The Big Fat Tamizh wedding: Part I
The day had all the markings of yet-another-bloody-saturday and would have probably passed for one had my mother not decided to surprise the world by gracing a wedding, an event as common as that of Ajit Agarkar not getting out for a duck. Against Australia. South Indian weddings are like Star Wars movies, unless you’ve already attended a few or read the opening crawl you won’t understand what’s going on, not that anybody cares. (*Background music for opening crawl*) The quintessential tam-brahm wedding has a few key features – nosy aunties adorned in bling weighing a few hundred tons, their equally annoying worse halves discussing issues of national importance such as the Re.1 price hike in Saravana Bhawan’s coffee rate, nosy aunties in silk, NRIs cribbing about Chennai’s excessive heat, haute girls of marriagable age making fashion statements that would have given Nirupa Roy and Paravai Muniyamma a run for their money, and did I mention nosy aunties? (*end music*) My dear mother, in what can only be termed as a momentary collapse of the entire cognitive machinery, as is so common with these aged people, arrived at the wedding hall a good hour and a half before dinner. The “Venakatachalam weds Jothilakshmi” banners had long given way to the more modern “Adithya weds Shweta”. Even before my mom could actually draw a chair, she was greeted by a high-pitched squeal that would have put Bianca Castafiore out of business. “Welcome! That red saree looks simply equiste. Surely you must have bought it in RandomSareeShop1768“.
We digress here to discuss the optimal wedding attending algorithm, an essential part of any operations research or optimization techniques course. Recent research has shown that for an ideal wedding experience, one must enter the hall precisely 12 minutes and 42 seconds before dinner is served. Attending a wedding well before dinner is not very different from reading a Chetan Bhagat novel, in the sense that both are utterly pointless. First, the entry must be furtive in order to avoid a plethora of awkward social situations (ASS for a good reason), ranging from the sixth grader and his mom who want to know how to get into IIT, to patronizing uncles eager to give out free advice and the dude from thatLocalEngineeringCollege you once hung out with, who refuses to let go. The remaining 12 mins can be summarized by the following steps:
1) Try cutting the queue with your best ‘I need to pee urgently look’. The good thing about hitting the queue close to dinner time is that the bridal couple would be so exhausted after meeting a million people that the average time per guest would have reduced exponentially.
2)The Gift, the most important part of the wedding. As much as the invitation may croon, “We only want your blessings”, nobody really gives two hoots to your blessing. Yes, now get over that! The gift cannot be a random item you picked in the flea market on the way; the price of the gift must be chosen according to the following equation.
is a factor depending on the MCP (Male chauvinist pig) coefficient of the family
closeness or degree_of_closeness is a number ranging from 1-10, one being the closest and 10, the farthest.
3)Give your fakest possible smile for the photograph. Putting your hands on the groom is allowed but frowned upon as most guests haven’t had a bath in ages, hands on the bride is a definite no-no. It is also important that you pull your chest up to hide that paunch. You don’t want little kids looking at the wedding pictures to comment on fat-uncle?
4) Run towards the dining hall at relativistic speeds trampling a couple of five year olds on the way to set an example for those dare to block your path. The same method however, does not apply to over-sized aunties. These fascinating women on the other hand, can be removed with the following 9 magical words “They are giving pineapple juice on the other side”.
Thanking Lord Ganesha and pineapple juice respectively for their parts in removing obstacles from your way, you go ahead and complete the ritual – eat to your hearts content and exit, stage right once again hoping to avoid those ASS’es on the way. Of course, my dear mother not having taken my wisdom all that seriously arrived at the wedding hall, sister in tow, well before dinner, blissfully unaware of the horrors to follow.
The middle aged ladies infesting weddings are primarily of two types – those who give you education funda, and those who sprinkle marriage funda; all for free mind you! Contrary to popular perception, the former, possessing the educational aura of an opposum, is no better than the latter. Stuck with I-know-everything aunty (IKEA for convenience), my mom probably understood how I felt in class everyday, an hour seemed like an eternity. After her dissertation on red sarees and every other shop in town, IKEA decided to move on to more irritating ventures.
“Shravan, your son, feels like a hundred years since I last saw him. Oh, he was so little then”. Liar, Liar. I clearly remember seeing this feminine menace a couple of years back and believe me, I haven’t grown a nanometre since. “What is he doing now?”
“Shreyas”, mom said. “He is in IIT Roorkee now”.
In what can only be termed as a curious case of reverse evolution, nature, for reasons beyond the scope of this post, saw it fit to bestow IKEA and her ilk with predatory hearing skills placing them on par with hawks, bloodhounds and owls. The mere mention of the magic word (IIT and not Shreyas!) was enough to bring the rest of IKEA’s clan to the spot. On hearing IIT, IKEA’s own eyes lit up. Now, there are some keywords that are bound to arouse any respectable tamizh woman from a respectable family. IIT, Siligon valley, YemYes, Sun DeeVee, 24-Carat and Palag Pannneeer reci-bee are of a few of them. Much to my chagrin, Rajnikanth, Chewbecca and 42 are not. Neither are IAS, B.Sc Sociology and gold-plated jewellery.
“Oh IIT! Our kids grow up so fast, don’t they?”, interjected another lady looking straight out of a saas-bahu serial, clearly having rehearsed this particular line around 6.023 x 10^23 times. My mom turned her glance towards the two unmarried, 25+ tanker lorries who happened to Avagadro aunty’s daughters. “Yes, they grow. A lot”, she concluded, the sarcasm missing the fine woman by a distance approximately equal to the radius of the earth (at the equators, not poles).
Not very pleased at having her flow broken, IKEA burst out with the noble intention of imparting geography to the simpletons surrounding her, “Roorkee, isnt that the place in orissa with the steel plant”?
It may be hard to believe but scientists predict that one day the sun will simply run out of energy, a day might come when Rajnikanth gets tried of bashing up baddies and a day when Master Yoda actually decides to attend grammar class. I am sure even on that day, IKEA would not shut up. “No, it’s near Haridwar”, mother corrected.
Bad move mom, bad move.
(To be continued…)