My only cousin got married a few days ago. Probably, I am one amongst a handful of Indians of the current generation, who has only one direct cousin, including the father’s and the mother’s side. So, this was an important occasion for me to attend. Luckily, the wedding coincided with my annual pilgrimage/vacation to India.
This was a good Indian wedding, which I was expecting it to be, considering the importance of this wedding to me! So, what makes a good Indian wedding? It may be similar to big, fat Greek weddings, as in, Indian weddings are big, in scale, in money spent and also in the number of people attending. Indian weddings definitely make one feel fat, with the dozens of varieties of food items on offer during the course of the two or three days of the wedding.
Ironically, Greek weddings are neither big nor fat. I had the opportunity of attending the wedding of one of my Cypriot (Greeks known by a different name) colleagues. Her wedding was held at a “family” church with around a 100 people attending, with more than half of this number being the neighborhood kids! She was so tense before the “walk to the altar”, that she was puffing away at cigarettes just outside the church, to calm her nerves! The strangest part of the wedding, at least for me, was that the entire wedding process, that of the priest solemnizing the marriage and the “I do” sessions were held with their backs to the audience. So, we spent the entire time sitting in the church watching the butts of the bride and the groom!
Back to the good Indian wedding, my cousin’s wedding was very good and it followed a very good schedule. It started off with very good Tiffin early in the morning and 3 or 4 cups of good filter coffee in the few hours after. All this while, something was happening on stage (mandap), something related to the marriage, I suppose. By then, it was time for a good heavy traditional lunch (Sambhar, Rasam, Butter Milk etc). Lunch was followed by a brief afternoon siesta for 2-3 hours. By this time, the bride and the groom had spent many hours in front of the “smoking altar”, cleansing their sinus cavities in this process. I came to know, that the couple had been officially married in the time I had been away for lunch. Next, it was evening snacks time, Pakodas, Badushas and some mixture, of course with the usual servings of filter coffee. Then came the reception. “Reception” in an Indian marriage is done to show off to the public, that the couple is still happy and smiling in spite of having gone into wedlock. When it is time for “reception” for the couple, it is time for dinner for the people attending the reception. The “reception dinner” is usually the best of the lot, as this is the time, when the work-bosses of the parents or the couple, good looking friends of the bride, the not-so-good looking friends of the groom who came to look at the good looking friends of the bride and other socially and economically relevant people attend. Needless to say, it was good.
My cousin has no brothers (If you hadn’t concluded this after the first line of this entry, go and practice old Infy question papers). She has 3 cousin brothers and I am the eldest of the lot. So, I had additional responsibilities, the foremost being that of ensuring that the quality and quantity of food being served at the wedding was adequate. So, there I was, at least 15 minutes before each session, first in line for the pandhi (serving). Not only had I to check the quality of each and every food item, I also had to ensure that everyone got whatever quantity they asked for. So, I had to keep asking for more servings of almost all items to ensure that there was sufficient for all. I had to different kind of tests too. For example, when I was eating the payasam at the end of the dinner and the seats to my either side had been vacated as far as the eye could see, I wanted to test their responsiveness to unplanned requests (thanks to my company’s customer satisfaction survey for giving me the idea of this test). So, with a cup of payasam in my hand, I shouted “One appalam (papad) please”. The guy with the appalams almost fell down in surprise. Good that he actually didn’t, for if he had, all the appalams would have been crushed. Surprised, yet cheerful, he handed me an appalam and asked “Sir, do you need some rice to go with the appalam”. Good guy!
Finally, after three days of the same tough routine of getting my responsibilities right, the good Indian wedding came to an end and may the couple live happily ever after.