To W(B)ed a Bong

The Bedding Diaries of a clueless, soon-to-be Bride

Friday, January 13, 2006

Au revoir

Towards the end of Ian McEwan's Atonement, the protagonist seems to conclude that there could be no atonement for her as she, the novelist, could rework her book to reflect anything she wants it to. That the book is supposedly about incidents in her real life is merely incidental. In that she could shape how the world views her and her life, she becomes a kind of God. And we jobless bloggers, especially the ones who write about stuff that happens in our lives do like playing God. We take some insignificant incident from our horribly uninteresting lives and try to build what we think is an interesting story around it. As one of my favorite bloggers says again and again about his blog [I am too lazy to dig up the actual posts], the key here is to remember that everything that appears on this blog is mostly fiction. Though, you know, it is about me.

Why am I saying all this now? One, because some of you are a little concerned that this blog might be getting a little too personal and I figured its a good time to explain things. Two, because its time to say Goodbye. All good things must come to an end and hey, hang on, no, no, the marriage is not coming to an end - I said all "good" things. I started writing this blog during the heights of pre-wedding depression to provide me with some comic relief and in that sense, this blog has served its purpose. Of course, its been quite nice to hear from so many of you in the past few months and hopefully, you will stay in touch. But this bedding is over and I am the Bride no more, and this blog has to die.

PS: Regular blogging will hopefully happen in Yossarian Lives, so you can always come visit.

PPS: Bill, I know you want to do a post of 'Memories of your Melancholy Brides'. But it ain't happening on this blog. Lets see if you will ever have the enthu to actually go do something yourself. :)

PPPS: And please, no jokes about today being Friday, the 13th.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Overheard

Bill is going to a conference in no, not Barcelona, that was the last one, no, no, not Germany either, that was the one before that, did you say Miami? No, that was a year ago - this one happens to be in Charleston, South Carolina. Ha Ha! So anyway, he was talking to a random friend with whom he is going to drive to Charleston.

Bill: So dude, I am in Chicago but will be in Pitt tomorrow morning. We can start driving tomorrow evening.

Bill's Driving Partner(BDP): Cool. And guess what? I am in Chicago too.

Bill: You are kidding man.

BDP: Yeah, I am getting into Pitt tonight. You know my girlfriend lives here in Chicago. So I am here once every couple of weeks.

Bill: Cool. My girlfriend lives here too. So I make it here quite often.

BDP: Really?

Bill: Yeah, those Southwest fares are pretty good. Now that Southwest is flying, other airlines also have reduced fares. I take it every other weekend actually.

BDP: I see.

Bill: Yeah, where does your girlfriend live? If she lives downtown, take Southwest as it flies into Midway. If she lives up North, better to take United or something.

BDP: Yeah, I take Southwest too. My girlfriend lives in Lakeview.

Bill: Dude, thats pretty close to where mine lives. We are in Lincoln Park. We should meet up.

BDP: Yeah. And dude..?

Bill: Yeah?

BDP: Do you mind if I ask you something?

Bill: What? Go on.

BDP: Didn't you just come back from India after a long vacation?

Bill: Yes. Just got back a week ago.

BDP: I thought you went to get married.

Bill: Ofcourse I did. So? Oh hang on, shoot. Did I say girlfriend? I meant wife. Eeeeks, that sounds so gross.

BDP: What?

Bill: Nothing dude. See ya tomorrow then?

BDP: Alright man.

Bill, darling, now I know why I love you. Just don't remember the wife and we will do just fine!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hi-jinks in Trivandrum

or, how to get alcohol after 11 in God's own country.

Sandy, Banker, Motu, Ethan and Jason decide to take Bill out to celebrate the end of his bachelordom. But what is a party without some alcohol? And so, they turn up at Big Hotel.

Sandy : Hi, we are looking to celebrate, so could you get us the wine menu?

Big Hotel Waitperson (BHW) : I am so sorry, state law prohibits us from serving alcohol after 11.

Banker : But every table has wine being served.

BHW : I will go check sir.
(back after 5 minutes)
I talked with my manager, but we cannot do it sir. All these people were served before 11. Sorry!

Sandy : Come on, everybody is still being served. What do you take us for? Anyway, our friend is getting married tomorrow, he really needs it.

BHW : Okay, I will find out again.
(back after a while)
We really cannot do it sir. All sorts of checks have been put on us.

At this point, we are getting tired of this and ready to leave. Ethan tries one last time.

