The Wedding Of The Century

At least for the next couple of decades – Prince William and Kate Middleton.

If you live anywhere in the U.K., you’ve probably heard every single detail that is to be heard, and perhaps a few times embellished as well. People are scared to call it the ‘fairy tale wedding’ because they did that once and look how that ended.

Anything to do with the royal family is always… exciting. You could say it is a waste of time and space but the truth is, we’ve all grown up with fairy tales and this is the closest you can come to one.

I am a huge Diana fan. The woman is what fairy tales were made off… she had the looks, the charisma and the completely bizzaro attitude that is required to be a princess. She perhaps even had the steel underneath it all but the public didn’t really care about that.

What she really was – a young, confused woman who was catapulted into the chains of traditionalism and confines or a royal family and expected to deal with it all really well. To top that off, she was married to a much older guy, who in public photos, didn’t have even an ounce of charm she possessed.

But things like this happen every day and if the media was not intent on capturing her every move on camera, we probably wouldn’t care. But she was a princess and she photographed so well. And people wanted to read about her.

This isn’t about Princess Diana though. This is about her daughter-in-law – the first non-blue blooded woman to enter the royal family. It is good to know that they are loosening their belts a little bit. I never really followed through every bit written about the couple or her over the years. I found Prince William extremely cute once upon a time and that was that.

Every British media organization, including the BBC is carrying pages and pages about the couple. And the hoopla about the wedding details has not even begun.

They are still speculating if they dare call her the next Diana.

Nobody else could possibly carry that hint of vulnerability and the charm Diana did. And we wouldn’t want a repeat of that either. Middleton seems more down to earth, practical and hopefully, a little more confident in dealing with royalty. She’s been with the guy for nearly a decade now, so she has some idea of what protocols are. Well, one could argue Diana was born into a royal family but that is a checkered past and she was a kid.

The next year will be a drama – who will design the wedding dress, where will they be married, who will be invited, who will not be invited, who will be the maid of honor, the best man, who will preside, who will be the wedding planner, where will they honeymoon, where will the live. And the question I probably care most about – who will be the photographer.

Circus. It starts again. And hopefully, this time, with a better ending.

Link of the day: This article on Guardian – talk about being snobbish!

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Indian Weddings

There is always some drama involved. The bride has a tantrum. Or the bride’s family has a tantrum. The groom’s family is upset. The latter happens loudly, while the former happens in the confines of a little, overcrowded room. Aunties are jammed into the little room, which generally smells of jasmine, talcum powder and stale sweat.

Perhaps the absence of all that was what made this wedding a pleasant surprise. There were no loud fights or noises. Soothing instrumental music was in the background and the gentle murmur of conversation. The green room had the smell of jasmine but nothing else. And it was also curiously empty of nosy aunts.

I found the nosy aunts elsewhere, but that is a topic for another day.

Every time now I see a traditional Indian bride, a part of me smiles. I am still not sure if that is the way I want to be married… from long experience I have learnt that such a day is everyone else’s but yours. But when I see the bride, dressed in vivid colours, sitting in front of the fire, I discover unknown cords in my heart that tug me towards that canopy.

I do not have a ‘favorite’ moment in an Indian wedding. There is generally too much chaos to ever have paid attention to the entire ceremony. What I generally see is a couple too tired to stand on their feet, just getting through the ceremony. But watching my friend finish the ceremony and walk down, I wonder if there is a curious relief in the heart that says “we are married” or “he is now mine”. Do you get that thought in your head as the sacred thread’s knotted around your neck or is it a feeling of panic?

If I had to pick a particular moment… it would be the Saptapadi. It exists in most Indian weddings, regardless of the caste. The 7 steps where the groom promises to cherish the bride forever.

But the moment I enjoy the most – the happy couple tucking into the meal – the first they share together. And the first moment of commonness they have… they might’ve hated the ceremony or loved it, they might be relieved or panicked earlier. But this one emotion – Food! Finally! – yup. There you have the common ground.

The Race

My mind goes back to 2007… July and August were hectic days then too. I had just graduated and there was the graduation ceremony to attend. So had all my friends, so there was the party to plan. It was frantic because it was almost time to go home after being away for more than a year and a half.

