Friday, January 23, 2015

The Wedding Diaries- Part 1

I have been married for more than a month now- technically, a month and 13 days. That is, a month and 13 days when I started this post, not when I posted it. By the time I posted it I had been married 2 months and 21 days. Procrastination and all that....

For a long time, I thought I would refrain from writing about my marriage. I do not really agree with the line of thinking that marriage is the most important event in your life, just as I never agreed with our teachers' vehement insistence that "Class XII is the turning point of your life" (TBH, every year of school, teachers said THAT year was the most important school year. Much like mankind in general deludes itself into believing we are at the turning point of human civilization, our generation makes a tryst with destiny and so forth. Anyway, I digress. As usual.) My point was - I don't need to really dedicate a post (or a series thereof) to marriage.

But, then again, just as Jon Stewart gets constantly tempted to mock Fox News,  Rajkumar Hirani cannot resist adding father-daughter senti, Kamal cannot stop mentioning rape* and making fun of Tambrahms (or using "Pallaandu Pallaandu in his songs! :-/ ), Nolan cannot help hiring Michael Cain even after he becomes a tottering old man, and Krish Ashok has to fall back on TR any time he cannot think of anything else** and ... oh, well, I got lost along the list, didn't I? I meant to say that writers and artists tend to go weak in their knees when they see obvious material, and I am no exception! Even though I think marriage isn't all that big a deal, there was so much involved that had to be written down for eternity (or until whenever the Google servers last), that I couldn't resist.

So, first things first. This was not a traditional marriage (except if you count Rukmini and Andal and Kamba Ramayanam and stories like that). What I mean is it was a "love marriage" as many middle-aged Indians call it, and an inter-caste one at that. Actually, to be precise about how they call it- "louvw marriage *shudder* ". The shudder is part of how you pronounce the phrase, mind you, but let's leave phonetics aside.

And unlike the "arranged marriage" (I really disagree with the terminology, by the way. Calling the non-love-marriage "arranged" sounds like there is no "arranging" in the love marriage. Who arranged the caterers, and photographers and decorators, huh? Seriously :-/ ), the love marriage invokes a spectrum of reactions from young and old. Especially if you were the kind of kid nobody thought would tread on that path.

Take, for instance, the older generations when they heard the "news" from my parents. Their reactions range from "I would have totally convinced her out of it" to "Really? Suchithra?" (followed by a consoling/understanding headbob that silently says "I'm so sorry for you"). Many of their tones would resemble mourning when they talked to my parents (though they would beautifully shift to "sincere" wishing when they met me). In fact, I was positively surprised people didn't send condolence telegrams to my parents on D-Day. Must be because nobody sends telegrams anymore.

Now the middle generations (aka my parents' generation) were a mix. Some were progressive and thought "This is the right way to go", or in Solomon Paapayya style "Namakku andha vazhiyellam engayya irundhuchu"***). Some, of course, thought this is beneath human dignity and why-would-anyone-marry-outside-the-random-group-of-individuals-they-were-born-into-for-no-fault-of-their-own. (Or worse, the intensely racist stance of "Of course, we are a much better community than any other. It is scientifically proven that we are the most intelligent race after the Jews." I actually heard a lot of this,  and other "scientifically racist" ideas.) And then there were some who thought it was part of the changing times, but not necessarily the ideal thing. (If you had a choice to find spouses for your children, it is best to stick to your "random group" and continue to think that this group is better than all others even if you wouldn't say so in public, but if it chanced that one of your kids fell in "louvw *shudder*" you can very well give up your prejudices.. ahem, values, I said values.. for your children's sake). In fact, the funny thing was that even those who did not find it scandalizing, conceded that where it occurred ("it" refers to "louvw *shudder* " here), it was an aberration, and should quickly be made up for (aka fix the engagement, get the kids married A.S.A.P and try to pretend it never happened.). Also, even those who were completely ok with an inter-caste marriage were not devoid of the prejudices ("I want you to be happy, but I am only afraid that they do not respect their women enough" or "They don't teach their kids to respect people and relations enough" etc.) Sad, but true . 
Now for the current generation. Almost nobody I know had any problem with  "love marriage" though some admitted it must be difficult for the parents. Most people were surprised how we pulled it off (remember we weren't the dating "types") and almost everyone was super excited and giggly and started badgering me with questions of "What's your story". Of course, I thoroughly disappointed them by saying there is not too much of a story- I met someone with similar values/ideas and we thought it made sense for us to spend our lives together. Neither of us stalked the other through the crowded buses of Chennai (or Trichy, for that matter) and we definitely did not sing our duets in snow filled countries abroad (although, admittedly, our marriage videographer had the wonderful idea and even tried to implement it with Photoshop. I will get to that eventually). The other common reaction was a very excited "Where did he propose" (or worse, "Who proposed") and other variations of "What's the proposal story" to which I usually go "Um. Nothing much." Which is disappointing. We all like to hear how one man made a big fool of himself and put his dignity at stake asking a woman out, don't we.

But the honest answer was that our relationship was based on common values, common thought processes and other boring-sounding things which no self-respecting romance author would ever want to mention. We might have had instinctive liking for each other, but we made that almost immaterial by spending our early months arguing about the "ideas", our beliefs, our respective takes on politics, economics and the like, and so on till we thought we had exhausted all possible intellectual conversation any two individuals could have. (Then, of course, we moved on to the pani puris and veg momos.) I mean, seriously. We started out on very serious fooding.. footing, I mean.  
Of course, that does not mean we didn't make fools of ourselves. Everyone in love does. We did spend a substantial time talking and texting and generally obsessing about "wait, where is this going?" Our friends definitely had a good laugh at our expense and we did harbor an emotion that went beyond the logical, business-like, Ayn Randish 'love'.

But, falling in love or making a fool of yourself is Step 1. Like "the infamous author I almost despise" claims, "In India, marriages are not between boy and girl. They are between boy's family and girl's family"...

(To be continued) 

* I have a real rant to make here about how Kamal took "A Wednesday" and butchered it when he made "Unnai Pol Oruvan". Not just with his persona that really differed from the adorable old man that Naseeruddin Shah was, but with actual screenplay changes- ALL o>f which ruined the movie.
** That is not to mean Krish Ashok is not brilliant. To quote Ronald Weasley, "He is bloody brilliant". And that applies to everyone on the list, by the way,
*** For non-Tamil folk, Solomon Paapayya is a Tamil orator, professor, etc. who remarks in a mock wistful tone in one of his debate shows "We did not have that facility when we were young" referring to the facility of falling in love. :D 
I promise you it sounds funnier in Tamil than it did here.

P.S: The title has been changed from "The Marriage Diaries" to "The Wedding Diaries" after someone pointed it out. I started out the series hoping to write about the "marriage" but it's only been a few months and the series is mostly in the wedding territory, so changed. 

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