The RIME of a Wedding Guest

Well folks, I am turning Coleridge around a bit. There is no ancient mariner here but a wedding guest - yours truly, who is narrating her experiences from the wedding !!

It was  a Sunday in the beginning of September that this happened. The  invite to the reception seemed unassuming enough- medium sized , hand made paper etc.. The parents were senior bureaucrats and the bride's mother is a very nice lady who  had once been my boss.So I decided to attend it. My daughter took one look at the card - the name of the bride and groom and decided that she wanted to tag along with me. She was sure that with part of the bride's family being Muslim there was bound to be biryani on the menu! I wondered if my husband had similar thoughts. He did, I guess but somehow even the lure of biryani did not seem to draw him out of his relaxed Sunday evening mood. He said something very prophetic when he dropped us both outside the gates of the  well known college where the reception was being held - " Enjoy yourselves ladies.. this is going to be circus"

We made our way from the driveway wondering which hall within the college the reception was being held in. As we walked further, I was confused - I wondered if I had walked into a meeting of a political party. There were fairy lights everywhere and huge posters that welcomed the guests. Each poster seemed to be sponsored by some association!!! Anyway, we followed all the brightly dressed ladies blindly and found ourselves in the central quandrangle of the college. I was still confused because it looked like we had walked into some sort of a fair- there were many biryani counters ( I counted 25), candy floss and popcorn machines, portable merry-go-rounds, and that thing with air pumped into it on which kids jump! There was a loud speaker where someone was announcing the guests to join the queue to greet the newly weds.

We looked at the queue- it seemed about 50 people long. I looked at my watch .It was about 7.00PM - half an hour past the time indicated on the invite. I strained my eyes to look for the bride and see if it was indeed the girl I knew during those days.. My daughter alerted me to my ringing mobile( I could barely hear it in the noise around me). One of my former colleagues was on line - " Meera where are you"? He asked me. " In the queue"  I said.  " I am also in the queue but where exactly? "  near the CCTV monitor. " Which one of them"  he shouted into my ear. I looked around and counted them. " The third one on the left" . " Okay then I am way behind you"  About five minutes later he had merrily jumped the queue and  joined me.

" Mummy why cant we just go and eat ?" asked junior

" What about the bouquet then? "  I asked waving the huge bunch of flowers we were trying to manage between the two of us..!

" Then I will go and eat. You give her the flowers"  she said. Now, that is the height of greediness. I scolded her. Besides, I was worried that I might lose her in the crowd ( I think I have watched too many Indian films about children getting lost in a fair). So we stood for the next forty five minutes in  line watching with interest the goings on up on the stage . The band began to play " Khwaja mere Khwaja"  and " Babul ki duayein leti jaa"  . I realized that if this was all that it took for professional singing then I could seriously consider it as a career option!!

Meanwhile some guests on the stage were taking out garlands from plastic covers and making the bride and groom exchange them. The bride's father ( also a beauracrat) was announcing on stage welcoming Mr XYS, IAS along with his wife- " Varuga, Varuga" !! Actually he would do this every once in a while interrupting the band.

We finally made it to the stage, wished the girl, handed the bouquet, registered our  presence with the mother who very kindly  asked us to " eat and go" !

Then began some of our practical problems. While there were 25 biryani counters there was only location with some 30 odd tables where vegetarian food was being served. " Chee! I am not going to eat veg food. I came for the biryani" said junior with disgust. I was still worried about her getting lost in the crowd. So I accompanied her to one of the counters. where she patiently stood in a queue and got her biryani as I hunted for two chairs.

While she ate biryani I got myself some soft drinks and popcorn from the counter nearby. I saw somewhere a sign board that said " VIP enclosure" !! Noticed some known IAS faces going there.. Must say, these government types dont forget the system of preferential treatment wherever they go. I wondered how many " chamchas"  of the brides' parents were seeing to the VIPS in the enclosure!!

