Let me make it clear that there is nothing called “The Big Fat Indian Wedding.” That’s a lie sold by somebody. There’s “The Big Over-By-Afternoon Marathi Wedding,” “The Big Gold South Indian Wedding” and of course, “The BIG BIG Fat Punjabi Wedding.” I was (un)fortunate enough to attend the latter one yesterday.
My parents had told me about the wedding weeks in advance. One of my far off cousins was getting married. My parents had also told me that since they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) make it to the wedding, and since I was an adult now (hahahahahahahahaha nice one mom) I would have to attend the wedding and represent the family.
Now I am not a very hard working man. Sure, I’m not flat out lazy, but like most people, I tend to avoid hard work as much as possible. My dad on the other hand, is the most hardworking person I have ever seen. And he expects me to be that way. Actually, if he had his way (i.e. if mom was looking away for a minute), he would leave me in a jungle with a knife and tell me to survive. If I have to travel, the more modes of transportation I use and the longer the travelling time is, the happier my dad is. When I told him that I had to stand in line at the passport office for 4 hours, his face was beaming with pride. That’s how my dad is.
But I digress. The point I wanted to get across was that I am not particularly hard working. But when my parents told me that I would have to attend a far off cousin’s wedding Punjabi wedding alone, I immediately got to work planning my excuses. I put A LOT of effort into it. I had constructed an elaborate story that deserves a post on its own. But, God (or whoever is the person in charge up there in heaven) had other plans. On the day of the wedding, when I was just about to put my plan of deceit in action, my dad informed me that he was in town and would be attending the wedding with me. Crap.
After a lot of strong protests and pitiful pleas from my side and some cajoling and threats of retribution from my parent’s (mainly mom’s) side, I was suited up and ready for the wedding. Now this may sound vain but I like suiting up. It helps me cover my out of shape body and makes me look a 6/10 rather than a 4/10. And who DOESN’T want to be a 6/10?
So I reached the wedding. Now, I had not seen most of these relatives for at least 4-5 years. Its not like they’re bad people or I don’t like them. It’s just that I am different from all of them and hey, shit happens. So as soon as I entered the wedding my dad started introducing me to all those relatives who couldn’t believe how tall I was or how handsome I had become (hahahahahahahah). As an aside, I would like to say that everybody in my family is short. I’m 5’10 and I literally tower over everybody else. My dad’s 5’8 and he’s the second tallest person in the family. My mom is 5’2 and she is among the taller ladies in our family. Hence all the aunties saying “ERRRMAAHGAAWWWD you are so tall YOU CAN ALMOST TOUCH THE SKY HAHAHAHAH” #justAuntyJokes.
Now I am a fairly genial person and comfortable meeting strangers. My Kryptonite is meeting people I haven’t seen in 10 years but who claim they “know” me because I once sat on their lap when I was 4. From their point of view, they are perfectly justified in thinking that they know me. But I usually have no idea who they are and why they pretend like they practically raised me. So I just put on a goofy smile (I am great at that) and keep nodding my head. Oh yeah I remember you uncle because that one time when I was 2 years old I spit out all my food on your table and you were gracious enough to call me “adorable.” Oh yeah, I definitely remember you.
One of my close cousins (a first cousin whom I know very well and am somewhat close to) was also there. I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised to see him there. Till I was 12-13, we were practically inseparable. He was the smooth talking naughty one and I was the quiet and happy one. Over the last few years we have grown apart because of college and some faintly ridiculous family drama, but I still enjoy meeting him from time to time. I was happy to see that he had not changed and was still the smooth talking charmer that I remembered him to be.
All the world’s a stage and we are but players. Except him. He is a playa.
Now I am not Punjabi but these set of relatives were. Don’t ask me how, I have a hard time understanding it myself. I once asked my dad since it’s his side of the family and after a lot of soul searching he told me he had no idea. Then I made the grave mistake of asking my mom and she gave me a 3 hour lecture about our family history which I am still traumatized by. When I ask her where she’s kept my socks she had in her hands 2 minutes ago, she has no idea. But if I ask her who my dad’s uncles’s son-in-law’s sister’s aunt is, she has the answer before I can finish asking the question.
So my point is this was a Punjabi wedding. And I am vegetarian. Don’t laugh. It has nothing to do with religious beliefs or any of that vegan hippie crap. I just am. And Punjabis don’t do vegetarian food. Its Non veg or Paneer or GTFO. If you mention vegetables to them, they will laugh at you like you’re Louis CK and have just cracked a joke about how much he loves his daughters but how much he hates them. Punjabi weddings are way over the top. Like, way WAY over the top. Generally there’s a cameraman at Indian weddings who captures all your worst moments. But this time, they had attached the camera to a remote controlled quadcopter thing and dispensed with the cameraman. I was saddened by this. The pesky cameraman is an integral part of Indian weddings. Now who will get all in my face when I am stuffing it full of food?
I had met all the relatives, eaten as much food as I could without feeling nauseous, and suitably impressed my relatives by highly exaggerating about my final year project. I was surprised that I had enjoyed myself. My relatives were genuinely happy to see me. My cousin who was getting married had spotted me amongst the cesspool of people trying to get food and came over to hug me. I was genuinely surprised that he still recognized me and was happy to see him too. I met another cousin whom I had been close to when I had been 10 but had not met in over 9 years. We caught up and I was happy to have met him. It was almost one of those “At the end of the day, all you have is family” moments.
My dad had to catch an early flight the next day so we left slightly early. We congratulated the bride and groom one final time, cracked some cliched family jokes and bid all our numerous relatives goodbye. My dad dropped me off halfway to my house and I managed to extract some money from him as he went back to his hotel. It had been a good night. Maybe I should meet my relatives more often.
Or maybe I had been so happy to see them because I had seen them after a long time. Familiarity breeds contempt and maybe the fact that I didn’t see them often made these rare occasions when I did meet them more enjoyable.
I love travelling at night. It is both a surreal and a beautiful experience. The empty roads, the fluorescent glare of streetlights, the emptiness. As I traveled back home, I was content and happy. It’s a rare feeling.