The act of meeting someone and deciding that you'd really like to fill them with or be filled by their babies is something everyone on Earth is familiar with. In fact, it might be the most fundamental sensation the universe knows: It's what doesn't separate us from the animals.
"Gurl, I'm gonna crawl out of the surf and fertilize the clutch of eggs you laid in the sand so hard."
But it turns out that this universal impulse of "sticking it to each other" has been wrapped up in all sorts of cultural baggage and ceremony, which can vary significantly depending on which part of the world you're trying to do your sticking in. And to illustrate how weird we can make this really basic thing, allow me to now, with great seriousness and solemnity and just the bare minimum of mocking other cultures, present some of the oddest dating problems (and solutions) from around the world.
Iceland is known for two things: having terrible spelling, and being really difficult to drive to. These two factors have greatly discouraged people throughout history from moving there, which has resulted in a present-day population that is small and closely related to one another. Which isn't a very good setup for dating; it's not uncommon for an Icelander, after a night of drinking fftirz down at the local GhhjkkSdottr, to meet another Icelander who appears to be interested in being on or under them that is also technically and legally their cousin.
"I just realized what it is I like about you. You look like me!"
Which is why an Icelander had to come up with the Cousin Alarm, an app for smartphones. When two young Icelanders meet in a bar, they can bump their phones together, echoing potential bumps to come, and let the app tell them via alarm if they're closely related.
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The alarm can be set to play a hillbilly banjo riff or a longer hillbilly banjo riff.
Arranged marriages are still very much the done thing in India, with potentially up to 90 percent of all marriages originating this way. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, perhaps because your family's simply given up on you, it basically involves your family scouring the local community looking for a suitable match for you. Famously, romance has almost nothing to do with this, and other than a basic effort to match up boys with girls, the actual interests of the couple have nothing to do with anything. It's more like a business transaction than anything else, as the respective families look to align their various religious, business, and political interests.
This is basically a stockholder meeting.
And, just like in the business world, one of the most important aspects of "courtship" in India is for both parties to do their own due diligence, which essentially means that they do their own research on how many goats the other guy actually owns and precisely how "fly" their daughter actually is. Which is how private detectives came to become an integral part of the Indian dating scene.
Frankly, it makes our Western efforts at due diligence look pretty half-assed.
(thinking) "Karen. Kathryn. Katelyn. Kathy. Jeffy. Jeff. No! Not Jeff! That's your name, asshole. Crap crap crap crap crap crap! Crap? Crapryn!"
I'll try not to pick on India too much here. (Big, big fan of the bhajis, guys. Also the number zero. Nice one; works great.) But once I read about this, it was too crazy not to include.
Sri Ram Sena is a particularly hard-line (and slightly assholish) Hindu sect that just hate, hate, hates the idea of women behaving immorally, by doing things like "talking to a man" or "being in public." In 2009, members of this group were caught on video attacking girls at pubs for the crime of being girls at pubs.
Now, despite the fact that India is a pretty conservative country that is struggling to adjust to a world where women think and do things, this is still pretty far outside acceptable behavior. It's an attitude that appears to be based on this group's own unique interpretation of various Hindu texts, and also possibly because of the sinful thoughts that women and their shapes inspire in men.
"Hey, are those ass pants? Because I can see myself in them. Wait, let me explain ..."
Anyways, a few weeks after their little pub attack, like as kind of an encore, the leaders of the group threatened to go around on Valentine's Day and marry unwed couples they caught in the streets. To be fair, this does appear to have just been a threat and not an actual thing that happened, although that may have just been because 140 members of the sect were taken into "protective custody" the day before Valentine's to prevent that from happening.
So there you go. Private detectives, insane cults, and drive-by marriages. Harlequin romances in India must be insane.