Umbrella

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There is a tradition in Indian weddings called ‘Kasi Yatra’ and the umbrella plays a significant part in this ritual.

In the days of old, some boys were not prepared to settle for the material comforts of a family. These boys would commence on a yatra (trek) to Kasi (in the foothills of the Himalayas) where they would seek a guru to gain wisdom from. They would only be armed with chappals to protect their feet, an umbrella and a fan to shield them from the sun and a Bhagavad Gita that will keep them focused on the journey. At this juncture, the father of a prospective bride would approach this man and request him to marry his daughter. The father would tell the man how much he stands to gain from a married life as against the life of an ascetic. He would also promise that his daughter would be with him to face challenges that life will throw at them. The groom would reconsider his decision and return to marry the bride.

This is re-enacted in the wedding ceremony. It is made to look like the groom got an epiphany and decided to walk to Kasi to pursue his spiritual quest. His holds an umbrella and a fan and walks towards the exit. (This part was kind of funny. I was worried N might take off after watching me in my bridezilla avtar over the past few hours and wouldn’t let him out of my sight.) The bride’s father or brother requests him to return and marry the bride. The groom returns and the wedding continues.

I do not know why this ritual is followed. However, the umbrella and the fan that the groom holds are supposed to be kept in the house. They would serve as a reminder to the husband and wife about the promises they made to one another.

Are there any such rituals in your weddings?

Thambi

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Thambi is ‘Little Brother’ in Tamil. The other man in my life.  My parents prepped me for him by getting me all excited saying ‘Thambi papa, Thambi papa’ and the name stuck. I do not know if it embarrasses him when I yell ‘Thambi!!’ across the mall- if it did, he has never mentioned it.

I am trying not to make this a sentimental post, but it looks like the earth is tipping south, the words are flowing into the sentiment sea, and I am unable to do anything about it.

Since dad, this little one (not so little now) has been the man of the family. He was 13 then. Now he shares me with N; he gracefully stepped aside to let N take his place beside me. During those initial days when I was dizzy with all the ‘New bride’ attention, I wonder how he coped with the vacuum. Or maybe I give myself too much credit 🙂

The other day, S’s (Thambi’s best friend) sister got married. We were at the wedding and immediately after the Thaali-kattu (akin to exchange of the rings) S ran into the men’s room, and my brother followed. Apparently S had broken down and couldn’t control his tears.

“Did you cry at my wedding?!!” I demanded.

“Ummm..A little” came the sheepish reply.

“But I did not see you!”

“Because you were busy!”

“Shut up! Don’t lie!”

“What nonsense. Why must I lie?”

“Because that is what you do!”

“Oh please. Get a life!”

“You get a life!”

“…….”

Did I say sea of sentiment? Apologies. That was the battlefield.

😛

 

Sorry

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One word.

Two syllables.

Yet infinitely difficult to utter.

When uttered, though, ironically, it murders one’s ego, and at the same time makes one feel divine.

 

One word.

Two people.

Bridges infinite gaps.

One word that makes the relationship with the other person instantly greater than oneself.

 

One word.

Does not deserve any second thoughts. Ever. Let go and just say it.

 

Room mate

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Have you had a room mate at any point of your life? I had two, I shared rooms with each at different times, over the course of two years. We hit it off really well. I was lucky that way.

But room mates have a tendency to get on your nerves at times. Sometimes they would sweep the mess off their side of the room onto your side. Other times they would borrow your key and make you wait outside for ages before they got back to open the door for you. They might speak too loudly on the phone when you are trying to study. You might hear secrets about them from other people and as a result, feel left out,rejected or betrayed.

In the midst of all these, we tend to forget those times when we sat up all night and shared tales about ourselves. Those days when you cried your heart out lying on your room mate’s lap. That one night when she covered up for you sneaking out of hostel on an urgent errand. When you both landed on some booze and giggled into the night.

