In a world full of change and instant gratification, have we lost the ability to make and retain friends?

Friends

 

Friends are ordinary people

You can find them anywhere

At home, in school, at a class

Or even on the street

They’re hiding in plain sight

Just waiting for you to meet

 

Start out with a pleasant hello

Nothings’ nicer than a smile

Some will beat you to it

Some will smile right back

Some will take a while

Some have got a frown

Take a moment to find out why they’re down

 

Listen to your friends

They have so much to say

Some will keep on talking

And keep you laughing through the day

Some are really quiet

And you want to shake them up

But give them their own time

They too will wake up

For you learn nothing more

Than through stories from a friend

Those are the little moments

That stay with you till the end

 

Now I’m sure you’re really smart

And done so many great things

But let’s be serious really

And share those a little slow

Let’s find a way that’s interesting

For your star moments to show

For nothing really beats a moment

Like “OMG you did that? how come I didn’t know?”

 

Now that you have the basics

Of how to make some friends

Go out and meet them often

Listen to them and share

With every little meeting learn a little more

For everyone is special

Some think they know the reason

And always want to share

Others think they’re nothing;

Borderline or fair

It’s upto you to find the treasures hidden there

 

Every now and then

You’ll say “That’s enough”

“I can’t take it any more”

So give yourselves a moment

Sometimes even more

To take a few deep breaths

And clear away the air

And when you’re over those moments

Through the sorrow, rage and anger

You’ll see them plainly there

All those wonderful moments

All you love to share

 

Then dust yourself off quickly

And walk right over there

Tell them that you’re sorry

Life’s more fun with them there

Some will hug you right back

Others will despair

“You had your chance” they’ll say

“Why did you come back here?”

They’re taking their own time

Let them heal on their own

Just know you’ve got their back

They’ve got a life of their own

 

Some days you’ll think there’s no one

Who gives even a hoot

About who or where you are

You think you’re all alone

And no one has a care

But maybe you’ve been a little crazy

And they’re giving you some time

So you can figure things out

And come back with your mind

 

So as you can see my dear

Making friends is easy

And keeping them is too

Remember they are people

Just like me and you

Learn all you can about them

Make them feel special too

Give without expecting

Forgive without a care

And always be there for them

For when you’re feeling friendless

Wouldn’t it be super

If someone did that for you?

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30 years on…what do I make of this?

I lost my father thirty years ago. I’m not sure what my feelings are or should be…but I reflect

 

30 years on, much has happened, much has changed. 

A fleeting memory is all that remains

It’s pretty much all that some of us had

 

The door bell rings

And yet sometimes

A familiar face appears…and then disappears

 

A dream for a moment 

Seems so real

Till reality bounces back

 

Filling shoes 

That one knows little how were worn

Filling them in bit by bit

 

The rain has held back

Perhaps to pause a moment

As we do

 

We have emerged

Stronger, wiser, closer

Perhaps a few memories short

 

But life is too short 

To dwell on this

Many more have filled their spot

 

A place though 

Shall forever remain

For what is gained and what was lost

 

An ironic twist…

Now, clears the mist

A marathon for a cause (Or how I’ll get my Olympic Medal)

Time and again we have asked; why doesn’t India produce more medals at the Olympics? With close to a billion people, it should be easy!

 

I am fortunate to have been involved with OGQ for a few years now and I have seen how much the organization has done for our athletes. But I still couldn’t fathom the dearth of medals.

 

Realizing full well that an Olympic medal is well beyond the reach of my 38 year old non athletic body, I decided that I must learn first hand, what it takes to be an Olympic champion and so I decided I would do the most grueling thing I have yet done in my life i.e. run the Mumbai Marathon.

 

I have a small knee niggle and so started training slowly in July 2012, running in 30 second intervals for 30 mins and gradually increased to and hour. I then filled in the entire hour and in a few months I was running 10-20 km. This is easy, I thought.

