Remembering to Forget

Well, a lot of people have asked / requested / threatened me into doing a post on my wedding (for the uninitiated, the deed was committed on the 2nd of Dec, 2009). Why the delay, do you ask? Well, the best wedding advice I got was from my paternal uncle who said:

There’s no doubt that marriage is suffering. But since nothing can be done about that NOW, remember that the one with a sharper memory is the unhappier of the two. Learn and remember to forget.

I, being the quintessential good student, completely internalized it and forgot to write/speak/talk wedding and related memorabilia. It could also be that I was shocked into silence. However, the threats have gotten a little uncomfortable of late, and so here I am, posting it here (not a complete account, by any standards.. just observations). Here goes:

Punjabi Weddings (in my family at least) are EXACTLY the big fat monstrosities they are made out to be on the screen by the Chopras, Johars and their in-laws. (We are nothing if not honest.) Now, without much ado, here are the thingummies that characterize a Punjoo wedding:

  1. Rich (oily), yummy (spicy) food served with freely flowing alcohol, relished with deeeeeeeep conversation about how olive oil fried pakoras would have been healthier
  2. Relatives, mostly hyperactive, atleast one deciding to go naraaz on the host on the friggin’ wedding day (all the time! I mean, come on!)
  3. Auntyjis exchanging notes on saris, shoes, handbags, chandni chowk, zari, silk, paper silk, winter wear, inner wear, inner winter wear (I’m only stopping here to spare you! Appreciate!) amidst plenty bride-ribbing
  4. Said aunties breaking into random songs and jigs in the highest pitch possible, amidst nudging shoving the bride around
  5. Mummyji, a sweet but hyper pill-popping diabetic motherly person – being very hassled, dragging everyone for lunch/breakfast/dinner and handing sweets / tijori ki chaabi / red dupatta required at 5.20 am next morning, to random person A, and then spending 5 hours looking for random person A because it’s 3:20 am. Hey bhagwaan, how will the ritual start in ONLY two hours without the red dupatta
  6. A bride-to-be, being (a) always hurried to go somewhere – go to the temple, the pooja needs to begin or go to the parlor, they need to make you beautiful or go to the room and rest for a while, and then go to the parlor. (b) advised continuously on useless stuff and (c) the butt of random community jokes, since she’s marrying a non-Punjabi [Yes, my relatives think the word “rossogulla” is hilarious. We are very north-bred racists sometimes. Excuse!]
  7. Events that start at least a couple of hours late, muhurats be damned, because we believe in being fashionably late plus we do not have any real customs, we simply improvise on the go
  8. Frenzy of activity that leads you to believe people are just too damn bored and are hence, doing all this to keep themselves engaged.. you see, a LOT of furniture being moved around / chai being served around / cards being played
  9. Something being missed or lost i.e. hawww,-woh-red-wala-bag-to-ghar-pe-hi-reh-gaya, followed by a quick passing-the-buck session i.e. main-laya-tha-maasi-woh-maine-issko-diya-tha and nahi-mujhe-kab-diya-tha followed by someone driving at breakneck speed to get the red wala bag
  10. Thanks to being a (reluctant) part of my mother’s family, I have learnt to deal with a LOT of lists. List of what to buy, what to get wrapped in green paper, what to get wrapped in pink paper, what is to remain unwrapped, whose stuff is in which bag etc etc AND a list of who owns which list. True Story: Since we were travelling to Calcutta from Delhi for the wedding, we had enough stuff with us for some co-passengers to get fed up with our endless packets falling on their heads throughout the first half of the journey. They almost got off the train with a polite “Hum kal chale jayenge”. Therefore, my mother, in all her infinite wisdom, had locked all the suitcases and made a list of which key is for which lock, along with the location of the key (since she’s really really forgetful). We reached our destination in Cal, only to learn that this master list was nowhere to be found. Let the record state that there was a lot of yelling, tugging at suitcases to shock-and-awe them into opening, broken locks and some keys found to locks that had already been broken.

