Wednesday, July 06, 2005

An Arranged Chaos

Four years ago, Mr.Gabby and I attended his friend David’s marriage. It was a beautiful Southern wedding held in Florida. The bride Jen looked radiant and the wedding went off without a hitch. At least it seemed like that to us and that speaks for itself. The ceremony brought tears to my eyes and the dancing and reverie at the reception left us all quite breathless. When David and Jen did the rounds later, stopping at each table to say hi and thank us for coming, David made as if to reach out to hug me. Maybe I took a second longer than natural to respond and he paused and whispered “Gabby, want to hug now?” Well I’ve never been asked that question, and I found it a wee bit odd but said yes and we hugged. Later, I understood that if he had reached out and I had not responded, the part of the wedding video that showed Mr.Gabby and me greeting them would have had to be removed and he did not want that. WOW. If that isn’t an orchestrated wedding, what is?

Now I’m back from attending an Arranged Marriage. Maybe they should make that term an “Arranged Match” and leave it at that because Indian weddings are as un-arranged as they can get. I’m sure my own must have been crazier being an unarranged match to begin with, but the bride at the time was blissfully ignorant as was the bride this time around. Mostly. Except for the one time the bride and her beautician had a yelling match an hour before the wedding which I refereed and might I add that I have a high-pitched voice myself. Then the keys went missing (The keys. I will have to devote an entire post to just the Keys and their Mysterious Wanderings. The senior members of Mr.Gabby’s family *I love them and all* have an obsession with the hiding of the keys. Godrej1’s * keys will be in the locker of Godrej2, Godrej2’s keys will be under the lining of the 2nd shelf of Godrej3 and so on....till you hit the Safe room key. Once you’re inside the Safe room you need a GPS to find what you came looking for. But it’s best to holler for help. Might I also add that this sequence of Godrej1 > Godrej2 > Godrej3.... is a non-repeating one. It will keep changing so you have to be in the loop and figure out the latest pattern. Which is tiring when you are told that as well as “Gabby here is very responsible and will be in charge of the keys” in a language you barely understand!)

It has been a long while since I attended an arranged marriage and for the uninformed about this kind, I have to tell you the one thing that really stands out about such a wedding. Everyone is very happy, except for the bride and the groom who tend to get into these pensive moods. Obviously. The families have bonded and gelled. Now what remains is the bonding and gelling of the people getting wedded. But of course they will grow to love, that’s what happens, doesn’t it. For the record, despite the undertones you might be sensing, I don’t have much against the concept of an arranged marriage. If you haven’t met that right person for you yet and you’ll like to get married - here’s some help, is what it is. The concept is gaining popularity in all parts of the world and I was amazed to see many instances among my Asian and American friends. The period of interaction between the boy and the girl is significantly longer though and they say they “met through their parents” instead of saying “Arranged. Not Love” as we Indians often put it. Let’s not do that, let’s not rule out love right away!

Well in these weddings, the barriers that different religions, castes, social-status and mother-tongues usually pose are non-existent and people in general have less to worry about and for that matter comment about. So they can concentrate on how everyone is looking and the giving and the taking and the transactions of wealth in general. Jewelry is a hot topic and so is the amount of zari on sarees. Pure zari. God forbid if somebody has some ‘spun’ or ‘tested’ zari on their sarees! (I will not go into what those terms mean, suffice to know that they are inferior to the real thing). My husband’s community loves their diamonds too so ears and necks adorned with our best friends shone with a brilliance that threatened to overpower the video camera lights. I dryly commented on a lady of the newer family appearing in a different saree for almost every ceremony several days before the actual wedding (An Indian wedding usually runs for 3 to 6 days, composed of several ceremonies of increasing significance) and was told in no uncertain terms that my “American” style wouldn’t work and I better do the same. So I joined the herd and left no stone unturned, fishing out my 3 year old wedding trousseau and loading on the jewelry much to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

Confusion abounds in all our weddings and in this one I saw a new thing or two. Bangalore traffic contributed in more ways than one, stranding the artist who had to perform in the reception for hours. The "boy's side" continues to cluck under their breath about it and the "girl's side" will continue to pretend we din't hear them. We all tend to be forgetful when we have so much on our minds and I won’t be surprised if I miss a hair-brush or a garment while I’m unpacking now but there were instances when people forgot entire suitcases in this wedding! When I heard about it, I tried to show the appropriate level of dismay on my face but I failed miserably and burst out laughing and luckily for me a lot of people also saw the hilarity of the situation. When I thought I had seen it all, I was told about a story that does the rounds in my hubby’s family. Apparently after our own wedding, Mr.Gabby forgot to wake up his sleeping grandfather in his hotel room while his family was leaving. So the party set off and remembered midway to the airport that they were missing the senior-most member of their family. The suitcase story slid from its number 1 position and this one with my own Mr.Gabby starring in it quickly took it’s place.

