Not since the coronation of Akbar as the Badshah of Hindustan or the Launch of Model T was an event as eagerly awaited as my Big B’s (Prateek to many, Pedro to few and Big B to us) wedding to his long standing (till they agreed to sit down!) girlfriend (Sangs, Sangeeta, Husmukh Singh).
From the bourgeois by lanes of Byculla (Huh!) to the Raucous Residents of Ranchi, from Birbhum to Birmingham, from New South Office Para to New South Wales, people waited, and hoped. In short, just about everyone who was anyone held their collective breath from the time they got to know about it – through Mails, SMS’s, Turmeric smeared card – till the time they both said I do (not really, it was a Hindu ceremony). The Great Indian General Elections, the Tata Nano and this, are arguably the top three events of 2009. Three cheers!
The Cultural complexity of India was unabashedly evident. A Gujju Dulhan without a tinge of Gujju accent, a sophisticated Bihari Dulha - where do you get one of those, someone asked – and a set of family and friends from both sides who reveled in their collective ignorance of each others traditions and nuances of rituals. A culture where every man is a Bhai and every woman, a Ben almost laughed its heart out on realizing that a measly set of three brothers can all have names starting with the letter “P”.
All the Masala of a typical big fat Indian wedding was there – Women smartly dressed in their best of silks and jewelry – unmindful of the sweltering Mumbai afternoon, the only saving grace the large cutouts from the back of the blouse, men as usual mostly turning up in their safe suits.
A set of foreigners were busy clicking pictures of their potentially first exposure to an Indian Wedding – don’t be surprised if some of those photos find their ways into the National Geographic! - People dancing away in the middle of summer, most of the dance in Indian weddings involves just arms and arm pits with hardly any legs been shaken, and definitely none of the steps being in tune with the really loud music, I was actually surprised that the band forgot to play all time favorite songs like “Raja ki aayegi baraat, rangili hogi raat”, “Dulhe raja aayenge, saheli ko le jaayenge”. Thankfully they managed to play the very telling "Ye Desh hai veer jawanon ka, albelon ka mastanon ka." Unfortunately, there was not a single baraati who did the omnipresent Snake Dance. In fact I was so disappointed that but for my recently acquired pot belly which makes me look like a very pregnant snake, I would have done it myself just to keep the tradition alive!
I had read somewhere that technology bridges gaps – I saw this bit in action – my dearest brother and my equally dear Bhabhi chatting away on their cell phones from across the room! It was so obviously not about the IPL scores!
My daughter was busy collecting kisses from Pretty Young Things from across the LoC – I wish it was me – while my parents were busy feeling important about the whole thing!
My little brother, Small B was too busy getting flack for everyone else’s mistakes – there is a price to be paid for being the youngest bro – that I guess he would have maybe enjoyed about the first fifteen minutes of the entire song and dance routine!
The youngest Bahu of the family, Deepa basically danced her worries away – no one can really dance when they know a third dictator is about to be coroneted.
Rashmi, my wife, who lost her unethically, unabashedly and uselessly acquired position of the eldest Bahu by virtue of my getting married first, looked relieved.
All our family who had taken the trouble to come all the way to Mumbai, were slightly overwhelmed at the whole thing, especially on seeing a Bride kissing men friends. Our Bua, who was always considered ages ahead of the times, was slightly worried that she might also get a kiss! Thankfully tradition survived the onslaught of modern ways and they all – God bless their simplicity – got their toes touched!
A bit of drama, typical of Bihari Baraat, was created due to a communication failure during the reception. My father, not without reason, got an opportunity to play the all important, hot-tempered father of the groom, not easily pacified, and everyone had an opinion about what went wrong. Actually nothing did, or maybe just a little bit did go wrong, it was mainly a scene seen in almost all Indian weddings, I wish I was carrying some pacifiers in my pocket; things would have been prevented from getting unnecessarily escalated.
A bigger drama unfolded two days later when we tried to return to Ranchi and realized that most of the train tickets were still waitlisted – an early morning rush to the airport ensued and Big B lost a fortune on 15 Flight tickets! Last we spoke on the subject the following plans were in place to recoup the loss:
Plan A: Bed Tea without milk – recover in about a couple of hundred years – plan unrealistic, drop.
Plan B: No Home theatre system for the Guest Bedroom – recover in a day – plan unrealistic as there was no plan for a guest room home theatre – drop.
Plan C: Lick your wounds and get on with life – knowing Big B and Husmukh Singh I guess that’s what they would do.
P.S.: For the sake of national unity and integrity, I have decided that all my knowledge of other parallel events like bitching sessions, bickering, unfair comparisons between the three Bahu’s will not be published in this Blog. Thankfully I do not fall under the Right to Information Act!
P.P.S: Please wait for Volume II – Ranchi Reception – coming soon….