Life's Like That

Monday, June 22, 2009

The big fat Indian wedding: I

Yeah I know it has been two and a half years since I got married, but hey! Better late than never. Besides, as I was describing my wonderfully mad wedding to a friend the other day, I realized it was quite an experience, and I need to record it for posterity.

So I am Bengali. Rahul is Punjabi. But he was born and brought up in Chennai and his parents still live there. So when I announced my intention of marrying him, my mother promptly had a panic attack "Ohh Panjabi. Oder onek demand hoye. Bhishon money minded hoye" (Oh Punjabis are very money minded and have many demands) and immediately added a few more strands of grey hair to her head imagining the demands that the Sachdevs might make in he future. Luckily the Sachdevs turned out to be mild mannered harmless indiviuals who shrank in horror at the idea of demanding things. The first meeting happened in Chennai. I could not take time off work so I sent Rahul to coordinate the meeting with strict instructions of "Control my father. He might get over emotional or over hyper." I firmly forbade my father from taking Excel sheets of points to discuss at the meeting. He desisted, but then one of the first things he told my prospective in laws is "Oh my daughter is a wonderful cook. She makes two things really well. One, boiled water.Two,Maggi." Luckily for me my in laws have a sense of humour. My father in law was highly impressed with my father's organized methodical way of approaching the wedding. My parents were relieved with how nice and non demanding my in laws were. All was good.

Then came the roka. Which in my opinion, is a dreadful obsolete practice, totally unfair to the girls family. I was to meet the entire Sachdev clan, which is HUGE. And I still had not managed to connect the names to the faces or the husbands to the wives and the parents to the kids. I was introduced. I smiled politely and said hello in my best convent ed manner. Mother in law to be poked violently in the small of my back and hissed "Payar chuo" (touch their feet). I recoiled in horror. I hate touching people's feet. Its most unhygenic. But faced with relentless poking and hissing I had no choice but to leap at collective feet and make a mental note to wash my hands. After that initial hiccup this too went off well.

Confusion, short tempers, emotional coversations and much shopping ensued for the next few months leading up to the wedding. I landed in Kolkata a week before the wedding, expecting to be pampered by all, I was the star of the show wasn't I? Instead my mother snapped and screamed at me everytime she was stressed about something, which was pretty much all the time. I was the reason for all the stress and tension was’nt I? As the sangeet drew near my father's insistence on method organization and punctuality (he could have been Hercule Poirot in a different life) reached obsessive standards. As a result, my mother and I almost caused our driver to have a nervous breakdown by screeching “taratari chalaaaooo naaa” ( drive faster noooo) every 5 seconds, because my father told us we were taking too much time and were going to be late for the registrar (the registered marriage happened a day before the wedding). Except that we were the only ones in the hall when we reached. My father was still on his way from Salt Lake with the Registrar. So I just sighed resignedly and did what I am rather good at. Issued directions to the staff and DJ : “ Why are you taking the wires through there? Take them from behind the chairs so that they are not visible” “ Ekhan ta mocha hoye ni, theek kore porishkar korun” ( This place needs to be mopped. Please clean properly) etc. Just like I do before all my media events. Sigh.

The engagement formalities were soon over. Rahul even went down on one knee with the ring…which made me giggle and hiccup simultaneously for about 10 minutes. After the formalities, my husband to be vanished. I wandered about smiling at people and finally went to the balcony and had a nice satisfying gossiping session with SD and SR, my oldest friends in Calcutta. From the shrieking and screeching I could hear from the room, I presumed the Punjus were having a blast on the dance floor. So I went to investigate and was confronted with the sight of my uncle, all 6feet 5 inches of him, throwing his freakishly large arms and legs around with gay abandon while people all around him scurried away as fast as possible to avoid being injured. What was even more disconcerting than the sight of my uncle dancing was the fact that the Punjus were sitting demurely and conversing quietly while the Bongs were going bonkers on the dance floor!!! I even saw my father, tie askew, convulsing to Beedi Jalayi Le. My father!!!! Good god!!

I was eventually re united with Rahul who said he had been drinking and dancing all this while and had forgotten he had to be by my side (!!!). To redeem himself he went and got me large vodka disguised under some innocent looking orange juice. (The Sachdevs would have collectively fainted at the sight of their newest bahu chugging back vodka shots, hence some subterfuge was called for).

I was woken up at an unearthly hour the next day and made to wear a sari and plonked down next to my father for some pooja where he repeatedly picked up odd objects and touched them to my head. Objects ranged from dhaan dubbo ( paddy and grass..most agricultural )to big pots. After this strange pooja and the liberal smearing of holud I was packed off for make up and hair once again with strict instructions of not taking too long and coming back on time. I came back on time and sat on the throne and smiled and accepted gifts while the baraat took its own sweet time to arrive. They eventually showed up 1.5 hours late. My ever polite father finally snapped “ Eto nacher ki aachey ta ki? Biye hoye jaabar por nachlei toh hoye” (Why do they need to dance so much? Can’t they let the wedding get over and then dance?) when the Punjus showed no signs of stopping. The wedding itself was traumatic. All my aunts descended on the mandap and gave conflicting instructions to me, the priest spoke exclusively in Bengali to Rahul, I tried to translate and instruct Rahul as well as I could, the priest snapped at all and sundry and finally tried to tick me off for talking to Rahul. Poor man!! He didn’t know what he was getting into. I don’t think he has ever received such a whispered but solid jhar from a bride on the mandap. I hope it will be a lesson to him, don’t mess with a hungry tired irritated bride.

