Observations on a holiday

Once in a while a wedding comes along to remind you of why you got married in the first place. It’s particularly useful if it happens to be the 7th year of your own marriage! When waistlines are thickening and attention is thinning. When you’re squabbling over who should come home early to help your son learn his lines for a play. When you’re annoyed at the other for forgetting an appointment. When you’re getting irritated with his habit of dismissing everything you say. When you’re pissed at her for wasting money you could do with, on bedsheets you could do without. I could go on, but you know what I mean.

It’s a beautiful reminder to hear the priest say the familiar lines and say Yes, I do. I do take this man with his pockmarks, his premature greying and his ugly fingers and toes. Because when I met him I only took in the sharp, perfect features, the warm brown eyes and the energy surrounding him. And the years do tend to dull things, making you notice only the worst. But then like silver polish, attending a wedding polishes up the familiar that has dulled with contempt and gives it back its original sheen.

It’s only at a wedding, that you realise there is no perfect love, but you can aspire to it. And as you look around, at the congregation. A sea of expectant, smiling faces, you know that they’re there for a reason – to watch you make the biggest commitment of your life. That if you walk away from it today, you take away that little bit of hope that each one of them invested in you when they came there to be witness to your union. That each one of them believed in you and in that vow you were taking. That on your wedding day you sent back each one of them with a little strand of hope as you walked down the aisle glowing and radiant with happiness. That if for no other reason but this, you have to put aside annoyances and irritants like ‘he argues with visitors’, ‘he doesn’t bring me flowers anymore’ and ‘he wakes up with a finger on the remote control instead of on me’!

I agree with what someone said, that at weddings I don’t really look at the bride walking in, surrounded by family, flowers and framed in the very flattering light of the church door. But at the groom as he watches her walk down the aisle, knowing that this gorgeous woman is his for life. There’s something about being witness to that realisation.

Yes, the wedding I was to attend has been attended. And after all that excitement of asking you to vote, I didn’t wear the dress. Just about everyone I know in Delhi laughed in my face and asked me if I was nuts for wearing a dress to a wedding in a more conservative Madras. Did I imagine it was Delhi? I lost all confidence and ended up in a pretty sea green and silver and pink saree. And when I reached the venue and saw the number of girls in dresses, I kicked myself. On the other hand, none of them were from Madras so I could see why they wore those dresses. All the local guests were in sarees. Oh well, time enough to wear that dress in Delhi.

The Brat fell asleep on the way to Church, woke up disgruntled and refused to either walk with the Bride or even enter, embarrassing me beyond words. I quote, ‘How can I walk around with them? I don’t know them’ – all in an embarassingly American drawl. It is just like my son to let me down at the best possible time. The Bean on the other hand, made up for it by walking both ways, just insisting on holding hands with me on one side and the most gorgeous little blonde blue eyed page boy on the other. He had a ratty filthy teddy bear dangling from his arm (see right hand corner of pic), and walked barefoot, because well, he felt like it! Another little flower girl toddled down the aisle holding her mama’s hand and a pacifier stuck firmly to her mouth. The bride… was a vision… and perhaps just that little bit more beautiful because she let everyone do as they pleased without for a moment worrying about it spoiling the way her wedding looked.

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Punjabis get a lot of bad press for being loud, noisy and uncultured, yet, it’s their music that got the Indians and Westerners alike on the dance floor. The beauty of it? NONE of them understood the words. Singh bloody well is King! Go bhangra!

A union of two cultures is actually pretty easy. All you need is R-E-S-P-E-C-T (hey, so I turn to Aretha for inspiration once in a while!) for the other. And a little bit of compassion. None of that “we’re the boy’s people” attitude that the groom’s family in our country specialise in. And none of that obsequious bowing and scraping that the bride’s family do as they gratefully hand their daughter off to any man who is generous enough to take their burden away. It’s like a dance. You give a little, I give a little. You step back, I step forward to meet you. I dip, you bend. I twirl, you stand back to catch me. All the while knowing that we’re evenly matched and need each other. Most couples these days are aware of that. If only all families knew it as well as the ones I watched that day.