It was summer. The days were long and the beach was right there. There were no more assignments and the rush of the university. Only the fun of knowing people were free and partying. And working. Late nights at the restaurant, with tourists filling it every night. Funny people, stupid people, clever people, gorgeous people. Guys you wanted to date and wouldn’t ask you out and the ones that did whom you didn’t want to go out with. Shopping for a “graduation dress” and wondering what else you could do to while away time.

Partying till wee hours in the morning, knowing you could sleep late. I had just met someone and it was fun and exciting and absolutely comfortable. It was perhaps the most idyllic time of my life that I enjoyed.

3 years later, it is a shock how much has changed. I know I have written so often about this but every year, I begin thinking about this stuff. So many people are married and many more are on their way to be married. Actually, forget the marriage race, now it is the ‘having a baby’ craze. Which means I can safely drop out of the whole thing because there is no way I can catch up, if I wanted to.

I guess life can be simple that way.

Recently, a friend was planning a party for her 3-year old kid. It was the first major party… and she was going a little crazy. “What do I do?” she asked me. I was a little confused… it was fairly simple right? Get the cake, give a shout to all the surrounding bacchas… who would already be waiting because they saw you get the cake out of the car, buy those party balloons, some caps, put on the music and you are done.

But apparently, it is a little more complicated than that. Which I realised only when another friend offered to help. This one just had a similar party for her kid so she knew what was involved.

That was when I felt a little out of touch. Yeah, I still don’t see what the fuss is. I mean… fine, even if you have to invite every friend you have… call up the caterers, book a hall and the rest follows. And with thoughts like these I wonder if I will ever be cut out for such a life… I would like to do it. Oh yes! I already have the party plan in mind… but am I cut out for it.

I guess I am the slow bloomer… when my friends are planning birthday parties, i’m thinking of a steady relationship. It follows the natural course… when they were drooling over guys, I was still rolling my eyes at my best friend – who happened to be the object of their affection.

Indian movies perhaps ruined us a little bit… all those stories about how a boy meets a girl on the road/in the bus/across a room/in the classroom/on the cricket field/in a fight… the girl says no, the guy pursues and she eventually gives in and gets married. And then she becomes boring. So people thought life follows the same track. Guys didn’t think twice about approaching a girl they thought was pretty, or sending “frandship requests” to random women. And while I was laughing about these idiots, I realise the girls right next to me are reciprocating.

When did I miss the booklet passed around about how to respond to such guys? Or I got the wrong one.

So some of them dated, some of them broke up… and I was still in the phase of thinking “bbbut… he’s some random guy off the street! (and he aint cute and he stinks)”

So I missed that bus. And because most of the people I knew got onto that, our worlds just split into areas complex than the bermuda triangle.

I guess what I’m really trying to figure out is what race am I running? Am I in a race? Who makes up these things?

Marriages

About 10 people I know have gotten married in the past 6 months. I have 5 ‘wedding clothes’ in my wardrobe now. And as more people enter this minefield, I hear  more stories… and more questions…

1. Do you change your surname after your wedding?
I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve heard this question. In the 80s or perhaps earlier, it was accepted that the girl would change her surname. But now, it is a debate… Every time a friend asks what I think about it, I merely shrug. I wouldn’t change my name. But that is what these girls said as well… and now they wonder how it would be considered…

My mother didn’t change her name but years after her marriage, she had to do it because people just assumed that her name was followed by my dad’s name. Rather than deal with the hassle of getting the name on the cheque changed everytime or the legal documents or whatever else, she now goes by both names.

My sister on the other hand, changed her name. I don’t know if she ever did it legally as well but all her email IDs and cards read her name followed by her husband’s name.

Is it really a loss of identity? Or could be considered a changing of identity? In today’s world, should it even be called a changing of identity or merely an addition to the roles you already play?

I hate the thought of changing my name or even my address. I cannot even remember how many places my name and address would have to be changed. Plus, considering my profession, that would be splitting my identity. Oh and not to mention the legal hassles!!!

2. Own place?
I thought this wouldn’t really be an issue anymore… but apparently it still is. Parents are more accepting of this, but only if the house is overcrowded. Indian families hang onto children and everyone else like leeches sometimes. I can see a clear line between those who get their own pad and those who don’t (and are even okay with it).