There were so many more and I’m sure they will all find their way to this blog someday. Someday soon, when I’m not so jet-lagged and there’s plenty of coffee and milk in my house. I’m so tempted to reveal this blog to the bride and groom. They will be able to add so much and they can laugh about their wedding for ages. The gossip, the food, the nakhres of the boy’s side, that fat socialite lady who talked about her own daughter’s GRAND wedding for so long we had to gently remind her after a bit that it was years ago and please snap out of it already. I wonder what David and Jen laugh about, I guess they have their own stories and a lot must have lingered for way after the wedding, much of the evidence though must have long vanished, been edited out with appropriate questions that were whispered at just that right instant before a hug.


* Godrej is a well known company in India that makes steel almirahs among several other things. Almost every household will have a couple of these almirahs that usually hold the family's clothes and valuables.

70 Comments:

Blogger shub said...

awww gabby! nice to have u back! still in namma bengalooru?

4:59 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

no shub babes, back in boston. loved your city though! got some great shopping done there!

5:03 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

hey Gabby.. Wb :) About weddings, they have mostly left me scarred! In one of them, I was stuck watching all the goodies that the bride was taking with her to her in-laws (i.e. shining cooking utensils and the types) and was not to be found in any single frame on the marriage video, if you'd discount the hint of the feet shown before being asked to move it so that the names on the silver ware could be focussed on.
And in another, the most recent one I attended, my father conspires against me and forces me to wear a traditional Tam Bram outfit and when I come to the event, I find every other person my age in nicely tailored pant and shirts. I ended up being the object of all attention of all the ladies around (not from the ones I'd like, who were mostly absent) but all these oldies who were like "So, you are the next in line" etc. etc. God, my father actually laughed at me the moment he saw me emerge with that outfit on!

6:26 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

no anti...i think it's cool you wore a veshti instead of pants...hardly anyone does nowadays!

ya'll better..!...we're sweating in those sarees and we can't have you walking around looking comfortable in any sense!

6:45 AM  
Blogger phatichar said...

Ah, vintage gabby!

Indian weddings are like those black and white, scratchy movies of charlie chaplin's, where everything happens in quick succession! Oh boy, I've a few wedding stories up my sleeve as well, but...well, some other day perhaps.

This was hilarious. Welcome back, dear! :)

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're back! YES :)
And with a bang!

What's zari?

-Peggy

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Ashok said...

How was the food?

I like food stories. Do you think you can work something in in the next post?

8:01 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Phatichar - ROTFL at comparison with Charlie Chaplin movies!!! :) I can't stop laughing!

Hey Peggy - Zari is gold threadwork done on sarees and dresses. It's actual gold and so the more zari-work on a garment the more expensive it is. Problem is some people go crazy with it and overdose, so the garment starts to shine like a gold shield. But when done correctly a zari-saree can look oh-so-lovely.

Ashok - The food was AWESOME. I'll be covering it in subsequent posts. Watch out.:)

9:32 AM  
Blogger anumita said...

You are back! Lovely! And no doubt had a great time. Now you must tell us all!

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The poem is fantastic. Why did you turn the comments off?

10:53 AM  
Blogger Megha said...

Yay! You are back! :) About them sarees - I cribbed and complained about the unfairness of it all. And then, one scorching summer day, in 44C degrees weather, in a non-airconditioned marriage hall, standing in front of the lone fan that worked, I discovered how aerodynamic they were. In the interest of the PG rating of your blog, I shall not provide details, but suffice it to say, I couldn't have pulled some of the same stunts in a churidaar-kurta :) Um, I shall shuttup now :)

Welcome back!

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Ash said...

Gabbie, so glad to have you back !
And with such interesting stories too !!