 

As I approach my last month of training, I find the niggles increasing, the motivation waning, the desire to beat my personal highs coming at inconsistent intervals. Furthermore, I found myself without a running bib after all this training. Would I ever get through this? Would I do it in a decent time? The doubts kept cropping up

 

Meanwhile, my physiotherapist friend, John Gloster chipped in to make sure we straighten out niggles. My supportive family has put various aspects of their lives on hold and made sure my diet and rest are taken care of. Work colleagues have tried hard to make sure I can train and even get the marathon day off and finally, Viren and the team at OGQ have made sure that I have a running bib. I have no doubt that I’m going to run this 42 k and do a good job of it.

 

And this is when it really struck me. For an ordinary grueling event, I needed so much support and more than the major task of running, it was the small things that made the difference.

 

This is where I have seen OGQ make the difference. They facilitate our athletes to focus on the task at hand and enhance what is available to them. Kudos to Viren and the team for the stellar work they have done.

 

For this reason, this year I am running the Mumbai marathon with my friends to raise funds for OGQ. I may never win a gold medal, but somewhere deep down, I am contributing to those many 6 grams of gold that will be coming to India at the next Olympics! You too can be a part of this. Support my run by contributing online at http://www.unitedwaymumbai.org/ngo195_olympicgoldquest.htm through United Way on the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon site.

Finally, if you are a runner, get your friends to support your efforts and let’s all be a part of India’s quest for Gold! My buddies, Abhay Nene and Sudhir Pillai are among a few doctors who will be doing this.

 

Jai HInd!

Dealing with noise pollution from construction in Mumbai

We have had the pleasure of incessant rock breaking activity next to our home. As a matter of fact, we have dealt with it stoically for the last 2-3 years. our building society wrote many letters to the police, BMC and all and sundry in sight. Again, to no avail. I went and spoke to our local police station chief saying this was noise pollution and needed to be stopped. To this I received the following response:

Construction activity has been approved by the BMC and so only they can revoke it. The noise from this construction does not have a volume control knob and so we cannot stop it.

I may well have settled for this bull-shit. Most of us do. hence most of us listen to this racket incessantly, get angry and frustrated eventually venting on the nearby people we love the most and unsuspecting pedestrians and co-citizens.

The following are strategies to take:

1. Call the police incessantly about noise pollution (if you call 100, take a name and complaint number). Technically I have seen them fine Rs. 5,000 per offence. Builders are obstinate and the police tires quickly. This is not a long term solution but creates enough headache for phase II. Use this as the guideline for assessing the limits in your area. Be clear to them that you are not complaining about the construction itself, but the noise pollution. Show them the guideline if needed. The iPhone has a free decibel meter that is quite useful in demonstrating the level of noise.

Note that police may tell you that the rules apply to only loudspeakers or those things whose volume can be regulated. This is not true. It applies to all noise pollution.

2. Procedurally, if you wish to stop the construction activity, you need to get someone from the BMCs environmental pollution office (I couldn’t find it online, but there is supposed to be an office somewhere near Worli Sea Face) to come and assess the noise and say it is too much. The report then needs to be forwarded to the BMC office that sanctioned the construction activity and then the process to stop the activity will begin. Good luck!

The path we took was a little unorthodox, but worked pretty well.

1. First we incessantly called the police (call 101, lodge a complaint, take a complaint number and log it with you. Also, log the consequences. Did someone come, did the noise stop and for how long).

2. Make friends with the local police officer (typically, chief inspectors are very responsive and a personal visit to your local police station will get you a meeting) and ask them to come home to get the full stereophonic experience over a cup of tea. Show them a list of calls you have made and how you have documented responses. Be careful to be nice and not make them feel inadequate at any time. Good time to use the iPhone app to demonstrate the noise level.

3. We had the rock breakers chief come by and ultimately struck a deal in front of the police whereby we agreed that all activity would be only from 9 am to 2 pm ( at the end of the day, some compromise is required) this would ensure minimum exposure of noise for the children and people at work. They gave us the contractors direct number and agreed that in the vent of an emergency between 9 and 2, they would stop work if needed.

The system has worked well. If I heard breaking at p2:01 and called the foreman, work would. E stopped immediately.

We also complain routinely about noise on Sunday and after hours first to the construction site foreman and later to the police and get prompt and effective responses.

If I happen to call the police for another reason, the officer on duty knows me as the “noise complainer”

Good luck, and keep fighting. It’s the only way we can save what little is left of this city. There are always good people who will listen and help. It just takes a little to find them.

