Saturday, October 30, 2010


Life is not a race. Irrespective of whatever you see people around you doing, it is not OK if you keep on pushing yourself to the extreme every so often. More frequently you do so, more easily the fatigue would settle in and more early you will have to get your heart or brain replaced. If you do get a time to enjoy with your family, then chose that option instead of working overnight in an overstressed office. Take a break every so often. Try to enjoy the life. Love your near and dear ones and share things with them. Bring gifts home and not office work!

Life is not only YOURS. There are a lot of other stakeholders to it. Despite whatever you feel like, there would be at least one more person whose happiness or misery depends on you. If you feel sad, then that person might be feeling even more so just because you feel that way. And for sure, your smile would brighten the day for that person too!

Life is meant to be shared with others. Were it not so… please realize that YOU would have been the central character in “Christmas Carols” and not Uncle Scrooge. Count your blessings if you have a big, noisy family because it also means that you so many people to share your life with; people to take care of you when you are ill; people for you to confide in when did something stupid and people to protect you when you did something stupider; people to join you in the bandwagon when you ride that ghodi and go to your marriage.

Life is not your personal fiefdom. Please understand that if a particular person has had the misfortune of working with you; that does not mean that you own him or her. It would not exactly be a disastrous mistake to congratulate them for anything, big or small. And a “Well done” once in a while would not go amiss.

On a lighter note:

Life is not your personal mobile message draft option. Please do realize that while typing LOL sounds kewl while chatting or in messages, always keep in mind that it is not to be used in live, verbal communication. It is high time that you realize that ACTUALLY laughing is perfectly acceptable in normal everyday communication; though not when you receive some bad news. Laughing then would only get you into a strait jacket and be deemed a nut case.

Please do realize that the real life not just a level in Need For Speed. It is much more. Hence, it is not cool that you hit an old woman crossing the road and run away. If you do that, you are bound to be caught. Unless you are the son of a politician, no matter how lowly, a film star or the son of any kind of billionnaires, even if it is a Mustard oil billionaire. High speed chases are not very common in the real life, especially considering the unique infrastructure of suburbs like Mumbai and Kolkata where a pedestrian barely gets space to walk, let alone drive. Delhi, thanks to the immaculate planning of Shielaji and Kalmadi sahib, has more potholes than a typical Emraan Hashmi movie, the roads are shot to hell and hence no chance to drive fast.

Images Courtesy:,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An open letter to Arundhati Roy

This article was posted by Pagal Patrakar at his blog. The original rights to the article lie with him.


Hey woman,

Congrats, you are back in news! You were trending on Twitter and featured in Google trends. And thanks, you made many guys look up to understand what sedition meant. You are really of some use!

Well, I read your statement, and I loved it because it was not a fucking 30,000 words essay! Anyway, I had some reactions, please find them below (in bold and in red, adjectives that you prefer?):

Kashmir, Oct. 26: I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. (Wonderful, you are going places woman, wished you had cared to write something from Bihar or UP; people are suffering due to neglect and bad politics there too, but wait, stay where you are.) This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. (LOL! You read and believe newspapers? But I guess that’s what you do when you wake up in the morning – take up a newspaper and find if your name appears anywhere. If not, you plan how it can.) I said what millions of people here say every day. (Millions of people say benc**d in India every day, that doesn’t sanction that term any “social acceptance”) I said what I, as well as other commentators, have written and said for years. (Absolutely, you have NEVER said or written anything NEW. You just pick up issues, after reading the morning newspapers, and join the bandwagon.) Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. (Sorry, I didn’t really care to read the transcript of your speeches. Can you make them a bit shorter? I’ve an attention span problem.) I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; (Oh, Kashmir is an area under military occupation? Thanks, will update my general knowledge and Wikimapia, but wait, how come you were allowed there? Don’t all democratic rights cease to exist in an area under military occupation? Or were you an “embedded activist” like those embedded journalists of CNN in Iraq during the Gulf War?) for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; (Really? Or are you fucking kidding me?) for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; (What the fuck is a “Dalit soldier” with a “grave”? I thought Dalits existed only within Hinduism and Sikhism, where there are no graves. Oh okay, next you are writing a 300,000 essay on why Dalits are neither Hindu/Sikh/Christian/Muslim nor Indian, and why the need justice and liberty from the tyrannous Brahminical Indian state?) for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state. (Oh great, so this whole country is under some kind of occupation – police state – what the fuck, you opened my eyes, where is the red flag?)