Your Mr Gabbie sounds like a real character; sure look forward to meeting him one day :)

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! There's always a fat socialite who gushes about how THEY DID IT ! Makes you wonder how long the high will last? My folks hide the keys too. What's funny is that the duplicate key is right there in a drawer in my brother's room!!

Good, good, write more. Make it up to us :)

Shobha

2:07 PM  
Blogger manan said...

Lovely post! Its true, every marriage in India has enough material for a good-sized novel :)

6:12 PM  
Blogger Primalsoup said...

Hiya there! Yup this whole wedding thingamujig is filled with many a stories.
I am told (by some seedy Tamil flick that I saw as a kid) that the key to a successful marriage is that the wedding itself has to be pretty chaotic, and there have to be two people who ought to have a show down and sulk like kids from school do, for the couple to have happy forever togetherness.
And since everyone says, and I ought to follow the herd, Welcome Back! :)

6:42 PM  
Blogger visithra said...

Hehehehhe u had fun - and brought us back a lot of blogable goodies I see :)) Welcome back dear :))

8:56 PM  
Blogger Kaps said...

I liked the part on the hiding of keys. Have seen this happening in lot of families.

9:56 PM  
Blogger manuscrypts said...

and there are some among us who arrange our own love marriage :)

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Leela said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. I recently came across this article about a couple who exchanged vows on the phone because the groom was stuck in traffic and the 'golden moment' was whizzing by. Now, they must have SOME stories...

10:10 PM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

Welcome back! I enjoyed the poem too and wondered why you turned comments off.
This story was so rich! I laughed out loud about the part where Mr. Gabby forgot his sleeping grandfather... too funny!
I'm also glad someone else asked about the Zari because I didn't want to seem like a fool but was very curious. It sounds lovely.

2:51 AM  
Blogger sanguine said...

welcome back , gabby .
LOL @ left dadaji in the hotel. i almost fell out of my chair laughing :D

n you know readin all this i want to attend a marriage here myself. it has been a while since i attend one.*sigh*

3:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I read it all Gabby and I loved it! Your hubby left his grand-dad in the hotel!!!! Hee Hee! Now everything will pale in contrast :D

You've got yourself a new loyal reader, let me tell you!

Neha!

3:35 AM  
Blogger Rhyncus said...

And I thought the veshti was ideal for hot, humid summer weddings, with its natural ventilation.
Methinks it is important that there is chaos at weddings. Hopefully it prevents the hapless couple from thinking about the life-changing step they are about to take.
Btw, you've run out of coffee and milk kya?

4:09 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anumita - They will come...been yapping on the phone so much, feels like I already told too many people :)

Anon - Thanks. I offer these poems with little explanation, so I'm afraid it won't mean what it does to me to everyone...so I resisted.

Megha - LOL! Yes they do let the winds dance in new alleys don't they? :)

Ash - You like forgetful men? You like them all then :)

Shobha - The duplicate keys are easier to find at Mr.Gabby's parents place too...Nobody thinks of hiding those! And the high? It lasts forever.

Manan - Thanks! Haven't seen you around for a looong time?..

5:09 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

primalsoup - If some tantrums and sulking during the wedding is a good sign, then most Indian marriages must be doing pretty well :)..

visithra - thanks...and yes i had fun, it's so busy during these India trips that when you come back, you're like "hey i'm sitting around too much!"

kaps - it's done at my place too...but the it's a much shorter route to the treasure!

manu - true. love marriages are very much arranged marriage, just arranged by us :) or the stars as the romantic will say!

Leela! No kidding! LOL!

Weary - The poem talks about a very personal experience which I'm not quite ready to go into in any more detail than is already there...so I'm kinda scared of the questions or reactions of people who might not quite see it in my light...'I was too chicken' is what I'm trying to say I guess..:) Glad you enjoyed it!

sanguine - A friend of mine is going to tie the knot in mumbai soon...wanna go in my place? :)

Neha - Thanks! Glad you read the whole thing, one of my readers (can't remember who) once revealed that he doesn't read any of my posts completely..!!

rhyncus - But the bride and groom rarely know how bad it really is...they're there, engulfed in smoke and the chanting of mantras, worrying about when they'll get to finally eat something...or do something :) Arre, we were low on coffee when we returned...pantry, 'frig and all dabbas stocked now...why, would you have sent us some milk? Or custard maybe?

5:28 AM  
Blogger Arunima said...

a very elaborate one!!

You have removed the comment in your last post. Is it someone very dear?

