Tag Archives: Aditya Bidikar

I Wear: The Girl In Transparent Boots

In keeping with the video bug that’s bitten me, here’s another I Wear post. Aditya Bidikar shot this video too . We’d met for lunch earlier and I got a haircut (same one, crisper finish) at Mad O’Wot. I also ran into the indomitable Sapna Bhavnani there working on a very important head with a couple of her other stylists. When I was leaving, she quipped, “The two of you are wearing the same shade of lip colour!” and lifted her hands off to display the very important client’s face. Guess who that turned out to be? A certain Ms.Kapoor nee Khan. 😀

We shot a video of my look, in the bylanes of Bandra. I’m not sure what I’m going to do for future posts, now that Adi’s gone back. But being able to talk and show what I’m talking about, in addition to writing, is really fun. So expect more videos and tell me what you think of this, in the comments.

My second look this monsoon:

I Wear:

  • Pale pink tank top: ONLY
  • Denim miniskirt: Push & Shove
  • Orange soled transparent rainboots: Paean
  • Kyanite necklace & rose quartz bracelet: Magick, Bandra
  • Lipstick: Winged, Faces Canada
  • Blue eyeliner: Persian Blue, Faces Canada gel pencil
  • Haircut: Mad O’Wot, Bandra

* This video was shot by Aditya Bidikar.
If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter andInstagram.

I Wear: The Girl With A Cameraphone

I haven’t been writing as much lately but I have been shooting a lot of videos. Call it the techno-greek in me but it’s taken me the better part of a year to really start using all the features that my very high end phone gives me. I’ve been shooting (and even editing some!) videos of my spoken word performances. It gave me an idea to capture my daily reflections on camera as well. Of course, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with my writing on my blog all these years. And the world has been kind with my amateur’s mistakes and lack of polish in words. Perhaps it will be so with my videos as well.

Recently Reema suggested I bring my I Wear posts back, on video. That seemed like a logical conclusion given that I moved from text-heavy posts to Instagram collages on those. It’s a bit tricky doing this on video though since most of my content is self-created (self-shot in this case). But well, I’ll muddle along.

For my first attempts, I had my best buddy Aditya Bidikar on his trip down here for my birthday. He had the good grace to shoot two videos for me. The second one will come up shortly.

Adi and I were relaxing after the mid-week excitement of my birthday not-party. We decided to take a walk near the beach. It was a completely drenched day as it has been for most of this season. But I had Adi for company to spur me out of the monsoon ennui I usually slump into. Plus, a new pair of rainboots had arrived earlier in the week.

And now, here’s the video, shot by Aditya Bidikar.

I Wear:

  • Purple tunic: Cotton World
  • Handwoven sash: Guatamalan crafts exhibition, Dad’s US trip
  • Black leggings: United Colors of Benneton
  • Orange soled transparent rainboots: Paean, Amazon.in
  • Pink raincoat with belt: Lokhandwala market
  • Pink waterproof tote with purple piping: Marie Claire

* Check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Paper Towns

…is the name of a book by the guy who wrote ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. I happened to mention what an amazing title that was and what a shitty book it turned out to be. My AlphabetSambar peeps suggested we reclaim it by writing something else around it. And Sunday served up the perfect post to match the title.

Over dinner, one of the writers proclaimed that Spoken Word was shallow. He wouldn’t or couldn’t explain why. It bothered me that a person of words would be so loose with their ideas, so thoughtless with their thoughts. To my mind, a writer is the explorer of thought, the wielder of words. How can we allow ourselves the luxury of treating them so carelessly?

It bothered me because now I will question everything I read or hear from this person. If he doesn’t care about words, how can I trust him enough to let him take my mind on a journey? It bothered me that people let self-importance and ego limit their flights of fancy.

I enjoy gatherings of writers and artists for a lot of reasons. But the primary one is that I love being a part of people’s journeys. With this blog, I invite people into my own journey. At these events, I’m a hopeful mind traveller, waiting for anyone who wants to take me along on their journey. The quality of people’s writing doesn’t bother or touch me as much these days. I’m more intrigued by who they are shaping up to be in the process of journeying.