Mewar Marwar Diwali 2011

Day 1: Mumbai-Udaipur

It’s 3:30 am and we are up. Aman had set her alarm for 3 pm, but fortunately her anxiety got the better of her and she was up at 2:57 am. In laws, daughter and wife in tow, we hurtled off the the airport to catch our 5:20 am to Udaipur. For a change, I slept through the entire flight and we landed to a brisk Udaipur morning at 7 am, where our bed and breakfast had arranged for us to be picked up. Thirty minutes and we were at the Lake View Villa on Rani road, greeted by our smiling host for the next few days, Mr. M. P. Singh.

Pleasantly, the villa, a bed and breakfast was all it promised to be from the photos and more was still to come. We had booked ourselves an extravagant suite and super deluxe room, which together came at a princely sum of under Rs. 5000 per night thanks to Aman’s foresight of booking early. A quick cup of chai and we were off to tour Udaipur.

We had strayed from usual protocol, where Aman plans everything to a T long before and has thoroughly researched all there is to research. This time, we were going to “wing it” for the most part.

Mr. Singh kindly connected us with a rickshaw driver, Mr. Bherulal Chauhan (9829510390), an affable gentleman with a neat auto rickshaw. Mr. Singh was kind enough to arrange our first fare (Rs. 500 for the day; later, it was discovered that was not the day rate, but the Behrulal Udaipur Darshan rate, which includes attractions of his choice. A little discussion later, it was bargained to the rate for our needs for the day). Bottom line, in tourist land, you are a tourist and will always overpay. Best to pick a number and roll with it, then not get too upset. My father in law (FIL) was keen to use his “local boy” lingo and talk to wangle a better deal, but it was Diwali amidst Marwaris and good luck if were going to be cut any slack. At first, we were irritated with the rickshaw driver for constantly trying to direct our trip, but soon enough, we explained our plans and he adhered to them.

Breakfast was the first stop and we went to the Jayesh Mishtan Bhandar at Chetak circle. Hot pyaz (onion) ki kachoris, dal (lentil) ki kachoris, two plates of hot jalebis, mawa kachoris and a few mirchi (chilli) wadas later, everyone had decided it was time to move on and all 4.5 of us bundled into an auto hurtled towards the city palace. Needless to say, breakfast was awesome, but also about a ton in the stomach!

Located in the hear of the city, the city palace is one of the top attractions in Udaipur. Rs. 75 gets you in and another 150 gets the camera. The nicest thing the government has done is standardize guides and rates, so Rs. 450 got us a guide to take us around. The palace is filled with the usual memorabilia and tales associated with Rajput valor, courage and as Anya added in so aptly, arrogance (on the side, Anya explains arrogance quite simply as “a little bit too proud”. Oxford English dictionary, are you listening?). Saturday at 11 am, the museum is quite crowded and any intentions of quietly cruising through are at best a dream. Nevertheless, the exciting parts of the city palace include Rana Pratap’s weapons and armor as well as Chetak’s saddle, a room dedicated to Fateh Singh and his life as a paraplegic, the royal rooms, but nicest of all, the peacock courtyard and an area where one can see the city through different colored glass.

Lunch was at the vintage car museum and it’s attached garden cafe. The maharaja has about 20-25 cars on display and 250 let’s you see the cars and eat lunch, while 150 let’s you avoid the cars. Anya and I went in to have Alok at the cars, which include some wonderful Mercedes, Rolls Royce models, an old school bus, and even a 6 horse chariot. I like the old convertible MG the most. Anya wanted to be pictured in front of most. Lunch is as most food in the area oily and average. The 3 am start, kachoris, sun and oily lunch were taking their toll and it was time to retreat to the villa for an afternoon siesta, which ran to 5 pm.

A quick tea and coffee later Mr. Behrulal was back and we were off for a tour of Moti Magri (Rana Pratap memorial) followed by a boat ride to Nehru Garden on the Fateh Sagar lake. The memorial is a ice garden with a big statue of the Rana and various descriptions of his life in brief including the story of how Chetak came to him and Chetak’s less famous brother Natak, who died during testing of the horses (no kidding!).

