Indians and especially South Indians are preys to lots of social gatherings. Come August and September and everyone who is deemed to be “settled” decides to get married. While we are mercilessly dragged from marriage to the other, our parents explain the painfully long relationship of our family with the “marriage party”. The venue is generally located in a place which is not even found on Google Maps and in a place which we don’t even consider a part of the city. Marriage gift is usually cash as bouquets are considered to be costly for something that lasts only for one day. After stopping bang at the entrance of the venue, everyone takes their own sweet time to get out of the car (after giving explicit instructions to the driver to have a hearty dinner) with other vehicles forming a long queue behind for the same reason. A lady who might have been an air hostess previously, greets you with a smile (Fake. Even you know it) and offers roses (and only roses at every wedding) to the guests. While a VIP wedding might even have door frames and metal detectors and Airport level security in place, you might get a wild card entry depending on your “face value”.
Inside is a huge commotion and sometimes it might even look like a stampede if the bride’s father thinks he’s fine with a smaller venue. A sea of starched-golden border zari sarees greet you with the additional glitter of 916 KDM gold ornaments shining away mightily in the heavy luminous lighting. While people chatter away incessantly below, those who for some reason realise the reason why they are at that particular place are seen standing in a serpentine queue to greet and bless the married/to-be-married couple. While parents pull us from one corner of the hall to the other showing us off to different people whom we have never seen or never heard of or probably would never meet again, the roller coaster ride begins. The ladies talk of how small we were when they last saw us and their very knowledgeable husbands start by asking us our names and end by giving us unrequited career advice with their kids occasionally smiling and looking as lost as you are. These discussions range from which IIT coaching centre is the best or why Infosys is not performing well now or even whether Rahul Gandhi will be the PM candidate for 2014 Elections.
After sometime you get to the dias to greet the couple along with your parents. While some quick introductions are given and you congratulate them both, it’s time for the awkward camera pose. As you turn towards the photographers, you are blinded by an array of lights focussing on you. While an assistant on stage positions the males on the groom’s side and the females on the bride’s side and tries to accommodate as many people as possible, everyone starts to click at once. In the end you either make it to the printed album or you stay in the “My Marriage Fotos” folder depending on your proximity to the family, your importance to them and their budget.
As people are judging the arrangements or deciding whether the bride or the bridegroom is the luckier one or even discussing what the bride “offered” the bridegroom for the marriage; the heart leaps towards food even though we are totally aware of what’s on the platter. The food section is a curious mix of cuisines with no logical reasoning. It usually starts with some chaat along with salads and some Chinese starters, moves to rotis and curries (paneer is quintessential) and then for some funny arrangement of Biryani and Noodles and then some plain rice with the usually bhendi and aloo curries while sambar, rasam and curd look at you. The dessert section has vanilla ice cream with either carrot halwa, double ka meetha, gulab jamoon or kurbaani ka meetha as an add on. In the end there is package of sweet pan, a cherry and a tooth pick in a zip lock cover.
After people fell they’ve had enough, they proceed to leave. At the exit is one family member from the bride’s side and one from the groom’s side deciding who should get what as return gifts to take home. The size of the package is decided the photography way; proximity, importance and budget. Everything complete, they roll out the same way they’ve entered.
The way back home is an analysis of the marriage, the people and the experience. While plans are made to attend the next wedding, we usually ask one question that’s been haunting us for the past few hours:
“So did we go on behalf of the bride or the groom?”