ad that he wrote himself. (Click here to see the advertisement)
If you, like I did, woke up to a full page matrimonial advertisement in the Sunday Times by Din (He is a great guy. Wish to marry him?), and almost spat out your coffee in amazement, you’ll understand why I promptly made my way to the Regus Center in Fort, where 69-year-old Dinshah Vimadalal was interviewing prospective candidates. Was this an elaborate April Fool’s Day prank?
I met Vimadalal’s assistant, Nadeem Shaikh, who made me sign an entry form that had six names written on it. Two of those six were sitting behind me at the reception – one, a struggling actress, the other a friend who had accompanied her to meet ‘Din’. “Aren’t you worried about the age difference,” my colleague, who identified herself as a journalist, asked them.“Not at all.It’s normal for younger women in the media and film circle to marry or date much older men,” replied the friend.
Shaikh met Din when the Mexican resident–he owns a 6,000 sqft palatial home on the outskirts of a town called Hermosillo – entered the telecom shop where Shaikh works as a customer care agent a fortnight ago. Din, who arrived in Mumbai on March 10 applied for a SIM card and shared his plans regarding the matrimonial ad with Shaikh. He offered to pay him Rs. 2,000 daily, if Shaikh became his assistant.
“At first, I was worried about his intentions, but after seeing the advertisement in the paper, I decided to work with him,” said Shaikh. “I hope he finds a good wife.”
Unlike other matrimonial advertisements that specify requirements (caste, age, appearance and salary) in barely 50 words, Vimadalal’s advertisement was a full-page article written by him. “There are lots of stories I have to tell you(…) I’ll do this one day when we are sitting quietly over a cup of coffee,or curled up side-by-side in a cozy bed,” he wrote. The ad also included photographs of his bike, twin engine plane, and his mansion in Mexico.
Din was interviewing someone, I was told, so I waited in the reception with the other two candidates. The staff and office-goers smiled at us bemusedly. I grinned right back at them. After an hour, it was my turn. Vimadalal escorted the struggler, who wore a faint smile, to the reception. Dressed in a formal royal blue button down and black pants ironed to a crisp, he gave me a broad smile. Walking in a slow, measured pace, he guided me to the air-conditioned room that he had booked for his interviews. The room freshener let out a whistle.
Sitting across a glass-topped table, he held a questionnaire. He asked my age, height and weight. (“Figure is very important.”) He then asked about my family, school (he was impressed to hear that I had a post-graduate diploma), and whether I was born in Mumbai. Then, with a twinkle in the eye, he asked if I was a vegetarian and whether I enjoyed intercourse. To be fair, this was a matrimonial interview – even if it was conducted under such strange circumstances – and this gave me an opportunity to edge in a question about his wife, Feroza, who passed away in a car accident three years ago. “She was beautiful. I don’t think any other woman will love me as much as she did. But, I had a few issues with her,” said Vimadalal, without a trace of self-consciousness.
The Bombay boy studied at Cathedral and John Connon School in Fort and left for Vancouver in 1967 to work in a Canadian airline company. In 1975, he moved to LA to work for a travel agency. He met Firoza, 14 years his junior, at a company conference and the two got married. In 1982, the couple started a travel company in Los Angeles called Magnum. In 1994, he shut it down since – as he put it – he “had become super rich and didn’t need to work anymore.”He spent five years building his house Palacio de Noelle in Mexico that he named after his sister.
Complimenting me on my nose pin, Vimadalal chucked my chin and said I was sweet.“Why did you put out a full page ad?” I asked. “I like to do things in a big way,” he laughed. This isn’t his first attempt. Vimadalal said he put out an advertisement in local papers in Mexico and Arizona, the closest American state,but he was dissatisfied with the responses. “Mexican girls are pretty, but they can’t speak English. I haven’t picked up Spanish in the past 18 years.” The women from Arizona who contacted him weren’t keen to shift to Mexico. In the end, he decided to return to India.
“I won’t leave, till I find a bride. I genuinely miss having a life partner,” said Vimadalal. He expects his wife to be younger than 40 – “any older than that and they wouldn’t want to stick around” – and accompany him in his travels, both on the motorcycle (a Honda ST 110D according to the ad) and the airplane (a six seater,twin-engined) he claimed he owns. “I have to cook for myself, and I’m not very good,” he told me. He expressed disappointment on hearing that I am a vegetarian. The self-assuredness in the advertisement – Vimadalal wrote “every word of it” – is visible in person, too. As far as he is concerned, there is little not to like about him.
In the past two days, Vimadalal has received hundreds of calls, but most of them have been either prank callers (men asking him to marry them instead), loan seekers, and the occasional outraged Parsi lady asking him not to show off his wealth. (Shaikh received that call.) While we were talking, Shaikh walked in and handed him the phone. It was a call from Tunisia. “Would you like to know me better?” he asked. After hearing her answer, he smiled.
INPUTS BY DHAMINI RATNAM