08 December 2008

My wedding and related incidents

'Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you.'
– Khalil Gibran

I am going to tell you about an incident totally unrelated to this article. I just have to get that thing off my chest, before I continue. I promise I will not stray later.
This incident happened at my first visit to Dubai. Dad was working in Dubai that time. It was a short visit. We met at the hotel room.
“What’s the noise on the roof?” he asked.
“There is a swimming pool on the top,” I said, “We can have a look after the breakfast.”
While in the elevator, on the way to the cafeteria, a lady in bikini entered. Now, I had probably seen thousands of ladies in bikini. My dad probably had seen thousands in bikini. However we hadn’t seen a lady in bikini together.
It was Dubai; you have to be lucky to see anyone in bikini there. I am a lucky person. Time froze, nothing moved except the elevator; which was going down for a long time. It was probably going to hell. It was impossible to avoid her without closing eyes. I am a writer. My dad is a writer. My grandpa was a writer. Writers don’t close their eyes to art.
Finally, we dispersed in the lobby. At the breakfast table, I and dad discussed many things: Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Narayan, and Gogol. In fact we discussed everything in the world except the lady in bikini. I never saw the lady again. We didn’t check the pool either.
That was the incident. Nothing really happened. You might wonder, what is my point? My point is: there is no point! Many things in life are totally meaningless. Trying to find a meaning in them is foolishness; over to my marriage day.

Wedding day
Many people thought my marriage would be some kind of a fiasco. I don’t blame them. I myself thought that way.
On the D-day, waiting out side the church, in front of the main door, for my future wife, I had a funny feeling: Is she going to turn up or not?
It was late. The priest was already on the altar. I had an altercation with him a few days ago. “Wedding mass will start at 9 sharp,” he had said, “with you or without you!”

The Priest: a few days before the wedding
I have a great respect for priests. Remember, these are the guys who said NO to sex! That’s not easy. In many Hindi movies priests have a very limited role. They vanish after the one liner——God Bless You My Child. I am yet see a priest who says GBYMC in real life. Our parish priest never said GBYMC. Nevertheless, he used to conduct compulsory one-to-one interviews with future couples.
At the interview, I was expecting usual questions: Tell me something about yourself. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Your top 3 weak points? etc. Being in IT, I could have answered these questions from the operation theatre, while someone working on my brain.
However the first question was, “Do you know the daily prayers?”
I was about to say, “what the …?” followed by a bad word you often don't see on Mangalorean web sites.
“I don’t know them by-heart,” I said, “however I know their essence.” This street smart answer didn’t convince him.
“You probably know Hindi film songs by-heart,” this was really uncalled for, “What is the use of getting married if you don’t know the day-to-day prayers? How will you raise your children in Mangalorean Catholic way?”
“I have not thought about children yet, father” I said. I don’t like to call anyone FATHER, who is not my biological father.
Later he asked, “Did anyone force you for this marriage?”
“Yes” I said, after thinking awhile.
“Mom,” I said, “She thinks no one will marry me if I wait any more.”
“Mom is not counted. Anybody else?”
“Grandma,” I said “She thinks——”
“Mom’s mom is not counted.”
This interrogation went for sometime. Finally, with a suspicious narrow look he asked, “Did you anytime commit the sin of flesh?” This is a priestly way of asking: did you have sex anytime?
“Father, can you please rephrase the question?”
“I cannot rephrase, you know what I mean, answer the question.”
“Certainly not,” I said.
“All right then, you may go now. Come on time for the wedding mass, it will start at 9 sharp, with you or without you.” He warned me.