I met Anu after a really long time. The last time I saw her, she whispered in a conspiratorial tone that she was pregnant. Now she’s mother to a nine-month old and several poems and ideas but I haven’t met her in the interim. I enjoyed her performance. But most of all, I was moved beyond measure by how far she has come from when I saw her last – in her writing, in her body language, in who she is. I got to be a part of her journey almost two years ago when she joined Alphabet Sambar and from here on, her journey will always touch me.

These gatherings are also full of people I’ve come to think of as ‘career poets’. They’re in such a tearing hurry to achieve goals and form impressions, that somewhere they cease to move along on their journeys. I don’t like riding paper trails.

I called Adi, almost out of desperation on my way home. He listened gravely and then chuckled and said,

“You should be thrilled, not annoyed. It sounds like you got the best of the argument.”

Well, maybe I did. That’s nothing great. I have my share of weapons and tools that I can brandish. But I wasn’t looking for war, I was looking for an interesting journey. Still, I felt better at the end of the call because I realised what I was looking for when I called Adi. I was searching for a reminder that I was not alone, a single flesh-and-blood person in a world of paper promises and paper cuts and paperthin words.

Adi tends to have more placid reactions than mine but he also lives in a smaller, less frantic city than I do. I find this paperness in people everywhere I go – in the corporate world, the creative fields, the poetry circuit, my neighborhood, my social media communities. It’s relentless and sometimes I find myself feeling like I’m drowning in a sea of superficiality. I never learnt to swim in paper.

I miss Manisha when she isn’t around like she wasn’t this weekend. She represents my sole beacon of hope in the darkness of paper in creative gatherings. I admire her as a writer but she is more than her last accolade and the number of compliments people pay her. And through her dramatic moods, she never loses sight of that. Real people keep me sane in a town of paper people.

Home and a cool shower later, I feel somewhat saner. Perhaps it’s not fair to extrapolate this one incident. That would be such a paper thing to do too. People, especially those in their 20s are still getting tossed about in the reckless environment that is this city. Artists and writers frequently lose their sense of reality especially after their achieve some recognition. And (I hope) nobody is a paper person all the time. Maybe the next time I hear him speak, he will say something that will change my life or those of many people.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

No Generation Of My Own

I was 30 before I got into a ‘proper’ relationship and it was with someone younger. Someone asked my father,

“Doesn’t it seem like Ramya is five years behind her generation?”

He said,

“Or maybe, she’s five years ahead of her generation.”

Yes, that is a wonderful reference for a parent to set and sustain. I didn’t see it that way myself till I heard it.

I never identified with my age-peers. When I was 16, I couldn’t see what point there was in getting into any manner of flirtation or relationships. I could already see that there would be all manner of drama, family, friends and self-caused. Weren’t there already enough things to torment a teenager in India in the 90s?

I also never really ‘got’ the marriage thing through my 20s. Why are you marrying him or her, I’d ask my friends and get answers like, “Because it’s the thing to do”, “because my parents said so”.

And finally when I first quit my important corporate job to stop, think and catch my breath (the term ‘sabbatical’ was not common then), NOBODY got it. But a few months in, surprised at my okayness, people would keep saying, “Oh, lucky you, I wish I could do that!”. Why not, I’d ask, do you have a family to support or loans to pay off? None of these conversations ever happened with anyone who would have to say Yes to that.

All in all, I’ve never gotten the generation that people say I’m a part of.

On the other hand, my work, my hobbies, my love life and my life style are populated by people about 5 years younger than I. Since they came into the properly adult world in their mid-20s, they’ve felt more like my rightful generation, my crowd than the people I shared classrooms, playgrounds and career levels with.

But there’s something else. Haven’t I often said I feel old? I do. I carry the point of view of a 37 year old in a generation of 31 year olds. I have the memories and lessons of an 80s upbringing in a world of 90s and noughties kids. This is not about maturity because I don’t think that is a linear thing. Maturity has a great deal to do with personality, with experience and insight and time doesn’t exist on the same dimension as those things. This is about perspective and priority.