Ethan : Look, we came all the way from Chicago. Do you want us to take back this image of beautiful Trivandrum?
BHW : Okay, I will go check.
........
Sirs, if it was up to me, I would gladly have obliged. But we have to be very careful with the new laws. We absolutely cannot serve wine. We will be killed by the cops. Is champagne okay with you?

Us, collectively : What????
Let us get this straight. You can serve us champagne now? How about the state law? Can we just have wine please?

BHW : (giving up) French, Italian or Spanish?

So there you have it. Wine and champagne are not really alcoholic drinks in this part of the country! These mallus, I tell you!

Toasts are made, and lots of wine are downed by everyone. Some hours later, the hotel is emptied out, apart from the intrepid few. They decide to leave, and discover the waiter has disappeared. When he finally arrives, he is treated to a big hug by Jason. When he steps back with a bemused smile, he is embraced again, and this time, gets declarations of undying love. This makes him more and more nervous, and he runs away as soon as possible.

At this point, Jason and Banker decide maybe they should get one for the road. They go up to the bar, to find no one there. Banker walks back dejectedly, and to cheer him up, Jason shows him a bottle of whiskey he has walked off with, using a five-finger discount. The gang leave discreetly, though with at least a few singing in loud voices, maybe it was not so discreet.

Scene shifts to empty beach.

Bill : How are we going to drink this without any water?

Jason : Bill, you the man! Just drink it up from the bottle.

Bill : (gulp! big gulp!) Pah, that burns the throat.

Ethan : The simple solution is, drink some more. It helps.

Bill : (gulp!) I think that works.

Sandy : Are you going to leave some for us or what?

Bill : Hey, what's a swing of whisky between friends? Here, have some. (gulp!)

Sandy : (gulp!) Bill, you are drunk!

Bill : I say NO! (gulp!)

Banker : (gulp!) I say yes!

after a few rounds of this, Bill has been force-fed the lion's share of the bottle. (Ed : Force? more like Motu had to physically threaten Bill to get his hands on the bottle! )

Bill : I am sho toshally shober, I can throw this empty boshle, er bottle, the farthesht.
(almost brains Banker, whose quick reflexes save his life). eh, that was not so good. Guys, I don't feel so good. (Keels over)

Motu : Just like him, can't handle any alcohol. Here, I will throw it far away. (almost brains Banker)

Banker : Guys, what the hell do you have against me anyway?

Bill : (waking up) I don't feel so good. (passes out again)

The author's recollection of the rest of the night are a bit hazy. He may or may not have gone skinny dipping in the Arabian Sea. He may or may not have gone to meet some Danish girls of Jason's acquaintance at four in the morning. He may or may not have been in a fight with two autorickshaw drivers. He may or may not have been carried like a "sack of potatoes" at six in the morning to his bed. He suspects the last one is true, but not the others. Motu and Banker resolutely refuse to enlighten him further. The author suspects their recollection is a bit hazy too.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Sex, Lies and DVDs

"You know what I think is really weird about the way our culture treats sex?", a friend of mine asked me soon after her wedding a couple of years back.

"What?"

"Well, think about this - People have always told us not to drink right? I mean it was prohibited for sure until we were 18 or 21 or whatever. But then its not like once you cross the barrier, you are asked to drink up."

"What are you talking about?"

"That you don't have to drink once you are over 21. But in case of sex, its different. Until you get married its prohibited. After that point, its mandatory. The astrologers look at times and tell you when to have suhaag raat and you have to have sex then."

"Well, its not like junta has sex during suhaag raat. I mean, who the hell has the energy after all the tamasha one has to go through?"

"Arrey, who is talking about reality? This is about expectations silly."

"It isn't really weird then. Say you can have kids by having alcohol. Then it sure will be mandatory right after the wedding."

"But then who is it prohibited before? I still think its weird. And btw, it ain't like you think. There are enough people who have sex, and that too for the very first time during this suhaag raat nonsense."

"Oh yeah? Show me one."

"That girl M who used to hang out with us in school. She told me, she did. She said it was all very painful - she was really tired and stuff but her husband proved to be more persistent."

"That guy should be arrested for rape then."

"Yeah, try telling that to a judge. Or better still, just try telling M that. Where do you come from anyway?"

"Whatever. But tell me this. What do you think our parents will do? I mean, they don't have any illusions about us, right? So will they go in for this mandatory sex - suhaag raat thing?"