Bengali weddings, on the other hand, (or on the same hand, you decide!) are more likely to be all about:

  1. Syrupy sweet food – if you haven’t eaten Sandesh (again, this word cracks up my ENTIRE family – “Shawn-Desh” hahahaha.. *tears rolling down their cheeks*.. aaaahahaha! Right.) on your visit to Calcutta, you have – in some indirect way – proven that the hosts weren’t doing a great job of hosting you.
  2. Relatives who almost thrive on the misery of the bride and the groom. Mark my words, Bengali cousins are most mean
  3. Mashis, Pishis and MaamisΒ  who are super sweet, but have a looooong list of ‘do this, do that’ and you better smile and DO THIS AND DO THAT
  4. Meshos and other assorted uncles who are there for item no. 1 and to discuss politics
  5. Mummyji and Papaji, hassled by the time the bride gets to meet them but super-excited, and hence resembling her parents, being bullied by the aunties (refer item 3)
  6. A groom-to-be, being (a) always hurried to go somewhere – go to the temple, the pooja needs to begin or go to the salon, they need to make you presentable or go to the room and rest for a while, and then go to the salon. (b) advised continuously on useless stuff and (c) the butt of random community jokes, since he’s marrying a non-Bengali [Yes, his relatives think “balle balle” is hilarious. They are very east-bred racists sometimes. Excuse!]
  7. Events that start at an hour when the Punjabi junta party is still… err.. into their fifth cup of tea after which they will “pakka se, get up and get ready! fikar na karo tussi.. waise bhi ekdum 7 baje thoda kuch shuru hoga?”
  8. Planning about the next day, and the next day, and the day after that.. because they, my friend, have LONG weddings… make-you-feel-this-was-a-bad-idea-to-begin-with LONG… or they-should-have-a-time-out-somewhere LONG
  9. Customs and rituals relating to everything – when the bride gets to meet the guy custom – CHECK. morning bath custom – CHECK. what clothes you wear custom – CHECK. when you step out of your room custom – CHECK. when you eat your first meal custom – CHECK. when you rip your hair out custom – WIP, I’m sure
  10. Bengali jokes that, you know, are VERY funny (I’m told) BUT cannot be translated. So, you live with it. Like I did

Now I leave you with the task of fusing the two lists above, throwing in a bride (that’s me!) who isn’t very cooperative in such circumstances, and adding not one, not two but THREE receptions to this deadly mixture and voila! that’s my wedding saga!

Dobara mat poochna!! πŸ˜€

So yeah, we survived it and we were off to a lovely holiday soon after. Might do another (relatively more sane) post on the wedding soon, with pictures, when I can stomach opening that CD. Or I think I’ll wait another decade.

PS: Sorry for all the Hinglish πŸ™‚


37 thoughts on “Remembering to Forget

  1. Very nice πŸ™‚ I have a love-hate relationship with weddings, they can be so painful, but how can you not have a nice loud one yourself πŸ™‚

    • Oh man! I had a strictly hate-hate relationship with weddings.. but trust me, when it came to my wedding, so much emotional blackmail was targeted at me, the only acceptable thing to do was to nod. Loud is what they wanted, and loud is what they got πŸ˜€

  2. Oh My God! You are a Bangali bou-ma is it? he he he. I can imagine the fun, chaos and craziness your wedding must have been. But I am sure it must have been super duper rocking too. Would love to see the photos, so … ‘pliss 2 shr’!!
    And you wrote this so so beautifully, I have a huge grin on my face right now!

    • πŸ™‚ *that’s my silly grin*

      Yes, very much a Bengali bou! And yes, it was super fun – for the others πŸ˜€ Now that I’m done with writing this, I can remember a number of other things that need mention. Another time for sure!

      Pics shall come.. I’ll have to spot the anonymity-friendly ones πŸ™‚

      • You must do a part 2 to this post in that case. Definitely!! You say anonymity friendly pics and here I was hoping I would get to see you in the full bridal get up! 😐

  3. hehehe..loveddddd reading this post!!I can imagine the total chaos!!No dadi-nani to shake their heads at the crazy youngsters,taking forever to get dressed?

