I’ve been away for a while from this blog, and I have an excuse. Our daughter got married. Not that it’s that much of an excuse; she and her fiance (now husband) planned everything themselves, occasionally delegating operational details to us.
Some very few readers of this blog might remember my wedding. I say very few, because it involved a lunchtime foray to the Old Customs House, a government office full of shelves covered in ancient varnish and equally ancient files, graced only by a spectacular old fig tree out front. That was followed by a lunch at the Sea Lounge, and a return to work. That evening, at a friend’s apartment, we recited vows that we’d written ourselves. Soon afterward, we went to my parents’ home in Delhi, and had an exchange of garlands under the sweet-scented madhu malati creeper on their verandah, and recited the same vows. My parents insisted on a wedding reception; my father being a scrupulously law-abiding civil servant, it was a modest (though very pleasant) tea-time affair at the IIC, within the bounds of the Guest Control Order. And because we’d suddenly been transferred to Tokyo, even the invitations had to be corrected by hand when the date was changed. (And our families first met each other many years after we were married. They liked each other immediately, making us think we probably should have introduced them earlier.) We didn’t even have telephones, much less the Internet which hadn’t then been invented.
This wedding was not that wedding.
This wedding involved several events, and a meeting of the clans. We not only met our co-inlaws, we exchanged online greetings. As with our parents, we liked each other immediately; and we were glad our youngsters, unlike our young selves, hadn’t waited seven years to introduce us.
Had it been in India, we’d probably have arranged it all and outsourced everything. It wasn’t India, it was California, and anyway having ignored our own parents’ well-meaning advice when it was our turn, we certainly had forfeited any right to interfere. The young couple did everything themselves, mostly on the Internet. They researched wedding planning on the internet, read wedding blogs, and found online checklists, and got their own checklists set up. They located their vendors on the Internet, and used Yelp to evaluate them. They hired the make-up artist and the photographer and the caterers and a seamstress who adjusted the wedding gown and made sari blouses, and the mehndi artist. And on finding the mehndi artist’s website had a wonderful decorated cake, we commissioned one of those as well.
When they had their game-plan set up, it was a thirteen-page handbook sent by email to the key personnel. (Living in multiple cities and time-zones, email was an important means of communication.) They designed their own invitations, printed each one out on the computer printer, and addressed them all by hand.
This was a wedding that arrived on our doorstep in cardboard cartons. They bought everything they needed online: The table cloths. Vases. Candle-holders. Trays. A fire-bowl. Personalized mugs. Dried rose petals. 400 fresh roses. Fortunately, we had space to store everything, there was a lot. Later, wedding presents started to arrive, also in cardboard cartons…
They had a legal wedding, but unlike the Old Customs House, this was at San Francisco’s gracious City Hall, a domed structure with a great marble rotunda and classical carvings. The bride wore white. Her brother brought her red roses.
Then came the ceremonial wedding. The young couple asked our friend Sri to design a kolam geometric pattern especially for them, and she came up with one that was simple, elegant, and incorporated — at their request — an elephant. Using, of course, a computer program to do it, rather than the more traditional rice-flour in water used as a paint on a mud floor…
They requested our friend Aks to officiate, working with a ceremony they wrote themselves. (This was another point of commonality — but our ceremony was maybe a third as long and had no officiant.) It incorporated Shakespeare’s sonnet 116, and the Gayatri mantra — both found online (with a translation of the Sanskrit, too). It incorporated vows and seven steps and I dos and I wills. It had a role for all the parents, asking us to welcome the new member of our families. (“We will!” we all shouted, enthusiastically.) It happened around a fire, made in the fire-bowl that arrived on our doorstep earlier. And it included an exchange of special-ordered garlands that arrived at the site that very morning…
The bride wore purple. The bridegroom wore a natural silk kurta embroidered in gold. These items were possibly the only major things that weren’t purchased or planned online (though we did check out the India Saree Palace on Yelp before sourcing the clothes from there…)
A wonderful time was had by all. And we’re thrilled to have a new member to our family and a whole new set of relatives!
Wonderfully written Rupa. Do you have photographs of the new relatives ?
I’ll post some on Facebook soon…
i was with you in CJM Delhi Its nice reading your blog Check out the old school Pic on fb cjm page .
Glad to know your daughter got married stay connected. Regards sunita
Dear Rupa and Ambi,
Please accept my sincere good wishes on you gaining a son, as well as an extended family.
Rajan, and Sunita,
Many thanks! And thank you for re-appearing after so very many years!