This year has been a revelation for me as far as relationships go. While my own love-life is currently gasping like a fish on dry land, I was lucky enough to be invited to the union of real, dewy-eyed, lovesick couples. After attending a bunch of weddings, I’ve become fairly certain about the following :
- Those kebabs will send you straight to the Emergency Room
- I don’t want to get married unless he’s Ryan Gosling/filthy rich/dying but naming me sole beneficiary in his will/a total God in bed
- Marriages are dying.
Too harsh? Let me explain. Since I played bridesmaid in most of the weddings I attended, I’m not going to recount an actual anecdote (out of respect for the newly-weds). Instead I’m going to give you a very honest and unashamedly cynical view of the Indian Wedding scenario. If you’re traditional, stop here. This isn’t for the Romantics.
All weddings have some common comical elements that make them very similar to glum-faced clowns; funny but sad.
- The Drunk Uncle : He’s that hammered, old-friend-of-the-family pervert who tries to molest you while you’re left unattended by your dancing partner. He’s the guy who is louder than the Bollywood music, the one who forces everyone to drink till they’re all smashed and the one who stares freely at your breasts. If he suggests dropping you back home, don’t walk. Run.
- The homecoming king/queen : Among all the party guests, there’s always a clear winner of the unannounced Mr. Universe and Ms. Universe. He is the charming, flirtatious, cocky guy chatting up everyone from fawning teens to fluttering aunties twice his age. She is the perfectly groomed, glittering jewel of the Nile who throws her head back and laughs coquettishly at every joke, spending half her time refreshing her make-up and the other half glaring at the competition.
- An exhausted band and a DJ on drugs: The DJ is that high-strung dude who’s playing old Hindi remixes and Kanika Kapoor hits while almost flying off the podium. He keeps cheering on old fuddy-duddies while they do the two-step before disappearing in a haze of confetti/smoke/disco lights. The band is probably a bunch of teenagers trying to make it big as a rock band, but forced to accept lame wedding gigs due to no funds.
- The entertainment : Usually orchestrated before or during the wedding, a Sangeet involves an untalented troupe of family and friends who dance on a medley of both Indian and Western music just to bore the audience stupid. Then some sagacious old man will give cheesy marital advice to the bride and groom with words to the effect of ‘Marriage is hard, but then so is your boner’. No. Sorry. No one ever said that.
- The money-talk, the BMWs and the PnG Diamonds : No Indian wedding is complete without the requisite showing off. As men get more expansive and women get more silly under the influence of alcohol, the conversations gets more banal. There’s constant bragging about company deals, luxury apartments, exotic trips- possibly everything money can buy. You’re so blinded by the sparkling diamonds hanging off of every woman, that you can design jewelry by the end of the night. Those sleek sedans and mammoth SUVs are crammed into every available parking space possibly causing a traffic jam.
- The caterers are murderers : That’s because they’re trying to kill your digestive system. Wedding caterers are not particular about hygiene. You have to have an ox’s stomach to digest that load of grease, oil and saturated fat. The chicken tikkas, the barbecued goat bits and the shit-on-a-stick hors d’ourves along with that creamy, saccharin dessert is likely to blow you sky-high. Eat at enough weddings, and I guarantee you’ll go off food entirely.
- The ‘happy couple’ look the ugliest of the lot : No matter how hard they try to keep it together, the bride and the groom are usually dead on their feet by the time the actual day arrives. The number of informal lunches and dinners, appointments and meets are enough to make them regret their marriage even before it starts. Quietly downing shots of vodka in breaks, accepting stilted greetings from the guests with manic smiles plastered on their faces, they’re a figure evoking pity rather than warm regards. On the day they’re supposed to look the most relaxed and cheerful, the groom looks stoned and the bride looks pissed. Word of advice? All the couple really wants is a quiet, private, soundproofed room where they can bang each other. Not stand there all night shaking hands with you.
- Fixer-aunty : I’m talking about all those nosy Aunties out there who, after basking in the success of hooking up the bride and the groom, start hunting for new prey. Their beady eyes miss nothing. Nothing. They’re mentally arranging all the singles at the wedding in pairs, nagging parents to get their children married off, encouraging young people to exchange numbers, hang out, well basically just get off with each other. We can get off just fine with each other, it’s the ‘getting serious’ stuff we don’t want to do. In India, if you’ve attended a wedding and you’re single, be sure the next one you attend, will be yours.
- Social media oversharing : Gone are the days when the Ad column in the local newspaper would discreetly announce your special day. Now Facebook has become the new newspaper. If your friend just got married, be ready, your news-feed is about to be bombarded with every silly snapshot from “He proposed! This gargantuan ring grants amnesty to two acts of infidelity” To “Look how glamorous I look in our could-house-an-entire-Bangladeshi-family Lehenga Choli” to “We just had sex, look at our post-coital expressions of bliss!“….. You get my drift.
- Modern Marriages are terminal : The sad fact is, not many marriages make it that far. The last time I checked divorce rates in the year 2014 in Mumbai alone were 11,500. In Lucknow, the number of divorces filed were 2000, with 900 cases involving couples married for less than a year. Between 2003 and 2011, divorce rates have increased by 350 percent and are expected to continue climbing. Domestic violence cases rose to 120,000 in the year 2013. According to the UN, in more than 2/3rd of marriages, the wife is beaten/raped. As the stigma attached to divorce lessens, more and more couples are taking the exit route.
The ‘wedding‘ scenario, to tell you the truth, is all for show. You waste food, you waste time, your eardrums get perforated, you suck your parent’s life earnings, you’ve lost enthusiasm even before your marriage has taken off, you have a permanent hangover, your wedding night starts with the pressure of procreating what you know will turn out to be spoiled brats, you receive an excess of toasters, photo frames and linen and you can’t help but wonder, if such mayhem is worth it.
Isn’t a simple court-marriage followed by a low-key night out, sufficient? Isn’t finding someone you truly love and get to be with, enough cause for celebration? Why do people call their wedding day, ‘my special day’? A wedding should be judged on the basis of a happy marriage. Don’t judge the marriage on the basis of a fancy wedding. Proclaiming your wedding as special even before experiencing marriage, is, as statistics will tell you, overambitious.
As a friend, I’m going to request couples to spare us singles if they can, and not invite us at all. All I end up doing at weddings is drinking slowly and steadily in a corner, until it seems more and more and likely that I’m going to end up in bed with that fat, pimply, horny engineer next to me.
For us single Indians, attending an Indian Wedding is a bit like being in the line-up to the firing squad. You know you’re going to get shot, you just don’t know when.