Winter (?) Wedding
It’s happened. The Goon and Brainybong are now Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So. I’ve known the happy couple since they were, well, not really a couple. He was the brash, flamboyant, Punjabi prankster (What am I saying? He’s still that!). She was the quiet, ladylike Bengali wallflower (Oh, how she has changed!). He wouldn’t leave the back-bench unless there was a gag to be pulled on the professor. She’d never leave the front-bench till the professor walked out of the class.
It seemed highly unlikely that the Goon and Brainybong would ever become theGoonandBrainybong. But they did. Last night. In front of hundreds of friends and relatives, through a complex maze of Punju-Bong wedding rites, with much music and a whole lot of dancing.
Rewind to Saturday, as I land in Baroda. Completely contrary to everybody’s expectations, it was hot. Not warm, not tepid, but HOT. Which naturally rendered the thick sweater and thin shawl I had carried into something of a joke.
Such is life.
I’ve never been to a Punju wedding before. All my references come from Bollywood – DDLJ, Monsoon Wedding and their ilk. So I’m pleased to report that by and large, Hindi films have got it right. Punjabi weddings are colourful, noisy, rambunctious affairs with a whole variety of ceremonies that lead to the actual wedding. There is the sangeet, where everyone from the age of 3 to 73 dances. There is the haldi, where turmeric is smeared on everyone involved, including innocent onlookers. And there is a lot, I repeat, a lot of glitter.
As I said to the Mulga (classmate, Maharashtrian, the funny kind), how do you spot a Bengali in this wedding? They’re the ones looking uncomfortable in sequinned sarees.
And, of course, there is the food. My inner pig was looking longingly at the buffet about five minutes after we reached the wedding venue. But unfortunately, despite the Punju-Bong preference for meat, the food was surprisingly vegetarian. Archer was so disappointed he vowed to roam the streets of Baroda with a fork and knife to find a dead animal – he’s a man of very refined tastes.
But I digress. Amongst all the paneer and gravy and jeera-rice delicacies I ate over the past couple of days, I must make a special mention of the desserts – warm gulab jamuns, as soft as a woman’s cheek and piping hot melt-in-the-mouth jalebis. It was like I had died and gone to heaven.
Other interesting happenings:
A couple of hours spent pampering myself at a terribly inexpensive parlour.
Finally realising my childhood dream of having hands covered in henna as dark as coffee liqueur – all thanks to the wonderful powers of Vicks!
Sharing a room with 7 other girls. Featuring scenes that resembled girl-on-girl action which would make a man’s head explode – except that it was nothing of the sort.
Discovering that I’m a pro at making people wear sarees. Being told that I should wear sarees more often because they really suit me. Being told that I don’t look like an Aunty in a saree unlike a few others. Being rated 10. (In case you were curious, I wore a plain royal blue Mysore georgette saree with a delicate silver border, which clung to me like a love-sick boyfriend.)
Intense sleep deprivation.
Dancing in the baraat, chucking marigold petals at random people and generally being part of the madness.
Witnessing possibly the only wedding in Punju history where the groom looked like a helpful neighbour and played PS-2 for four hours before losing his single status.
“Something happens to women at weddings”, Vince Vaughn told Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers. Whatever that something was, both men and women had caught it in Baroda. Guys I went to college with, guys who usually had the social manners of an ass in heat, acted like perfect gentlemen, with courtesy and chivalry. Girls I’ve known for years, girls who had the poise of a drunk gnu, behaved with feminine grace and dignity.
It was unnerving. But it was nice.