Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Stepping into Wedlock

Dear Folks, It’s finally marriage time!!! Sangeetha & I invite you to share our joy as we solemnize our marriage on 23rd Oct 2009 (Friday) in Palakkad, Kerala.

In lieu of the fact that this is expected to be our one and only marriage, we have put in some effort in the invitation to draw your attention to this event. We secretly hope that you’d be impressed by our wed(b)site and decide to make it for the marriage:)

Actually there are a few more reasons:

1. The marriage is in KERALA…Do you need a bigger incentive?????

2. It is scheduled for the weekend, bordering Diwali…2 days to relax outside your workplace; isn’t that a relief? You owe it to your family, don’t you?

3. Didn’t someone say that getting a couple married is a very noble thing?? There are more reasons, but I’m sure you are the best judges…


Oct 23rd, 2009 – a bright Friday (hopefully, the rains would take a detour from the incessant pouring) will be a momentous day in our lives – Sangeetha and I would enter into wedlock, after 9 long months of family arranged courtship. Obviously, this is a joyful occasion and we are looking forward to it but there is a also a small sense of apprehension fuelled down by cynics, who seem to enjoy the idea of running down the idea of a marriage.

Every second person I meet smiles at me with that wry smile telling me that these are my last days of freedom and so I need to enjoy as much as I can. If you hate parties and don’t get drunk or smoke, then maybe the conventional ideas of fun don't work; being a Mallu vegetarian teetotaler is a kind of an oxymoron, actually.

But why does everyone have to relate marriage to loss of freedom – this must seem to be the mother of all cliches that I have heard. It is possibly the easiest thing to do- absolve oneself of one's responsibilities by blaming the pillars, architecture, construction and everything else. But I guess it's more to do with our general attitude in life. Everyone says the same thing and if you differ, you stand out which can be tricky and so you go along with what the majority says.

Anyway, we started our Journey in January – 6th Jan to be precise (people tell me that remembering this date will be help me score a brownie point in my marriage later) when we met in Palakkad in Sangeetha’s house. Nothing great about the meeting – it was a standard South Indian boy-meets-girl meeting arranged by the respective parents, under their careful eyes. It is not so filmy but being the city lad entering a small town, you are probably given more respect. Also there are suspicious eyes peering at you, from different vantage points in the house - all spies out to report to the mistress about the alien who has just landed.

Confession – the first thing that bowled us all over was the place, in the middle of the town, there was this nalakettu tharavad (ancestral home) with a temple and pond and a quiet serenity about it. Most of us would agree that seeing such a place is nothing unusual in Kerala but all this in the centre of the town was a real turn on and indeed surprising.

The Boy-Girl meeting is a kind of an anti-climax, I guess. You want to ask so many things but out there in the room with only a pair of eyes watching you, you suddenly run out of ideas. The questions come to an end quickly enough and you are wondering what more to ask. Let’s be honest about this –there is nothing that you can actually infer from this 20-30 minute ritual but folks, that’s all that we have before making the most important decision in our lives.

Parents seriously believe that they have given enough time for us to decide; their standard line is time is never enough when it comes to taking such decisions, so how does it matter??? When asked what kind of girl you want, I had no answer and most people do not have a clear idea about what they want, so an arranged marriage helps.

An arranged marriage brings two strangers under a roof and then they spend the rest of their lives to build a home. It can be scary because you know it is a gamble; you don't know your future spouse at all till you spend time with him/her but so many of us go with the flow. I guess its a pretty practical approach - your family has done some R&D about the girl's family (not the girl, mind you!!!) and you have a buzzer round like situation where you have to say Yes or No; man, that's a perfect Catch-22 situation. There are no violins playing in the background, no bulbs glowing in unison and no flowers bloomin out of season but a decision still needs to be taken....

Distant courtships require ample mobile usage and Thank God, that the mobile is every where now; really wonder how the previous generation survived long distance relationships with only the humble letter. And when the company foots your mobile bill, you cannot ask for more - every call given by the girl can then be treated as a missed call and you can score well on that aspect.

We all agree that these months are the romantic ones when every mistake appears innocent and every good act gets magnified as an act of love. The long wait has a seasonal flavour to it and carries a tinge of longing, punctuated by raging hormones of course. After all, in most parts of India, marriage is the only institution which helps in bringing some form of gender intimacy. And it's funny to see relatives gushing about how lucky our parents are that both of us (brother and me) opted for arranged marriage - making a real virtue out of a necessity!!!

Eventually, once the curtain is drawn, we need to understand that it is time to be more realistic and take important choices. Will we, as a couple, learn it the hard way or learn from everyone around us?? No answers now - time will tell whether this cherished feelings continue once the dust settles down but till then the love euphoria goes on.

I have no way of knowing whether I am marrying the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. Marrying the right person is such a mirage - is there such a thing as a right person?

In this brilliant conversation with Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams remarks- "Will, she's been dead two years and that's the shit I remember. Wonderful stuff, you know, little things like that. Ah, but, those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I knew about. That's what made her my wife. Oh and she had the goods on me, too, she knew all my little peccadillos. People call these things imperfections, but they're not, aw that's the good stuff. And then we get to choose who we let into our weird little worlds. You're not perfect, sport. And let me save you the suspense. This girl you met, she isn't perfect either. But the question is: whether or not you're perfect for each other. That's the whole deal. That's what intimacy is all about".

A final word on this cynicism about marriage - it may be a difficult experience but it can be a rewarding and learning too (atleast I hope so). Living alone and loving oneself is easy (that's what we have been doing all these years) but sharing the feeling of love with a third person is important and tricky.

It is easy to run down this institution but this has survived centuries and is still going strong. The society needs it and we give ourselves a chance to share this love, after all, it is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love. We all want that fairy tale ending which says "And they lived happily ever after" but that means bloody hard work and getting married is just the first step in that direction.

********Geet and Deep refers to us only, lack of space; so typical in Mumbai:)…