Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Shaadi Ke Pehle

For once, this is not a film review; instead its a recap of my final bachelor moments...

The night before the wedding, we had a small function at home for family & friends. Most of the elders - meaning people of my dad's generation or even older - attacked the liquor ferociously, while the women and children kept re-visiting the sarees and the ornaments.

To say that most Mallu men drink would be like saying most fish (or is it fishes!) swim; liquor is a must for any ceremony that does not involve temples (except the poorams, but that's another story altogether). As I have mentioned elsewhere on his blog, from the fermented white toddy tapped from young coconut trees to imported golden scotch, us Mallus love to devour all of it. And then of course, we have the various brands of cheap arrack sold - naming these is a science by itself, I have to say. I mean who else could think up brand-names like Aana-Mayacki (Elephant-tranquilizer, supposedly strong enough to make even an elephant stagger), Resurrection (so strong that you'd get up only after 3 days), and Manavatti (Bride, a 'lighter' brand which'd have you hanging your head down like a bride)? In fact, the only place you can find Mallu men standing meekly in line would be at wine-shops; in front of that great equalizer, alcohol, we seem to lose that furious combative spirit that otherwise so naturally overpowers us at other venues such as railway stations, bus stops and cinema theatres.

Women and sarees/ornaments, of course, form a much more global phenomenon. Take any self-respecting South Indian lady (ok, maybe not all the gals of CurGen, but still at least 50% of them) to a Kancheepuram shop, and you have them drooling at hours & hours of non-stop nirvana. They, somehow, are blessed with an ability to discern the quality of weavership by just running a lazy hand over the pallu of a saree (for other ignorant men, like me: this action somewhat resembles how Dickie Bird signals FOUR!). The new sarees bought for the wedding must have been re-opened and folded, if I were to warrant a guess, roughly about 365 times on that night alone. And of course, there were groans of 'Oohs!' and 'Aaghs!' everytime the ornaments were displayed. Ah, well - its like men and cricket, I guess - only worse!

By 10:00 PM, the men were all tired of drinking, the women were tired of saree-viewing and the kids were hungry. The food was served, and families slowly started trudging off to their respective homes. Old drunk men came up to me and clasped my hands in theirs, eliciting from me all kinds of promises - to go to bed early, wake up early tommorow, pray hard etc. Yeah go home, buddy, so that I can sleep, you know!

The driver was busy dropping people home, and at around 10:30 we had a frantic call from him: apparently a Tata Sumo had come and rammed the car from behind. Now, this was serious alright - this was the 'wedding car' that had to bring us home the next day. Before one could say 'Jesus Christ', some 2 cars laden with drunk men itching to pick a fight had taken off to the site of the accident. What's worse, my dad was one of them (though he does claim he wasn't drunk, he caertianly was itching to pick a fight!). Luckily, things were settled peacefully and there wasn't much damage to our car (just a tiny dent); hurrah, the wedding car was alright!

After packing off all the guests, we now had to make our way to the hotel near the mandap to spend the night. The marriage itself would take place at Guruvaoor, a temple where as many 150 marriages would take place on an auspicious day. In fact, there has even been a 'mistaken identities' wedding at Guruvayoor, due to the huge rush. I mean, just imagine hundreds of excited brides & bridegrooms with anxious parents in tow hustling and bustling toward the mandap, even as their respective photographers try in vain to get the 'right' angle: pandemonium would be an understatement! But still, its a six-zigma process alright! Anyway, to avoid all this chaos we'd decided to hold the wedding as early in the morning as possible, and hence we were staying near the temple.

We reached the hotel by around 11:45 PM. I took a quick shower and went to sleep. Thus ended my my last day as a bachelor...

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