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‘Darkness masked in lightness’: the designer using a board game to avoid arranged marriage

In 2016, the Pakistani designer Nashra Balagamwala attended her best friend’s wedding in Karachi. She was approached by an older woman, who asked about her relationship status. “You’re 22 and you’re still single?” the lady gawked.

“She was in shock I wasn’t getting engaged any time soon,” said Balagamwala, who now lives in New York City. “It infuriated her before she walked off.”

Pakistani women can face incredible pressure to wed at a young age. Balagamwala has worn fake engagement rings to weddings, cut her hair to look less feminine and even “become more tanned and therefore more unappealing”, she said.

Now she wants to shed light on arranged marriage in a new board game called Arranged!, which will be released on her website on Wednesday.

The strategy game follows three young Pakistani women as they try to avoid a matchmaker. There are escapist tactics and genuine ways to finding Mr Right.

“My parents have tried to have me married off multiple times,” said Balagamwala. “I want to avoid an arranged marriage without upsetting my parents too much.”

In 2012, Balagamwala started studying at the Rhode Island School of Design. Since graduating last year, she has worked at Hasbro, which makes Monopoly and Jenga, but her parents want to her to return to Karachi, just as her one-year work visa expires.

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