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. (Yes, “last year”, and you are visiting the place “now” because your heart bleeds for a common Kashmiri.) I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. (Wait a minute; you were also in Delhi a couple of weeks back. Did you meet any Kashmiri Pandit, for whom you claimed to be seeking justice in the earlier paragraph?) We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get insaf — justice — from India, and now believed that Azadi — freedom — was their only hope. (Have you seen the Bollywood movie Gulaal? You can sit in such circles almost in each part of this country and listen to cries of Azadi from imagined powers. There are Brahmins in this country, whom you think control everything, who feel “trapped” in the modern state that is implementing reservations for everyone except them.) I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. (Did you meet that Indian policeman who lost his eye after a 5 kg stone hit his eye?) I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones. (I once traveled with a Hindu in Ahmedabad, who told me how Muslims had created an “acid pool” in “their area” and used to throw Hindus in them during riots; there have been many riots in Ahmedabad, not just during 2002, for your kind information. Of course I didn’t believe him and went out to write an essay or even a fake news article. I don’t believe people easily and form opinions. If the state can’t be trusted blindly, that doesn’t mean I’d trust every other non-state actor blindly. Oh, non-state actor!)

In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up. (Yes, there are idiots who take you seriously.) On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. (ROFLMAO!) It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. (But you are fine and your conscience is not disturbed if someone does the same to people and force them to say that they are NOT Indians?) It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. (“just” one or “just one”? People like you are surely not going to let this society be “just one”. It would be broken into Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, Brahmins, Christians, Poor, Rich, Women, etc. I want my society and country to be “just one” for god’s sake!) Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. (Yes, yes, pity the nation that produces such writers. Today I’m proud of Chetan Bhagat, seriously.) Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free. (Yes, I’d pity the nation only if you were “actually” jailed, and you won’t be, dear, because this is a country that doesn’t need your pity.)

Another Interesting read here!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Good wins over bad. Or does it?

In our history, we have been told, that there are several instances of good winning over bad. Be it in the case of Ramayana where the good Lord Ram scored a victory over the Ravana. Ravana was a bad guy who had kidnapped her ladyship Seeta. And Lord Rama had to fight an epic battle to behead all the ten heads of Ravana and take back what was rightly his. A victory for good. Doesn’t really matter if her ladyship was put on trial and then had to be “absorbed” by mother Earth herself.

Let us take the case of Mahabharata. The good Pandavas were wronged by Kauravas and cheated out of their kingdom. Leave alone the fact that they were gambling in the first place, they were wronged nonetheless. So they had to employ Lord Krishna’s service to gain back what was rightly theirs. Another victory for good.

So it is all hunky dory. Isn’t it?

Now let us take a look at the real life, shall we? I will talk about three separate instances.

Firstly, my personal favorite, The CWG scam: Here is an event which has been in the limelight for over five years. The state and central governments, having made enormous efforts to host a game of international stature in the country, were having their fruits fulfilled. So it would have been logical for one to conclude that no efforts should be spared in ensuring the games went smoothly. But they couldn’t have been any more wrong about it. well partly right because no expenses were spared, that’s for sure. But the games didn’t go amoothly from any perspective. Till the last moment, no work was complete, the roads were dug up with utility infrastructure in place. Contractors and suppliers made crores and crores out of the good taxpayers’ money. The hard earned money which should, ideally, have been utilized to provide infrastructure to the general public. The Delhi public, in turn, faced additional hassles with many roads being closed down, dedicated blue CWG lane, dug up and not repaired roads and so on and so forth. So where did the good win over the bad?
Some might say that the investigations are on and the culprits would be properly punished. But we all know how the ‘investigations’ proceed.

