Weddings

Band Baaja Bridezilla

[Originally written for & Published in Outlook India (Web). The theme is a little recurring, but what to do etc]


I got engaged to be married last November. The engagement was a rather unique event, since it happened without the boy actually being present. This was because of multiple reasons, including the fact that my fiancé was in New York at that time and my parents, understandably, wanted to close the deal before he understood what exactly he was marrying into.

Anyway, once he came back, our parents hosted a party for friends and family to introduce us as a couple. On the day of the party, because of a gaffe on the part of the salon where I got my hair done, my fabulous blow dry looked fabulous for exactly 10 minutes before I ended up looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family. I wasn’t happy, but after the first 10 minutes, I didn’t let it bother me. This evening wasn’t about me, or the fact that I resembled a sari-clad scarecrow. It was about the fact that people wanted to celebrate two individuals who had just decided to spend their lives together! Right?

Wrong.

Throughout the evening and for quite a few weeks after, I got a lot of people coming up to me to laud me on my not breaking down (“I don’t know how you did it!”), to the point where you’d think I’d just single-handedly saved a village from a Tsunami while discovering the cure for cancer and breaking Michael Phelps’ freestyle record simultaneously, as opposed to have just had a bad hair day. Some more optimistic people, in their bid to cheer me up told me, “At least it wasn’t the wedding!”, because God forbid there’s a slip in the way I looked on that day, then you know, my whole life is likely to be in tatters.

A wedding today, has evolved, no, mutated from being a celebration of family and commitment to this major party where the focus is only on one person— the bride. In case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t any wedding magazines around— only bridal, with maybe half a page (if they’re feeling generous) dedicated to the other sundry details, such as the concept of marriage, or the groom. Every single one of those bridal magazines insist that you can never be good enough for ‘your big day’, never mind that your partner liked you the way you had been all this time. You might be skinny, they say, but are you a toned skinny? Your skin might be clear, but is it glowing, sun-kissed and radiant? Your outfit might be pretty, but is it Designer (and roughly the cost of an island in the Maldives)?

No?

Me neither, which apparently makes me a poor naive country boor hick-bumpkin, because clearly I wasn’t aware of the fact that I have only one day to be happy, or that there are going to be photographs (PHOTOGRAPHS!) or that my wedding album is the only legacy I can leave for the next seven generations that are poised to spring out from my uterus and that unless I want to be referred to as “Double Chin Kollu Paati” by my great grandchildren, it becomes my foremost responsibility to do everything I can to resemble Indian Sari Princess Barbie.

Comrades, I confess. I’ve been dreaming about my wedding even before I was engaged, okay, even before I was even legal. Yes, I wanted the pretty clothes, I wanted the big party, but most of all, I wanted to be happy. Today I’m on the other side— I’ve seen enough sarees to go colour blind, looked at enough decor themes to make me wonder if I’m organizing a wedding or a full scale Disneyland musical, listened to enough wedding “advice” to compile an 8 book series and it all makes me want to burst multiple blood vessels, when the truth is that I am over the moon about getting married. You see, Bridezillas aren’t born. They are made.

It’s only when you take a step back do you realize that it’s just one day. One day. All that really matters is what is going to happen in the days, years and months that follow and not whether your earrings are colour coordinated with the stage arrangements. I really don’t want to go into my wedding like I’ve been preparing for some covert siege attack (or a reality television show) where failure will result in dire consequences. I don’t want to remember my wedding as a day where I lost whatever little left of my hair worrying about arm fat or the caterer, but as a day where I had fun, and I was happy. If that means not having my Disneyland perfect wedding, then so be it. I’d rather have a Disneyland perfect marriage.

Like A Telephone

In March this year, my parents announced that they were going to start looking for a “suitable boy” for me. I wasn’t particularly surprised, but I did try, initially, to give them the “I’ll find a boy myself” dialogue, which was met with my parents roaring with laughter, after which I stopped trying to give them that, because who was I kidding anyway – I wasn’t capable of finding my own phone most of the time, so suffice to say that finding “suitable” boys wasn’t really a part of my skill set. 
Fast forward many, many tantrums (me) and abnormal blood pressure levels (my parents) to today, I am engaged. I KNOW, RIGHT?! It’s been a little more than a month since I’ve been engaged. I waited this long for it to sink in, but it still hasn’t.  Maybe it was a little too much on my part to assume that there was going to be this great change which involved the skies parting and a holy game show voice from the heavens announcing that my life was to change forever. Life is still the same, but a little different, kind of like consecutive Harris Jayaraj songs.  
A lot of people to whom I broke the news to are really happy that I am getting married at the age of twenty four, which I find pretty interesting because to be honest, I had been secretly preparing myself for the “You’re getting married NOW? But you’re only as old as a baby-foetus!” speeches.  So when people tell me I’ve made the right decision by deciding to wed now, it sounds great, like I’ve put a great deal of thought into it, outlined pros and cons in some important looking notepad (with flowcharts!) and everything, but truth be told the primary reason I decided to get married now is because I wanted to look nice (while I still could) in the wedding photographs. Like, priorities.