The boat ride to Nehru Garden is about 5-7 minutes long and the garden is a nice one, in the middle of the lake, which was lit up for the festive season. The cherry on the ice cream though was a stand that for Rs. 100 would dress Anya (or any of us for that matter) in traditional garb and photograph her or allow us to photograph her. The smile on her face from this is priceless!

Dinner was at Lake View Villa, where a simple home cooked meal served us well after the heavy binging through the day. Of course, we finished all the food that was meant for us and ended up digging into a bit of our hosts dinner too. This of course was the result of everyone being insistent that they did not want to eat much dinner, but being perfectly content to stuff our faces when the opportunity provided itself.

Day 2: Udaipur-Ranakpur-Sadri-Kumbalgarh-Udaipur

A restful night in a most comfortable room meant we were raring to go for the main attraction for the trip. Ranakpur, Sadri and Kumbalgarh. Our car was promptly there by 7:30 am and we promptly boarded by 8:15. Two hours later, we hit Ranakpur. The temple and it’s side temples are quite fantastic and he local living arrangements are simple, but very well maintained by the trust. A key tourist point; Rs. 50 gets the camera in, but only between noon and 5 pm. Otherwise, it is strictly for worship (I knew there was something wrong when I didn’t see a single tourist vehicle along with us!). Nevertheless, he wait till noon was well worth it. Pre noon, prayers with Anya. Post noon pictures. Aya topped it off with her first dharamshala meal.

Next stop, Sadri; but before that we would have to stop off to see FILs doctor friend who has been in the area for the last 1 years or so. Prior to this he has been posted as a medical office all over the area. Now, at 73, he runs arogya dham, a holistic and regular health clinic with rural ICU beds. Trying to convince FIL to read x rays remotely for them before he decides to relocate.

Lunch was at a local dhaba, run by one of the cooks from the village who worked for a friend of FILs. Ghee filled, but delicious gatta nu shaak, seve tamatar nu shaak, makkai and bajra rotas with lassi followed and then, as we bade farewell to the doctor, we mustered the strength to lift our bellies and proceed to the main mission; discovering the Sadri house. As we made our way past the post office, on the right, Mohan awaited us and we opened the old home. Complete with all the components of a small village home; the front porch to receive guests, the kitchen and behind, the bedrooms, store rooms and prayer room surrounding a central courtyard. The store room was complete with old marbles and old monaco biscuit tins that i haven’t seen in years. The old cooking utensils and luggage took one back to a time that scarily enough seems not so long ago. In the corner lay an old stone mill for grinding grain and Anya jumped at the opportunity of testing her muscle.

As we wound our way up the narrow staircase, the rooms revealed small cupboards with quaint old paintings of windmills on them. An old charpai had painted ends that were wonderful. As we walked still further up to the last level, we came upon the terrace from which my FIL watched inquisitively and wondered what Kumbalgarh fort was really. We were to look into the room constructed especially for my in laws after their wedding, but it seemed the key was misplaced. To watch Anya and my FIL wander through the home and see all those things they had discussed for the last few years. Suddenly, it seemed like he was a 5 year old, matching his grand-daughter. Such moments are truly priceless.

We ambled along the streets of Sadri, stopping by old homes, hearing of how famous former residents had become. Yet, there Kay Sadri, dusty narrow streets with broken down homes, a far cry from a slightly more glorious time. It’s successful former residents sink their money for blessings from the God’s at nearby Ranakpur and forget the humble roots they came from. Sad but true, this is the story of our India.

The next decision on Kumbalgarh arose and ultimately, we decided to follow through. The group slept through the 90 minute ride to Kumbalgarh, only to reach at 6 and realize the fort closes at 5 pm. A casual stroll and ultimately, a decision to see the sound and light show at 6:45 saw us spend some more time at the fort. The show itself is informative, but unwantingly humorous. The fort has a theme song which includes its name and had a group of youngsters near me dancing a mini wave to it. This has now become Anya and my theme song for the trip and we have adopted the dance too. Thank you.

A 2 hour drive back to Udaipur. The lead in our stomachs from lunch helped us so we could last tgrough to dinner at Sapphire, a family restaurant in Udaipur. Needless to say the long and tiring day was followed by a most blissful sleep!