I felt full after about two bags of popcorn. We went hunting for some ice cream. As we went we watched with interest the diversity among the guests. There were some classy Muslim ladies and some bright Kancheevaram clad Tamil ladies ( former from the bridegroom's and the bride's mother's side and the later from the father's side we guessed). There were some safari suited govt types around and many oily looking " kakkajis" too. Ofcourse there were Mangalgiri sari and chikan kurta clad odd balls like me and the daughter respectively. I spotted somewhere another odd ball- a lady wearing a chanderi sari in a muted shade.. Ahh, I knew her.. She was in the line waiting to go up the stage to wish the couple. Only this time the line was longer almost winding itself out of the gate.. ! " Hello !  I said" .. " Oh hi...! When did you get here? " she asked me " Oh about an hour ago. We are ready to leave now" . " I am not sure how long I need to wait in this queue" she grumbled.  " Can we keep her place so that she can go and eat? " whispered  my socially concious daughter. I glared at her.. I had no intention of staying any longer. " It looks like the line outside a ration shop" grumbled my friend.
" Good luck! Hope you get the subsidy rice" I chuckled as I looked around for the mother of the bride to  formally take her leave before we left. She was busy on the stage trying to put an elaborate pearl necklace round the neck of her daughter on the stage-the guest who had given that gift was insisting that the bride wear it!! Someone was putting a ponnadai round the groom and his father in law!!!

I realized the futility of waiting around any further and decided to leave.

" Do you think the students who live in the hostel of this college would have been invited?"  asked my daughter. " No I think they would have gatecrashed"  I murmured. There was no way the crowd that was eating there were all invited. But the caterers seemed to be prepared for this eventuality!

My last thoughts as we left the over crowded car park was that how was such a wedding possible on two government salaries? I guess it was government clout that made this all possible and ofcourse not to forget all those oily babus who probably bent backwards to accomodate all this as part of their official work!!

I remembered another senior government officer who had very carefully planned budgets for his two daughters conducted at his home and another at a religious math. In both cases the reception was at a " regular"  reception hall in an ordinary hotel in the city. What a world of difference!


  1. so interesting & funny to read...stayed on the queue to greet the couple?. #grinning#....what a circus! Yeah! how did they manage it on 2 govt salaries?... see the bane of corruption?..indeed what a world of difference....simplicity / modesty is the key word.

  2. Enjoyed reading about the CIRCUS....see, that’s why I said Buddha is Budhdhijeevi, he was correct!
    Yes, wonder where do they accumulate so much for organising such a lavish hotel! (Well, we know where..)

  3. Hahaha....that was one super circus! Poor Junior- all in the name of a biryani:)I bet Govt Babus spend more time amd money in planning and conducting such weddings rather than doing good for the people:(

  4. And you had just popcorn and ice cream? What a waste.

    I fail to understand why we Indians love making a spectacle of a beautiful occasion like a wedding. It's more about the parents and less about the kids who are getting married.

  5. students in the hostel .. I would have been there for sure .. who is going ot miss all that foood NOT ME :)

    I have been to a couple of wedding here of supposedly BIG SHOTS and let me tell u its a WASTE of time ... I dont go to those anymore ..

    and I feel for the little one ..


  6. some food for thought here Meera
    nice post

  7. Yeah Purba, that is one of the problems of being vegetarian. Bikram, I am sure the students would have gatecrashed for the food. Glad that all of you subscribe to my view about the need for simple weddings.

  8. He he! tat was funny!! i have only seen such weddings in movies..! nice! glad ur junior enjoyed the biryani atleast..

  9. Hilarious! Just the idea of eating biryani made me hungry, even though I had just finished eating.

    Weddings in India seem to be done a grand scale now, not like the small tents outside our home when I had got married. It seems that people have so much money and so much food to waste! :)

  10. People just can't stop showing off. Sigh.

  11. Yeah, weddings in India are like a circus.. I wish people would retain the intimacy of the event with just family and close friends. It costs less and is more fun.

  12. Another good one Meera..... I find Christian and Sikh weddings to be far more sensible. And surely there must be a better way to handle the reception and queue business....with two beautiful daughters of marriageable age, I need to figure this one out quickly:)


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