  4. I loved reading this. Would love to read another post (not necessarily sane, though). And I think all weddings have the Bride/Groom Tearing Hair Out customs. Only they’re called Rush The Bride through Everything customs, or Bride and Groom have to Fast Until All Ceremonies are Over or Till Eternity customs, or Bride and Groom Should Touch Everyone’s Feet Customs and Bride/Groom Should Blindly Obey All Elders Even When They’re Being Unreasonable customs πŸ˜€

  5. Hehehehehe I was a Bengali bou too! My Punju family had a ball! Its hilarious in retrospect if you can bear to recall it. They still call me roshogulla vaali (my cousins!) Ufff

    • Oh God yes! A lot of my relatives, these days, try and replace every ‘A’ with an ‘O’ in their conversations with me (apparently to tease me) making it morph into a very incomprehensible Hindi-Punjabi-Bengali thing. Most annoying!

  6. Weddings are such torment so that you don’t even dare think of getting married ever again!
    (Part of the wisdom gleaned from MIHYAP).
    Why they become such a circus is beyond me, but they inevitably do. Mine was all quiet and serene and simple- must have disappointed all assorted relatives till kingdom come!

  7. You’re Punjabi. Yay! I’m writing a book that involves Punjabi aunties, mommies, weddings, etc. and need to soak in Punjabiness. If I lift stuff off this post, I will surely keep you posted 😐

  8. Wow..sounds like so much fun.. for everyone except the bride and the groom.

    I particularly hate going to wedding where you’ll be ribbed by each and every person about your status as the next one in line. I mostly end up with a jaw-ache after each wedding from all the teeth-grinding.

    Someday , when i get married , i hope to have a sober , simple ceremony with close relatives and friends who actually care about you than about the spread on offer!

    But then again , i think i’ll never succeed in convincing my parents to forego all the drama that weddings come with! Indian culture and such things.

    • I do hope you get what you want! With me, I’d be kidding if I said I wanted a no-frills wedding. I wanted a more my-kind-of-frills wedding.. like a beach and lots of champagne. And look how far we’ve landed πŸ˜€

  9. hahahaha loved reading this! brought back memories too- ours was a simple Maharashtrian (and when Maharashtrians say simple they REALLY mean it)meets over the top North Indian wedding (three weddings and two receptions actually- can’t believe we survived them all!)with both parties reeling in shock at the way things are done ‘in these peoples’ weddings!’

  10. ROFL! I don’t know how I had missed this one. Hilarious! I got married last year too.. June to be precise. And trust me, weddings are ALL the same, we are all some-part-of-the-country-bred racists.. My husband is from Jharkhand, I am from Bihar. My family thinks “jhingalala” is too funny.. Hell, they don’t even say jhingalala in R’s family.. Or any part of Jharkhand for that matter πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

    We’re Indians, we’re all the same. I hear from my south indian colleagues that relatives always decide to “naraaz ho” on the D day, they just do it in different langauges/ dialects.

    Absolutely LOVED this post. Will be back for more!

    • Jhingalala? Okay, suddenly rossogulla seems like a legitimate word to laugh at. For one, they actually USE it πŸ˜€

      And in my case, I’ll need a lot of vodka in me for that CD to ever make me ROFL.

      • Exactly what makes the CD so special.. πŸ˜›

        Btw I am not sure about Delhi, but us Biharis have a remixed video of the wedding.. With hearts flying around and corny love songs like “Sajan ghar jaana hai”.. It’s hilarious to the core. It’s my favourite Saturday afternoon stuff on TV.. We made such fools of ourselves, especially in those lehengas and jewellery and sindoor that went all the way to the tip of the nose and the PC Sircar genre of clothing for men.

        Good you reminded me, been a while since I saw that video.. I will tonight πŸ˜€

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