(Published in Zeigeist, The New Indian Express, dated 20th February, 2010)
There was a time when weddings were a social event, and the only one people dreaded was their own. The proximity to smoke, the hours of standing, the troupe of strangers that materialises in the bride’s room every time she has a costume change scheduled, and finally, the wedding video that has five images of you superimposed on the petals of a flower…shudder! But those times have passed. Now, three species of human being have turned weddings into an endurance test that requires great physical, cognitive, psychological and emotional strength.
The first of these is the Beach Bride, who may be characterised by:
“I want to get married on the beach!”
Every bride thinks the idea is so charmingly original. At first, one wonders whether it is a brainwave to minimise attendance at a private event, but then it turns out the Beach Bride genuinely wants everyone to fly/ride/drive/railway a few hundred kilometres to a bustling tourist resort with a view of the beach.
Now, let’s think this out. The Beach Bride wears a designer dress and gets her hair done, the Beach Groom is buttoned into a custom-made suit and has his hair moussed up, and then they expose themselves to the elements. The Beach Bride’s party walks with one hand stretched out, to catch the first warning drops of rain and run for the covers to save the food. The Beach Groom’s party decides sniffing the air suspiciously for the scent of extra moisture is more fun than smirking at jewellery. Most of the attendees gape in horror or curiosity at the bikini-clad holidaymakers standing a few feet away from the wedding area. And then, one is bound to get a panic call about ten kilometres short of the resort.
“Can you buy bananas? And veththalai? And some mallippoo?” an anxious voice says, “Nothing is available here! Why do you people want to get married in these places, ma? Why not at a wedding hall?”
Then there’s the second category – the Naysayers. “No gifts or bouquets” screams the wedding invitation. What they really mean, perhaps, is “No tea sets”. It is my belief that the same eight hundred tea sets have been in circulation over the past half-century. I even received one as my memento for judging a singing contest at a school. Right after the photo-op, the teacher who had held it out to me hastily tore away a ‘Happy Married Life!’’ card with a firm hand and an embarrassed smile. But what if you’ve interpreted this anathema to gifts and bouquets incorrectly? What if it’s like the, “no, no, please don’t trouble yourself to make coffee!” line? What if you land up empty-handed and find brightly-coloured boxes climbing up the stage? Maybe those of us who have been the victims of this dilemma should take a stand and change this trend. Maybe we should send out invitations that read “Monetary gifts only. A/C Payee cheques, cold cash and all credit and debit cards accepted.”
The third fear factor at weddings is The “Theriyardhaa?”Clan. I’ve never figured out quite how these sixty-to-eighty-year-olds, who have last seen you as a toddler, manage to place you. But they grasp your wrist, pull your close to their dentures and demand, “do you recognise me?” You smile and nod, but before you can make a getaway, they insist on embarrassing you and themselves with, “tell me, let me see…who am I?” You could have been honest to begin with, but then you run the risk of their saying, “I saw you when you were a baby. You would do your potty all over the house, and go cry under the table. Hehehehe…”