The Brat and the Bean are easy enough kids to travel with now. It takes a lot of energy, but hey, that’s why they’re kids! As we leave them with my folks and head out on our holiday I realise how much it hurts me each time. To the point where I can no longer look forward to that little break. The OA tries to be patient with me but eventually ends up just being firm. He can do nothing about me working flexitime so that I am home with them soon after they get back from school. But he can insist that I get away from them once every six months for a week. And thats the thing with being two parents and not a single parent. Decisions must be fair to both and I know he likes his time off and even if I don’t like it, I know it does me good. But even he knows, that he can drag me away from them, but he can’t make me feel very happy about it. I know I should lighten up and let it go. At least each time I leave them, I know they have each other as constants.

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The only problem is that each time I go away, I end up coming back even clingier and more obsessive. I know nothing should be taken too seriously. But I have just one chance at this parenting gig. I don’t want to screw it up.

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50 thoughts on “Observations on a holiday

  1. I see the break did you good, if you come back and give us fab posts like this.
    “At least each time I leave them, I know they have each other as constants.” I know I know.

    You’re tempting me into taking that child-free holiday and I’m just like you – hate to leave the kids behind. But it does everyone some good to take breathers from each other even children and parents.

  2. Aaargh..you didnt wear that lovely dress? I know tons of people who wear dresses in Madras..I do and I’m as much a Madrasi as they make them! You should have!

    “All the while knowing that we’re evenly matched and need each other. Most couples these days are aware of that. If only all families knew it as well as the ones I watched that day.” So so bloody true!

    Good that you’re back to blogging!

    Me: no yaar 😦 i got worried. didnt want any trouble when i was with the kids. and the OA doesnt speak Tamil which makes life harder around there. as for the ‘back to blogging’ – as Rachel says, we were not on a break! I posted often enough.

  3. “A sea of expectant, smiling faces, you know that they’re there for a reason – to watch you make the biggest commitment of your life. That if you walk away from it today, you take away that little bit of hope that each one of them invested in you when they came there to be witness to your union. That each one of them believed in you and in that vow you were taking. That on your wedding day you sent back each one of them with a little strand of hope as you walked down the aisle glowing and radiant with happiness. ”
    This is the best line I hav heard in a long long time. May I orrow this and quote it as a post?Ah well, I am not asking.. i am going ahead and doing it!!!

  4. oye mm! what a let down.. but put a pic of you in saree atleast. ” there is no perfect love, but you can aspire to it “..hmm, nicely put!

  5. someone is back with a bang:)))

    Welcome back to the blogosphere…even though you never really broke off 😉

    Liked your views on the bride’s and groom’s family and the union of cultures…now if only it was eleven years ago and my in-laws had read this!

    Me: sigh. never too late is it? hell, I’ll settle for a little bit of respect if i get it today too!

  6. i love weddings…there’s something about them that makes even the hardest cynic believe in the possibility of happy ever afters …i like how you put forth that it puts the sheen back in an ongoing marriage too 🙂
    no doubt brat and bean were as adorable as ever…any chance of a pic of them in their finery?

    me: barely managed any… besides I dont really put up any pics of them anymore 😦

  7. mujhse bhi mil liya hota MM…

    Me: sorry babe – I didnt know you wanted to meet me! in this case there wasnt really a blogger’s meet. just met up with some people I am friendly with, pretty much invited and hosted by Sue. next time?

  8. After all the opinion pools on what to wear and what not to wear, you ditched us and wore a sariiiiiiiiiiii? Even if its a pretty sea green, silver and pink one? Bad MM. And it was such a gorgeous brown dress at tht.

    The kids sound so cuteee. I wanna simply cuddle them, but I’m wary that they will push me away.And they’r so lucky tht they ahve each other always even when MM yells at the and abandons them and goes away 😛

    Me: gah. have you been talking to my kids?! as for the saree – can you imagine how depressed I am? but the whole world here told me I was an idiot for wearing it so I was really disappointed and abandoned the plan 😦 trust me, no one as depressed as me.