Secondly, the much publicized hit and run cases:The jats turned millionaires courtesy M/S DLF, sons and daughters of rich politicians and Forbes people, film stars have been a victim. Not a victim of the hit and run cases but the victim of excessive media coverage when THEY hit and run some stupid migrant laborer sleeping on the pavements and dividers just because they own a BMW or a Mercedes or even a Honda City does nicely in these cases. And for no fault of theirs. After all, the stupid laborers are the ones to be blamed for all this. Why did they have to sleep on the pavement not in a thirty seven storied residential complex in Mumbai? Just because they were poor enough to not afford any accommodation is no excuse. So these spawns of the riches are forced to pull all their “contacts” to not go into a jail or custody. How does it matter if some laborers, the sole bread earner of their families, die in these accidents? After all “Aisse bade bade shehron mein aissi chhoti chhoti batein hoti rehti hain” (Such small incident do keep on happening in such big cities, a modified dialogue from DDLJ)
Another victory for good over bad; or is it?

Thirdly, just for fun sakes, the ubiquitous Vamp and Villains in the stupid box: I am sure that a lot of readers are females or have females in their families. And if it is an Indian female that we are talking about, ten to one, she will be hooked to one or more of the gazillions of the Saas/Ba/Ammaji/Ma-sa and Bahu/Vadhu/Bindani drama serials. And please do not think that only females are the ones addicted to it. Several men are also equally addicted to these shows; could be for some different reasons altogether, but hooked nonetheless. So, having looked at these serials, there are bound to be more than one vamps and villains in the storyline whose sole purpose in life would be to undermine the position of authoritative figure and/or the main protagonist. In case of vamps, they can be easily recognized by the tightly draped sarees which look as if they have been plastered over them, an elegantly created rats’ nest on the top of their head, ear rings as big as hoop-la’s and a weird bindi design every episode sometimes different even in a single episode. She always cries in front of everyone but has a sly grin on the face whenever one of her dastardly plots materializes. The main protagonist lady can be recognized by the demure attitude, lame and lack luster clothing, inane attempts to keep the family together and a fake smile in front of everyone and tears when she is alone. Who do you think is the winner in this case?

And they say good always wins over bad!

Images Courtesy:,, Zeenews, discusstv

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flaunting Riches

Given its Brahmins and Dalits, India has always been a land of contrasts. It has also always epitomised the concentration of wealth. But no one salivated earlier over how rich the rich were or how they spent their money, as they are doing now over Mukesh Ambani’s new mansion. The public and private domains were strictly separate.

The overlapping of the two has not only exposed the rich to pitiless scrutiny but also distracted attention from the government’s neglected responsibilities. India lags behind many sub-Saharan countries in almost all the indices of modernity not because of the Ambanis, Mittals, Mallyas and Modis, but because of our political and administrative establishments.

The real charge of crass vulgarity that can be levelled at the rich is not levelled because almost all Indians who can afford it indulge in ostentatious display. West Bengal’s Durga Puja is an example of tasteless competitive showmanship.

The spotlight is on the rich because we live now in a more open society. Universal suffrage fosters the illusion of participative decision-making. Tub-thumping politicians whip up populist sentiment and talk resoundingly of equality. Apart from pandering to mass sentiment, it distracts attention from their own misdemeanours and extravagances — marble monuments, for instance. With the media forever on the lookout for titillating titbits, it’s news when Ambani buys a Rs 642-crore luxury jet as a birthday present for his wife.

