Friday, 22 March 2013

The Big Fat Indian Wedding


The matrimonial season has just passed by, and I have been a keen observer. Marriage ceremonies are a naturally creepy place, especially if you’re on neither side. Neither the bride, nor the groom. You’re just an unfamiliar acquaintance of one of the two bankrupt families. You’re there possibly for having been a neighbour who has been forbearing with loud tv noises, the incessant parties, the unnerving noise of deranged children, etc. Or maybe you’re someone who is important to the family. Financially, that is. Such a jargon includes the boss and similar contortions. A  free dinner is just a way to payback. And the Indian family loves such reimbursements. So I am the third party here.  The  I-went-only-for-food party. And this is a first person account of such an experience.

As always we reached an hour and a half late for the ceremony, deliberately. We didn’t want to be early and just sit there waiting eagerly for the food to be served. If we reached late, we could just hop on to dinner area and collect oodles of calories, enough to sustain a whole Punjabi colony for a week. It seemed prudent. As we enter, everyone slips into their own mindset. The man wishes for a tipple and some company to go along with it. If he gets both, his acquaintance with the matrimony has been successful. Teens, especially guys, set up their ogling eye cameras. All they want is some real good action, if you know what I mean. Women, including girls, are there for the sole purpose of uncluttered narcissism. All they want to do is to astound the other members of the gender and to state the fact  “I would look better than you on any given day”. 

The very conversation between any two women is a testimony of the stated fact.   “Where did you buy this sari from?” one would ask.  “Kanjivaram,  pure silk.  My brother got it for me, from some very expensive place in Bombay. He is very hi-fi you know.”  The hypocrite would   answer. “You’re so lucky, I tell you, Sharma Ji. I have no one in Bombay. Most of my relatives are settled abroad you see.” After some more such counterattacks, the first woman would head back to a dear friend and holler, “That Mrs. Sharma I tell you, is such a hypocrite. She lies about a kanjivaram in front of me. I have more kanjivaram saris than her whole clan would have ever acquired. Moreover, that’s not even 10% silk. “  

The confidante would concur  “ I always knew this, Preeto ji. I told you before na. She’s an imposter I tell you.” Thank god for kitty parties, women always have someone to concur their bull shit. Now before all matriarchial societies hatch a plan to kill me, let me move on to other viewpoints. The bride and the groom arrive for the carnage. They look at each other. The look is different in an arranged marriage, from that in a love marriage. In a love marriage, the guy is forever winking away at the partner, completely na├»ve to the adversity he is getting himself into. 

The girl is busy contemplating  “I hope he remains interested.” However, in an arranged marriage, the guy upon ogling all the females around, cries out in vain. “Why in hell did I not choose that one. Why, Lord why” .Every other living female seems satisfactory that night. Meanwhile, people walk up to congratulate the couple, with their mammoth dinner plates. Each plate enough to satisfy a pack of hungry wolves.
Moving on to the families involved in the matrimony. The boy’s family, having spent much less is the king of the jungle, that night. They are the ones to dance to every godforsaken tune that the DJ plays, the ones who make most of the merry making. Everyone among them knows that their jackass groom didn’t deserve such a goddess. On the contrary, the girl’s family is busy contemplating about all the dwindling resources they would have been left of, after having spent much much more than they had calculated. The calculations done are always a minimum. 
Then arrives the time of the “bidaai”. In your whole lives, you wont ever notice such an assembly of lament. If you do, you probably are a victim of some great natural disaster or you’re the Indian kid who hasn’t scored well in school. Such is the intensity. Everyone mourns, from the brides’ family, there and then.  To the groom, in the longer run.  Its like an endless wave of relentless wailing. The guy tries to console the blubbering woman, but to no effect. He inquires “Why are you crying so much. It’s fine.” “You wont understand.” pat comes the reply. And thus begin the never-ending “you wont understand” ’s in the life of the married Indian male.  

They reach home, some snogging etc. from the male settles down the sour temper for the female. This is what we are best at, always. Meanwhile, the third party members, head back home much before the catastrophic misery of the bidaai strikes. On the way back, we discuss how great the food was. How great the couple looked, each of them still anonymous to us. On reaching home, everyone would doze off while the good-for-nothing son would pull out his laptop and write a stupid article about the whole event. :P

P.S.  This is not meant to hurt any community or gender or degrade the dignity of nuptials.However, resemblance to any particular marriage ceremony is NOT purely coincidental ;)


~ Rewin Koul

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