Sunday 16 February
Amma knocks on the door. It is 8am and time to get up. We have a wedding to attend. Today we are travelling in Asha’s Nissan micra. My two previous cars were micras. But both manual, I’ve only driven automatic cars twice and the second time I managed to cause considerable damage to Murali’s new Merc. I resist the temptation and we ask a local driver to take us.
We reach the venue in plenty of time and join our relatives. The ‘nadaswaram’ is playing, it is too loud and there is no point in trying to have a conversation. I try to name that tune and only manage one. There are quite a few video cameras zooming in and out of guests and playing it on the big screen interspersed with video clips of the bride and groom’s pre-wedding romantic boat trip shots. Most guests try to keep a straight face till a sly smile breaks out when the camera catches them. A great way to people watch and I check out the current fashion trends. This is only a small town gathering’s wedding and I am not expecting a fashion parade but still note that the families are turning up in matching colours and attire.
The bride and groom have similar names and it seems that this wedding was written in the stars from the moment they were named, or at least this is my impression. The bride arrives with men surrounding her holding some cage like structure covered in flowers. One of the silliest things I have ever seen. The ceremony gets underway and as usual the videographers and photographers surround them. What is the point. We could have stayed at home and watched it live on line.
The bride smiles joyfully through the whole ceremony and as soon as it is over there is a stampede to the food hall. Our driver needs to get back by 1330 and so we don’t have a choice and join the rush. We get seats but as I was about to sit the lady next to me asks her son to sit on the same chair. It turns into a musical chair contest and I glare at him and sit myself down. I realise that politeness and niceties do not matter when it comes to queuing up or anything else in certain situations. If you stand aside and let people pass, you will end up just standing there like a lemon while everyone pushes past you. So when in Rome and all that.
The courses come thick and fast. I’m not actually hungry and haven’t even washed my hands, but this is a hard fought seat. I need to do justice towards it and so start eating the rice. The payasams come before I’m even half way through my rice. I push it aside and try all three payasams mixed with the ripe banana. The best part of the sadya.
We are the last ones to get up. This is another time that I dread. The time when passerbys swipe you with their dirty hands. “Keep them up, near your chest’’, I want to tell them, like when you’ve just done a surgical scrub. It is no use. You just need to weave in and out of the way past these people. At the tap, I only have one hand free and try to push the tap and wash at the same time. It doesn’t quite work, by the time I let go I only get a dribble. The guy next to me tries to help by pushing the tap for me. I jump away as he is doing it with his half washed hands which is now dribbling over mine. A bit of an overreaction from my side. I just say “it is ok, thanks, I will do it myself” and quickly walk away. The guy was only trying to help.
In the evening a classmate, Radhakrishnan, comes to visit. After a short chat we make our way to Susan’s house. She is celebrating her landmark birthday. More cakes, chats and payasams later, we say our farewells and Radhakrishnan drops us back home.