Saturday, April 2, 2011

Breathless at an Indian wedding

I love the colourful chaos that blooms from source to periphery like a ripple in a house preparing for a big fat Indian wedding. My sister got married recently. Five days before the marriage, an incredible fun and activity continuum sprang into action with rooms full of people going gekka-bekka-gekka-bekka with gossip and laughter, with corridors wafting the ‘sweatyscenty’ smell and kssksskss rustle of silks, mobile phones ringing in varied and similar tunes causing people to spring up unnecessarily from their warm seats, diabetics requesting in low yet firm tones for sugarless but really hot coffee, pockets of gamblers quarrelling over queen of hearts, aces, five rupee coins and making hopeless plans on sneaking to a nearby pub, grandmothers calling out for ‘a’ particular “Visalam” but some 10 women responding to the call as every branch of the family had at least one Visalam named after the chief matriarch, platefuls of sweets and savouries (with small ants also partaking of the feast) spread in the middle of dusty dhurries, queues forming for the overused toilet which stank over and above the Odonils and dozens of soaps and shampoos lined in there, anxious geeks impatiently waiting to have a go at the only laptop of the host household and small children crying in corners for their busy parents’ attention, wet towels drying on window grills as the crisscross of clothesline were already houseful and hanging low like fruit-laden tree branches, mischievous kids sliding off stacks of hired pillows, first cousins covertly flirting with second cousins, women squabbling and weeping over a random anonymous statement like, “she is so bitchy” and everyone assuming that the “she” referred to was herself, girls crowding around an elder cousin offering to apply mehendi patterns for “free” only to be spirited away by another rival mehendi group promising to inscribe the bride’s and groom’s names like tattoos using the very same mehendi cones, small children waiting tearfully for parents to arrive and wash their bottoms, some 50 hands searching for Ambassador car keys that everyone saw lying next to a green jockey underwear “just now”, small kids playing “wedding-wedding” with previous day’s drying flowers from women’s hair, someone from different time zone frantically hollering out for IST and someone responding saying it was “80 minutes past seven”, newly befriended youngsters exchanging blouses, shirts and tips for shorter SMSes, people going hoarse shouting for misplaced combs, safety pins and bindis, groups of daredevils agreeing to try out the revolutionary homemade face pack made with turmeric, asafoetida and mild detergent guaranteed to cure pimples, college going boys slyly holding hands of sisters’ friends in the pretext of reading palms, aunts yelling at uncles for intermittently disappearing to smoke their infernal cigarettes even when a wedding was in the offing, sisters weeping on the shoulder of the bride who would be leaving them soon, one or two responsible members counting wedding money and inspecting credits and debits running into lakhs with a pencil stub and a Rs 5 double- lined notebook, cousins from US scandalising local Mannargudi mamas with their noodle straps and skimpy skirts setting off commentaries on how yesteryear actress T R Rajakumari could titillate from under even three layers of clothing, aging siblings displaying and comparing notes on their swollen knees that dangerously resembled their own dead mother’s and discussing the pros and cons of knee replacement that was not available for their mother even while worrying about their brother’s “hiranya” (hernia), summons for lunches being ignored until mothers and wives threatened to close the kitchen for the day, complaints bursting in return on how the quantity of coffee served was so small that it didn’t even “wet their chest” leave alone the stomach, all this and much more from hearts brimming over and pouring out its contents like the open suitcases that will eventually zip up and depart but that were now bursting and spilling old and new gaudy clothes, memoirs, jewelry, make up kits, perfumes and those inevitable lacy bras…


  1. Dear mam,
    I got hooked to your articles through 'The Indian Express' and greatly admire your writing for its wit and sense of humor.Reading your articles fills me with joy and this comment comes as a way of appreciation.Looking forward to reading more of your works..

  2. I just love the way you write. :)
    But unfortunately,I dont see "loony life" on "The Indian Express' these days. :(
    really miss reading them every Sunday.

  3. "gekka-bekka"... "hiranya"... wow we tamilians need to patent these words... authentic vocabulary heard in every tamil household. love u lots.

  4. Pfooh... that was breathless... and I can empathize with the situation. My cousin got married recently though gekka-bekka of this kind was comparatively low here in Delhi... :P