I tire often of the younger men I date because they are struggling with managing time, health and newfound economic freedom. I’ve already gone through these teething problems and woes and I know what works best for me. I have no desire to relive them in someone else’s problems this time.

I find myself getting impatient with my younger friends for their ineptitude, and in what silly ways they let ego blind their promises and work quality. It’s not that I was any better when I was in my late 20s. But I’ve passed through those tests of fire and I don’t struggle with them anymore. Even the very natural insecurities and diffidence — it’s starting to wear me down, how much there is in everybody around me.

Were we also that scared of everything? I’m sure we were but we were each so consumed in our fears that we scarcely paid heed to each other and the world around us. And therein lies a ‘we’ that I dislike. I suddenly have something in common with a generation that I never felt I fit in with.

But they don’t feel like a comfortable fit either. They’re grousing about struggling marriages (well, what did you expect with the reasons you got into them?), deadend careers (again, follow the rules not your independent mind and are you surprised?) and how ‘today’s kids’ spend so much time on Facebook and Twitter. I’m shutting that door already, saying oops, I entered the wrong room.

My two closest friends are both six years younger than I am. One of them has moved across the country for a girlfriend then moved back and changed careers. Another has quit a super prestigious corporate career, gotten married, started an unconventional (and seemingly uncool) business and then changed. These experiences undoubtedly put them beyond their age-peers in terms of perspective. They are exceptions as am I. It makes it possible for us to be very good friends. But exceptions have to be loners because we tread such unique paths.

This isn’t an angry or even a sad place. I don’t anymore feel like I don’t know my place in the universe. I know that it doesn’t have to do with what other people say and each day I’m getting a little closer to knowing what it is. I’ve gone a full circle from sitting by the phone with no one wanting to speak to me to switching off my phone to hide under hoods so I can get some private time. No, it’s not a desolate place at all. But it is a lonely place, waiting for the world to catch up, knowing maybe no generation ever will.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Hello 2015, Welcome In…

Hello 2015,

Welcome in. You are going to occupy my life starting now. And I’m welcoming you in. I have been looking forward to seeing you for a long time now.

You see, you end with a 5 which is a very nice satisfying number to be. I wouldn’t call you a multiple of 5 because the 0 ending years are those too and we both know they’re really overrated, aren’t they? You come exactly midway through the decades and midway points are quite delicious to me, personally. You know I was born almost exactly midway through the year. Which is why end of years always seem like personal midway points to me. So you see why I’m particularly happy to see you?

I’ve been looking forward to you getting here because you represent hope. Every day, every new minute is hope, of course. But with you, I get to change the title of each day a little bit. Instead of something-something-2014, I will now be saying 2015. Changing the names of days is like changing haircuts for a slightly dispirited girl.

No, 2014 has not been a bad year (that was 2012). But it has not been an easy year or even one that was a lot of fun. It has been a lot of hard work, much biting pressure and some crushing disappointment too. It has been the first year where I felt age crunch down on me and seep into my bones. Literally, with a broken foot bone, then a twisted ankle, several white hairs in my always glossy black mane and general fatigue and listlessness.

Here’s a highlight reel of the best moments of 2014:

(in no particular order: apple cake baked specially for me by Reema, Adi’s birthday, Alphabet Sambar meets, the Mumbai metro, my Mumbai Secret Santee, Ayurvedic treatment, dinner with Sonali in Bengaluru, Christmas with Aditya, Goa getaway and my 35th birthday)

I am now 35, that age where age does become relevant to healthcare professionals and related life decisions. This is the year I start doing periodic check-ins with my body to assess how close diabetes, cancer and a number of other scary things are. This is the year I get a health plan, not because it is the wise thing to do but because it is the survival thing to do.

