I am not an effervescent social butterfly. Since I am not made to be one, I more often than not try and avoid being one. But the last week has seen way too many opportunities to meet people spring up. It seems everyone is getting married. The single population among the Tamizh people must have seen a sharp decline in the last one week.
Everyone is getting married in AC Kalaynam Mandapams. It’s been raining in Madras for the last few days. The A/C had to be switched off on a number of occasions, because we don’t handle cold so well. I wonder if there is a clause that ensures some money back under such circumstances.
The rain notwithstanding, AC Kalyanam Mandapams are very annoying. With the some ten thousands of Kancheepuram Pattu generating immense quantities of heat, the whole exercise is futile. And then the homam anyway needs cross ventilation, so the AC is just to make the payyan veedu people happy, I suppose.
Weddings do serve two purposes though:
1. The Kalayanam Saapaadu
2. The Kutcheri
The first is the key purpose of a wedding, from the point of view of people besides the bride and the groom. It is also the best way to evaluate if a wedding went well and the likely happiness in married life of the couple. The paayasam, rasam and thayir are the most important things that one must evaluate. The paayasam needs to be thickened adequately. The subtle flavour of perungayam and kothamalli in the rasam must give you a high. And the thayir should neither be too sour or too bland. And it should not be that gooey annoying texture or have lumps. Oh and the temperature is critical, even if it can’t be served cold, it should most certainly not be warm.
However, one notices a trend that is slightly alarming. The paal paayasam is getting endangered. All kinds of things besides rice are getting used – like aval, semiya, javvuarassi. If one were to evaluate this from an economic point of view, it makes no sense. A kilo of ponni rice is priced at rupees 22 at the Murugan Stores in T Nagar and is probably even cheaper at Subhiksha. In contrast, javvuarassi costs rupees 35. From a calorific point of view also one makes no savings. And the taste drops down by a few notches. It is just the laziness of the caterer that has resulted in such a thing. The gooeyness of the texture of the javvuarassi creates the illusion that the milk has been thickened.
Of course, one of the weddings that we went to had splendid food. As we walked out eating the beeda, amma made a quick dash to the kitchen and got the card of the contract person.
Thankfully all the kalyanams we went to had the reception after the Muhurtham. I am just too conservative and pessimistic, I suppose. What if the thaali does not get tied and you click many pictures with strange man? So much can happen over one night.
The kutcheris were mostly bearable, barring one that featured something called “Light” music. Light music = Much noise and heavily breathing into a mike. Besides it is hardly exciting to hear a song that has anyway been ruined by Udit Whatizname anyway.
The others did not feature any of the biggies though. No TM Krishna or Sudha Ragunathan sorts, but many young artists performed. Every kalyanam apparently featured an alleged ‘prodigy’. Too many prodigical Tamizh artistes one might derive.
The saddest part is, nobody ever listens to these kutcheris. Ever. People sit in the front row and talk very very loudly. Me and appa always make it a point to at least listen to two songs, no matter how obscure and bad the artist be. Even if it meant that I had to go through the ordeal of listening to one, not a prodigy anymore lady kill one of our family favorite songs, immortalized by the late DK Pattammal, Eppadi Padinaro. The Karnataka Devagandhari went so awry, it probably reached Karnataka or even more North than that.
Of course, the only purpose of a wedding is to show off potential brides and grooms to potential “other” gothram people. During the Oonjal, amma made sure that I was among the crowd that sang, Gauri / Sita Kalyanam. Amma can be such an embarrassment at times.
However, I had my moment of revenge. Many maamis came up to me and asked me, Enna height? It is a little embarrassing to be this Tamizh girl who is taller than most Tamizh boys. I mumbled some outrageously incorrect number. Like the elders always say, a hundred lies are legitimate when it comes to gothram migration. People lie about skin tone, weight, IQ and non existent skills. One might argue that you cannot lie about your height, but if amma says I can, then I can. And I will. And I must. By the time, I got to the fourth wedding, I was bored of lying. And besides I am twenty three, I can’t marry now. All single Tamizh boys are 28 and above. I would rather wait till I am 25, when I will meet the now 26 but then 28 year old boys. So I tell maami at the fourth wedding that I am 5’8”. Of course, I am not. But she believes me. And seemed sufficiently disgusted even. Amma was livid. In her anger, we almost forgot to take the Taambolam Pai and the oddly shaped stainless steel dabba. But some helpful person spotted us walking away empty handed and gave us the same.
Kalyanams are great place to spot trends and understand the mood of the people. After the dull and subtle colours that one saw during the last year wedding season, thanks to slightly posh stores such as Sundari Silks and RMKV, it seems Pothy’s and Nalli’s have stuck back this year. The gaudy and bright colours are back. Tradition is back. Mambazham Yellow, Parrot Green and MS Blue were omnipresent. Weddings are lovely, mostly because T Nagar sparkles, shimmers and dazzles you from every corner.
The loot at the end of the week has been – 14 coconuts, 4 stainless steel dabbas, two blouse pieces, one silver lamp and a number of plastic and paper bags with Vinayagar of all shapes embedded into them.
Amma is still mad at me.
I have learnt to SMS and when I write to T Anna saying that, Amma is fuming, the intelligent dictionary in my mobile phone helpfully suggests that instead of Amma, I should type, Bomb.