Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Great Menon Wedding IV: Lights, Camera and a lot of Action

An Indian wedding is incomplete without its modest million megawatt worth of lighting.

The author comes from a tasteful stock. 'Tasteful' can be a problem,however, when it involves one fastidious father with big plans and a mother who was discovering her finicky side. Dismissing the offers of the multiple wedding event managers who had begun slinking around the place since the hall -booking, the Pater decided on a customised home-decoration program. In the year of 2011, when the house was officially warmed, we had incorporated the moulding and baking skills of the local potter and created three tiered terracota lamps in the style of the indigenous thooku vilakku. The aesthetic success of this innovation was only marred by the practical impossibility of actually lighting the lamps (oil-spillage, spilled-oil slippage, chances of fire,the occasional burnt hair-do). The Pater envisioned a rectification of that loss via the magic of wire and low-maintenance bulbs. The situation was furthered by the presence of two able henchmen: the Amazing Viju Chetan-Jenson Chetan duo. Originally drivers by trade, their repetoire of skills is diversified by their extensive network of contacts. You want something done, they know some one who can do it. Enter: the electrically talented Shailesh.

An acquisition of the intrepid Viju Chetan (whose exploits and efficiency require another post for proper examination), Shailesh is the kind of guy whose brain works in terms of circuits. Anything that can conduct electricity is his cup of tea. In fact it is his penchant for cups/glasses/tumblers of Teachers that brought him into contact with Viju Chetan who moonlighted as a beverage corporation employee. It is the possibility of an extra pint that lured Shailesh into the land of work. The problem was that his affinity towards circuitry ran alongside a very short fuse. A little pressure ( can be anything- the weather, Lalettan's new movie bombing, the shape of the parippu vada he had that morning, you get the idea) was enough to have him go off in a huff to nurse a comforting pint in the loving arms of the local And if it wasn't something that got his dander up, it would be simple commitment-phobia. Too much familiarity with a certain task makes our man feel antsy, resulting in the hero disappearing with nary a "it's not you, it's me." Viju Chetan, having seen our flighty bird through many a drunken ramble, was aware of these failings in an otherwise brilliant mind. Consequently, Shailesh's employment also saw the advent of the Relay Vigilance Commission. At no point of time was Shailesh left unsupervised and the supervisor usually sat in front of the exit braiding wires to further impede escape plans.Thus Shailesh was secured, grumpy or otherwise.

The unforeseen consequence of all this constant vigilance was that the invigilators tended to get too involved in their charge's charges. While Viju chetan was still able to keep his head in the face of such electric snares, and Achan was able to tear himself away occasionally, Jenson Chetan succumbed to it's charms like plastic near static-charged fabric. He would stay on long beyond his prescribed duties, way past his home curfew,  all for the excitement of seeing the lights come to life. His family was not pleased.

Neither was the Mater.
While she had given the project her blessings in the beginning, its never-ending nature, the constant tea-service and, most importantly, father dearest's growing obsession with the lighting story to the exclusion of all else, began to tarnish her view significantly. Furthermore, all the circuits and wires were not helping with turning 'humble home' into something suitably wedding-like. To give credit where it's due, the house by itself was lovely enough. But 'enough' is never enough. Also, the winds of  change had spawned disarray. The newly minted cupboards had unleashed a revolution of forgotten bric-a-brac, which now emerged from their camouflaged corners demanding space. The freshly delivered Dakshina mundus and mundum veshtis vied with the new saris for wardrobe space. The changed curtains left behind old shades which hung around and got in everybody's way. Thankfully the  books fit into the new bookshelf. Sort of.

To add to this chaos, the pater had also envisioned the recreation of a childhood curiosity to liven up the house. The courtyard to be more specific. In his multiple treks to Sabarimala, that beloved pilgrimage centre that inspires so many  faithful hearts and swamps so many railway charts, my father had seen devotees commence their journey by building miniature temples out of tender banana stems. These creations, he said, were bonsai versions of the actual sanctum sanctorum of the temple, mingling delicacy with detail and creating an ivory toned delight of perfect symmetry. Yes, he could be persuasive. The idea of a little shrine at the foot of the mango tree did carry a sweet rural appeal and the project was approved with mild smiles.
Apparently, as we discovered later, the Pater  was giving the truth a little makeover when he said 'little'. When the thing rose in the middle of the lawn... let's just say it was no midget. Plus the refuse from the  construction work flooded the yard removing any vestige of decor or decorum. It was a fraught moment when mother dearest came upon the scene. She had a knife in her hand, you see.