I just wonder – wouldn’t you want the independence and the fun of having your own place? Yes, it involves cranky maids and waking up at 6 AM to get the milk perhaps but it also involves decorating it in any crazy way you want, having friends over at all crazy hours and without having to explain their craziness to your parents or worse, in-laws;  just that space to breathe…

***

Okay marriage is a minefield and I do not even want to think of all the issues that are involved in it… least till I’m forced to enter that land.

But what about relationships? A new relationship… how much do you let yourself be immersed in it? Can you ignore friends and your life? Would you sit hour after hour with your boyfriend and his friends because you want to spend time with him, when you can’t really follow the conversation and though you love to talk, you can’t talk much because it is stuff you don’t connect with?

How many compromises would you make for a relationship? It is a juggling act, as I’ve been learning… between you, the tug-of-war between what you want, you and him, you and friends and friends and him…

Song of the day: Paint the town red: The Hotcakes

If marriages are really made in heaven…

why the hell is there such a huge fuss about the Sania-Shoaib deal?

Yes, I am going to devote precious blog space to this little drama that has been talked about so much for the past few weeks.

Personally, I don’t even like Sania, so couldn’t care less who she married. I could never really say if she is really talented or made it to the top 40 through a combination of some luck and a bit of talent. Or if she is really talented, she just let it all go waste due to fame. She definitely did have the potential to be one of the top players… but that is a different story.

But why was there such a fuss about the guy she chose to marry? True, he is from Pakistan but such marriages occur routinely. A mere line between two countries cannot separate the bloodlines that flow through the lands.

I read this article on The Guardian which says the Shiv Sena *rolling my eyes* called her various names which meant unpatriotic. Apparently, if she had chosen a guy from India, she would really belong to India. Which brings me to a comment someone made on one of my earlier posts. He said “No matter how much you love them (Muslims), they will always love Paks).”

If she had chosen to marry a Muslim from the US, would there have been the same fuss? Isn’t a Muslim a Muslim, regardless of the land? Or do the Pakistanis have something special we did not know about? Madhuri Dixit married a guy from the US… various Bollywood people routinely date and marry Westerners but nobody comments. So why is this little girl being parodied for choosing a guy from the neighbouring country?

The thing that struck me most from the article I mentioned is this graph about “male chauvenism” – And in a culture where male chauvinism is practically compulsory, that is precisely what has happened in the case of the Malik-Mirza marriage. The Pakistani boy is perceived to have won the Indian girl, and Indian male pride is hurt.

SERIOUSLY?!?!? Did the woman have no choice in the matter? And he won her… like what? In a game of cards? In a game of cricket?

And the other ridiculous line – Apparently they expect this couple to start of more peace talks and create a common platform for peace between the two countries.

How? If they were someone like… say Sachin, I could perhaps believe they had influence. But Sania? Really? The one match wonder? And Shoaib? Maybe Imran Khan, Waseem Akram who are legends…

Seriously… let the media get out and let that couple try their hands at marriage.

***
The iPad

I cannot believe I have not mentioned the iPad yet!! I must be slipping. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw it was – “I WANT THAT”. Seriously!! Apple’s products always look fabulous. And this was something out of sci-fi movie.

But then I realised… how useful is it really considering that you can’t use Adobe Flash on it? And about half the things in cyber space use flash. Least all the stuff I look for.

That is one special thing about Apple – that exclusive control they have about the gadgets allowed in their world. Add that with their current tiff with Google and you wonder what risks you would be taking by buying an Apple product, particularly something like an iPhone or iPad.

I want to buy an iPhone. Seriously… I tried to talk myself out of it for quite a while and my current phone is an absolute beauty + it is sturdy. But I want an iphone. But I wonder… what if Apple one day decides you can’t use google on it? Yes, in the land of US of A, antitrust laws will kick in. What happens in India? In fact, how useful is a phone like iPhone in India… particularly in these pre-3G days.

But my point was the iPad and Apple (and I shall not digress like Shobha De)… The only space where I can really think of using it is to read books and magazines and for that you’ve a much cheaper version of Kindle and its relatives. If you can’t use Flash on this, what is the point of having the iPad?

Now if only Apple makes these allowances, I would be the first in the checkout queue for one.