Speaking of weddings, I would be lying through my teeth, gums even, if I said I had no idea about how I wanted my wedding to be before all this really happened. I had a vague idea, ok no, I had a good idea, ok fine, I had been planning the entire ceremony in my head the last couple of years, including invites, a wedding food menu, three alternate colour schemes for the decor, what I’d wear, everything. Well, almost everything – I hadn’t thought about this one minor detail concerning who the boy I’d actually marry would be. Insignificant stuff. 
So naturally, at the start, I was pretty protective of my very own fairy tale wedding that I had conjured in my head (and in my Pinterest account), and when people started giving me suggestions about what to do, I’d give them the same reaction that most people would when you ask them to surgically alter their baby’s face. But soon I realized how much WORK all of this was and that if I was to get into everything, I’d be well on my way to getting permanent residence in the asylum at Kilpauk. It was at that moment, that my inner organizational genius awoke and I realized, that the key to planning a successful wedding is efficiency, a resolve of steel and advanced organizational skill. Once I attained this moment of enlightenment, I most efficiently dumped as many responsibilities as I could on my mother before she could realize what was happening.  
Yes, I might not get to choose my invites, I might not get to choose my wedding food menu, I might not get to choose the décor, and I might not get to choose most of what is going to happen around me those two days, but I’m not too worried about it. After all, I got to choose the boy. 

Kalyanam Chronicles

How can you not love Indian Weddings? The smoke, the noise, the Mama (Purohit) shouting at everyone and of course, the hapless bride and groom who have no clue about what’s happening to them amidst the sea of people so fervently trying to shake their hand. I personally love weddings, even though every wedding has at least 5 incidences of complete strangers pinching my cheeks and asking me to recognize them, along with a compulsory comment about my growth rate.
Of all my favourite marriage memories is the one that happened 2, or maybe 3 years ago, takes the cake. I was a lass of 17 then, naïve as ever, with the charm and the grace of an elephant in a tutu. It was yet another one of those weddings, full of pomp and smoke, and midway during the Kasi Yatra ceremony, (yes, that is when the groom supposedly walks out of the wedding with a handy umbrella saying he wants to become a single dude for life and the father of the bride rushes out to convince him to marry his daughter) was when I saw him.
He was tall, maybe 5 feet and 10 inches, give or take, not very fair, not very dark, a killer smile, great hair which flopped over his sricharnam-ed forehead and a lean physique.  Bharathiraja movie soundtracks started playing in my head. And I, of course, in a very ladylike fashion, stared at him through out the whole ceremony with my mouth hanging open.   
I am to believe that till date, thankfully, he didn’t notice the creepy girl, because he smiled at me once the ceremony was over. While people around me will say that it was one of those “ok-weird-woman-now-that-i-smiled-you-can-stop-staring” smiles, I’d like to think it was an “I’m-so-charmed” smile. Well, now you know why they call me the eternal optimist.
An hour or so later, after finishing lunch, I saw him, talking quite animatedly with my mother. What luck! I thought to myself. Now I’ll finally know who he is.  Making sure he was out of earshot, I asked my mother in a very casual tone as to who the young man she was talking to so spiritedly was. My mother raised her eyebrows, which was surprising considering I was being so casual. Maybe the fact that my eyes were popping out of their sockets gave me away.
“Avan a?” 
(him?)
“Aama ma, yaaradhu? Na avana munaadi paathadhe illa” 
(Yea, I’ve never seen him before)
“Avan dhaan X oda peran” (He’s X’s grandson) Offered my mother very helpfully, unaware of the fact that I may not have a sprinkling of an idea as to who X was.
“Adhu yaaru ma X?” 
(who’s X?)
“X di. Y paati is there no, her brother’s grandson.”
“Y paati a?”
“Aiyo, Y paati! Your paati is there no, Y paati is her cousin. You must have seen her in P’s wedding”
My mother, once again was ignorant of the fact that I may not have any living memory of P’s wedding considering I was only 6 then. All I cared about weddings then was whether ice cream would be served at the end of the meal and playing musical chairs with myself. 
“Therila…nyaabagum illa” 
(Dunno…don’t remember)
“Ippo unakku ennadi venum?”
(What do you want now?)
“Illa…andha payyan enaku epdi related?”
(no…how’s that guy related to me?)
“Very simple di. He’s Y paati’s brother X’s grandson.”
“Sollu ma…” I poked, hoping she’d say something like mora-payyan (In my defense, I had been diagnosed with the deadly disease Magnificus Salivatis, commonly known as Jollaria. Also I was but an inexperienced child of 17)
“Unakku avan Anna”
Anna. Brother.
Have you seen those moments in the cartoons where glass breaks, and everything comes to a screeching halt. It was one of those moments. Brother apparently.  I watched my mother talk to yet another aunty I didn’t recognize. But turned out she knew me and had very fond memories of me pissing on her saree when she came to my house 14 years ago. Just as I was about to give her my well rehearsed fake smile, I noticed a very very good looking boy standing behind her.
“This is my son ma, H. Nyaabagum irukka? You’ve played with him and all.”
As he flashed his dimples, I sincerely wished I remembered.
As the middle aged women continued their conversation, H started talking. I don’t remember what he talked about or what we talked considering I was paying more attention to his dimples. But I remembered only one thing. The show must go on.