Monday, February 24, 2014

The sweet and lovely Indian wedding!!!

I have been staying away from my beloved city Pune since my marriage. So coming back home was always special! And don’t ask about the pampering at both houses then – In laws as well as mother’s place. They will make me just sit and feed me all my favourite dishes and ask what else you want beta. It will be like one princess treatment, where in I just sit and enjoy all the pampering!

With this treatment as a benchmark for me, I was really looking forward to coming back home and this time from across the seven seas. I kept thinking, while coming from Chennai to Pune I was given so much love and adorations.....coming from USA will be a totally different level of hospitality altogether!
But alas....I was in for a BIG disappointment! This time I was flying home for my younger sister’s marriage and do I have to say anything more? I was sent to work the moment I reached Pune, with emotional blackmailing, “Pradnya, please prepare tea for Shweta. It is her marriage, right?” “Pradnya, please get up and take a bath. Let Shweta sleep a little bit more. It is her marriage, right?” And so my pampering dreams were all crashed and instead the centre stage was occupied my younger sister Shweta!!

So thus started off my younger sister’s marriage for me. This was supposed to be an offbeat  Marwadi marriage for us with a much louder wedding than our Konkani traditions. We were supposed to have Sangeet and a very elaborate full day marriage. Marriages in Konkani fraternity are short and sweet but a little boring.

Our first big task was to set up a dance. With her in laws also dancing, it was a herculean task for us youngsters to come up with a decent dance. The Navalakhas (groom’s side) are a bunch of awesome enthusiastic dancers right from small kids to uncles and aunties.  While none of us are dancers at our place and my parents outrightly denied to dance on stage. So it was just Shweta’s friends, me and my sister in law (who also choreographed our dance).

The dance practices were fun. We ate, had coffee, gossiped and if time permitted practiced at the end ;) It was a bunch of 6 girls, dancing their heart out and trying to enjoy the process to the fullest. 1 week of crazy dance practices and we were a little confident about dancing on stage in front of 350 pair of intrigued eyes! Or so we thought :P

The marriage kick started for us with the mehendi day. Shweta had to put mehendi till a little above the elbow. It took 3 hours for 3 mehendi artists to fill up her hands and feet with the hearty redness of the mehendi. Mean while we put the mehendi on our hands and then practiced for the sangeet. The mehendi was really intricate and it was a task trying to find the groom’s name in it.
So we were telling Shweta, if you get bored during the marriage ceremony just look at your mehendi and try to search groom’s name in it! :P

The next day, we had a pooja at our place followed by the haldi ceremony. All our cousins, kakis and elders put haldi on the bride’s face, hands and feet. Some kakis were so enthusiastic that they smacked the haldi on the bride’s face as if it was a birthday cake :p Certain rituals are fun and they bind the family together :)

And  then came the much awaited sangeet night! The evening started with dances from some professional choreographers who happened to be the groom’s cousins and friends. And seeing that me and Shweta’s friends were like, “ this is their definition of dance!” The groom’s family was full of energy and zeal, bouncing and leaping gracefully on all bollywood songs. And we the bride’s side were sitting in audience thinking how will we match up to this! Our dance was after groom’s parents and we thought how good can oldies dance? Our dance will be better than theirs for sure. But we were completely mistaken! Groom’s parents’ dance got a ‘once more’ and we were like, ‘How bad can this get?’

With all this, we went on stage. The dance started and so did the hooting and whistles. We danced confidently and the dance was indeed good. There was one step in the end, where in we had invited the boys to join us for a 2 minute ganapati dance. Till the end they were saying no but at the D moment, they did come on the stage. And yes, even our dance got a ‘once more’ (though the hooters were all bride’s side folks, still we did get a ONCE MORE). And now when I look at the dance video, I cannot believe I danced! I have never danced so whole heartedly till now. It was an exhilarating experience, letting go off your apprehensions and seeing everyone young to old enjoying the very essence of dance – freedom of expression! So here is the Sangeet Video!

We came home at 12 midnight rejuvenated with the energy after dancing. Did last bit of packing and preparations and then hit the bunk. The next day was going to be a looooonnngggg day!

Morning everybody woke up early and we reached the marriage hall by 8 am. And then till 7.30 in the evening, we were there experiencing two souls madly in love with each other finally being a family. The bride and the groom looked happy from within even in their heavy attires, scorching heat, kneeling down and doing namaskar to almost 1000 guests. Such is the happiness of getting married to your loved one that rest of the things seem immaterial then. 

The bidai was a tearful moment for all of us, the bride’s side. My mom was crying incoherently. After my wedding, they never realised it that much as Shweta was always there (though most of her time was spent at Vaishali sipping coffee with Karan and very less at home). They knew in the night she will be back home, back to them. That assurance was lost now. I have always wondered why girls have to leave their home, their parents and go to a new house and blend in their colours and I still have not found any answer!

