Our housing society was agog with excitement at the impending BIG FAT WEDDING in its very own 'Ambani' family! It was the second and last wedding in the family - everyone had either experienced the lavishness of the first wedding or heard about it from others. And everyone wanted to be be a part of this too. The desire turned into resolve as the hosts visited every house to personally hand over the massive invitation card along with a box of 'designer' chocolates and also informed about the bus facility available from our society.
There was one hitch though for the invitees - there was another wedding in our building the same day. At first we thought our whole day was booked but it so turned out that both weddings were in the evening - the muhurats almost an hour apart - both in two different ends of the city. Some of us decided pack off our husbands to the neighbor's wedding and we'd ourselves take the bus to the other. Some of my ambitious building friends decided to put in an appearance at the first and then take off for the second. Hubby was hitchhiking with them - on my insistence.
The big day dawned. A casual glance at the newspaper somewhat unnerved me - it forecast thundershowers in parts of the city. Not that I have faith in our Met department but when I'm all excited about something, I am wary of some hitch! Anyway, it seemed a pretty bright December day.
The luxury bus was abuzz with the banter of enthusiastic ladies and chatter of excited kids - all attired in their colorful best! I didn't fail to notice the wet roads in parts of our drive - I felt relieved that the rains had come and gone, thank God!
We landed at the venue well in advance and we were glad we could have a good 'dekho' at the grand decorations.
As we entered we let ourselves be photographed individually - my number was 12, so you can imagine how early we were! We could collect our copy after thirty minutes.
The decorations totally floored us as expected and I excitedly captured them on camera - the folk corner, the well-laden fruit stall, the various yet-to-function food stalls, the floral decorations, the artistically decorated stages ....
In fact our group had got split and just three of us stuck together like triplets. We found ourselves a good spot at one of the front tables. The satin-cushioned chairs covered in plastic had raindrops all over - we had to just remove the plastic and sit - I was impressed with their meticulous planning and eye for details.
Plenty of entertaining shows were lined up - melodious live orchestra and impressive gymnastics........
Soon the bridal pair descended on the venue in their own inimitable style and grandeur and took center stage. The resplendent red-n-white bridal wear of the couple were an eyeful - but naturally! They exchanged garlands and then the groom tied the 'mangalsutra' and the surging crowd blessed them with akshata. More shows were announced. But then I sensed a raindrop on my hand. Oops! We should get going, we decided and joined the closest and shortest line-up for soup. Sensing imminent threat from the dark skies, we proceeded in the queue for the adjacent sweet stall and dinner counter. While waiting in the queue, I kept my mouth and hand active - doing justice to the sweets on my plate. That turned out to be a good move - we barely got seven minutes to enjoy our food. The rains caught us almost unawares - without a prelude or warning. The massive downpour seemed as if the Gods made a last minute decision to descend unceremoniously on the venue in full force. I shoved my clean plate and quickly joined the rest to take shelter in the adjacent spacious hall - but not before getting wet. Surely the bridal couple too would have got wet, not to mention the expensive equipment - cameras, musical instruments, mikes ...... Imagine the hullabaloo as the crowd of young and old, with and without plates standing around drenched to various degrees and the commotion outside as the organizers tried to retrieve the spread laid out even as the decorations were battered mercilessly by the fierce downpour! And the rains lingered on in full throttle for an hour!
We soon bumped into our lost group and realized that they had not had anything except pani-puri and the kids were hungry yet well behaved. It was a good half an hour before people could get something on their plates. My friends brought in a few plates with rice and chana / dal / vegetables and sat down on the floor in their silks and shared their plates. Some shared gulab jamuns / cakes; others shared fruits - whatever they could manage to lay hands upon. I guess I was one of the lucky few to have had a basic meal accompanied with sweets.
I called my husband to know his status - he told me that they had blessed the couple at the first wedding and were on the way to the second in the pouring rain. Another fifteen minutes and the rest of my building folks landed there. I did manage to locate my husband as soon as he landed. They all took a stock of the situation and chose to start for home around 9.30 after attending two weddings and not having had a morsel - with another long drive on traffic-filled, rain-battered roads. Many of them stopped by restaurants and either ate there or did a take-away.
And what about us? The 'bus' group wanted to stay put together and so none of them accepted a ride back home with friends. The crowd had petered out in the confusion and melee. When all in our group had eaten something, the driver was given a call only to be told that the bus was full and had left the venue. We were shocked - it was 9.45 and there was no transport that our 30-odd group could avail to go back to our far-off homes. Even if the husbands were to come in cars to ferry us back, it wouldn't be before 90 minutes. We checked out the parking lot for other buses but all of them had left. Frantic by now, we were cursing ourselves for putting ourselves in this predicament and vowed never to take any means of transport other than our own vehicle. Soon we were pacified by the manager in charge of transport that we would be sent in the bus as soon as it returned. That meant a wait of not less than an hour. We were cribbing about our plight and cursing the torrential rains. Spoilsport rain chose to trouble us again and we sought refuge in shelters - as we looked around we could see how rain had battered the venue so meticulously decorated.
As we took the bus, we could not but heave a sigh of relief. So far we had been so engrossed in our own predicament that we did not think beyond ourselves. It was during this hour-long drive that we pondered about the feelings of the parents who had painstakingly planned and executed this massive function catering to some thousands of guests who they had personally invited and welcomed with warmth and sincerity. And that of the bride who had personally supervised all the rehearsals of the entire shows, the bridal couple who lost out on the personal handshakes, greetings and blessings from the well-wishers, the tons of photos and reels of video footage they would have wished to cherish ... and the caterers who had presented the spread most of which were washed out and barely tasted. I did not have the heart to take shots of the battered place - such was my sorrow. No words can adequately describe the depth of the hosts' disappointment and grief - all the lavish preparations for their darling daughter's wedding had been so unceremoniously washed away by the uninvited, unexpected, nonseasonal rains - reminding the adage 'Man proposes, God disposes'. In spite of man's prowess, we have to admit Nature's supremacy. As our heart went out to the family, we renewed our blessings for the couple from the bottom of our hearts - the abundant blessings should be some consolation and compensation for them.
Let's not fail to see the silver lining in the cloud - the rains timed themselves soon after the marriage and not before!