So… I recently turned 20 (+10). I know, I know a lot of you reading this are rolling your eyes at this statement. Especially my family members who are 30(+30). Now what do I feel and what does this mean? Haha, I don’t really know. Then why am I even writing this; another good question.
First, what does it mean to be a 30 (20+10) man in India? Well, for me, it is an age when you can be invited to a baby shower and a party both on the same day. It is an age where cleaning supplies excite you more than alcohol. When your Instagram ads have hi-tech mops and squeezy bottles. It is an age where every 3 months someone says ‘let’s go clubbing’; only to leave in an hour swearing ‘never again’, only to do it again in 3 months.
However, the most important and significant change in my life is that I am now a Serial Wedding Attender (SWA). As a reasonably social person, I find myself planning my life between weddings.
30 is an age when you have a wedding kit. Yes, you read it right. Not a shaving kit, but an actual wedding one. I have reached a point where if I get a “Hey bro” text from a friend who I have not heard from in a long time… say a week or something, I safely assume they are tying the knot or walking the plank, whichever way you choose to look at it. My wedding kit has all kinds of tangible and intangible accessories. Let me elucidate:
- Clothes, of course: I have an enviable collection of 4 Nehru jackets; yes that one style statement that even the left wing has adopted extremely well purely out of massive convenience, even though the jacket has now largely been re-named after our current Prime Minister. These jackets are the wedding favourites of lazy and fashion (un)conscious Indian men. You can wear them open or closed, you can jazz up your everyday shirts and instantly blend in at the pani poori counter without the security guards getting alerted. The only problem is that one might just mistaken for a member of the serving staff but that’s just a risk that we take for the larger cause of free food and if we are lucky and have Christian friends, free alcohol.
- The wedding attendees fund: Now this is where my toiler paper of a degree comes in handy. It keeps me employed so that I can fund my dignity at weddings. We have already established the requirement of clothes. Now the clothes budget can potentially be multiplied by 6 if you are unfortunate enough to attend Marwari or Punjabi weddings. At these weddings, guests are expected to change clothes for each pakoda consumed. Sometimes I rebel and eat two without bothering to change. I wasn’t raised to be a conformist. However, the fund is a light one at South Indian weddings. These weddings are blissful, for men. The groom himself isn’t wearing a shirt. So, with a simple kurta, you’re practically over dressed. On the other hand, women have to suffer at both types of weddings. My sympathies. Now apart from clothes, the fund has to also be carefully balanced. Only a disciplined investor and seasoned SWA can plan this out without last minute confusion. The fund has to be big enough to be able to afford a good gift but small enough to not have to borrow rent money. It has to be planned keeping the location in mind. Small temple in hometown, great! Grand wedding in the north, yikes! Destination wedding in Bali, you’re fucked!
- The wedding face: Now here is where it gets tricky. The ideal wedding face needs to be ready for a quick selfie as well as a good ol’ crying sesh at a moment’s notice. Basically think of a Karan Johar movie and your crypto wallet at the same time.
- The wedding dance: What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. This is what I tell myself every time anyone plays ‘Gallan Goodiyan’ from Dil Dhadakne Do anywhere. I can do the hook steps in my sleep. Once someone played it in a public bus and I instinctively got up like some sort of Bollywood Manchurian Candidate and started to do the steps. The conductor had to ask me to leave. Also, every wedding dance has the ‘best friend’ in charge of the dance. My kit has the necessary ammo to deal with this person. My concoction is a beguiling mix of charm, excuses and the good old ‘look that side while I run this side’ trick. This enthu cutlet son/daughter/other-of-a-gun begs and bullies everyone under the sun to get in on the dance. This person has two versions of the dance. One is the ‘easy’ dance with the entire platoon, and one solo ‘tough’ dance just to show how close he/she/they are to he/she/them.
Weddings are theoretically supposed to be the coming together of two souls, union of two people, etc etc etc etc. But in India, from what I have seen, it is anything but that. The least important people at Indian weddings are the bride and the groom. They are the most uncomfortable, often times not getting to eat the very food they saw in excel sheets for months; 6 sweets, 4 breads, 5 starters, 4 gravies and 2 rice, sold to them as a ‘108 item buffet’ where pickles, salads and papads are also included to make up the buffet electoral number hold.
I have seen brides and grooms with frozen smiles that need to be removed with elbow grease and a stiff drink when they are put to display on stage to people they barely know. They are puppets at the disposal of parents, families and an army of religious personalities who take great pleasure in the temporary power they get.
Forgive me for this rant, but I am just writing this so that I can read this before my wedding (whenever that happens) and practice my frozen smile in the mirror.
Apart from other people’s wedding kit, the turning 30 situation also means creating an all-weather kit for yourself. Not for the actual wedding yet, but the conversation around it. This kit includes
a. Polite laughter for long lost relatives using your potential wedding to strike conversation.
b. Dirty looks for nosy ‘well wishers’ and ‘family friends’ who want to claim they found your ‘dream match’.
c. And feigned deafness for your own mom whenever she broaches the subject.
I have woken up to elaborate texts from my mom where she describes a dream she had, in which I was getting married.
My only question to her is always, “is she hot?”.