To Menaka & Jayant
It started in college.
Slowly, patiently, determinedly, he ingratiated himself to her family. He came. He saw. He tweaked his definitions of sanity. But he came to every family function, even though it entailed a tiring commute from faraway Chembur.
A wedding date was set – 26th December, Boxing Day. Not a harbinger of peace for a kheer-paayasam shaadi.
Would he wrap a mundu-veshti around himself and turn up sitting sideways on a horse? Perhaps racy bhangra would be replaced by Kaikottikali, that sedate dance-form where everybody moves in circles and nobody has fun.
A stunning invite was designed by her artist friend. His first draft was deemed too risqué; the entwined figures of Radha and Krishna were pushed safely apart to either end of the card.
She took to morning walks like a Talwalkar to a treadmill. He let his facial hair grow for a luxuriant wedding-day beard. A flat was rented. And they wisely chose the honeymoon destination farthest from the Indian mainland – the Andamans.
The bride’s parents summoned us to a command meeting, where every detail of a 56-hour schedule was jotted down with military precision. Her mother mass-emailed us about duties and dress-code. Everyone Replied to All, and twenty messages deluged my inbox within two days.
A throng of hitherto unknown but reputedly creative relatives from Kerala were expected, and considered fierce competition. Sangeet(h) ideas were demanded from us hapless youngsters, who’d never attended one before. Notwithstanding its amateur prose, Chetan Bhagat’s Two States was deemed appropriate research material. Cousins were deployed to ferret out the couple’s love story from an unsuspecting bride.
Google Docs were edited. A parodic play was concocted. Bedraggled office-goers steeled themselves to dance practice every evening. Arthritic uncles rehearsed with flailing arms and epileptic legs. The family bonded like never before.
At the Christmas night finale, the author of this post romanced his sister and married his own parents with ordained ease. Everyone from the bride’s grand-aunt to her maid’s two daughters performed. Yours truly debuted as a dancer with a cross-dressed interpretation of ‘Main aayi hoon UP-Bihar lootne’ that involved a skirt, a dupatta and a raunchy grimace.
The next day, the baraat shocked everyone by turning up on time. Mundu-clad yuppies danced to the beats of a brass band under the winter sun. The pedal hygiene ritual of washing the groom’s feet was used as pretext for stealing his shoes. We grabbed one, the other was lost forever (or so our canny in-laws would have us believe).
Nuptial ceremonies from both communities were interspersed. A musical grand-aunt was roped in to render part of the shlokas. The North Indian pandit had the couple in splits with his updated versions of the seven vows (which included – appropriate to the ongoing drought – building a water reservoir).
When starters were served, we bid them a temporary farewell and laid permanent siege to the food counter.
Somewhere, in the middle of all this, two young people in love got married.
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Note: Watch me dancing here at your own risk.