6:43 AM  
Blogger Arunima said...

a very elaborate one!!

You have removed the comment in your last post. Is it someone very dear?

6:43 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby/Meghna: All this talk about PG ratings, wind and alleys is making me go all red! But ya, having worn a veshti (in TN they call it the veshti while in Kerala its called the mundu), I can identify with ur experience!
Oh, btw, your new post is nice. Poetry is not my cuppa, but this one felt right.

6:58 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Arunima - And I still have more to tell!! And to your question, Yes.

Anti - You go red and then add your own 2 cents with the veshti? :) It's your imagination that's getting you into trouble not what we're writing! Anti boy is a big boy now it seems! & Thanks very much for the comment on the poem.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anti-Curious said...

Anti, do you wear a belt with your veshti/mundu?

Otherwise, the windy-adventures might get too breezy!

8:41 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

LOL @ anti-curious' comment!!! :)

9:53 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

anti-curious: Well, I am one of those souls who knows how to wear the veshti without the need for a belt. It comes with practice and a eye for detail! But ya, I make sure that I don't feed all you Page 3 readers with a breezy experience! And I do that by staying off windy zones and subway air ducts!

Gabby: Well, 26 is not exactly young!

12:18 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

LOL @ "off windy zones and subway air ducts!"

Anti don't give me these visuals!!! *Can't get Anti doing a Marilyn Monroe off my head*

:)

12:29 PM  
Blogger Megha said...

Two random observations -

1. Anti has a Meghna fixation
2. Anti has definitely been drinking his Complan

*cackling in the background at the Anti-Monroe routine*

12:35 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Another random observation -

Why does Anti tell us the Kerala equivalent of Tamil stuff (as in Mundu) ? He is as Tamilian as they get isn't he? Who IS Malayali here?

12:46 PM  
Anonymous anti-curious said...

Maybe Anti thinks Marilyn is a Kerala Christian?

12:51 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

God save you Gult/pseudo-Gult ladies who have taken over Boston! You started the descriptive discussion, not me! :O

Gabby: Well, I am this half breed from the Tam/Mallu border area that they call Palakkad! But that was not exactly the reason for mentioning the equivalents. I know, from experience, that while most ppl know what a mundu is, the term veshti is not known to many!

Megha: Me not reacting to any more "random" observations! :p

12:55 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

anti-curious: Lest you forget, curiousity killed the cat! Are you a cat? :p

1:05 PM  
Anonymous alpha said...

anti, now who's curious!

Monroe..hahaha!

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anti-Curious said...

Anti, I am not a cat. Is it true that women don't wear saris in Mallu-land? Only blouses and the inside garment? Is that a mundu?

1:11 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

ROTFL! Anti-curious, THAT is not a mundu!!! Help me Lord!

1:14 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby: Whoa, what ladies wear in Kerala, the predominantly white veshti like thingy is also called the mundu!

1:20 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Oppps...mea culpa. Had no clue. So anti-curious you are right!

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anti-Curious said...

I am usually right. So believe me when I say I really want to get to know Anti.

1:28 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

anti-curious - WOW, you're quick! Anti has his own blog you know, you can get to know him much better over there...!

1:30 PM  
Blogger Megha said...

Pseudo-Gult? Who you calling pseudo-Gult boy? Gabby or moi? You're in trouble either way! *tapping foot furiously*

1:41 PM  
Blogger Megha said...

And random wise thought - Curiosity may have killed the cat, but a cat does have nine lives. So might as well put them to good use, no? :)

1:43 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Hmmmm!

* wonders how to react to the obvs attempt at baiting him and decides that he should not react!

1:43 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Megha: Either way! Both you Bostonian ladies are so much of an enigma that I took the safer route by using "Gult/pseudo Gult" instead of using either one!

1:45 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby/Megha: Btw, I am disappointed that neither of you commented on my Ray Barone post :p

1:54 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anti - No pseudo-ness here. If you've noticed tinges of other cultures it's because we are more "evolved" :)

Still catching up with all by blogging man, what's this about Ray Barone, will go look I promise!

2:05 PM  
Blogger Megha said...

Oooh Gabby, I likes this whole 'evolved' business! Total superior life form and all.

And Anti, my apologies. I did read post, meant to comment, but just got plain lazy. I shall make amends rightaway. *hangs head in shame*

2:17 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Megha my dear, is Anti bullying you into commenting? I've seen the prodding happen over at your place once before I think ;)...