I am sitting in my room right now typing this out. Fireworks are going on outside. I’m not going to lie and say that this is so amazing. It’s not. I’ve brooded through an hour and a half of miserable memories and various iterations of if-that-hadn’t-happened-then-this-wouldn’t-have-happened. I’ve yanked myself grumpily into work to drown out that. And at exactly midnight I stood at my window watching the fireworks for exactly 20 seconds before shutting away the cold air. This is what I’d rather be doing than be out burning money, watching strangers get drunk and make fools of themselves and sacrificing my safety. But that doesn’t mean it is not lonely. Lonely is dangerous for one and only one reason — it’s the kind of emptiness that welcomes dark, broody thoughts in.

Somewhere two people I once called unimaginably close friends, are ushering you in together and without me. Elsewhere someone who thinks they love me, is looking for and finding happiness in things I can’t comprehend. In yet another part of the planet, a once-soulmate is reveling in the staid comfort that they see as happiness. In sundry other places, the group that I partied with last year is doing various things, separately. I looked at them an exact year ago, y’know and thought, “This is temporary. Nothing ever lasts. I wonder how long this will endure.” And it didn’t last even upto the next party. So, friendships have weathered and waned.

And then again, in a few hours, I have a breakfast date with someone I met a few times in 2014. So new friendships await too, not yet ready to be born, but waiting.

When I was a kid I used to think of the solar system as an athletic track, complete with parallel tracks culminating in a finish line. At that finish line is where I believed, new years began. Now that I know that’s not the case, I realise you’re nothing great. You could be just about any other random point along earth’s orbit around the sun. You could be any other random number from 0 to infinity.

But you stand for something. You represent the acceptance that everything that has passed, has, well, passed. You represent the wait for the unknown, waiting in trepidition but also in excitement. You represent hope.

And for that, I say, welcome in 2015. It’s so good to have you here finally.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Internet Writes My Autobiography In Indelible Ink

Morning began with a text from someone I thought I had blocked.

“Did you just dial me by mistake?”

Eyes still sleep-logged, I thumbed through the unfamiliar basic phone I’m using in lieu of my flash smartphone (lying at the workshop for repair). Damn. He was right. I don’t remember if I had deleted him from my Contacts. Then I realise the phone had synced up his contacts from my mailbox. Stupid efficient Google. Won’t let me forget. This wouldn’t have happened on my regular phone. Bloody smartphone. Letting me down with withdrawal symptoms so bad.

I turned to my blog for comfort (it is my best friend, after all). The random post that came up was this chronicle of the Vasai wedding. Happy memories all of them. And in the post, in all the stories that lead from it, Rehab still lives. She has just not checked her Twitter account in a long time. A really long time. A common friend I met recently said,

“Rehab’s twitter account will follow ours forever.”

She’ll never get mad at me for something stupid I said or be a part of the dramatic insta-love/insta-hate games that dot the social media landscape. She’s in my universe forever. Oh My God. And just as I typed this and tabbed back to Twitter to check something, this tweet
came up.

Meher

Last week I argued with someone who complained about the frivolity of the relationships of the Facebook generation. I showed him this article (‘All my exes live in texts‘). How, I asked him, can you call this frivolous, when our emotions, our associations taint us forever? I’m MTV generation, not Facebook generation. But I guess it’s all the same digitally enhanced fake lifestyle to the ‘If-I-can’t-touch-it-it’s-not-real’ people.

A good friend who knows me perhaps a little too well, sent me this (‘The stages of missing someone you barely know‘). It’s what your style used to be, he wrote. I wanted to hate him a little for it. And the writer. I didn’t say a word but my life, my entire month of May was mapped out in that article written by a stranger.

It reminded me of people I don’t want to block but I don’t want to see the Pages they like, the places they went to and the people they friended either. Because it means they had time to do all of that but not time to meet me.

You can make some things go away by acting like they’re over already and then, like they never happened. So misery does not love company. Angst becomes real when it has an audience. Even vicariously, by its very relatability, a piece such as this, becomes your story. And you realise the telling of it has pried loose stuff caked to the floor of the dark corners of your mind and put them into a feature film. The unmanageable past is back to torment you out of the optimised bits & bytes that make up your life.

