The Wedding Aboard Emirates 636 at 3 a.m.

It all started the day we were leaving India. I had spent all day the previous day packing everything we owned into the large suitcases. There is something charming about weighing international baggage to see if a packet of sambar powder would fit in the first 13 times you do it.  After the 17th time this happened, I lost patience.

The previous day had morphed into the day we were leaving and I was still doing the pack-dance. I sighed a loud sigh. Loud enough for the considerate and well-intentioned husband to abandon all pretense at not-hearing. He was nominated to finish packing before he could flee the premises on a flimsy context. He did.

Our plans are always simple. For instance, if we have to go from home to the airport, our plan is:
1) Go to a temple that is an hour and a half away from the airport in a south easterly direction.
2) After the temple visit, go to a guesthouse that is an hour away in the eest westerly direction. Change.
3) Proceed to airport that is an hour away in a northern southerly direction.

When plans are made, strategies are not far behind. Napolean could take a correspondence course from us. The able general may have moved his troops from France to Russia and back fighting some wars along the way, but I doubt he could have loaded the suitcases onto the top rack of a car, tied it with rope and loaded the troops into the car before transporting them to a temple enroute to an airport. It would have him stumped.

The large suitcases were all loaded and tied onto the car. The children were counted and loaded inside the car. I hollered to make sure the hand baggage was not tied on to the top and then the whole family piled in and we took off. I don’t know why this is, but the temple we were visiting insists on women wearing sarees and men wearing dhotis. The husband smartly tied his dhoti over his pants and deemed himself ready. The last time I’d tried to wear a saree on my salwar kameez, I was rapped on my knuckles and told that any pant-like garment was not allowed. So, I was relying on step 2 in our plan to change into something comfortable before the flight.

We stopped at the guest house to change. It was hot and the infant in my arms was having fun with my saree. He kept playing peek-a-boo in it. I was holding onto the garment quite gingerly. The husband thrust the hand carry suitcase in my infant-free arm and then bounded off indecently behind some banana chips that were being fried half a mile away.

I haven’t really talked to men of the desert, but I suppose they must feel a sense of relief when they see an oasis. My senses were similar. Silk sarees are extremely hot and uncomfortable. I clutched the suitcase and opened it with longing. At first sight, I could not find any clothes for me or the daughter or the son. So I looked again. Nothing. I gasped and tried everything. Closing and re-opening to see if I’d missed the goods in a poor angle of light or something. Still nothing.

The husband walked in with a smile on his face. My look must have unnerved him for he came and asked me to eat chips and “chill”. Hot though I was, I asked him icily where our clothes were.
“There!” he said.
“Where?” I said.
“Just there – under the bed sheet!” he says. Why a man should pack a bed sheet in our hand-carry suitcase I still don’t know.
I pulled out a nightie. “You mean this?” I ask. Sheep could have detected the sarcasm, but the husband ignored it.

He was serious. That was the garment he had for me. A nightie. One of those barrel-like pillowcase shaped garments that are so popular as night wear in India. I gasped. Even by my lax standards of dressing, I could hardly travel abroad in a nightie. I gulped and swallowed a hundred times and asked about the children’s clothes. There was nothing in that department either. He had 4 vests of his, 2 pairs of his jeans, some towels and bedsheets in there. Also the camera. I could hardly wrap the daughter in a towel!

For those of you who wondered why the daughter and I were dressed like the Emirates Flight leaving at 3 a.m in the morning was to host a dear one’s wedding: that’s why.


Heralding the Vegetable Orchestra Era

Something tells me this is going to be the next ‘in-thing’ at South Indian Brahmin weddings:
Chinese vegetable orchestra

Let us list the potential positives:
1) It has vegetables and no meat. “We are very chaste you know?” a Meenakshi Maami or Chachu Maami will proclaim as they swallow a burfi whole (with the silver lining).

2) The first set of weddings to have it will be talked about in glowing terms till the next wedding has the same thing. Then, that wedding will talked about in glowing terms and so it goes.

3) I am sure paying these artists will be expensive and therefore, tie in nicely with the unnecessary-exorbitant paradigm. Maybe James Band can diversify his talents in the direction. Who is James? And why his band? (Please go here for answers:

In short, James Band was the illustrious band that performed at my brother’s wedding, confused music with noise and received glowing tributes from one and all.

4) There is no active participation of the audience required. One can flit like butterflies or flies near the show, smile vaguely and flutter away towards the edible end of the hall.

5) In general, we like things that knock the wind out of ya. This one has wholesome yams & potatoes.

6) It has a wind instrument touch to it that appeals to South Indians – one can make it loud and also ignore the artistes and turn to look at the cut vegetable show on the side. A simple Google search throws all of these different things one can do with vegetable cutting. I must also point to the fact that weddings now have a vegetable show where one is allowed to go and see the creative pursuits of the wedding contractor’s vegetable carver. Of course, the v.carver is never there to see/hear the appreciation, but a true artist does not wait for them apparently. He has the next set of carvings to get to.

Given that our food decoration wonders stop at the star-shaped carrot like in the dish below(The mother made the dish for the Cancer Institute Foundation fundraiser, but we were tasked with decoration and we pulled off the only thing we are adept at ), we can but marvel at the ingenuity while listening to the vegetable band:

7) The whole lot of the ‘instruments’ can make its way from Srinivasa Maama’s wedding to Vaidyanatha Iyer’s wedding and then morph into kootu at Pataamani maama’s daughter-in-law’s seemandham.

It will be nice to be able to look back at this post a few years from now when the vegetable orchestra is the in-thing.

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