Given my newfound resolve to keep my posts shorter than usual, I shall stop here. Part II will have us being homeless in Chennai, me bursting into tears late at night on a desolate Chennai beach, and also me bearing a startling resemblance to He Who Shall Not be Named. More later.

25 Comments:

  • I wish I was there, especially to watch you 'payar chuo'!

    Ha ha and your engagement ceremony seems perfect... down to the last vodka-disguised-in-orange-juice that you gulped down!

    and as usual, nicely written!

    By Blogger Annapoorna R Shinu, at 3:52 AM  

  • Most entertaining. Part two please.

    By Blogger Dreamcatcher, at 4:52 AM  

  • lol god what a wedding :D

    By Blogger saina, at 5:21 AM  

  • I am curious to know what was the "solid jhar" that you gave the priest. Tell tell!

    By Blogger Vishal, at 5:25 AM  

  • Hello! I'm so glad you visited me and I came and visited your awesome blog:)
    Cross cultural weddings- what a blast!

    By Blogger dipali, at 9:14 AM  

  • Again very enjoyable....waiting for the next post eagerly :-)

    By Anonymous Roushni, at 9:28 AM  

  • @Annu: Oh it was a sight to behold trust me!!

    @ Dreamcatcher: Heeeey long time no see. Where have you been? Why is your blog open to invited readers only? *Sulk sulk*

    @Saina: Heh you can say that again.

    @Vishal: I told you all about it on chat :D

    @Dipali: Ive been reading your blog for quite a while now. Just decided to delurk now :)

    @ Roushni: Good things come to those who wait.

    By Blogger Ron, at 3:37 AM  

  • Wow Ron, I am trying to imagine Uncle dancing to Beedi Jalaile!! Hehe! To be honest - Uncle has a point, biye-ta hoye gele toh nachte parey! lol!

    Sooo love the idea of you jharoing the priest in the middle of getting married! Gosh how funny!!
    It must have all been so stressful for you at the time though..

    By Blogger Sumona, at 4:22 AM  

  • What's the email id i should send the invite to?

    By Blogger Dreamcatcher, at 4:46 AM  

  • what a fantastic recount. i really enjoyed reading your blog. please contact me if you would be interested in doing a freelance piece

    shawna@maharaniweddings.com

    By Blogger Finance-ista, at 5:14 PM  

  • So you know of course that I've been giggling all through? I loved the bit where your dad danced. Oh and mine told my MIL-to-be that he expected she would straighten me out, the first time he met her.

    By Blogger Sue, at 12:43 AM  

  • @sumona: it was very stressful but the chocolates you sent helped :)

    @dreamcatcher: ronitadutta@gmail.com

    @finance-ista: i will mail you.

    @sue: these fathers i tell you!!! shameful. my grandmother was horrified when she got to know what mine had been telling my in laws!! tsk tsk.

    By Blogger Ron, at 3:05 AM  

  • Good fun reading!! took me back to memories of my marriage :) waiting for Part II..

    By Blogger JOYita, at 8:11 AM  

  • Oh God, Ron, this was hilarious!!! Since I was in the same situation, I can confidently say the biggest difference I can see between our weddings was that on the evening of the Sangeet, my friend pointed out to me, 'Look, all the Punjus are dancing and the Bongs are hogging the chaats!'

    By Blogger GM, at 9:16 AM  

  • hey where's part two.
    chennai is great! trust me

    By Anonymous maidinmalaysia, at 12:10 AM  

  • @joyita: Your wish is my command :D

    @GM: Write about your experience quick.

    @maidinmalaysia: Part two coming up. Yeah Chennai is nice. but Kanya in Annanagar is not!!! Neither is the tailor I went to. *shudder*

    By Blogger Ron, at 12:21 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Ron, at 12:21 AM  

  • Hmm, yes I could do that except for one tiny obstacle - laziness!

    By Blogger GM, at 9:55 AM  

  • Was a treat reading your post after a long time. Reminds me of a didi's wedding 5 yrs ago on many counts -
    1) She married the "Politest" Punjabi we have known :D
    2) My parents(especially dad who had refused to allow anything but shehnai at my own didi's wedding, about 8 yrs back, citing "good taste")danced with such energy that I could only stand and admire!

    Also, the bit about Dads getting worked up about punctuality appears to be a universal trait!!

    By Blogger Debroop, at 11:42 AM  

  • Chanced upon your blog through Debroop's. It was good fun ... amazing posts and hilarious too ...
    Happy writing

    By Blogger Amitabha Ghosh, at 7:55 PM  

  • Hey that must be like some kinda adventure..

    Work from home

    By Blogger workhard, at 11:59 AM  

  • Hey I too am a bong married to a punjabi. And the similarities are incredible between your wedding and mine, down to your mom's reaction when she first heard that her would be SIL was going to be a Punjabi. My mom too said excetly the same thing!! Incredible!!

    By Blogger Ninia, at 10:31 PM  

  • Giggling throughout - my office mates are now totally convinced I am certifiably insane.
    Cross-cultural weddings are a blast aren't they - after they are over and done with?

    By Blogger Rayna M. Iyer, at 9:39 PM  

  • Fantastic and useful we blog thanks for publishing this.it's useful and informative.keep up the great.

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