The internet writes my life in indelible ink. And in other people’s stories.

The BarCamp Mumbai 8 Round-Up

I spent yesterday at Barcamp Mumbai 8. This has been my first unconference in nearly 2 years. My last Barcamp was over 4years ago, overrun by techie discussions and only drew me because it had a teensy segment for bloggers. BlogCamp evolved as an offshoot of that.

Yesterday was a pleasant return. For one, the event that usually struggles on time, breezed through the multiple sessions, speakers and classrooms easily. There were 4 classrooms in the ultra-posh Mukesh Patel ….. The wiki was flowing with colourful post-its even at 10:15 a.m., which is when I got there. And most delightfully, the subjects spanned a diverse range of intellectual tools, hobbies & interests & scientific applications in fun real life ways. One had to be truly ruthless to pick sessions to attend since there were so many good ones, several happening simultaneously.

Off the top of my head, these are the ones I attended:

Interesting titbits from the day:

I entered Rehab’s session late, having misread the wiki schedule. It was interesting and fun, though occasionally highjacked by someone who claimed that genocide made him happy. Quick tip – if you’re demonstrating or talking without a powerpoint, avoid the big conference room. The larger crowd is harder to maintain & engage. Rehab did a great job though and showed off a mind technique that will help anyone from an artist to an executive stuck in a business dilemma.

Harrish is always entertaining and touching in equal parts. His first talk was about the film AMEN being denied a certificate by the censor board and he did a superb job of bringing out the inconsistencies in their policies. His second talk though, was the one that really had people talking. He was speaking of how gay people are treated in India, when partway through, he was interrupted by a very fervent member of the audience who insisted that,

“According to Hinduism, you can only have sex with your wife, inside a closed room. Only after marriage and only for procreation, not for fun.”

The uproar that followed had to be taken out into the corridor to make way for the next speaker. The episode illustrated one of the reasons that unconferences are a great way to seed ideas, bring out thoughts and get people talking, sometimes about controversial and difficult topics.

My session on ‘Social Content’ happened on the fly. It’s been years since I spoke completely extempore, as I did yesterday and it was a great experience. I was actually hoping to create interest for my upcoming series of blogging workshops, beginning with ‘Unboggle The Blog‘. But instead, I found myself naturally touching on several related but disjointed thoughts about this space. My 20 minute, stream-of-consciousness ramble imitated the way we consume and add to social content, on our Facebook Walls, our Twitter timelines and all out other channels of social media. I touched on the artificiality of traditional media, social media as an extension of normal, human behaviour, how trolls are mirror daily social miscreants experimenting in their own ways and that we’re all creators & consumers of social content. Here’s the talk:

I missed the #TWSS talk by Aditya Sengupta since the room was so packed that even the door couldn’t be opened. From what I hear, it was a tongue-in-geek demonstration of an algorithm used to generate and viral #TWSS (That’s what she said). But the geek in me found a corner in Anubha Bhat’s talk on diagnosing bipolar disorders using algorithms.

I’m not going to dwell on how great it was to catch up with old friends again, since that’s a given in any gathering. Yesterday was more than just friends catching up and people networking. It really was a meeting of minds, a true sharing of ideas. A big thank you to the Barcamp team for pulling off such a great day!

Ideamarked Jan2011: Astrology, Fiction, Photography, Music, Technology, Poetry, Social Rules & Life Lessons

The first month of 2011 has whooshed by slipperier than the icy roads we Mumbaikers nearly came to expect with a rare winter! I’ve been poking around into a lot of corners and old places, nostalgia washing over me with this old blog URL and template. After the daily post pressure of Reverb10 and a demanding December calender let up, January has been packed in a different way. I’ve been enjoying it and hope that it’s an indication of things to come in the rest of the year. Here’s a mixed bag of goodies to cheer you along at end of the first month:

