I sit in my study dead-set, determined that my pen, at any given moment, shall definitely not swerve into the Covid Zone. That is, all we have endlessly been reading, writing and talking about. And the less said of our TV channels, the better—same old high-end doctors or those belonging to the exclusive medical fraternity spouting the spiking statistics, and how, only upon the delivery of that much-needed vaccine would be in control of this pandemic…every evening we are subjected to the same beating dead horse exercise, as if the same stale information is inching us closer to a collective cure. Speaking of ‘talking’ about Corona, we do so, with masks well-covering the mouth and nose, often making us unrecognizable to our own selves, once this veil cloaks the face. The mirror peering back a pair of eyes and forehead—giving the appearance of hoodlums about to break into a bank, whisking away with all the dosh. A few humid months back ‘marketing masks’ in all different colours and designs became the order of the day. So, if you are dressed for the most part in fuchsia or taupe, one can coordinate the mask with the said ensemble, and for those who like to look bling there is an entire array of stone-studded kinds even of the Swarovski variety. Fine, to take Covid-19 in stride, hang on, and get on with whatever job be on hand but…but being the proud owner of an entire clothesline of masks?! Is it not, rather light-minded to put it politely, to be placing in-bulk online orders for the purchase of fancy face covers?! After all hundreds of thousands have succumbed to this virus, others having battled their way to recover…Duty propelling them to survive—children still young, spouse holding on to a part-time job, aging parents needing a hearing-aid or to be wheeled into hospital for cataract surgery for them to contentedly view Netflix or read the pile of unread books or even better perhaps, take in the sight of those budding, wintery flowers…see what I mean?! Try hard as one might, Covid makes its way, navigates itself through fissures which, over the months, we have assiduously been tiling over, in a bid to normalise everyday living! Only a few minutes ago, there I was sitting companionably with myself sipping on a steaming hot cup of latte, delightfully tearing into half a croissant covered with a soft sliver of butter, waiting to pen some tale other than this epidemic, but might I say, at this point, at least there is no refuge from this topic, even if it simply crops up unthinkingly. On my second latte, and now know the sojourn we shall be taking. Yes, coffee does get the mind’s muscles working, providing packageable content in our courtesy Covid-19 overworked device-driven lives. (Shall remember to not touch upon how the head develops a prolonged ache after a series of Zoom meetings on account of the ‘Work from Home’ mantra!) This is the season of Shaadis. November to February, the officially astrologically proclaimed months, where the wedding stars are aligned in such a fashion that the, `they lived happily ever after’ comes carved in stone. Here the constellation of stars put in a line-up, confidently foretelling that unions sealed during this period come with a life-long guarantee of the, ‘Marriage made in Heaven’ jingle. So there we have the Great, Grand Indian Wedding. Invitation cards, ancient history—they don’t come in paper. A jewel-studded box filled with Belgium chocolate, a scroll royale clipped with a diamond look alike gleaming stud, one of the many promises, of many an invite to a wedding commencing with Mata Ki Chowki, followed by a tacky or classy (depending on how one sees it…) Parisian wine `n’ cheese soiree after which a Punjab di Kudi slips into a Spanish Senorita with the easy elan of only a global beti. Heard of a symphony of shehnais and violins?! However, before I go on must for a brief minute halt in my tracks. These theme parties with maybe even wedding destinations flying the guests into high-crust resorts in Greece, Italy, Thailand…with food stations, correction, chic connoisseur revolving counters besides liveried and white-gloved waiters carrying platters of hors d’ oeuvres bringing the entire world’s grand cuisine right into the fairytale castle erected for this gala event—can’t pass off as a wedding, would you not say?! Heard of golgappas filled with tequila shots doing the rounds on a carousel?! Or 20 kinds of pasta accompanied with crispy little bits of countless assorted kinds of breads…Champagne flowing through faucets served in Czechoslovakian flute glasses?! This just a drop in the bucket. And it goes without saying that the stated wedding scenario only the cash-rich can revel in, yet all segments seem to do a copy-cat number. One cannot expect them not to join in the party, even if it is a xeroxed, pirated version of the boastful, trumpeter real Mc Coy! So if five lehngas or sherwanis are needed for two choreographed events, with make-up artists ready with their boxes of war-paint, then so be it. One lehnga can be bought for Rs 1,500, another for Rs 5,000, yet another for Rs five lakhs and yes, the price tags can be infinite. Ditto for sherwanis or whatever ethnic wear the groom and his buddies wish to showcase themselves in. And if one happens to be penniless or practical or a perfect balance of both, then renting out whichever ‘costume’ the gleefully viable option. Yes, attire on hire, right down to knock-off Chanel bags and belts! However, Covid-19 has made these weddings redundant or put them on hold for an unseeable time. Therefore, Shahrukh Khan shan’t be able to dance away at an Ambani wedding till the wee hours of the morn—Anything for Money, Honey! Adnan Sami’s fingers shan’t go bone-tired playing, without coming up for air, on the piano; he having been flown into Delhi to perform at some Industrialist’s daughter’s mehndi ceremony. Funny how Shashi Tharoor exported a big bang Shaadi to good ol’ U.S. of A. Sonny Ishaan’s wedding in Virginia with gold brocaded sherwanis and bejeweled turbans and a sea of well-heeled guests thronging in. The only departure from the traditional trappings—a white coach drawn by white horses steered by a white man dressed in a Paul Revere sort of uniform. Marketing Overseas India or an out-and-out way of showing the white man his place?!
Low-Key weddings against our DNA?! Shall have to seek the services of a doctor to give his prognosis. This show-off culture on its way out, and once it becomes the `new normal’, it shall ostensibly be here to stay.
Dr Renée Ranchan writes on socio-psychological issues, quasi-political matters and concerns that touch us all.