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anti-Curious said...

I know I can go to Anti's page, but I like it here. I like Gabby and Megha and all the girls who come here to play.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Megha said...

Oh Gabby, you don't know the half of it. Taking inspiration from his filmi role models, Anti has learnt a very special blend of arm-twisting and guilt-tripping. I have resisted so far, but I find myself slipping lately .. Sigh!

Anti-Curious - We could set you and Anti up on a 'get to know each other better' date right here, if you prefer that :) Although seeing as Anti goes red in the face even at PG-13 stuff, I'd say he's a rather good boy, so you really don't have to worry ;)

3:20 PM  
Blogger Pallavi said...

You seem to have had fun !! and I agree about the almirahs.. LOL

1:26 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby: Me no arm twist! :O

Megha: Arm twisting and guilt tripping are not the lessons, I learnt from my filmi role models. The lessons learnt are much more deeper! And I am a day to day learner. Will never hesitate to pick up tips from everyday experiences, incl. this conversation with you and Gabby! Junkets of info have been filed away for future reference! :p
And arre, if you are looking into getting into match making for me, one "get to know each other better" date aint gonna help. People need much more time to get to know me full. It is like getting to the Louvre and taking the 3 hour Da Vinci tour as opposed to the 5 whole days that it reputedly takes to see every exhibit! But yeah, you got one point right there - I AM a good boy! But (*settles into a Mr.Heckles tone) I could be a bad boy!

Anti-Curious - Don't fall into this trap. God...., see... they dont even know if you are a guy or a gal, and they are talking about dates! I'd look for a different play ground if I were you! And you are certainly welcome to come on my blog and look around. Maybe you'd find some other interesting playgrounds linked on there! And I am hearing you much better than these two dames!

6:52 AM  
Anonymous anti-curious said...

Anti - I was afraid you weren't interested anymore. So you are interested. Are you trying to find out if I'm male or female? Which do YOU prefer?

I will come to your playground too. After I am comfortable with being alone with you.

7:52 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Pallavi - Thanks!!!

Anti, Megha, Anti-curious - Let the party begin! Anti, your RC days might soon be history, Anti-C here seems more than flexible and is definitely putting your needs first! "Which do YOU prefer?" IT asks!! LOL! Now let's get comfortable, so Anti-C can follow Anti to play at his place! Grab a cushion, Chai banaau?

Who ARE you anyway?

8:09 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:45 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby: You have only chai? No coffee? No Tam Bram event is complete without filter coffee! Oh, btw, my RC days can be history any time, the moment I choose to take the RC garb off when I come face to face with the right ONE! So I am just being RC by choice till I can sift through the hopefuls! So, as Rajini would put it, "Howwwwiiizzzit" (and your response ideally should be "Soooooper")! ;) ROTFL!

A-Curious: Ummmm...Of course I am curious in this regard. I mean, if someone talks about being even vaguely interested in me, obvsly my interests are piqued too, regardless of the sex of the interested person. One of the lessons of networking I seem to have picked up from somewhere.
Let me see... Hmmm.. My preferences actually depend on what you wanna do! I do have a wide set of interests and an equally wide circle of friends from either sex, but again, I would prefer limiting certain activities with certain people. What about you?
And oh btw, I was talking about you finding interesting things to do and play with, NOT JUST on my blog, but through my blog, on other blogs as well! So, my blog could, not only be your END, but could be one of the means to your END, whatever that is. :)

9:19 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

Hmmm.....

1:01 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anti - I was Anti-C to reply...:( Looks like we've scared him/her away!

I'm the coffee lover myself, so don't worry, the supply would have flowed un-ebbed. We grind our seeds ourselves at home so satisfaction is guaranteed !

Drop the RC facade already! :)

6:43 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

That was "I was waiting for Anti-C..."

6:44 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

hmmm true ;) But i think you and Megha made the mistake of instantly assuming Anti-C was a gal. But I don't ever do that. ;)

7:12 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

No sign of Anti-C anywhere...hmmm...I told you Gabby. You and Megha scared IT!

12:33 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

I know! I was hoping you would entice IT back! Come post a tulip pic here! *wicked grin*

1:48 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

:p

12:01 PM  
Anonymous anti-curious said...

Hello? Anti?

11:21 AM  
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10:28 PM  

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