Room mates give us many, many memories. They are like our partners- In all things good, bad and ugly, for those days that we share ourselves with them. It wouldn’t do to hold the bad things against them, and forget the amazing times they gave us, would it ?

That was my first lesson,after being married. 🙂 What was yours ?

Qualify

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I had been worrying about a word for Q until the 3-day-deadline almost elapsed. There are so many queer, quirky things about marriage that I cannot post for public perusal here. We are not really quiet, I do not want to talk about the questions we face everyday and have no intentions of quitting. I almost wrote about quintessential, but that is an adjective and what can you really write about a word that adds meaning to another word? (A book, if it was supposed to be how a person adds meaning to another person, but a word..?)

So here we are, trying to make sense of Qualify.

What qualifies one for marriage? Definitely not age. According to the Indian government, an 18 year old girl is marriage-ready. I think what that really implies is one being pregnancy ready at that age, not marriage ready.

Some girls ace the ‘being married’ thing despite being very, very young. Some others just dont get it even while they are beyond their thirties.

I am not an expert, but I think what qualifies one for marriage is one’s mindset. One fine day you will wake up and feel ready to settle down. You will be free of those ‘I want to be single because I want to achieve x, y, z and travel to a, b, c countries’ thoughts. You will be free of shackles that bound you to your past.

However, deciding to get married because your friends are all married and you have nobody to spend time with is a bad idea. (This is mentioned here because there are many who fall into this trap) Deciding to get married because your ex dumped you is an equally bad idea.

In the end, wanting to spend the rest of your life, happily, with your partner, is what qualifies you for marriage. Actually, it is a feeling beyond wanting; it is more like deciding to be happy with another person for the rest of your life that qualifies you for marriage.

Paris

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People who know me know what an incorrigible Francophile I am. Having studied the language and culture for over ten years, I cannot help but love the country. So people around me have gotten used to me yelping when I hear French dialogues in movies, and correcting them when they pronounce something wrong (“It’s ronday-woo!”)

The sad part of this tale is that I have never been to France. Yet. N has been there, though. He visited Paris when he was studying in the UK and never misses an opportunity to brandish that on my face. But it wouldn’t stop there. It would continue to:

“Oh what is that called- Champs Elseeeeey?”

“How very Borgoisee of you!”

“How is black pronounced again? Noh-iree?”

The effect this has is not very different from scratching one’s fingernails on a black board. I imagine that I have died and have been resurrected many, many times. Who ever said words couldn’t kill.

Oomph

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The first time I heard a mother point me to her baby and say “Say bye to aunty”, my heart froze. I don’t remember how old I was then but certainly not old enough to be called aunty. Come on, I don’t think I am that old now either! My girlfriends and I don’t think we will ever be that old. Unfortunately, the world thinks otherwise, and after repeated attempts telling kids to call us by our name (“Aunty? No, no, call me Gita”), we have given up.

However, Aunty or not, the world definitely has fixed notions on how married women are supposed to look. I have qualms about wearing my mangalsutra with western wear, so sometimes I don’t wear the chain. Most days I forget the sindoor too, and wear shoes (rendering the mettis invisible) so I tend to look unmarried. And for some reason, that is a crime. My neighbour was aghast when I was at her place for a puja the other day. “But why ma? Why you don’t wear it all the time?” I gave her a weak smile and dashed away.

I have had so many people tell me, ‘But really! You do not look married!’ and I cannot but nod my head sadly. Why should I look married? But what IS it to look married? From the conversations I have had, married women are supposed to smell of cooking oil, have limp hair, have un-plucked eyebrows and un-waxed arms (because good wives do not have time for such things).

I disagree. It is common knowledge that women and men draw confidence from the way they groom themselves, and from the clothes they wear. Looking good is important to feel good. A little extra attention has never hurt. But the other reason I advocate spending resources into grooming oneself, ladies, is for your men.  Dress up for them. Make them feel proud to have you by their side! Dress up so that they can flaunt you. Keep that oomph factor close, please. Never let anybody take it away from you!