The information revolution places a premium on immediacy. The past is another country. Those who gloat over the number of Indians in the Forbes list of billionaires forget that time was when India occupied the Number 1 global slot: His Exalted Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar was reckoned the world’s richest man. Few asked how he had accumulated his wealth or questioned how he spent it.

The justification for inquisitiveness is something called social consciousness and responsibility. The argument is that the rich owe a debt to the poor and that extremes of wealth and riches are intolerable. Conspicuous consumption is condemned for the same reason.

But whatever lofty moral arguments might be invoked, the real underlying reason for condemning lavish displays of spending is fear: the rich must for their own sake take care not to provoke the envy and enmity of the poor who are always the majority. The French and Russian Revolutions are history’s warnings against unbridled and careless extravagance.

These are western notions and, significantly, most of the knowledge about the rich that excites India’s media comes from the West. A society in which the caste system is firmly entrenched does not recoil in horror when an import ban is temporarily suspended to benefit one polyester tycoon.

Social consciousness

But the West finds such manipulation outrageous for western society has evolved notions of social consciousness and responsibility. Western governments have achieved an egalitarian ethic and devised a social welfare net. The western media, therefore, goes to town on what it considers immoral spending like the jewel-studded 18-carat gold faucets on Sir Bernard Docker’s 860-tonne yacht, Shemara, in the 50s. Now the stories are about rich Indians and India’s media picks them up.

That is how Indians know that the most expensive home in Britain is the £117-million Kensington townhouse that Lakshmi Mittal (who spent £34 million on his daughter’s five-day wedding at the Palace of Versailles built by King Louis XIV of France) bought for his son. Another Indian tycoon, Bhupendra Kumar Modi, paid nearly £10 million for one of Singapore’s most expensive penthouse flats in Marina Bay.

Vijay Mallya, who spent £1.1 million last year on buying five relics of Mahatma Gandhi, reputedly has 26 residences around the world. Reports say the new home he is planning in Bangalore will soar to 30 storeys against Ambani’s 27.

Such details tell us a great deal about the quality of the people who make money but that doesn’t mean they can be blamed for Mumbai’s slums or our shameful public services. The most we can accuse them of is not investing enough in schools, vocational training, hospitals and recreational facilities. Instead, they prefer to store their wealth abroad. Some salt it away in concealed accounts. Ratan Tata prefers to acquire automobile and steel corporations in Britain and Singapore and reportedly donate $50 million to Harvard.

The solution does not lie in redistributing the wealth already created but in encouraging others to generate more wealth while also spending more on amenities like potable water, sanitation, housing and hygiene that western societies take for granted.

India’s self-image today is that of a superpower but a country does not become one only because a few people are filthy rich. Similarly, it’s equally facile to suppose that India isn’t a superpower because 800 million Indians survive on around Rs 70 a day. The British working class lived in abysmal squalor when Britannia ruled the waves.

The solution lies in unleashing the collective creativity of the Indian people and enabling them to be partners in the present great experiment. One key to that empowerment would be effective free and compulsory primary education throughout the country.

Image Courtesy: Geekologie, Rainbowskill

The article was published here by Sunanda K Datta-Ray

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Racist India

Article first published as Racist India on Blogcritics.

Recent news is full of a New Zealander TV show host, Paul Henry, making fun of the surname of Delhi CM ‘Sheila Dixit’ pronunciating it as ‘Dick Shit’ (Link). Earlier, the same host was making fun of their Governor General of Indian origin, following which he was summarily suspended for a fortnight. (Link).

Now, it is not for the first or second or even third time that such a thing has happened. We have had incidents in which TIME, an erstwhile leading magazine, published an article by Joel Stein here leading to the entire furor; ultimately leading to TIME publishing an apology. We have had an Indian actress win a Big Brother season sailing on the popularity generated by such racial comments when she was called racist names by Jade Goody (Link).

But this post is not supposed to be an outrage against such incidents. I do not intend this post as a rant against how the world is not giving India the respect that is due to it. This post is intended to question us alleging anyone else is being racially prejudiced when we Indians are the biggest racists ever.