I was crying, sobbing on the shoulders of Shweta’s friends. When one of her friends said, “Don’t cry Pradnya, Shweta is here only in Pune”. And me teary eyed looked at her and said, “But I am not here in Pune” and everybody bursted out laughing. The groom’s photographer and video shooting guys were hovering around us filming us crying. And I told one of them, “Entire day we were smiling that time you just looking at the bride and the groom and now when we are crying you are paying attention to us” It was ironical!

There were moments which will be cherished by me forever. The look on the groom’s face when he first saw the glimpse of his beautiful bride – cannot be explained in words! Me and the groom’s mother were waiting outside Shweta’s room while she was getting ready. And in that instant I just hugged her tightly and she reciprocated it in the same manner – two women stressed out with all the responsibilities and giving each other a moment of peaceful sanity! When it was turn for giving money for the groom’s mojdis, my sister was not even taking our side – a girl madly in love and already a Navalakha! The long hug which Shweta gave Papa during bidai – my eyes still get moist thinking about it.
The best moment was when Karan held Shweta’s hand tightly while leaving for their house – it is at such moments you tend to believe, ‘Marriages are indeed made in heaven’!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Agonies of a Die Hard Reader!

Preface: For those who have not read the third part of Shiva Triology, stop right here! A bit of the suspense might be revealed!

It was a pleasant evening with a little breeze in the other wise hot weather in the Sunshine State. Sujoy comes home in the evening after office and is bewildered to see me crying, with big tear droplets rolling through my cheek. He is shocked and comes near me and asks me what is the matter with me. I look into his big eyes, hug him tightly, sob and in miffed voice say, "Sati died."

Sujoy is baffled, tries to remember who is Sati...some relative or ex-colleague of mine...but he fails to nail who this Sati is. He asks me timidly, "Who died exactly?" 
I reply sullenly, "Sati, Shiva's wife." And then it dawns on him. Sati is a fictional character in some moron book my wife is reading!!!! And he gives me a very ugly look and walks off. He thinks I am a mad woman, and how come someone be carried away so much by a book.

So this is the life of a die hard reader, who falls in love with the souls of the characters in the book and thinks these folks are an inseparable part of life. The other world, never understands this sentiment and finds it very difficult to digest. But nevertheless, we die hard readers cannot help but agonize in our book characters' pain and rejoice in their happiness. Such is our life!

Sometimes a book gives us such a kick that we forget everything around us. I remember, I was hooked to 'The Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand and finished this humongous book in a week by bunking college. That awestruck I was with that book. The way Ayn Rand has knitted this story to put forth her philosophy is just plain awesome. You fall in love with Howard Roark, his struggles, his ideology and his 'arrogance'. The simplicity of the words intertwined with the deep meaning just mesmerizes you! 

We are tormented to see movies doing so much injustice to the so elaborate book. Not a single movie or series have I come across which might be 70% as beautiful as the book. It is evident that 2 hours cannot sum up all those sentiments and beautiful moments wrapped up in a 700 pages book.
Elizabeth Bennet created by Jane Austen in 'Pride and Prejudice' has so much more to her than what is shown on the screen. The movie could not do justice to her beauty, her witty nature, her sharp tongue and her tendency to take hasty decisions. The movie did not create the magic in the moment where Elizabeth and Darcy are finally together. Sadly enough, the goosebumps which I felt while reading the classic, were lost while watching the movie.

I wake up on days and start reading a book trying hard to search Lin, Karla, Prabaker and the likes in the book. I vehemently search them till I realize, this is not 'Shantaram' and that I have moved on to a new book. The stories involve you so deeply that you want them to go forever. It takes a while to adjust myself to the new scenario and the new book!!

Ends of books gone astray hurts us really hard! I remember reading a story in a blog and the end of which was not really a pleasant one. I controlled myself for 3 days but the 4th day, I sent a message to the blog writer demanding him why did he end it so tragically when he could have had a happier ending.
These unconvincing ends make me taunt, I have anger bursts and keep on snapping on small issues. That is the bad time for Sujoy ;) God save Sujoy from unconvincing book ends!!!

Right now I am captivated by 'Game of Thrones' series. When I started reading this series, I was mind blown so much that I told Sujoy that I can marry the author of this series right away. But then I checked out the author and he seems to be an old chap. So I cancelled my plan of marrying him and am going to ask him to adopt me instead ;)
His imagination and story telling ability is breathtaking. The series which has been created based on this book has picked up even dialogues verbatim from the book.  The story has parallel stories woven around so many characters which some how are interlinked. Each character's story is unique and stunning. The characters etched in the book are so descriptive and so enchanting. You fall in love with all of them. I have been struggling to love just one character but have failed till now. One day I hopelessly fall in love with John Snow, the next day I love Arya, sometimes Brian and other times Robb. 

The bottom line is life is good for die hard readers when they are amongst good books! Or should I rather say, a good book makes your and indirectly your spouse's life interesting ;)

PS: Sujoy ignores my crying now, even if this for a 'real' reason !!!!!