"Of course. Its got nothing to do with what they think. Suhaag raat, like the wedding itself, happens because of society dude. Actually in my case, it was quite painful - hubby's mom and my mom talked to astrologer and figured that time for suhaag raat is week after the weeding and so we were asked to sleep apart until then and then have an elaborate suhaag raat."

"I have seen that in Tam movies dude! Didn't think it happens in real life. In a way, thats good only na? Atleast you aren't tired or anything?"

"Nonsense. Its all so irritating."

"Hmm..true enough. I would like to see my parents try something like that. That would be fun."

My parents did not disappoint me. Well actually, it was Bill's parents but my parents had a part in it. So we come back from wedding hall and all the rituals at home are complete. AR and Bill help me pull out the 100-odd hairpins from "my" long, flowing hair - well, if its on my head, its mine, ain't it? - when amma walks in.

Amma: So I talked to Bill's parents.

Me: Okay, so when are we going to get Bill's stuff home?

Amma: This evening we will go pick it up. But there's something else.

Me: What?

Amma: Apparently there's some Bengali thing about suhaag raat. Some legend Bill's Dad was telling us. Something about how this girl runs away and is rescued and all that.

Me: Yeah?

Amma: Anyway, it looks like you cannot sleep in the same room the day of the wedding.

Bill: But amma, that's because Bong weddings happen at night.

Amma: Oh really?

Me: Of course.

Amma: Regardless, your parents are quite sure about this. So we will get your stuff and you can sleep in the other bedroom.

Me: Oh yeah?

Amma: Yes, after two days, you can sleep in this room. Anyway, that stupid curtain guy isn't here today.

Bill: What curtain guy?

Me: Long story. Amma wanted to change the curtains in the room, so she threw the old ones away and told the curtain guy to bring in new ones. Strategically he isn't here yet!

Amma: I told me very clearly that we needed it yesterday. He isn't here. Anyway, so that's settled.

Me: What's settled again?

Amma: Err..Bill will sleep in the other bedroom the next couple of days.

At this point, I was having way too much fun to give up. My poor Mom!

Me: No, he won't actually. We need the space. Hazaar guests need bedrooms too, you see.

Amma: That we will manage somehow.

Me: No, we won't.

Amma: Why are you making a big deal about this? I know you very well, this is just to make me angry. Its what his parents want. Nothing to do with me okay?

Me: Oh no, its a question of principle. I refuse not to sleep with my husband on my wedding day.

AR and Bill burst out laughing. Appa comes into the room.

Appa: What? Who is sleeping where now?

Amma: You, you talk to your daughter. She and Bill will sleep here only, she's saying. You tell her what his parents told us.

Appa: They did. But then they aren't going to ask you next time they meet you where these two were sleeping right?

Amma: What?

Appa: Bill's parents won't ask you so why don't you just let them be?

Amma: This is how you spoil your daughter. Say yes to everything she says. Oh God! What will I do now?

Appa: You will do nothing. The wedding is over and now you can just chill.

That actually wasn't the end of the suhaag raat story. There was another hilarious one in Kolkata but that will require a different post. But meanwhile, I did think of this new business plan - cost savings for the porn industry actually. If anyway junta has to sleep with each other on suhaag raat, might as well get the guy who makes the painful wedding DVDs to also make a suhaag raat DVD. And then maybe people like this won't complain anymore! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Where is your thali?

The day after the wedding. My room. Gifts and saris strewn all over the place. AR, Bill, Appa and I are chatting when Amma comes in.

Amma: So you guys are going to BG's place.

Appa: Yes, yes. AR wants to see the garden and so we are all leaving now. We will be back for lunch. And then we have to drop Bill's family at the station.

Amma: Okay. So are you all ready? (Staring at me.)

Bill: Yes. We are just about to leave actually.

Amma: Really? (Still staring at me.)

AR: Yes aunty. Uncle, chal. Lets go.

Amma: Where is your thali? (Thali in Tam or Mallu - Mangal sutra)

Moi: How do I know? I gave it to you na. Yesterday evening with all the other jewelry.

Amma: Let me take it out then. You wear it and go.

Moi: Not happening.

Amma: No one will believe you are married.

Moi: Thali or not, even I don't believe I am married. So what?

Amma: Why don't you understand kutti? People will stare at you and talk behind your back.

Moi: So?

Amma: Maybe you don't care about such things. But I do.

Moi: Exactly. That's why you wear your thali na?