A conventional racial system of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudras has been prevalent in Indian society for quite some time now. This distinction was based on the kind of work that people were doing and often ended up creating a divide between the different factions of the society.

Modern India follows a more culturally-based racism between ‘The North India’ and ‘The South India’; between ‘The Punjabis’ and ‘The Gujjus’; between ‘The Bengalis’ and ‘The Mallus’. Usage of Chinki in common parlance is very frequent. An average Indian will still stop and gawk at any 'firang' male or female they come across, even while buying sweets at a shop. Any Caucasian would be addressed as being ‘amerikan’ while any dark-skinned, non-Asian person would be deemed as ‘negro’ or ‘afrikan’. And anyone showing traits of being in foren is promptly robbed blind, not by thieves, but by people who are no better; the kulis at the station, auto wallahs etc.

And then there are distinctions on the basis of religion. Not getting into specifics, it is not entirely uncommon for people to be denied flats to rent sorely because they do not (or for that matter do) belong to a specific religion. (Link) 

Some time back, I received a mail forward as to how an average Delhite looks at the rest of the country and the neighborhood. I am sure an avid observer of human traits would be able to construct a similar map from the viewpoint of all parts of the country.

After all this, I ask, are we really qualified to call someone else a racist?

PS: I am not the original creator of this image and I do not know whom to credit for it... But it is good! 

PPS: Please do realize that while this article has been created with India in mind, an american can find similar things in US of A and can a Chinese in China. So this is not something pertinent only to India; but valid across all countries.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Theories - Part 1

I was told by a someone special that I am good at certain one liner theories. And I have been watching too much of How I Met Your Mother and of lately THE Barney Stinson seems to be growing on a mind, a lot. True Story!

So here it goes; my first attempt on formally jotting together some random theories in a weirdly worded fashion so that someone, somewhere might take them to be words of wisdom (which if you have been reading till far, they are not) spoken by a wise man (what should I say) in a ‘Zen’-Like state (I am yet to achieve this… am still at Maruti 800) (Please don’t kill me if you get this poor attempt at humour)

A glass of water Theory: This is theory to be exercised when you are continuously told that you ought to do a particular thing more often. The idea here is that when a person is thirsty, they are more likely to be thankful for a glass of water than having an instantaneous source of water whenever they want. Thus, they will cherish each and every drop of water that they get. Were they in access to large resources of water, they would end up being like Indian Bollywood. Read a snippet here.

For instance, the more you talk to someone, the lesser your calls are valued by them. Similarly, if you are the kind that is very well known to dispense advice at every instance, people are bound to not take you seriously. On the other hand, if you are the silent kind who speaks only when necessary and offering the same kind of advice as the former, it is found that the people value the advice more when such people speak. Some smart people also like to call this as expectation management.

PS: Please exercise caution while practicing this theory with bosses.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Big Fat Punjabi Wedding!!!

Of lately, we have had a whole lot of movie focusing on the Sardarji/Punjabi culture in sadda Bollywood. What with movies like Singgh is King, Rocket Singh, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye etc; the quintessential funny sardarji character of the erstwhile cinema has become a full blown protagonist of the movie itself. It is no longer so. Add to that directors like Gurinder Chaddha whose Hinglish movies like Bend it like Bekham, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife and others like Bride and Prejudice and Monsoon Wedding have also brought international focus on the meek, unpretentious community that is the Punjabis.

And it’s not like it’s only in movies that the Punjabi culture is being focused upon. Books like Chetan Bhagat’s 2 states had an extensive focus on this Paneer-tucking-Jewellery-Obsessed community. And the attention is not always good. Look at Khushwant Singh… What kind of impression has he created of the entire community? Anybody who judges the community on the basis of Mr. Singh’s character would think of all the Punjabis as being constituted of perverted old men or Cougars. Which, coming to think of it, might not be all that far from the truth. But, being Indians, we always like to think of things in a non racist way (yah right!).

