(Disclaimer: I wish I could say that this was a true story, but I cant in all conscience, so this is purely a work of fiction and all the characters and their dialogues are purely imaginary).
The engagement ceremony had officially started by now and the first order of business was the Nalangu ceremony for the bride before the groom came out to join her. We atlast caught a glimpse of the bride as she got on to the stage for the nalangu ceremony, and straightaway understood why she didnt need to go the beauty-parlor, the parlor had to come here and beg her pardon- she was that beautiful and to think that she was going to marry that boor Nitin- who did not have taste enough to appreciate her beauty – for when I had known him in college he had been a pukka MCP. Well, that’s fate, I guess, the beast always gets the beauty. Well, no use drooling over a friends-to-be wife, it was time to go in search of finding one for me – so I went on to do my duty.
After a little searching for, I found Karthik’s sister, Nithya skulking behind a pillar, which amused me mightily as I reflected on the major error Manmadhan had made in missing out this made for him girl. But never one to lose an opportunity afforded I went up to her and on the pretext of asking about her brothers non-arrival from the parlour, I soon had her relaxed and chatting to me. We soon established Facebook profile identities and email ids- as I had an inkling that this was better pursued on line than in person, if I cared to minimize the risk of being discovered by her brothers. Let me tell you, that I was only thinking of the girl’s safety and not mine, when I made this decision.
Anyway, all through the time we spent chatting the girl seemed to be majorly distracted and kept looking over my shoulder, so I had to sneak a look behind me. What I saw, clearly took my breath away. The other pretty girl Renuka, the bride’s sister was standing behind a neighbouring pillar and chatting intimately, too intimately, it seemed to a guy who looked like a north Indian or maybe an Anglo-Indian, fair, tall and skinny, wearing dirty t-shirt with “I Love MUSIC”, torn jeans (clearly not washed over many years) and greasy hair tied back in a pony tail. The audacity of that guy, took my breath away. To come into this place, this most auspicious of occasions and to try and pick up the brides sister here – was there no sense of proprietary , no sense of right or wrong left in this world?
And where was my friend who had fought long and hard for her over me? That useless fellow was nowhere to be seen. If I had to guess, I would say he had gone to eat on the first bandhi- the opening dinner service, where things are supposed to be served undiluted…which might happen as the serving goes on. Not only had he fluffed up his chance at hooking up with his girl, now my girl too was in a dangerously distractive mood when looking at that cozy couple. On deeper inspection, I could see that she was not just jealous of them for their moment, she was jealous of that girl because she was chatting with a cool dude, while she was stuck with a brothers friend and a guest at home to boot- whom she couldn’t get rid of easily.
As this flashed on my brain I decided to quit while I was ahead (after all I had the e-mail id), so making my apologies to Nithya, I made a strategic retreat and then having parked myself accidentally behind another pillar (thank God for wedding Mantap architects) I watched the girl who hid behind the other pillar and watched a couple who themselves were hiding behind a pillar and having the time of their lives. If all this pillar business confuses you, then remember, Indian weddings are filled with snooping aunts and oldies who make it a point to report to mothers and fathers about their offspring’s activities- so everything has to be conducted “behind pillars” so to say….
I felt a sudden touch on my shoulder and turning around saw my long missing friends “Where the hell have you two been?” I asked angrily “you missed your chance”. Manmadhan said “hic, we were just having a before dinner appetizer to boost up my courage and Mama has been coaching me on how to approach that girl I have set my heart on. I am going to dash against her and then…” I stopped him then and said “Too late, another has already made his move while you were mugging up your pick-up lines. Look there” I said and turned around to point to them the happy couple, when to my horror I found that they were not there.
To my further shock, I found the Northie guy now deep in conversation with my girl Nithya, in the exact same easy way he had been chatting up the other girl. As my legs almost buckled, I asked my friends to come away and seating ourselves I gave them the full story. After listening to everything, Mama told us that we had lost the battle before the fight and to continue the campaign under such conditions would be useless “Look guys, forget these stupid Pondy girls, aren’t there girls enough in Chennai? Let’s just enjoy this engagement and go home” which we agreed was eminently sensible advice and followed it. When they announced the wedding date for three months hence, we promised each other to make the same trip again and left.