Day 3: Udaipur

Wanderlust And a hectic day meant Aman was keeping things light today (also he birthday). A brief haggle with an auto driver (Mr. Behrulal had another client for the day) led to the argument for the day (funny how, try as one may it is impossible to spend a spouse’s birthday without fighting with them; or am I the only one?).

Nevertheless, the troupe forged on to the crystal room in the city palace. Expensive, but worth it (Rs. 500 per head includes cold drink and audio guide) it is in a part of the city palace still habited by the royal family. Being misguided a bit by the guards, we took a slightly longer route (which did not go down well with FIL and the tempers from the morning). Ultimately, though we made it to the hall. The large banquet hall in the center is quite nice, with 1000 kg chandeliers! From here we went up the the gallery itself. Crystal ordered in the late 1800s by Sajjan Singh made it’s way to India only after he had died. The crystal lay packed for the next 100 years till the present “custodian” of Mewar decided to open it up and put it in display. Thanks to this, one gets to see a few sofa sets, bed and pretty much all furniture, crockery and cutlery made entirely of crystal. The stop off at the restaurant in the end is a welcome rest stop and also provides a lovely view of the lake.

The rickshaw driver failed to show up and so we went off to a small eatery nearby for some very average, but fortunately light lunch. One the rickshaw driver showed up, our cavalcade proceeded to hathi pol, where the hunt for Anya’s chaniya choli and bangles continued. Camera in hand I was off taking pictures of Udaipur’s quaint galleries and home facades. An hour later, we were back, in time for the vacation special afternoon siesta.

Rising again at 5 pm, the in laws had enough of the culture trail and so Anya, Aman and I availed of Mr. Behrulal’s services to head to Bagor ki Haveli, in the heart of the city. As seems to be the tradition everywhere, the main attraction closes by 5 pm and the evening show is at 7, leaving everyone with a two hour window of boredom (some call this shopping Anyways, the show at 7 was quite nice and certainly worth the Rs. 35 per head. 1 hour quick preview of Bhil and Rajasthani danced with a puppet show thrown in for good measure! Anya’s excitement was quite incredible.

Anya was left with the in laws for the evening and Aman and I headed off to the Lalit lax I Vilas for dinner. A wonderful ambience with almost no one else, but much to be desired on the food front. All made up for by the wonderful company of my now not angry spouse.

Day 4: Chittorhgarh

A more leisurely start to the day meant we were in the taxi by 8:45 and made our way to Chittorhgarh over the next two hours. A winding road leads up past 7 gates till one enters the much talked about fort, one of the largest in Asia. Rs. 5 gets you in, 20 the taxi and for Rs. 450, a guided tour. The fort is large and the weather hot, so best to tour it in the car.

The fort was initially built by the Maurya dynasty and later built up by the famous Rana Kumbha. The fort was apparently lost before Rana Pratap came to power and so the association between the two is a little ironic. For what it is worth, the fort harbors tales of sacrifice (Rani Padmini), devotion (Meerabai) and valor (Rana Pratap’s constant struggle to win back the fort; incidentally, many of the Bhils in the area refused to enter the fort till it was won back and only finally entered when Jawaharlal Nehru requested them once India gained freedom).

First stop, the Siddheshwar temple and victory tower. Enter the monkeys. Tons of langurs here and ate odd very aggressive rhesus monkey. The latter decided he had enough of our guide and had a quick go at him. Needless to say, anxiety levels in the group were high, but the rest of the visit passed of without further event. Buying chana at this location is not a good idea as it attracts the monkeys who are quite happy and ingenious in getting you to release them. Between the victory tower and temple is the ground where Rani Padmini and 18000 women burnt themselves so they would not be taken by the invading Khilji army (the Rani herself burnt herself in a secret passage). The victory tower is 9 stories high and one is allowed to climb to the eighth where one gets an excellent view of the fort and the area (claustrophobics beware). The exterior and interior are carved with scenes from the Ramayana.

The car moves on to Rani Padmini’s palace and the location from which through mirrors Khilji was allowed to see Padmini. The geometry is interesting as one can only see the spot through the mirror and not directly.

Last stop, the royal quarters, complete with an area for the king’s harem, Meerabai’s quarters and the royal toilet. Also, the secret passageway where Padmini burnt herself.