Hence, this post is my attempt to give a brief description of the community and especially focus on the Punjabi Wedding. Wedding because I believe that the best place where you can observe any person or relationship or community is the way their weddings are conducted. Nowhere else can you observe the typical of any community than in a wedding.

But first a couple of tidbits about the community in general:
  1. At the very outset, let me clarify a very common confusion: Punjabi doesn’t mean the Sardarji community. It may, but not necessarily always. “Sardarji” AKA “Sikhs” is a religion whereas “Punjabi” is a culture which may also include non-sardarjis and cut-surds as well.
  2. It’s true that they love paneer and chicken. Infact they are what parmal and fish are to Bengalis; sambhar and coconut are to Tams and pav bhaji etc to Mumbaikars. It is, simply said, their staple food. And while sometimes they may get overboard with the whole obsession with the food thing, it is always in the best of intentions. Punjabis don’t feel that the airline food of rice daal or sandwiches comprise “food” unless it comprises of at least two paneer dishes, some paranthas, a curd based accompaniment, Chhole and Rice, and dessert of Halwa or something equally “filling”.
  3. People talk about jewellery in terms of sets that they have, sets of earrings, sometimes even silver jewellery (ewww). But that’s not how it’s done here. They don’t deal in just jewellery sets. They talk about kilos of Gold jewellery only. The least that they have to wear on any occasions, irrespective of gender, is a kilo of gold jewellery; at least half of which should “appear” to be genuine diamond studded. And they don’t spare any occasion from this criteria; being fair on that front. Even when they go for mourning, they always wear newly stitched clothes and a not so gaudy kilo of jewellery. And not only that, they also do a noble cause through this you know na. They provide an enormous employment opportunity to the thieves and burglars of the country who would have to indulge in petty pick pocketing, somehow passing their days. They give them an opportunity to lead a comfortable life by robbing one of our brethrens and spending the crore gained thus to spend life comfortably.
  4. They are strict believers of social networking. Irrespective of the occasion, they believe that the gathering of influential people should not be wasted and that all the discussions should be commenced whenever all the people have gathered, the long distance communication equipments like phone etc be damned. And no occasion is big or small enough for them. In fact, a whole lot of prospective matches are made while attending various mourning ceremonies.
  5. They don’t believe in doing things the way normal people would do. As one of the brand promotions mentions “Live Life. King Size”. Well they do certainly exemplify the brand promotion. They drive amongst the biggest cars available to the mankind. Courtesy M/s DLF, they have had crores with them and hence like to show it. Be it through bigger mansions, tons of gold on every space of their body, gaudy sarees, or through their weddings.
  6. And any discussion has to be had around money. Be it real estate or job or diamond sets. The main subject matter doesn’t really matter and can be discussed intertwiningly as long as it is about money itself.

Which brings me to the main point of the posts… The Punjabi Weddings.

Now there are like a gazillion ceremonies in a Punjabi Wedding. I will describe some of them in brief here and a special focus on the actual wedding towards the end.

