Saturday, January 07, 2006

Winter, wedding and six new sisters

I wouldnt know how to describe the last two weeks of my life. It's one of those times which you wish would play over again and again. It's the few days you have planned and waited for a whole year ahead. It's the moment you try and picturise a few hundred times before it actually happens. When your only sibling gets married and you are endowed with new family from a different culture, it's nothing short of a breathtaking experience.

When my brother told me about Ruth three years ago I was more amused than anything else. A white sister- in-law. Now that would be something, I thought.
Even without the novelty, I've always dreaded the day I'd have to share my brother with another girl. (Special thanks to Bollywood and Kollywood for all its stereotypes and sob stories). It's not that I've spent my entire life with my brother that I would hate the women who'd change that. I havent. In about 7 years Ruth wouldve spent more days with him than I ever have. It was about meeting the person who'd now be the most important woman in my brother's life. I couldnt wait.

A couple of fone calls, a few battles and many months later, the wedding plans began. It was exciting to plan for a wedding which would just have your side of the family and a handful from the other side. It was more like one big birthday bash. Mom and me wanted to extend the normal mallu wedding to beyond its usual ten minutes. (Mallu weddings are more like the instant versions- if you are in a hurry you know where to get married). We incorporated the mehendi and the sangeet and personalised it so that they would have a more 'Indian' experience. Besides we now had to live up to the 'Monsoon wedding' expectations. ( Special mention to Karan Johar for letting everyone think we always have dancing damsels and grooving grandmoms). Every wedding is a celebration, that of love, new family and of the event in itself. And we wanted it to be just that.

Looking back now everything seems like a big blur. The difficult run up to the wedding, when I had end term exams and everyone else was having fun. The relatives raving about Ruth. Me annoyed on being the last to meet her. And finally meeting her.
Meeting her was like catching up with a lost friend. In a coupla hours we were shopping for accessories like we'd done it all our life. The salespersons looked on as the multi-racial gang laughed and hopped around like children in a candy store. In half a day I had an accent which I annoyed most of my friends with. Everyone fell in love with Angela and Greg, Ruth's best friends. They loved to try every kind of food we had and at times while my eyes were tearing with the spice, they would return the dish asking for more 'chilly'. Adventurous, very.

It's tough to explain India to anyone else. How do we explain people standing just half a millimeter away from you in a queue. And the same distance between a couple in love is taboo?! Why do people give cash gifts of Rs 1001 and not in rounded off figures? Why is it that we dont hug people when we say goodbye, but cry and wail over their bodies when they are gone? What is it that keeps us from being natural and shedding tears in public? The best thing about my new family was that they could accept ' It's just like that' as a satisfying answer. ( I certainly couldnt).

The wedding was a ball. We danced, we laughed and we lived through all the chaos. I havent even been to any other 'mehendi' before but this one really rocked and at the reception we even got our otherwise-stiff-family to shake some leg. At the wedding my friends took the place of her family and welcomed us, the groom's family, into the hall. The decorations were lovely. The glowing bride looked more beautiful than any Indian bride I have ever seen. She glided in her saree exactly like I'd told her, as amused onlookers smiled on. I played the role of the sister, helped my brother tie the 'thali' on Ruth and whispered in her ear that this was 'the moment'. I dont think she heard it amidst all the noise but I thought it was one beautiful wedding. And it was just how we wanted it to be for her.
Me describing the wedding wouldn't be half as good as Ruth's or Debra's descriptions ( click on their names to see them).

The wedding was an experience. Not more than having Ruth in the family. And her lovely mom, Debra. The difference in this wedding was not that it was a mix of cultures, it was more about everyone being so eager to fit in and to make the other happy.

I'm really glad this is the way things had to happen. I'm happy my brother found Ruth for him and for all of us. Ruth and Debra are now officially family as also Ruth's dad and sisters and brothers. I now understand what my Dad meant when he said Indian weddings are not about two people getting together but about two families. This was truly one of those. Everyone from the US ate with their hands the entire trip and my family has now began hugging to say goodbye. When it was time for me to leave them, for the first time at any 'goodbye', I was in tears.

When I look at all the pictures I wish some moments would never pass. I wish we could always stay close to the people we love so much. I wish we never had to say goodbyes. But I guess that's just the way things are meant to be. Ruth- I'm glad it's you and noone else.