  • Ugly Christmas sweaters by sun sign! (via Astrology.com)
  • Extra short stories for 2011 (via Sakshi)
  • A secret can be a burden. And someone who shares your burden has to be a real guardian angel. Like the one this postcard is about. (via PostSecret)
  • 1000 Life Lessons or How to stay alive forever (1000 secrets)
  • Doocing may loom high even on our sheltered desi selves as we all get connected. Here’s five ways to tread with caution on Twitter and Facebook (via EconomicTimes, tipped off by Gautam Ghosh, who is quoted in the story)
  • Mumbai through the eyes of my favorite Bangalore photo-blogger. No mains and crosses in Claustraphobicity, I’m afraid! (Mumbai Paused)
  • In marketers’ hell! Swoosh Eyebrows (via FoundShit)
  • An old favorite of mine and mamma to twin boys, this time she gets a sharp lesson in watching her words in front of the kids! (via Mamma of Twins)
  • A History of Nudism – short story at Daily Fiction‘s new blog.
  • So bad, it’s good. Move over French maid fantasy, Mmmbai is here! Aye Hiphopper by Ishq Bector (via Youtube)
  • Memorable moments and traditions from wedding ceremonies across countries, religions and social systems. (via Matador Network)
  • How technology/ mobile connectivity is helping Indian education (via EducationTimes, tipped off by Moksh Juneja, who is quoted in the story)
  • Social Rules To Not Making Empty Promises and To Mean What You Say – I can think of a helluva lot of people who need to know this and not one of them is shy! (link courtesy Arcopol Chaudhuri)
  • Echoes fade and memories die, Autumn frosts have slain July“….gives me goosebumps. (Lewis Carrol at OldPoetry)

Vasai Road: Love, Rum & Dancing At The *AlienPhyre Wedding

I’m just home from an amazing weekend. Actually it was only one evening but it packed in so much that it feels like I had an entire weekend.

My friend Reena got married yesterday to her longtime sweetheart Melroy. I met Reena through Adi and bonded with her at The Wall Project. If you visit the Tulsi Pipe Road stretch just to the left of Matunga Road station, you’ll still see our works of art.

Reena’s is the first one after the tree and is very much like her…pretty, graceful and romantic. It says,

You are one big fairytale waiting to happen.

Spitphyre's Fairytale

So Reena’s fairytale did happen this weekend. Yes, I know that sounds corny but who cares? I’m still riding the warm, fuzzy haze that could be partly a result of the copious amounts of rum consumed (plus frenzied dancing and general madcappery) but also the afterglow of an evening and night spent in what now takes top position in my list of places I’d love to live in.

Adi and I spent about an hour battling the traffic to the station from my suburban flat. After that, we wedged into the impossibly crowded train to Vasai Road. A breathless (who’s got the space for lung-expanding breaths?) 45 minutes later, we both managed to disembark, miraculously with all limbs intact. We had to walk out of conjested marketplace but once we got into an autorickshaw, it got much better. The autorickshaws don’t run on meters (a point that both amazed and amused me on my last visit here) but thanks to Samir’s detailed instructions, we knew just where to look and how to proceed with the highly localized process of acquiring transportation.

The auto turned out of the marketplace and rode down a long, clean highway-like stretch of road. Our driver would stop periodically to try and engage a third passenger (similar to buses, these shared autos work on per-passanger-rates) and he only picked up after we agreed to pay a full amount at the end. It was awhile before I took stock of my surroundings and realized that we were cruising through curving bylanes, lined with trees, lush greenery and fields. The feel was very Goa and brought back not-so-distant memories of my great Goa14 vacation in October. Water bodies, small and large dot the landscape of Vasai Road and it seems like everything is next to some sort of Talao.

Reena’s wedding invitation had thoughtfully included a map pointing out landmarks, churches, signals and talaos. Armed with that and Samir’s instructions, it took us all of 15 minutes to come to a stop outside the red-bedecked house (opposite a talao, of course).

She travels all the way from here, each time she meets us?!

I exclaimed to Adi, who replied,

She actually says she lives in Vasai Gaon.