Wedding day
I was ready at 8:30 one day before. Did she change her mind? Once again I thought. There is a reason for this.
Historically, almost all the time there has been something or the other wrong with creative people. For e.g., E M Forster, Oscar Wilde, Maugham, were gays; In fact Maugham was bisexual! Gorge Eliot was a lady with a male pen-name, she had an affair, probably she wanted to hide that; Hemingway and Van Gogh committed suicide; Salinger went recluse; Rushdie had a Fatwa; Dostoyevsky had epilepsy; Pushkin got wounded in a dual died subsequently; You won’t believe what extent Truman Capote went, to write - In Cold Blood.
My future wife knew at least a few of this. She had done her homework before marrying a creative person (debatable!).
Finally the wedding car arrived. I personally opened the door. Normally best-man does that. Since the mass was on, there was no time for formalities.
“Why so late?”
“Nothing,” she said.
“Can’t you come on time, at least for your marriage?”
“Are we going to fight on our wedding day?”
“All right, All right, my mistake!”
When we entered the church, we had already missed the initial part. The priest was angry for not being on time, for the most important day of my life. I feared that I must have missed the “I DO” part. Nevertheless, just to make sure I said, “I do,” loud enough for the priest to hear.
“This is not where you say, ‘I do’; Let me ask you the question first,” he said.
“You, Ravi bla bla bla , take Reema bla bla bla as your lawful wedded wife?”
“What kind of a question is this? Why do you think I am here today?”
“Just say ‘I Do’ moron”
“Oops! I do!”
When he was about to turn, I said, “Father, you forgot something.”
“When you are going to say: You may kiss the bride now?”

After the mass, one of my aunts started crying, in the church. One kind old man reminded her that it was a wedding——not a funeral. Still the crying went on. Till today it is a mystery, like the lady in the bikini. Many people thought that she might be from my wife’s side. She was not. Even if she was my wife’s aunt, there was no reason to cry. My wife’s home is 10 minutes from my home. This is not only true in my case but also for many Kinnigolians. Now, before you Google it, let me tell you, Kinnigoli is a small obscure town outskirts of Mangalore; quiet, calm, peaceful, unheard——till a recent event changed all that.
If you are a Kinnigolian, chances are, you marry a Kinnigolian! This is unique about my small town. Often I have attended marriages, where I belonged to both the parties. In these cases I have taken two gifts, one for the bride and one for the groom. Often I knew the couple much before they knew each other. I knew their little secrets.
There is something in the air, climate, or simply tap water——which forces the people of Kinnigoli to stick to this place. That’s why time and again Kinnigolians have married Kinnigolians. If you are a modern ambitious Kinnigolian, for example a software engineer, first thing you do is , you run out of this place, probably go to US or Middle East, stay there for a couple of years, make some money, come back, settle down and finally marry a Kinnigolian!
Nevertheless this was a beautiful place. Foreigners were not cheated here. Travelers were not misdirected here. Conductors (of buses, not music) have infamously given change for the biggest currency notes. It was almost a holy place.
Even then, till some time back, people living just 10 miles out side of Kinnigoli were unaware of this little paradise. One time, I strayed, landed in the border town.
“When is the next bus to Kinnigoli?” I asked an old man at the bus stop.
“What is it again?”
“Next bus to Kinnigoli?” I repeated.
“Next bus to what?”
“Kinnigoli? What a stupid name. Now where is that damned place? Is it in Spain?”
The old crone laughed at his silly joke. Now let me tell you sir, modern day old-men are not like olden days old-men. Nowadays old people are more demanding, they think young people should respect them just because they arrived on the planet a bit early.
However, I feel this alienation on the global map or from global spotlight was because there had been no famous person from Kinnigoli. There had been no visionary, cricketer, visionary-cricketer, magician, criminal, serial killer, psychopath or movie star from Kinnigoli. Also for reasons beyond comprehension, famous people have avoided Kinnigoli since time immemorial. Gandhiji visited Mangalore during the independence. However he didn’t visit Kinnigoli. Pope John Paul II traveled thousands of miles to reach Bajpe, he could have traveled another couple of miles to reach Kinnigoli, but he didn’t. Arvind Adiga, the only Mangalorean Booker winner, shy, soft spoken, famously known for staying at Woodland hotel, prefers idli/vada over croissants, simple man, SSLC state topper, as far as I know never visited Kinnigoli.
Unknown, unheard, unspoiled by modernization and MTV, Kinnigoli was patiently waiting for its turn for global recognition. Till a small incident made it much more famous than the wildest dream of any Kinnigolian.

