I know, I know that in pronouncing the word 'Wednesday' the
'D' is silent, and in straining towards a visual pun, I have
forced the word 'wed' to act as the link between the two words
in the title. My apologies. Sometimes the transcribed word
has a life of it's own, existing on paper separate from its
spoken version; and I am hoping my readers normally read soundlessly,
with their eyes, in which case they will 'see' the pun and
not hear the error!)
was a Wednesday. Or, was it a Tuesday? Anyway, even if I am
not sure which day I'm thinking of, the one thing I am certain
of is that in the week of weddings I have faced since I arrived
in Dhaka, that was the one day which was wedding-free! It
was a wedding-less day, a wonderful Wedless day. We checked
and re-checked the social calendar. "Are you sure, there
is no wedding related event either, some holud-tolud, biyer
gaaner-aashor tashor?" I warily ask my pet social animal,
my extrovert husband, before I sigh with relief. "It's
true," he says glumly, "the calendar is absolutely
unmarked. How did that happen?" While he frowns over
this social error, I tie my hair up into a pony tail, drag
on a pair of well worn jeans and steal off to sit on my lake-facing
balcony to finally enjoy the pre-sunset glow.
day I landed in Dhaka in the early evening hours on a much
delayed Biman flight, I hit the ground running. I had been
warned by my husband about the wedding/reception we were to
attend that evening, so I came prepared like a quick-change
artist and within an hour of my entering my apartment I had
changed into my sari and baubles and been sucked into the
fairy land of glamorous Dhaka weddings. I have actually arrived
at the fag end of the season for serial weddings and yet I
am already all wedded out!
is no doubt that attending weddings, apart from the pleasure
of witnessing the children of friends getting married, is
the most efficient way to see scores of friends and family
under one roof. But after the initial hugging and 'helloing'
I feel that though I have sampled the buffet of human contacts,
I have merely killed my appetite without satisfying fully
my hunger for renewing friendships. Metaphorically and nutritionally
speaking, I normally avoid snacks, preferring proper meals;
in my social life too, I like the wholesome feeling of spending
quality time with friends and family on a one-to-one or meaningful
contexts than the encounters, which involve superficial social
niceties and empty promises of 'we must get together', repeated
ad nauseam in one evening.
Winter social season is fun in some ways but not in other
ways. It is great for interactions on a grand scale, but poor
on individual relationships. Operating on a set with a cast
of thousands requires special skills and stamina. I had them
quite well honed for years, but in recent times I find them
rusted. I prefer smaller productions, the home movie versions
of relationships and friendships. Exhibiting oneself, displaying
ones finery is enjoyable every now and then, but when it becomes
a continuous parade, a daily catwalk, exhaustion sets in.
I have merely been into the wedding scene for less than a
week, and already dyspepsia of the spirits is showing up.
I want solitude, I want a quiet evening with a few people.
I want long adda sessions. I want an evening when cosmetics
and high heels are exiled and one can sit cross legged on
the carpet chatting.
that is what we did on the Wedless day. A few of our friends
who also found themselves relatively free came over and we
ate pizza and talked around a noisy table. In the end we discussed
the wedding season too. Among some of the ideas that were
aired was the art of attending multiple marriage ceremonies
in one day. This, obviously, seemed fine for the guests but
not for the hosts. One person who had recently thrown a reception
for her child's wedding was aghast that people should accept
invitations and then blithely leave without staying for dinner
because they had another party to attend. "But do they
not realize that I am paying for every plate at the table?"
It truly is inconsiderate of guests when they agree to come
to a reception at a public venue like a multiple-star hotel
where the charge for every seat at the dinner table is exorbitant.
I believe social courtesy and consideration demands that people
decide from before which invitation they will eat at before
they flit to the next one, and inform their hosts so that
they can include or exclude them from the food list.
is another topic. I maintain that in a city which is so receptive
to innovative ideas especially when it comes to weddings,
the American idea of leaving gift certificates for the bridal
couple at some chosen stores in the city (like furniture,
carpet, porcelain or appliance shops or even art galleries)
where an account could be set up for the couple who could
at their leisure buy items of their choice there would ease
the problem for both giver and receiver. The giving of money
is a provisional solution but not a graceful one. In my hesitation
to using this solution, I actually am guilty of having attended
many a wedding where my husband and I have not given a couple
anything but our blessing and an invitation for the couple
to come and spend a holiday in Rome with us! This has happened
a few times and we have lavished our love and attention on
our visitors in ways that money could not buy. Maybe I should
slip such an invitation (of 'kind' and not 'cash') and give
this to the next bridal couple!
am amazed at the ingenuity of the present day wedding organizers.
I have attended some delightful and entertaining weddings
in Dhaka, with elaborate themes and exquisite decorations.
The only reservation I have is that they seem to happen all
at once, go on for days and that they set up a spirit of competition
that can be wasteful. I am a visitor and have enjoyed witnessing
the style and panache of both the glamorous weddings and the
simple but elegant ones. Yet, somewhere in my heart, I pine
for the understated and small family weddings of the past
too. Why doesn't someone use that as a theme: a sort of Retro
perspective, the 'ghoroa' wedding of the 60's and 70's? It
could become popular enough to become the accepted norm once
passes too quickly. My friends have left; there are pizza
crumbs and salad bits on the table; and still so much to chat
about. Tomorrow I have to take my pony tail to the hairdresser.
Let me linger a moment longer on my balcony. The lake shimmers,
and there is a small boat with a sleeping boatman drifting
on it. (Hmmm... maybe a rural wedding theme, with boats and
guests wearing cotton saris and the gentlemen in colourful