Inside view Society

Standing in line

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar  

Wedding woes of guests attending those big, fat weddings

“Mustn’t we congratulate the bride and groom?” I asked my husband. We were attending a wedding reception and my heart sank as I said this for I noticed the multitude waiting to do just that. There was a time when meeting the bride and groom was easy. You did a nimble trot up the steps, wished them and beat a quick retreat. Now that weddings have become mega events that are measured by the length of the queues in the hall, it has become a herculean task fraught with difficulty, excitement and adventure.

“Must we?” he responded, also eyeing the queue. “Shall we slip out?” I agreed and we almost managed a successful getaway with only the door separating us from freedom when the treacherous voice of a friend who was also a relative of the bride hailed us. “Ah, caught you! You can’t slink away like that, haha. Come, I’ll take you to meet the newlyweds.”

His voice carried and a few interested glances came our way. Red in the ears, we meekly allowed ourselves to be shepherded to the end of the serpentine queue. Having performed his good deed, the friend disappeared, probably to round up other errant guests.

Our queue was moving as erratically as most queues do in India. Two steps forward and three backward was the formula as pushy women and aggressive men cut into the zigzag line at irregular intervals. The process was also hindered by the animated socialising taking place with people discovering friends and acquaintances in various sections of the queue and twisting and turning in intricate gymnastic movements to converse with them.

“Get a move on! Do you want to wait here forever?” snarled someone as my husband yet again found himself pushed back, this time by a solid old man, probably an uncle of the bride. A girl with a gift in a huge box put it down to mark her place and rushed squealing to a corner of the hall, having spotted friends there. It effectively stopped half the queue from going forward until the chap blocked by the gift pushed it nonchalantly aside and moved ahead.

A podgy kid promptly sat on the box that collapsed under his weight. The girl came squealing back to shove the kid off and claim her gift but couldn’t claim her place. Nobody would yield an inch. Unfazed, she went to the other side of the stage where another queue, what someone indignantly called ‘an illegal queue’, was being formed. Some opportunists left our queue to join that and with people pouring in from both sides and VIPs, in-laws and out-laws going up from the front, utter confusion reigned on stage until the frustrated photographers, acting as policemen, sternly put an end to this traffic jam allowing only one queue, ours.

After an eternity we finally reached the steps, relieved the ordeal would end now. But we exulted too soon. My husband stepped on the stage while I was poised like a ballet dancer on the final step when a huge, noisy group of boys and girls, probably colleagues of the bride or groom, descended from nowhere to push themselves in a body to the centre of the stage. Shrieking and shouting began as they surrounded the bride and groom, finally arranging themselves for a group photo, their hands held out in thumbs up and other assorted signs. As the clicking began, a wild crescendo of noise rose from their throats that shook the hall to its foundations.

It took a while for them to leave the stage. Their intrusion prompted a few more people to try making inroads into our space but enough was enough. I gave my husband a firm nudge forward. Taken unawares, he tottered towards the couple and I hurried after him. The bride and groom nodded their heads mechanically when we introduced ourselves, giving their wide smiles that had got plastered on their faces two hours before when the reception had begun. It wouldn’t have mattered to them if we had introduced ourselves as Batman and Robin, so obviously disoriented they were.

After the mandatory photographs, we left the stage, our departure more dignified than our arrival. One peep into the jam-packed dining hall with its bustling queues at the buffet, and we decided to vamoose. We stepped out of the door when we heard the same friend’s voice. “Trying to leave without eating? No way! Follow me.” He led us to the end of a long queue...

khyrubutter@yahoo.com

(A fortnightly column by the city-based writer, academic and author of the Butterfingers series)

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 4:20:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/Standing-in-line/article15430439.ece

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