And I could see why she called it that. Vasai Road is a village in so many ways. The cleaner air, the unsophisticated proximity to wild nature, the sprawling spaces and most importantly, the easygoing camaraderie between everyone I met in these few hours…these are things I’ve never experienced in all my years in Mumbai.

This was already 5p.m. and the house was empty. Fortunately we met one of Reena’s family friends walking to church and he offered to take us there. I rather regret to say that I attended Reena and Melroy’s nuptials clad in jeans and sneakers but the alternative would have been to miss the ceremony altogether. We got there just in time to hear some of the mass and the beginning of the rituals.

The St.Francis Xavier Church, Giriz, Vasai Road

The St. Francis Xavier Church is a stately old building, probably one of the big ones in that area. Now having grown up in a Catholic environment myself, I’m fairly familiar with some of the artifacts and nuances of the church. I found it most interesting to see Marathi inscriptions on the walls. The mural right above the pulpit depicts a saint in a pose of imparting wisdom to two people, clad in very Indian-looking costumes. I’ve never seen images of this sort in a church. Reena is an East-Indian after all and is a descendant of the fishing communities that spot the coastline.

I didn’t have a chance to attend her paani ceremony the previous day but from J (also an East-Indian), I know that this is a ritual symbolizing the bride’s family fetching water from the well in pots for her to be washed and readied for her big day. Goans have a ross ceremony the day before the wedding, where the friends and relatives of the soon-to-be-weds are invited to smear their faces with turmeric, milk and afterwards, anything that they have their mind to. It’s a fun occasion as at both houses, the bride and groom are respectively being splashed and smeared with all manner of substances and everyone is having a jolly good laugh at their expense. I think these are very similar to the mehendi and haldi ceremonies that have become the staple of Hindu wedding across the country.

It is interesting to see a blend of the early Christian rituals along with local practices combined together to form the culture of an ethnic group. More personally, from my own childhood growing up a Catholic area and studying with Goans, Mangaloreans and East-Indians, the weekend was a sweet throwback to my memories.

The actual nuptial ceremony was quite short and embedded in a religious mass. After the prayers, the couple were asked to exchange their vows. Adi would keep making me giggle by pointing out that Melroy had asked Reena very politely,

Reena, would you please take this ring as a symbol of…

While Reena’s response had been a more authoritative,

Melroy, TAKE this ring as a symbol of….

Hmm well, bad behaviour from the bride’s friends is probably an artifact of all weddings and we tried our best (our worst!) to live up to that standard.

After the ceremony, we had a short hour to rush back to Reena’s place, get dressed (mercifully NOT in jeans and sneakers) just in time to welcome the newlywed couple back home. A traditional East-Indian soup was served to the two of them (which was probably just as well considering that of all the hogging that happens at a wedding, the bride and groom get very little part of it!).

Chicken Soup For The Wedded Soul

A bus drove us down to the St.Gonsalo Garcia College Grounds, nearly half an hour away. The choice of location was breath-taking. Right next to the old school, the open ground had been carpeted, a podium and tent erected with a stage to one corner for the live band and covered tables set up all around. It was a clear starry night (all visible in the clear Vasai night sky) and a lovely place to have the post-wedding party.

The centerpiece (seen hanging above the wedding cake) was a wedding couple on a motorbike, reading a book together to symbolize Reena and Melroy’s shared love of books. This came to them courtesy the very talented Shawn Lewis who joined us at the party By then Adi and I had managed to catch up with Gursimran, Samir, Apurva and Rehab. We were also joined shortly by Valerie, Shawn and Shailaja to complete the Tweeple contingent at the wedding.

After this point the details start to get a little hazy. This would have been around 8pm and I’m a little unclear about how we managed to pack in such a lot into the next 12 hours.

There was the bridal march culminating in the oranges-and-lemons dance (couples running under the bower formed by other couples holding joint hands in the air). There were all those brilliant fireworks set under the canopy of the nightsky. There was much frenzied dancing. I abandoned my food thrice to jump onto the dancefloor. Uncles, aunties, cousins, friends, classmates, bridesmaids, flower girls and us jived, salsa’ed, hip-hopped and everything in between that could pass for dance.

