(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
Usually, we like to be quite tolerant on these pages. Accepting everyone for who they are and all that jazz. However, we also feel that it’s also important to speak up against those people who cause harm to society, no matter what the repercussions. The people I’m referring to are everywhere. They're your friends. Or your co-workers. You could even be related to them, thanks to the unfortunate accident of birth. These people are very smart and shrewd. They don’t care about you; they only care about spreading their agenda and increasing their numbers. They want to make the rest of the world believe that theirs is the righteous path. These people start brainwashing you from the day you are born. And they don't leave you alone until you become one of them.
You see them everywhere. You read about them in books & magazines. Or see them on teevee. They even have their own genre of movies. They shamefully continue to wave their decadent lifestyle in your face, without any care in the world.
You know who I am talking about.
People in this country are obsessed with weddings. If you’re not having one of your own, then you’re asking someone else to have one. If you’re a single person, the most frequent question you get asked is ‘When are you getting married?’ even though what they should actually be asking you is ‘Why does your breath smell of cheetos and sadness?’ or ‘Is that cat hair on your jacket?’. Why would presuming that you are entitled to weigh in on someone else’s important, life-changing decisions be out of place in a country where letting relationships progress naturally by passing through different levels of commitment before taking the big plunge is frowned upon whereas deciding to spend your whole life with someone you met only twice is considered an idea worth emulating?
Even fictional characters are constantly encouraged to get hitched. The best way to get a ratings bump on Indian teevee is to stage a wedding. A large number of our movies are centred around weddings using familiar tropes like two star-crossed lovers who are so right for each other but don’t realize that they should get married or feuding families who are brought together by their youngest members falling in love with each other and getting married or a couple pretending to be married for some other reason besides love slowly falling for each other and then finally getting married before the credits roll in.
There is no news more important than a celebrity. They sent one lonely reporter to cover the demonstrations in Egypt but each channel had about a dozen reporters covering the Abhi-Ash wedding. Not many kids can recall the name of the President but they can recite the guest list for Vidya Balan’s ‘sangeet’ from memory. And celebrities encourage this behaviour because their weddings are now supposed to be a profitable business venture. When Raj Kundra married Shilpa Shetty’s name recognition while she decided to go into ‘holy matrimony’ with his money, they sold each sordid detail of the event to the highest bidder. There is so much pre and post wedding analysis that even the third cousin of the wedding photographer gets his fifteen minutes.
Of course, nothing is worse than the actual wedding ceremony. Let’s call everyone we know and have them congratulate us on the fact that we're going to spend the rest of our forlorn miserable existence together in faux monogamy. It doesn’t matter that most of our guests don’t even like us because we really enjoy standing around for five hours thanking strangers for their insincere wishes and crappy gifts. I’m old enough to remember a time when the most exciting thing you could do at a wedding was have a server put a scoop of vanilla into your cola-like beverage. Then there was a time when paying actual actors to perform at your wedding was a thing. Nowadays, people have cut out the middlemen and the “happy” couple and their families perform awkward dance routines while the audiences look on in horror and schadenfreude. The performances are choreographed to classic bollywood songs most of which express such wonderful sentiment like the groom taking the bride home forcefully because loving someone means treating them like your property or letting the groom know that he’s going to spend the rest of his life being miserable under the hitler-esque rule of his bride.
If that’s not an auspicious way to start your new life, I don’t know what is.