Lunch was at the Pratap Palace hotel mainly because it serves cold beer! We had to sit outside as the air conditioned dining hall was booked for some foreign tourists. Anyways, the beer was cold and the meal very different and rustic. Thoroughly enjoyed the aloo palak and mushroom masala, topped it off with hot gulab jamuns and got ready for the food coma for the ride back.

In Udaipur, a quick stop at some sev shops and then back to the hotel. Arranged for a taxi to take us to Apni Dhani (en route to the airport and actually on the way back from Chittorhgarh). Apni Dhani is a rural village atmosphere with dance, puppets and the rather disturbing child performing tight rope tricks. The camel ride is up and down a hill, so spend the Rs. 40 for it without expecting too much in return. The best part of this place is probably the meal plan, which includes white butter, tons of different rotis, ghee and tremendous amounts of cholesterol delivered in every possible way. This put us well on the way back to the next round of food com back. At the hotel. This potential heart attack came at the luxurious price of Rs. 755 for two adults and a child.

The night was spent with some trepidation on how the last day would be spent. Should we have booked an earlier flight etc etc. We checked out of our rooms by 10 am, caught a rickshaw and went off for a boat ride (Rs. 1200 for the whole boat, 45 minutes) around lake Pichola, which offers wonderful views of the city palace, lake palace and all of Udaipur’s peri-lake attractions. There is actually a different jetty from which rides start, but our hostess knew someone and so we managed to catch the boat at the hotel Udai Kothi (another impressive looking heritage hotel).

Lunch was booked at the Udai Vilas palace, supposedly one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Lunch was decent and we managed to stroll around the hotel a bit to get a sense of this much talked about hotel. The service was good, food surprisingly edible for a five star and the hotel and its grounds quite extravagant. An expensive, but I suppose well spent 3 hours.

Returned to the hotel to pick up our bags, a quick cup of tea/coffee and a bonus of bebinca as our hostess was originally from Goa. Now I can honestly say the best bebinca I have eaten was in Udaipur!

A series of on-time movements ensured we made it back to mumbai and home by 9 pm

A wonderful vacation with much to thank our hosts at lake view villa, Aman for organizing and Anya and FIL for facilitating the star attraction of the trip. Memorable and relaxing.

Anna Hazare on everyone’s lips: Time to get him on our minds!

I watched with some interest from afar the unraveling of Anna Hazare’s latest battle. I say from afar because I know nothing of the details of the Jan Lok Pal bill nor do I know much about what went on during the protests. All I do know is that there was a large outpouring of people and emotions who were fed up with the corruption and wanted to vent that frustration in an attempt to bring about change. More interestingly, there were many newspaper pieces on how this great and long overdue battle was won. How many bodies in the media have exposed many scams both large and small that pertain to corruption at all levels and taken (probably rightly so) credit for being part of this movement. All of this is great.

In addition to this, individuals have been influential in unraveling many more corrupt practices through RTI petitions and other crusades. I’ve had my share of small battles, “suffered” from them, but felt much better at the end of the day. I hope many more have. Kudos to all.

The media will as always move on to more interesting stuff. Someone, somewhere will probably accept renumeration for suprssing a story. Many recurrent crimes (my pet peeve…how many BEST bus drivers have been pulled over or fined for running lights, excessive honking and accidents?) will continue until someone makes it their life’s mission (God bless them when they do). My well meaning friends and relatives who sent me text messages and e-mails to go and join Anna’s fight against corruption at some maidan or the other will probably go back to jumping signals or talking on their cell phones while driving while conveniently palming off the Rs. 100 note to get out of a painful court procedure or  hassle of having their license taken and going to collect it another day. This is conveniently justified by the “live and let live” philospohy. “I only do small bribes, I can’t understand how these politicians can fleece the country of so much money!”. The line is thin. Very thin.

The issues of large scale corruption during government tenders etc and small scale corruption during day-to-day living are in many ways different and in many others the same. Different in that I don’t believe that every person who pays the Rs. 100 bribe will necessarily if in a position of power conveniently keep Rs. 1000 crore aside for themselves. By the same accord, reverse may also be true (albeit most of the time people who are busy siphoning of Rs. 1000 Crore are certainly not likely to fall into the small daily “tamashas” that the rest of us do. Morally though, both are equally bad (of course you can massage it any way you like to make you feel better, but that doesn’t change things!)