  1. Roka – The first ceremony to ensure that the fickle nature of man and woman doesn’t kick into picture and either party doesn’t change their mind at any later stage. Though rings are not exchanged, the couple stand unofficially engaged after this ceremony. More binding than the debt covenants of the bank. True Story!!!
  2. Sagai – When the doomsday agreement is actually signed with the token rings being exchanged. Duration between Sagai and Actual wedding may vary on case to case basis depending on the ugliness quotient of either parties or the wishes of the parents. Needless to say the need to show off plays a big part in all the ceremonies as the venue, people invited, gifts and jewellery exchanged depends on that. Even the gap between wedding and Sagai might also depend on how eager you are to one-up your neighbor’s wedding.
  3. Sangeet – When the men and women of the family formally try and express their happiness on the wedding. Kind of like the rudali thing except it is done before wedding. For groom, the idea behind either does not differ. This is a function typically celebrated at both the parties – At the girl’s end for the prospective Bakra and at the boy’s end to welcome the prospective lifelong Fixed Deposit into the family. Of lately, some of the “progressive” families opt for live bands or a disc jockey to churn out one dance track after another as guests shake a leg on the floor. That doesn’t make it any less painful to watch the multiple tires on the “khaate peete ghar ki aunty” gyrating on the floor or the drunken uncle trying to do bhangra on a Michael Jackson number. Just a word of caution for the faint hearted: It is entirely normal if there are sudden bursts of high pitched noise. It is not some ultra high frequency generator, just some over enthusiastic people having decided that the party was a tad bit too quiet for their taste. Also, people have been known to be spontaneously struck by a desire to sing and dance at random numbers without any rhyme or reason. But that’s entirely normal as well.
  4. Cocktail – I am not really sure but I don’t think that in any other community or culture would you find a complete occasion devoted to drinking whisky and scotch, the two favorites of most of the “drinking” Punjabis. But then they don’t things the way normally people would do, do they?
  5. Mehendi – The last major function before the wedding is the mehendi. Mehendiwallis are called to the respective houses of the boy and girl and they apply mehendi to the palms of the female family members, and the hands and feet of the bride. In some cultures, both boys and girls both have to undergo this ritual; but in Punjabi weddings, it is only the girls who take the cake… Well not literally as their mehendi hands doesn’t permit them to do anything and it is up to the lesser mortals to feed them etc. and everybody want these mehendiwallas to apply a coat or two their claws. It doesn’t matter how hideous the design is or how long they have to wait for the mehendiwalla to get to their hand as long as A) The Family of Bride/Groom ahs spent a lot of MONEY in the process and B) The family insists each and every women present in the household, personally and regardless of their age, to get the hands mehendi-fied.
  6. At The Venue – Well at the venue, just imagine that Karan Johar and Suraj Badjatya had a competition to see who can arrange a better wedding, with most people, most food stalls, most activities, hubbub and activity and a lot of gyrating tyre-studded aunties and piss-drunk uncles. Now multiply it by ten times. Only then can you begin to imagine how a Punjabi wedding looks like.

Walking into a Punjabi Wedding is like walking into a multi cultural fair with billions of people, all jostling with each other for space. That’s not to say that the space is less. It just means that so many more people were invited to it. If there were a FaceBook equivalent of a Punjabi Wedding, the minimum friends that anyone would have would be at least in four digits. You see it is an obsession with typical Punjabis to show off as much as they can on such occasions. Hence, even if they will travel by a DTC bus or normal days, they will hire a driver for this day just to make sure that their Biradari (Community) sees that they do have a driver. While on the other days, they will adorn glass bangles and cotton suits or Sarees with fake LV or D&G bags from Karol Bagh Market; the wedding days will force them to bring out the best of their Kundan and Diamond sets and the Kanivaram Sarees or Crepe suits with matching fake LV or D&G bags from Khan Market.

So… walking into such a wedding, the first thing that you would notice, after of course the above mentioned points, is the food. One such wedding that I went to, had ten different cuisines. Not just couple of food stalls but key dishes of various Cuisines. They had like Rajasthani Cuisine, Marwari Cuisine, Punjabi Cuisine, Jain Food, Continental Cuisine and some that I can’t even remember however hard I try to. And that’s just main course. Then there are a dozen stalls for snacks like Chaat and Pav Bhaji and the ubiquitous Golgappas. In fact, comedian Raju Shrivastava once joked about such a wedding place where husband got separated from his wife. So they get in touch on mobile and husband is instructing the wife about his location as “Ok I am at the Golgappa Stand. Where are you? At the Soft Drink Station? So go to your right till the ice cream stall. Turn Right and keep on going till you reach the water dispenser. Walk to left till you reach the Fruit Chaat counter. Just behind the counter is the main hall. Take the shortcut through the main hall to the other end of Dessert counter where I am. OK?”

