Arranging a wedding is thought akin to building a house, goes a famous Tamil saying...The process is so laborious and painstaking that at the end of the D-Day we are so relieved. I almost imagined St Peter opening the Pearly Gates for me on that day. No, no, this is not another boring post on arranged marriages and the troubles plaguing them. I am dealing herewith the bride/ groom selection process! Dad and Mom married after a short family meeting and a few fiery deal talks. My paternal grandmother had heard of my mother through some of her relatives and suggested to Dad that they go see her. Dad was then in the Andamans. After a few weeks, he came home to visit the would be in laws' house. Mom was Tomboy Number 1 in our family, her picture in stiff NCC uniform with a stony face was what Dad first saw in the inlaws' living room. Poor guy! he knew his fate was sealed then and there. The bride and groom were not permitted to talk to each other in our households then and so he stole a few glances when coffee was served by Mom. That was enough to get his nod for the ultimate sacrifice(!) and their wedding train was flagged off by elders who had a lurid free for all, in deciding the terms of wedding.
|A Catholic Wedding, down South|
Well, all that happened in 1977 and when history repeated itself in 2002 when Mom's little darling entered the wedding market, Dad was in for a rude shock. Mom loved to mock every word said by the so- called elders of Dad's side...My my, her memory went overdrive in remembering all trivial details, including her sister in law who had selected a wedding saree which Mom never liked! Now came the task of looking for the boy. After lot of deliberations, it was decided to hoist an advertisement in The Hindu. Those were the days when bharatmatrimony.com was in its fledgeling stage, Thank God for that! Dad scrutinized the applications received and i joined the fun, reading the bio data and had hearty laughs...Nevertheless, Dad shortlisted few and pursued fewer. Finally, my parents decided on an engineer working abroad ( Those were the days when working in GELFFF was a novelty, only to come by a few lucky ones!).
One cool Sunday afternoon, the would be bride (I) had a hearty meal and dozed off in my shorts and tee, luckily in my room! The door bell rang and arrived an elder from the prospective groom's side. He sought to see the girl after preliminary investigations about the girl and the family nearby. I had exactly ten minutes to transform from a la Tomboy to a typical Southie Mysore silk clad lass. The saree was draped urgently above the shorts and the hair pulled back as a tight pony tail, flowers kept, kajal in the eyes, a bindi and lo...the ugly duckling became a beautiful swan in exactly 9 minutes and 45 seconds. A record no girl could beat, i challenge! Glancing at my toe nail ( as instructed by Mom) I tried not to tumble on the feet of the elderly gentleman before serving a juice. My timid Vanakkam with folded hands ( ahem, it was one among those few all my life!) was greeted by a smile and nod. I stood near the door, ready to take off the moment Mom would show her eyes. My eyes followed her face for orders and i stood rooted with a colgate smile plastered to my parched lips.
|My all time favorite Mysore silk saree.|
The moment my signal to move in came, i almost dashed into the safety of my room. Now that elderly gentle man was satisfied, then came test 2. The brother and sisterinlaw of the groom wanted to meet the girl- me. After much pestering from Mom, i agreed to the same, under one condition- i shall meet them in a church. Bedecked in a silk saree and few jewels ( as per Mom's orders) i flashed my best smile at the husband wife duo, one March evening at the church. We talked a little, my sisterinlaw's scrutinizing eyes were so unnerving, i had to spill coffee on my silk saree in the hotel, where we went after the rendezvous. Satisfied they went, or so i thought. (Un)luckily, again the father, mother and other brothers, sisterinlaws and sister of the groom...a long list indeed, wanted to see me again. I was s sick of the "bride seeing" ceremonies that i argued and argued for hours together with Mom and was blackmailed to meet the family. Oh Mom! You were the best in that!
Another Sunday evening, there was a showdown at home, with Mom guiding me. I was questioned on why the nose ring...why such short hair and finally when the would be inlaws left, i heaved a sigh of relief. Oh, not so fast, girl. Then came the final litmus test, the groom wanted to meet the girl. This time, i agreed without much ado, I had to see and talk to the groom. Ironically the groom arrived from Gulf on the most auspicious day to meet me- the day of my Business Mathematics MBA exams. Already a genius in arithmetic only next to Arya Bhatta and Ramanujam, i was petrified at the prospect of failing first time in an exam. Who would listen? No one. I don't remember much of the exam or what i wrote then, all i could remember was i came out of the hall in two hours! ( who would sit three hours in an exam which you would fail anyway!) Again after tinkering and painting ( hehe...make up, you see), i was ready at the church by five, half an hour before time...
|A typical Southie woman on her bride seeing ceremony!|
The groom and his brother arrived by six- after dark and i remember smiling a lot that day. We were offered ten minutes graciously by the elders, to talk in person, at the church lawns. The humid summer air and the sweat in anticipation did not help us at all...I felt my mind go blank, all my check list questions forgotten. L talked a few minutes, i honestly don't remember what he narrated. I kept blinking wildly at the long nimble fingers, the rise and fall of his Adam's apple and his shoes ( Oh Mom, why do you always ask me to look at toe nails?) And when he cleared his throat, i felt he asked me something. Nothing had registered and i had to say something. L was awaiting my reply anxiously and i was fumbling for the answer. Why fumble when you don't even know what was asked??? I cleared my throat and opened my mouth as if i was going to answer, when God Himself decided to help me out.
The watch man of the church called out to us, asking us to quit the place. L put his query again, albeit urgent to retire. Thank Heavens, his question was the ominous one- Will you marry me? I hid my relief...mmmmmmmph....and nodded my head affirmatively, so fast that L started eyeing me with suspicion. He must have thought Why so much of a haste? I was glad the ceremonies were finally over, i was off the market now. We then started to move after the elders decided the next course of action. I felt or heard nothing of all these trivialities. Only when L flashed his cute smile and said Good bye, did i come back to my senses. With a wave, I kicked my scooty and turned the accelerator so fast that i ended up smashing it on the lamp post! All of those match makers were roaring in laughter and L was laughing his head off! I smiled sweetly, though fuming inside at my stupid bike. It always betrays me at the most inopportune moment...L and I went on to have the fairy tale wedding and the live happily ever after part and i count myself Blessed and lucky. Not all girls have the luck of repeating four bride seeing ceremonies for the same groom, you see!
Here is the END card!!!