Everyone around seems more interested in the happenings on the wedding night than the wedding itself but unfortunately, those details cannot (or should not) be divulged. So if you came back expecting those details, you can leave now so I can proceed with the more ‘boring’ details :)
The wedding ceremony and lunch followed by the jhooti fiasco finished up by 3pm and the reception wasn’t until 7:30pm. We couldn’t take Ash ‘home’ since we weren’t home and Ginger wouldn’t give us our room until the next morning. We were booked for the night at Mayfair anyway. So post-wedding, I crashed in my brother’s room as we watched Lake Placid on Star Movies. Not exactly what you thought I would be doing after the wedding, eh? I wondered if the choice of the movie was a harbinger of things to come. Poor Ash on the other hand had to report for her makeup session couple of hours before the reception so she stayed put with her parents at Mayfair. Rest of our guests either snored away their afternoons or headed out to the city for some more shopping. Frankly, I couldn’t understand how could you continue shopping in a city not really known as a shopper’s paradise. These folks would go berserk in Dubai or Singapore. Probably they already had. Shopping, I feel, is more of a social activity that women enjoy whereas men have specific objectives when they are out to buy something.
Later in the afternoon, my parents and I rummaged through the gifts I had received from Ash’s parents and assorted aunts dropped in to check it out as well. Plenty of judging is done by the choice and extent of how much is given and how much you have received. Not always a bad thing but it made for an interesting social observation at least for me. You could sense their opinion by the immediate expression on their faces (Ash’s mom (or just mom?), if you are reading this, almost all opinions were highly positive). As the hour drew closer, I unpacked my tuxedo which we had picked up back in the U.S and was effectively a gift from Ash’s parents. After getting dressed, my parents and I headed to the reception venue accompanied by my brother. He kept the camera away because he was tired of not being in the pictures and frankly, had enough of lugging it around. I could sympathize. Anyway, we had couple of over-enthusiastic ‘official’ photographers anyway willing to make us pose ridiculously in order to make us feel we have got our money’s worth for their services.
The reception was a relaxed affair although Ash and I were perched on the stage where people trooped up to meet us and pose for the perfunctory photograph. This process is one of the worst aspect of Indian weddings and although we racked our brains for a more efficient and candid process, we couldn’t come up with anything. If we wandered around instead of standing on the stage as I suggested, my parents warned that lines would form wherever we paused. I couldn’t agree more. But there must be a better way to do this. Apart from our 40-odd guests, the rest of the 300 guests were an assortment of Ash’s relatives. She has a huge extended family on both sides which in turn had large families so much so that her parents had to stand with us so that Ash didn’t goof up the introductions. The introductions were mostly a blur for me and frankly, I couldn’t recall any of them by the end of it but at least I presented a decent impression that I could.
I guess none of the guests got the memo on ‘no gifts’ as we were hurriedly handed cash envelopes, flower bouquets, and packages of various sizes. Flowers can be the worst gift of all at a wedding reception because frankly they get tossed around carelessly and you never can really put them in water-filled vases once you get home because there are so many of them and you are short of space because you are carrying the other material gifts. Even the cash envelopes can be a pain because someone practically has to carry them around and keep an eye on them the entire evening effectively ruining the experience for them and since it generally is a close relative, you really don’t want that to happen to them.
We were, as usual, one of the last people to eat although our parents and siblings did give us company. The food as usual was delicious and we had non-vegetarian food finally. The sweets especially baked rasogulla, chenna pod petta, and rabri were once again a big hit as nearly everyone pigged out on them. There even was a Santoshi Maa food counter since it was a Friday and clearly Bhubhaneshwar had a following. After the last guest departed at around 10:30, we thought we could call it a night and head up to our room. But no such luck as Ash’s cousins put on some loud music and dragged everyone on the dance floor. Since most of my aunts and uncles are around 50, watching them dance can either be a funny sight or a painful one and to make it worse, Ash and I were predictably dragged too. A couple of steps and we were promptly let go while the more enthusiastic ones carried on. This went on for quite a while until everyone just wanted to leave.
However, the key to the ‘bridal room’ was with my brother who gave it to my cousin sister and she wasn’t ready to let go unless her palms were greased. So there was a second standoff of the day as I was threatened with the prospect of going back to my brother’s room for the night. My aunt, the astute bargainer (as she is known on Linking Road) took over the negotiations because frankly my sis is too soft for that kind of thing and being eleven years older to her, I can sometimes feel a bit intimidating to her. My aunt waved the key card in front of my eyes and kept demanding money. I simply reached out and snatched the card clean out of her hands and waved it back in her face. The look on her face was priceless as everyone else jumped on her admonishing her for her carelessness. So by a sleight of my hand, I was spared the torture of bargaining my way to my wedding night. Later, my aunt told me that she had deliberately allowed me to take the card off her hand. Yeah Yeah! Whatever!
Hmmm…so what next, you ask? We headed up to the wedding suite and closed the door behind us.