Caught up in suppressing these unruly uprisings and dragging father dearest back from circuits and plans for miniature temples, the mater had to admit that house and hall decoration will have to be outsourced. It is in this vulnerable interval that the parents make the acquaintance of  Pavanai and Co. from Atham  Wedding Planners. (Note: Don''t. Go.There.)
Well, the parenthetical aside kinda says it all.
Lulling us with glib talk of superlative flower arrangements, accurate replicas of the invite motif, and correcting us on the right kind of jasmine to be used for decking the bride(Coimbatore, if you are interested), the Atham sharks gave us every impression of efficiency-- an illusion if there ever was one, as events proved. We live and learn. As brides go, I was a rather easy going type and only had two requests from the duo. 1. A light and slender garland unlike the generic type. 2. A bouquet that did not look like a cauliflower. Pavanai and Partner were not impressed. Piece of cake! We'll even take up the Mehendi program just to show you how awesome we are. When the Mehendi lady turned up an hour late, and rushing to go, and not doing such a great job, it ought to have given us a clue. After all the swagger, on the wedding day I was presented with standard issue garland that any idiot bride could have carried and a bouquet that went out of its way to look like a cauliflower. As for jasmine, not only did we not get the 'right' variety, we got them so late that for a while we were facing the possibility of a deflowered bride. They did deliver on the motif replica, though. A perfect copy. Only it was bright, bubblegum pink. The final assessment was this.

While we may have miscalculated on certain aspects, we struck gold in the photographer category. And anyone who's ever been in a wedding knows what a coup that is. Ani from Vijaya Studios brought the best of clicking and courtesy to the wedding quickly turning into a crowd favourite. Besides his natural amiability, and admirable competency, he also carried the added charm of nostalgic sentiment since his father, the Vijayan of Vijaya studios, was the photographer for the parents' wedding.

Two days before the arrival of our first guests, the lights finally came to life, much to the relief of all parties. All said and done, they looked gorgeous! We didn't even notice Shailesh making a run for it. Following quickly in the heels of the lighting flash, the white temple grew on our front-yard, while Viju chetan, the Pater and I made detailed pick-up and drop schedules. The guests started coming in and the grooms-side became more tangible presence-- occasionally in rather inopportune moments like the unavoidable bridal photoshoot. This pre-event period saw certain exciting developments like the arrival of 100+ wedding favour fans which needed to be knotted (a task that was assigned to the girlfriends-- they were given fair warning.) and a particular set from the groomside walking off without waiting for, or informing, the hapless pick-up person who then began a set of desperate to calls to every available number imaging the worst that can happen to non-mallus in Kerala. They were located eventually, safe and unrepentant. $@*^! By the time the Mehendi day dawned, the entire 'team'-- that favourite collective noun of the Trichur natives-- was so pumped we could have run a marathon, and won. Combine the best of a roller-coaster ride and chocolate and you get the wedding high.
While I started out the wedding saga determined to be the one bride in the history of weddings to have fun at her own wedding, I realised that, if you are involved in your wedding there is no way you can not have fun at your wedding. Yes, no one is paying attention to the couple. And no, you don't get any rest. And yes, you will definitely face things you didn't plan for. And yes, you have fun anyway. There is so much positive energy, so many sincere good wishes, such sweet memories made, it makes everything worth it. Surrounded by family and friends who go out of their way to make your wedding spectacular, whether it's in the form of a spirited antakshari competition, or song and dance performances put together in the span of an evening, or skits created through online back and forths between overworked aunts and uncles, you are reminded that you are not alone in the effort and there is so much love in the universe that we are just trying to transmit to each other.  At some point of time, you forget to think of things in terms of what they are worth and instead in what they mean to you. And there is a difference between the two.

At the end of all the wedding prep, the author has come to the conclusion that, if there were more wedding themed parties, there would be fewer weddings ( And, consequently, fewer divorces, if you think about it.)  But a wedding is so much more than a party. The whole wedding shabang is structured to teach, in small doses, the skills necessary to handle what is essentially an unchartered journey with a virtual stranger. The clarity to know what you can  expect, the drive to see it through, the patience to sit out the difficult parts. And most importantly, it is to teach the two inadvertent parties to this madness-- the bride and the groom-- how to love. The enormous effort that goes into the making of such an event can only be pulled off if there is enough love to smooth the way. Love is a verb-- it needs action. The act of a wedding defines the parameters of the marriage it inaugurates. It sets the tone for the music you can make together -- it may not be what you were expecting, but it will be something extraordinary,  sharps, flats and all.



Materialmom said...

You could include pics. but lovely to relive those events and refeel the feelings :)

AtomicGitten said...

I didn't think of the pics. Will attempt uploading, but new system presents a challenge to the slow-tech-learner.