Amma: Oh God? What am I going to do with this girl? Bill, why don't you tell her?

Bill: Me? I am not getting involved in this.

Amma: You are like this because of your Dad. He doesn't say anything when you do stuff like this.

Appa: Now its all my fault as usual. (Turns to me.) Why don't you wear that darned thing for a day?

Moi: I did wear it for a day. Yesterday. We had a deal remember? That I would wear it for a day and never have to touch it ever again. You better keep your side of the bargain now.

Appa: She is right. She did wear everything you wanted her to wear yesterday. You give her a break now.

Amma: Can you shut up for sometime? You have spoilt her enough.

Appa: Ofcourse.

AR: Aunty, you can always tell people that Bongs don't have thali.

Amma: But they have that bangle na?

AR: Well, your daughter's in-laws haven't given her the bangle, so it doesn't count.

Amma: They will give it to her in Kolkata. I would like to see her refuse that.

Bill: She didn't really refuse the thali. She wore it for a day. I am sure she will do the same with this bangle thing.

Amma: So you are all on her side now? (Tears in eyes)

All three men fall for the tears and switch sides.

Bill: Hey, maybe you can wear it for today.

AR: C'mon dude, just for the day.

As usual, Appa whispers with the brightest idea of the lot.

Appa: Take it and wear it now. Take it off when you step outside the house. How does it matter?

Moi: No, no melodrama will make me do this. Now she will say thali. Then she will have hazaar other jewelry. I shouldn't have agreed to get married at all. Its all my fault.

Amma: Aiyayo! You do what you want. Don't say things like that. (Eyes flooding like the Brahmaputra now.)

Moi: You think I can't cry? Here, check this out. (Trying hard and manage to generate one teardrop.)

Amma: Its all my fate. What to do? Stop acting now and do what you want. (Eyes stop flooding.)

Moi: Okay people. Lets go.

And thus all unsuspecting visitors and people we go to visit stare long and hard at my neck and decide never to let their kids talk to me again. Really can't complain about that!

In other news, Bill has left for Bombay and I am getting my home back. Yesternight was the best night of my vacation so far - It was just moi and appa and amma and we finally had my mom's dosa and sambar for dinner. If there's heaven on earth, this surely must be it.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

When a Kerala girl marries a Behala boy - The Kerala Diaries - Part 1

In which Bill arrives with his "Baraat"

The family has to go receive Bill at Trivandrum airport. Interestingly enough, the Bride cannot be let out of home, and cannot go to the airport. Bill's friends are sure they cannot meet each other for the next two days, and start discussing plans of sneaking up to the balcony in moonlight.

Soon after arriving, Bill is whisked off to a big Raymond's store to fit him for a suit. The theme music of Godfather plays in Bill's mind as he is told the suit will be ready in ten hours. Bill has to think about weighty issues such as two buttons or three? single pleat or flat front? Needless to say, he has no clue what the fashionable man is supposed to wear, and ultimately, closes his eyes and mutters a random one. The tailors are suitably impressed by his quick decision skills. Apparently, normal people take their time, look over the fashion magazines lying around and then decide, while Bill is totally clued in to what he wants.

After being tired out shopping, it is casually mentioned that Bill will be dropped off at the Bride's home. Before he can react, he is pushed out of the car and about 50 aunties descend on him to do aarti. He is then taken inside, and made to sit in the couch of honor. About 200 people take seats in front, and give him a good stare. Since there is no common language to communicate in, Bill wonders whether he is expected to sing or perform magic tricks.

In the night, the Bride has to be blessed by elders by putting rice on her head. Bill returns with his family, and the family is promptly conned into the rice throwing ceremony. They are completely lost with people shouting instructions at them in Tamil.

Bill's friends decide that the Bride has been harassed enough, and it is time to harass the groom. They go talk to elders and convince them Bongs have a custom of blessing the groom by making him eat sweets. Bill is promptly tied to a seat, big laddoos are brought out, and he is force-fed till he is on the point of throwing up.

After dinner, Bill and friends decide to go on a bachelor party to Kovalam beach. Ethan and Jason, the already-mentioned firangs, immediately switch to the groom's side and accompany the group. Actually, the party requires a post by itself, so wait for the next post.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Back home...

after the Kolkata celebrations. Hope to spend a quiet week at home before the Bombay madness starts. Also hope to chronicle events of the past two weeks sometime this week. For now, here's Black Mamba's Kolkata post and yes, she has some pictures.