It’s that time of the year – the “get me to the baug on time,” time. The time when the monthly budget goes awry, and if it is a family wedding, it goes absolutely ballistic. The marginal utility of the bank simply does not seem to diminish. Carl Menger who propounded the theory of Marginal Utility must not have taken into consideration Indian weddings. It remains the same as on the day one and the dear for-better-or-for-worse partner seems to be saying “J’ai faim, j’ai faim!” as Marie Corelli puts in very succinctly. And if it is a family wedding her “j’ai faim, her hunger, increases manifold for a gara, or a new saree to go with the mamaiji-ni-kasab-ni-kor, several new sarees/dresses besides the branded/designer shoes, purses and the ladies’ unmentionables. To wear for the engagement, divo-aadarni and madavsaro or for whatever else the complex feminine mind can dream up. And if there is a wedding en famille there is going to be a lot of bickering and tension too that one does not see on the evening of the grand finale when the bride and the groom nod their heads to the presiding priest’s “pasand-e-kardim?” But, it is there…
And there is a wedding in my family, my wife’s family to be more accurate.
It started the day after the Khordadsaal when I heard the partner of the second part cooing like Juliet on one of her better days, calling out “Dalu, O Dalu, wherefore art thou Daaaalooo.” I froze. I know that tone bodes no good. When she goes Shakespearean, I know there is a tempest in the offing! I responded in monosyllables, “Eh-ah, ha!”
“What is it Darabsha? What cause have you to grunt so?” she responded, still very Shakespearean, but not Juliet-ish. Now more like Gonaril or Regan. “What! What! Kai kahech dear?” said I, always diplomatic. “Samjo Darabsha,” replied she, coming down to almost her normal tone, almost! “Aapra Cowsi na lagan che! It will be a big-time affair, a page three shindig, so I shall need some money.”
“Our cow’s going for the slaughter?” I checked myself, “Oops! Sorry politically incorrect thing to say, but damn-it, you mean that good-for-nothing cousin of yours, Cowas, that oaf, that big-in-bulk and small-in-brain dinosaur is getting married??”
“Bus, rahva-deo, you’re no Greek God yourself!” (I’ve been subjected to such observations since my college days, but in all fairness, God was not at his creative best when he sculpted me). She continues, in almost a frigid tone, “Just leave your credit cards on the table when you go – I gotta go shopping.” If a survey is done amongst men, the word ‘shopping’ would win hands-down as the Most Hated Word. Parsi Times should do it.
All day long, that day, my phone was bustling with messages from my bank announcing amounts debited from my account. I felt as if Angina was breathing down my neck. Fortunately, I survived and got home to find the hall strewn with bags and designer labels all around and my Ruttamae and bajuni Dina-the-Designer-addict Daruvalla, the Brand-maniac lolling on the sofa with tall cool glasses of some refreshing drink that normally I would have reached out for Immediately, but at that moment I needed something with more authority, a Parsi-peg of the 18-years-old I have been saving for right occasion. And the present situation qualified. Dina wears branded goods, rarely genuine, often not, but in her company and under her influence, many a housewife is known to have blown away the savings of their hard-working husbands!
And Ruttamae drops the bomb….. “Darabsha, luckily I took aapri (now that’s a debatable word) Dina and she advised me to buy a lehenga from the latest French designer boutique, Les PJs de l’Inde.
“A lehenga from a French designer!! What??? Why did you not go to Faredoon Burjor’s shop or Kerawallas at Dhobi Talao for the legha? Better still, wear your bapaiji’s ijar with the Swiss kor on the bottoms!”
“Darab, stop being facetious!” Her voice now several degees below zero, “Don’t be gross…. crass… stop exhibiting your ignorance. This lehenga is a richly decorated apparel in gold and silver threads and often costs tens of lakhs of rupees. This one cost only 3.5 lakhs, it was for sale and for that price it’s a steal! The young man there told me, and that too in French, ‘Madame, vous serez la plus belle de la balle!’ Oooo so elegant, so chic!” she squealed!
“His steal, no doubt,” quipped I, “but why do you need a lengha or a Pj for a wedding? Our Parsi ladies wear sarees, remember. See how my granny looks in her wedding pic. Simply elegant with kor ni sari, net-no-sadro flowing out of the long sleeve-badian with pearl buttons, a veritable copy of aapri maharani Victoria!”
“Your lack of dressing sense is astounding. For the wedding we will wear the sari à la Parsee for which my sari is being created by one of the best Zardosi craftsmen.” My BP rose a few points. She continued, “We will change to the lehenga after the ceremony. The crème de la crème of society will be there – we have to look our best. After all, my cousin is the director of big a company!”
“Tera *^$#$@* cousin ne to director no spelling bhi nahi avarto hose!! He is made the director from the dispatch clerk only because he married the boss’s daughter!!”
“Chalo bus karo! Aakhi life kari nakhi as a pen-pusher. I can hear your editor screaming over the phone for missing the deadlines and all the gaffes you make.” She does not stop easily. “And listen,” she went on, “Please go and get a new dagli made, the designer one, peli tameri lagan ni junni dagli ghani tight parech and you look like someone excavated from one of the Egyptian tombs in it! A navi paghri also would be a good idea.”
My pal Bill Shakespeare, with whom I got closely acquainted in college, has always something appropriate to say for every occasion and I am reminded of his observation, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.” Yes my Rattiemae and that Dina-the-brand- addict make up a deadly Battalion.
The cousin-blighter’s wedding is now over… everyone had a great time gulping down his father-in-law’s scotch and other stuff including the nine course dinner. And I, I’m feeling stiff, almost in rigor-mortis from the fitting new dagli, pinching new shoes, new paghri… and I’m morose about the large chunk of my savings which had taken years to build, has been blown up! I had been penny-pinching and saving for God-knows-how-long to take a long trip to the Scandinavian countries. I was miserable. The only consolation was the good scotch trying to brighten my spirits. Besides me was my wife’s cousin’s brand new father-in-law keeping up with me peg to peg, probably regretting his darling daughter’s choice of the other half. Yes, slowly, very slowly the fjords and pine forests, the bier-gartens and smorgasbords began to fade. Hope started creeping in. Maybe aapri editor madam will send me on an assignment there to write upon the contribution of Parsi Comunity (if any) settled in Scandinavia! Maybe!