Of course, when i heard about my friend with an ipad, sitting in Starbucks, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy *sigh*

***
As I mentioned Shobha De and digressing… the reason why I thought of it was this column I read of hers in BT today morning. Of course, BT aka Bangalore Times is quite a tabloid supplement to a paper which is quite tabloidish itself. Except BT proudly mentions only entertainment news – meaning movies and gossipy cricket news.

And now they squeezed in a “column” by Ms. De.

Today’s column was supposed to be about how Goa is losing its brand as a tourist destination. Except, after the first graph (of 3 lines), there was no mention of the topic till the last line. The rest of the article was filled with mentions of how other movie stars have lost their Brand value – including Sania who was dropped by Cadbury.

Shobha De can write well. She also has a sharp brain but then she uses her brand value to write nonsense. And when she cannot come up with nonsense opinions, she just takes a topic, writes one line about it and fills the rest with, well, nonsense.

It is true that Goa’s image has been tarnished by the rise in drug-related deaths and rapes and such. It is a pity… because Goa was one place where I could go and face no policing and the one place where you could light up a joint and feel at home. The one place where you wear a short dress without raised eyebrows. And it is getting fucked up… as all things do I guess. But either you write about that or you write about your buddy movie stars. Why mix both? Unless one of them was caught doing something in Goa and was responsible for this problem.

And the last bit of the news considering brand images – why did Cadbury really drop Sania?

Let’s speculate:
A) The whole marriage drama, as Shobha De and other says

B) Sania hasn’t really won a match or played in any decent tournament since… who knows when. So they really woke up to the fact that they had a ‘brand ambassador’ who made more news via her ads than the stuff onfield. And they played it safe and dropped her.

C) They figured that age-old backlash in India that married women face – the loss of a sex symbol status (if she ever was one). And they figured they didn’t want a plain jane/married woman as their brand ambassador because Indian men are weird that way (though they would ogle at every other thing in a skirt/sari walking on the street)

D) They just got bored of her, realised she wasn’t really gaining them anything and used this as an excuse to drop her

Pick one. Or come up with another option.

Song of the day: Aaj hai sagaai: Pyaar toh hona hi tha

Married

In the past 15 days, 3 people I know got married. It felt a little surreal and I’ve not gotten used to the idea of all these people being ‘married’.

But I was going through the photos of Facebook and see the broad smiles on their faces. And that makes me forget all the smart comments I had. They are happy. Maybe they are fools or in an illusion but illusions are way better than reality right? They were distinctly different ceremonies… but the charm, the vibrancy of an Indian wedding can never be captured elsewhere.

I guess this is where life begins on a different path. Before the spate of weddings is over you’ll be getting invites for baby showers, naming ceremonies, first birthdays… buying a house… more kids and such things.

Whatever be it, I feel strangely at peace with it all (now how much do you want to bet somebody I least expect will tell me they are getting hitched and the confusion starts again).

Song of the day: Mehendi Hai Rachne Wali – Zubeida (one of my favorite movies that never really ran)

Semi-Dark Room…

Sitting in a semi-dark room, wondering why I can’t do any of those things I want to do. I just woke up, so tiredness cannot be an excuse. It isn’t laziness either because I dusted that off a while ago.

But I can feel the slight irritation creeping up again. It is minute but it is there and it is crawling up and the fact that it is there is more annoying than anything else.

Several friends are getting married. And when i say “friends” i really do mean friends. Not someone whom I like and consider a pal. These are 4 AM people. And it surprises me how okay I am with all of that. I made my peace with my relationship status a little while ago. I realised when I say “I like being single,” I really do mean it. I have slight issues with commitment – the top one being that there are all these things I want to do and somehow it seems to be in a slightly different path than the ‘couple’ bit. Of course, in the meantime while I’m finding out what i want to do, if i find someone who is like me – i’m not that commitment phobic 🙂

I realised something late last night – Falling in love is not in your hands but what you do about it definitely is.

Which is why some people end up getting married, some break up and become morons.

I feel a lot lighter with these realizations. I am trying to find dresses for friends’ weddings now. I guess I have to add to my wardrobe now, considering my reluctance to wear saris. They just are not comfortable. And considering I’d attend on average 2 events a year, my wardrobe was suitably filled. Now, I guess once the engagements are over, there are weddings. Then there are kids born and ceremonies for them and so on.

Except right when it is time to go shopping, i’m broke. and my mom refuses to lend me any more money.