To go out, support and rejoice in the success that Anna Hazare has brought about is wonderful. To tell the police officer to take your license because you were caught talking on the phone or ran a light and refuse to pay the convenient bribe is much harder. Think of Mr. Hazare, your excitement at this grand upheaval next time you are in a soup. The more of us who take the hard way out, the more likely Anna and all of us will end up on the winning side.

What’s with weddings these days?

What is it with weddings? Admittedly, I am not a “weddingophile” and neither is my wife. This can be confirmed by our own wedding, which was in a courtroom. Additional events were under duress and I took great pleasure in the fact that my camping buddies decided to bring ketchup bottles for me at the reception as a gift and insisted on putting up revealing photographs from a camping trip at the entrance, much to the chagrin of the family elders.

Admittedly also, I don’t think I was always this way. Weddings used to be a blast. Running around with cousins, creating mayhem, playing dandiya raas with the sole purpose of hitting people’s fingers, swiping not only the grooms, but everyone on stage’s shoes and slippers and generally making a nuisance of oneself. The cherry on the ice cream of-course was being introduced to an old long lost auntie who would tug at your cheeks and ask loudly “olkhyo ke” (did you recognize me?) followed by “tane joelo tyare tu to etlo nanho hato” (when I last saw you, you were so small) responded to by a blank look, a blunt “no” and a quick dash off to a far away part of the venue to continue the mayhem, leaving the parents to clean up the mess.

Much of the joy was the realization that it was going to be difficult for anyone to reprimand us for our behaviour in the midst of this grand event and all the socializing that they needed to catch up with. I say again, weddings were fun.

Food at weddings on the other hand was never a big thing for me. The answer was unanimously the same at all weddings, oily and terrible. If you are going for a wedding, go for the mayhem.

Since our return to India, largely since most of the family isn’t really sure where we are, we haven’t been invited to too many. Nevertheless, there are a few that sneak by. Recently, we were invited to a couple of family weddings. One, a “location” wedding and the other one, on the other side of town in the evenings might as well have been one considering Mumbai traffic.

The weddings were elegantly done and “well executed”. I can use a corporate term because they are now run this way with various aspects of the wedding outsourced to various parties with certain individuals assigned the roles of CEO and COO etc. I am surprised we didn’t have to fill out feedback forms after (these are still taken and given subtly through the thicket of all grapevines, the family grapevine). There were organized cards with specific dates and times for events (which is nothing new), but even the sub events in the event were clearly demarcated. Events that used to be spontaneous such as the dancing etc had been practiced, choreographed and set to specific music and lights with costume changes.

This was our nightmare. The expense of the wedding, how everyone was behaving, what everyone was wearing, how deep into the closet would we have to dig to find appropriate clothes, the time we would spend traveling and the excuses we would make for escaping. These are the thoughts that preoccupied us. Not surprisingly, they occupied many others we knew. Our conversations went into tele-conferencing, tele-weddings and other innovative ways of making a presence felt from afar.

Anya, our five-year on the other hand had a blast. The simultaneous arrival of an aunt with a bag full of goodies would not hold her back from going alone to the wedding (“the gifts will be there when I get back” she said nonchalantly). Someone mentioned dancing to her and she promptly decided it was up her alley. A cousin was over and in two sessions, she was ready to light up Bollywood. She was cool as a cucumber as she went on as the “first act” of the show and quite effortlessly performed in front of some family, but mostly 200 strangers. She popped off stage and her first word to me were; “I forgot two steps”. She went on to sit enamoured for the next three hours watching the choreographed “tamasha” that unfolded and was perfectly content to repeat it a week later for the next wedding. She was also perfectly happy to discuss her own wedding plans in detail. There was however no mayhem for her. Her style is people watching and absorbing the environment.

Maybe that’s what it is. There are some who love it for the wedding; the lights, the dressing up, the dancing and the “tamasha” and will probably continue to love it always (as many of my aunts do and Anya may) and then there are the others (like me) who loved it for it’s mayhem and now supposedly older and accountable for one’s actions find they’ve lost their zing 😉