Marriage: the Sequel

Fayes T Kantawala has a ball as a number of his friends prepare for a rematch - in holy matrimony

Marriage: the Sequel
Domestic Airline travel in the US is, next to taking a spin class, one of my least favourite things to do in life. It’s an awful, soul-crushing process that makes you feel powerless and entitled all at once. For one thing, they charge for literally everything. Did you make the mistake of bringing a suitcase for your trip? That’ll be $56. You also have a bag? $12. Do you want to check in 12 seconds before everyone else? $75. Did you want to be served food on your five hour flight? $130. Did you want an extra half inch of left space so you can avoid touching knees with the walking stress eater in the middle seat next to you? $220.

Plus tax.

The whole ordeal leaves you wondering what it was that the ticket actually covered, and in that sense I sometimes think less angrily about PIA flights to Karachi.

I am in Chicago for the wedding of a friend. There was a moment in my early twenties when everyone I knew was getting married. You’ve probably had one of those years too, when after years of singledom and silence, suddenly heavily embossed invitations came pouring in like the Hogwarts letters in the first Harry Potter. One summer I had to fly to 4 weddings in different parts of the globe, each time because a close friend was getting hitched, and by the end I was drained of all goodwill and small conversation. I got so sick of it that I wrote “Congratulations! May it be the first of many! Love, Me” in all their guest books. Luckily for, me none from that first round of marriages survived. So now my note gets a good, bone-chilling laugh.

I am happy also to report that many of those friends have found fine new spouses, the only downside being that now I have to go to a wave of second weddings this year. There are currently no less than three scheduled in the next two months alone, and each involves a flight. I’ve realised two things on this first one. The first is that it’s entirely possible for a second wedding to be much, much grander than the first. The second is that I have aged considerably since my early twenties and have the stamina of a cucumber. I was staring in shock at the enthusiasm with which the groom’s group of friends were dancing and partying the whole weekend. By comparison, I could barely make it past midnight without falling asleep at the table mid-conversation.
Eventually people started asking rude questions like "So how do you know Rina exactly?" and so I hastily made my way, full and sated, back to my own wedding event

Both people getting married are Pakistani but there were only two events for this wedding. One was a mehndi and the second was a reception. I flew in on the day of the event but made the mistake of going to my hotel first – only to find that I’d booked a place that looks like a club in Ibiza. Think loud thumping electronic music in a lobby accented by pink recessed lighting, the kind that makes your teeth glow as you wander down the halls like a spectre of resentment. We had to congregate at a location downtown and then get on a rented bus which would take the guests to the actual location in the suburbs. I was exhausted, and by the time the bus was pulling into the location, I was ravenous enough that I was prepared to eat my own hand off. Dinner was still a few hours away but the venue was a place with lots of wedding halls, and I noticed that the one next door had already served a sumptuous desi feat. The smell of dosas and biryani wafting out of ‘Rina weds Akash, Hall 2’ was irresistible and so, with practiced confidence, I crashed my first wedding.

Obviously no one knew who I was, but it was large enough that they didn’t ask, and so I kept making Namaste hand gestures to people while eating helpings of the most satisfying food I have ever had. I even had a whole conversation with Akash’s mother about the band. The food was Mexican and desi and you honestly don’t how good Guacamole and Biryani really is, until you try it. Eventually people started asking rude questions like “So how do you know Rina exactly?” and so I hastily made my way, full and sated, back to my own wedding event. The night was as fun as the next morning was hard, but I had to get my wits about me because I was asked to give a speech at the event.

I’m two minds about wedding speeches. One the one hand I have a strange affinity for public speaking. On the other, like many others, I see the lack of public speeches as one of the upsides of a desi wedding. It’s a wonderful idea in theory but speeches are a gamble. I’ve been at weddings where some of them have been so poignant that I’d begin ugly crying, blubbering and wiping my nose on my sleeve as the speaker went on about true love. Other times a speech will bomb so badly that you’re amazed 200 drunk people gathered in one place can be that quiet.

It was the second wedding for both the bride and the groom, and so I started my speech off by saying “To those I haven’t met, welcome to the wedding. To everyone else, welcome back…” Luckily people laughed, but I assured myself that even if I bombed the speech, there is always next time.

Kidding! After what I wrote in the guest book, I’d never be invited to the next one…

Write to