 Next thing to be focused upon is the sheer number of bright clothes. While ordinary people like you and me would shirk from wearing a fluorescent pink trouser or a Technicolor shirt. But not these folks. No sir. They will wear those monstrosities like they actually believe that it’s something which might pass off as wearable and that they are able to pull it off. But that’s not the only thing. If a non-Punjabi is invited to a Punjabi wedding, he/she will look through their wardrobe and see what’s worth wearing and get it ironed and starched (If at all). Punjabis, on the other hand, will plan for their Biradari wedding the same way one prepares for a major project. Of course, they can’t wear the old clothes because oh my god what would the biradari say? They will buy new clothes for all the above mentioned different occasions.
And of course all the clothes have to be in different color, different designs and in all should combine all the possible cultural variations possible. And it’s not just the women who are so fanatic about wearing new clothes. The men of this tribe are equally finicky about only wearing new clothes on such occasions.

Also, these weddings are like a heaven for thieves and goons. If a normal human thinks of heaven as golden gates and playing harps and muses running around; a goon would be thinking about Punjabi Wedding aunties wearing diamond studded DeBeers jewellery and uncles wearing local jeweler brand bracelets, with fat wallets and even fatter bundle of credit cards and debit cards, Gautier and Rolexes being flashed around.

Another word of caution, never, ever talk to a Punjabi about wealth and status and such things. They have an experience of obsessing with the same day in and day out and that’s not something that an average Joe like you and me can beat. I mean all their lives revolve around these issues. If the neighbor Mr. & Mrs. Arora have kept a Labrador in their home, how can Mrs. Chopra not have at least two Labradors at their home. Doesn’t matter if the husband doesn’t get his clothes ironed, but Mrs. Arora and Mrs. Chopra must have a faceoff between them every night while walking their dog(s). Doesn’t matter if the husband has to cook the food, the dog must be fed “pedigree”. And of course the neighbors would constantly complain to each other about how much the pet is costing them for upkeep. But appearances must always be maintained. Because, you see, at the end of it all; everything boils down to showing off the wealth and how much they spend. Did you just foolishly tell some Punjabi about your son getting a new job? Silly you! Now you must be ready for the follow-up question of how much money does he get. And regardless of what salary or profile you say, the opponent would already have a cousin who gets better money than that for a better profile.

The wedding would typically be carried out in a fashion which would shame even the IPL organizers. This wedding has everything just short of mini-skirt wearing cheerleaders. Though, I am told, that some people are already thinking on that line to provide that extra entertainment to their guests.

I hope that I have been able to share even a fraction of what is truly a delightful community. Regardless of what all I have said, most of the Punjabis are indeed loud, warm people who know how to enjoy their hearts out. And I also hope that, to the uninitiated, this column has been able to introduce them a little bit about a culture which is present not only in India or in Second India (Read Canada), but across the entire world, in whatever form and growing… Fast. Go Punjabis, Go.

Did I somewhere mention that the Punjabis are a simple meek, unpretentious community? Scratch that,

PS: Even though on the basis of family, I am from Himachal. But I guess that having lived all my life in Delhi, I am pretty much wetted in the Punjabi culture. So much so that, bad though I am at it, I confuse Punjabi-speak with Himachali-speak, much to everybody’s amusement. Not mine though.

PPS: All this talk about weddings and all because I am going through that age segment of my life when every other person, hell every person, you meet enquires you about your wedding plans. Hence, try as you might, this would be one subject which would never be too far from your thoughts. And just like normal curve, these queries tend to peak around 24-28 years for a typical Indian male. As fat in this fire is the fact that classmates are marrying left and right and with some of classmates introducing you their children as “Beta uncle ko Namaste bolo!” and sharing antics of their two year toddler drooling all over the floor.

PPPS: An interesting link here.

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