The bridal bouquet throw is probably one of the most well-known of Christian wedding rituals. But for some reason the garter throw doesn’t get as much attention. In this case though it did. After some blindfolded groping, Melroy managed to get hold of Reena’s garter and tossed it….to a little boy in the audience! Yes, much fun was had.

(l-r) @shadez, @adityab @ideasmithy @alien_kid (Groom), @spitphyre (Bride), @rehabc, @unitechy, @limeice, @fukat

I don’t remember when the music faded from my ears and the laughter stopped ringing. All I know is that apart from the immediate family, we were the last ones to leave the wedding reception. Anand valiantly took on two pillion riders on his scooter while Valerie giggled and hiccupped the girls back in Reena’s car. From there we walked across the road at 3 a.m. in pitch darkness to Anand’s house.

I’m almost embarrassed at what an innate city dweller I am, where dark nights and insects chirping can put fear into me. I clung to Rehab as we picked our way around a talao, across a field and over the path through the trees.

If this had been a Bollywood movie, it would be a horror story. Door kahin jungle mein, kheton ke baad, two pedon ke beech mein se jo raasta nikalta hai…

But we turned the corner and Anand’s house loomed into sight, magestic, comforting and welcoming. What grand houses, the Vasainiwasis live in!!! A two storey building, flanked by a balcony twice the size of my room and surrounded by a yard, facing a talao. This isn’t Mumbai for sure.

We were just starting to rev up for a pajama party with a Calvinball-like game of ‘Skeletons In The Closet’ when voices on the landing told us that we weren’t alone. Another contingent of guests had landed up and decided to park at Anand’s place and have a party on his balcony. A bottle of Old Monk, a guitar and lot of people on the chaddars on the terrace were what kept me up all the way till 7 a.m. We switched the lights off to keep from disturbing Anand’s family (though we barely managed to keep our noise levels down). Anand brought in little candles in porcelain stands as Ryan started to strum the guitar, Munna sang along and Melwyn waxed eloquent to the stars and to the rest of us.

Candlelight, Guitars and Rum under a starry night

It was delicious, listening to live music, laughing and joking with old friends and some new ones, the rum keeping our senses blissfully muted. As the first light of dawn came up over the horizon (by that time none of us could tell which side was East), I hummed the last song of the night…

Here comes the sun..it’s all right.

It described the entire evening, the people I’d met and the place itself. There is such peaceful contentment right there that Mumbai and it’s noisy stress seem like a world away. Due to the greenery and lack of pollution the weather is cooler too and I probably experienced the only winter I’m going to see this year, last night. It’s a deliciously cool place with wonderfully warm people.

With Anand's hospitable family in their lovely house

I was home by noon today, back to my glitzy room in a flashy upmarket address, my cellphone and inbox buzzing with invitations for the evening and the week to come. But none of them match the sweet wholesomeness that I experienced in a few hours. Reena’s family and friends, Anand and his parents who were our gracious hosts through the night all exuded such a cosy sense of warmth. I find that strangely lacking in the vast social circle I have back home here.

There is something about the peaceful serenity that makes it possible for people to open up and share themselves more willingly and truly with each other. I made a lot of new friends last night. Anand’s mother’s bhakri-chai was the most delicious breakfast I’ve ever tasted. In fact I don’t have a drop of a hangover or even a muscle ache despite all the strenuous dancing, the rum drunk or the night spent in the chill air with very little sleep. It might have been the wonderful company. It might have been the special occasion. It might have the lovely place. It might just have been all of that.

It was a special night for Reena and Melroy and somehow that managed to reach out and touch even the lives of those who were only dropping in for a few hours.

Spitphyre + Alien_kid = AlienPhyre!

* On account of their Twitter ids of @spitphyre and @alien_kid.
**Tweets about the event can be viewed under the hashtag of #phyre

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