After the marriage mass, we proceeded to the hall where I was shocked to see an almost empty marriage hall.
“We have some time before the people start coming,” said the cameraman. “I have an idea; let’s go to my studio,” he said, “I have some pigeons there. I will give 2 pigeons to both of you. At the count of 3, both of you let off the pigeons, I will click the camera, flash, both of you will be frozen in time, along with the pigeons, paragons of love, isn’t it a marvelous idea?”
“It is too flashy,” I said. It sounded too artificial to me. “Let’s go home and meet the grandparents,” I said. They were too old to attend the marriage.
“I want a gundu gundu son for you,” Grandma said.
“Marriage is not yet over, grandma.”
“What? Speak louder”
“Marriage is not yet over, grandma,” I repeated, louder.
“Hey, is it not you married last time?” grandpa asked.
“That’s my sister, grandpa”
“Don’t shout. I can hear you clearly.” He said.
“God! You guys will drive me nuts.”
“Nuts! What nuts? In this old age——”
“All right both of you, stay calm here. I have to rush back. I will answer all your questions once I am back.”
By the time we reached the hall it was almost time for lunch. Hall was full this time. People were angry and frustrated for keeping them waiting; they wanted to finish the marriage business and move on to the more important next step: lunch. “I will be missing my last bus,” one old man staying in a remote village cribbed.
I had particularly included my favorite dish, Rakti in the menu. Mom was dead against it; Rakti is an expensive dish. By the time I reached the food counter Rakti was all gone. Not having the favorite dish on my wedding made me sad.

A dream comes true
I am married for quite sometime now. No major ups or downs. No tsunamis. People are surprised! I am taking one day at a time.
Sometimes, I wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, and stare with horror at the woman sleeping next to me. It takes me sometime to realize that the woman is my wife. I get up, go to the kitchen, drink a glass of water, and go to sleep again.
And other times, mom’s calls wake me up suddenly. I have told her not to call me at 3 am in the morning. But I guess you can not teach new tricks to old moms.
Few days back, a sudden call woke me up in the middle of the night.
“Mom, please consider the difference in time, before calling”
“Important news!” she said.
“What is it?”
“Your dream has come true! Finally Kinnigoli has become famous.”
“What? O God! I knew it, I knew it, I knew it,” sleep gone, fully alert now, “Did anyone get the national award? Nobel? Solution for Global warming. Crop circle mystery solved? Any one going to the moon from our place? What is it? Tell me, tell me.”
“Nothing like that;” she said calmly, “they just arrested a terrorist in Kinnigoli bus stand.”
“What? You are lying. Mom, if this is some kind of joke, you will regret it”. I warned her.
“Check Daiji; it is on the front page.”
“Ok, hold on, let me start my computer”. Computer took eons to boot.
“Did you see it?”
“No computer is booting,” I said.
“Why so long? Are you using Vista?”
“How many times I have to tell you to stick to XP?”
“Mom, I am the computer guy, I know what is good for me! Hold on here it is——”
I saw the news on front page of Daiji. Saw all those weapons and ammunition, which earlier I had seen only in Arnold Schwarzeneggers Hollywood movies. I crashed into my chair.
Later when I recovered a bit, I checked the “about us” section of Daiji. Looks like, Daiji has 100,000 daily viewers from 180 countries! God, this is no more a kid site. Out of these 100,000 readers, only 10-15 people read my articles. However when there is a negative news, I am sure each and every one of them will read it. Sadly, it dawned on me, that there is no Ctrl+z for this news. There is no undoing this!
Later when I went to bed my wife was awake.
“Where were you?”
“Call from India,” I said.
“Anything critical?”
“Nothing; go to sleep.”
“What were you doing so long?”
“I was checking something on the net. Computer took a long time boot,” I said.
“Are you still using Vista?” she asked.
Note: If you liked this memoir, you might like the others in the series as well. Click Here.  
This article got the most number of votes on daiji. You can read it here.