Saturday, February 10, 2007

Struggle of Feast !

As the whole India was celebrating marriages week, all of us must have attended if not much but at least a single reception party in recent days. I too was supposed to attend minimum three parties but I reluctantly choose only the one where I was given a responsibility of supervision of decorating Mandap for Phere to be held at 1’o clock in morning.

Reception/ marriage parties always gave me a bad taste. If that responsibility had not been thrown on me, I would have avoided that ceremony also. I am very infamous in home for not enjoying such parties. Ladies in the family by now have judged me and have accepted that they may have to cook for this guy :( alone, even after returning from such Chappen Bhog serving parties. This has happened many times before that I have returned without eating from such reception parties.

I can never enjoy my food until served with real hospitality (Eating places are different cause I pay for my food there). The great saga of dine and wine I witnessed last night was just another stereo type experience I already had many times earlier in my life so far.

During my 40 minutes stay at the party I could not meet or locate any host of the reception. It was 10.30 and baraat was not reached there so far. I was from the girls side as the brother of bride was my friend. There were around 1000 people with their best clothes on. The place was usually crowded with decomposed ugly ladies with over floating flesh, painted with all the stuff available at their neighborhood ‘Pinki’s beauty saloon’. And guys with ill fitted suits running here and there with dishes or glasses in hands. I always wonder how come people make themselves ugly in the effort of looking beautiful.

The DJ was playing at full blast and dancing girls were performing at the stage (One of the relatives of bride told me proudly that Rs. 50000 was paid to that lousy DJ). The crowd of boys in front of those girls was throwing their arms, legs and heads in the air to make them look like dancing as if the winner of this dancing competition would be given a chance with those dancing girls. The volume of DJ was so loud that nobody could hear nobody and all the people in the reception were forced to ‘enjoy’ the music willingly or unwillingly. Those guys, who were not dancing, were standing in small groups with whisky glasses in hands while staring at dancing girls and sharing some cheap jokes. Their speed of drinking is always so good on such occasion that one would surprise. Some of the guys were experts in bumping in ladies for a momentary pleasure and asking for excuse so politely.

In the other scenario, all the food stalls were jam packed with men, women, boys and girls of all age, color, caste and creed. People were doing their best efforts to get a plate of fruit chat, fruit salad, cheese cutlets, glass of juice and etc etc etc. They would emerge from the crowd like a winning warrior if they got successful to get a plate of some eatable. Nobody wanted to let any eatable gone untried. Ladies were running to and fro to get all the stuff for their hubbies and kiddos. They didn’t want to loose the race with other ladies and wanted to receive back at least 500% of the amount of Shagun they had given to the bride or groom.

Now it was time for dinner, the crowd started floating towards dinner stalls. The first obstacle was to get a plate and spoon and after crossing that barrier successfully the challenge was to get the plate filled with stuff. (I am loosing my wits writing this as I was loosing watching them last night) Surprisingly people wont get away from the stall to make way for others even after getting their plates filled and starting eating. Back at home one should not wonder how he got shahi paneer curry spots at his camel colored Raymond’s. It was funny to watch expensively dressed gentlemen surrounding cook at tandoor with their plates almost touching his apron and begging for a piece of oven fresh hot nan.

Same were the scenes at all the stalls. I can’t understand how people who look so educated, sincere, wealthy and elite could forget all these words in such ceremonies and join the struggle of feast (fittest).

There is a word in our culture for such dinners or invitations, ‘Bhoj’, where all the guests sit down in a row and host and his family would serve them homely cooked food. They would serve you with love, regard and humble. In Himachal there is still such custom in most of the areas. Its called ‘Dham’. I always loved to be a guest at such Bhoj. But reception parties are not Bhoj nor Dham , it’s a fair where there is no guest , no host, and no one knows no one, just a free eating event, you can eat if you have the guts & wits.

May be marriages are made in heaven, but surly reception parties are not.

PS. I kept watching the crowd with Raavi sleeping in my arms and she I don’t know how managed to get her dinner. And me? My stomach was already filled being a spectator of such great sport and otherwise also a bowl of home made Dal is much tastier for me than any other specialty of such dinner bash.

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