  9. ‘There is no perfect love, but you can aspire to it’ and ‘A union of two cultures is actually pretty easy. All you need is R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the other’ – I think, thoughts which all of us have, but you have put it in such simple words that its so easy to tell it to anyone else now…Thanks for the wonderful post 🙂

  10. “It’s only at a wedding, that you realise there is no perfect love, but you can aspire to it.”
    True, True … you said it so well.

  11. “bedsheets you could do without” – that is so me 🙂
    i too long for some time away from parenting and the only way i can do it peacefully is when they are with my sister. they absolutely love it.

  12. Hey- Beautiful post 🙂 The very thoughts that were running in my head when I watched our wedding video for the first time, on our first wedding anniversary! Good to dust off the humdrum and revisit your reasons for being together.

  13. nice post.

    would love to see more pics of ‘god’s own country’..one place i have yet to visit–its on my wishlist. it is one of the prettiest spots on this planet…so i have heard.
    am glad you had a good time at the wedding.

  14. ooh its ok, i bet you looked awesome in the sari, and anyway you can carry off both, how many people can say that?

    i like what you are saying about marriages. but i think there are times when we remember only the good parts and forget all the irritating ones. those have been the best times in year twelve!!

  15. Beanie’s expression- “Yaar, kya ek basket haath mein de diya! Everyone look at my dress no!”

    Heh. Kidding.
    She is looking tooo adorable, MM! 🙂

  16. Lots of things to write…
    I finally, after a lot of soul searching broke up with my boyfriend.. its been a while now and it sucks.
    But even in my current state of mind, i found what you wrote in para 4, so beautiful. When i get married (yes, i will, so what if right now it seems no one’s gonna want to marry me, after 4 wonderful years of being with another guy :(- sigh!)i am gonna borrow that para and quote you.
    You did bring the babies to Chennai 😦 i so wanted to get a chance to meet them 😦
    Bean looks lovely.. 🙂
    😦 I am still sad… they came all the way to Chennai… 😦

  17. “That if you walk away from it today, you take away that little bit of hope that each one of them invested in you when they came there to be witness to your union. … That on your wedding day you sent back each one of them with a little strand of hope as you walked down the aisle glowing and radiant with happiness.”

    Absolutely loved this part! We usually see people tearing up in movies during the wedding ceremony scenes. I used to think you had to be related to the bride/groom in some way to feel so strongly. But when I recently attended a German-Texan wedding, I found myself tearing up with joy, love, and hope! It was very overwhelming!
    Thank you for sharing this!

  18. The first four paragraphs could easily have been a wedding toast/speech. Or written and framed as a wedding gift. Loved this post.

  19. Sounds like the best kind of wedding to attend – you had a great time, reflected on your own marriage and looked great as well (by inference), despite the matronly sari 😀

    Like GDS says, I know plenty of locals in MDS who wear dresses – and you weren’t strolling about, you were at a wedding! Oh well…to atone, you need to take a picture (minus head, ok…) of you in the dress/shoes/cluth/flower clip and post it for us to see and sigh over!

    M

  20. You looked lovely in that sari!! and i agree that weddings are reminders of the love that began in the beginning. Great post!

  21. Don’t ask me how, but I felt this post was very much MM like..and I started missing these kinds from you 🙂

    Those words comparing marriage to a dance were just lovely! Haven’t read anything like that for long now.

    One question – who’s that boy in the last pic with bean? Please tell me it’s not the brat..he could not have grown so tall already! or has he??

  22. 🙂 .. There couldn be better words to capture the essence of marriage .. “There is no perfect love, but you can aspire for it” .. These words will remain with me :).. lovely post

  23. “At least each time I leave them, I know they have each other as constants.” …so true, that’s a bond so hard to explain. They constantly fight for stuff but my 2.5 yr old goes to my sister’s place for a sleepover and he doesn’t seem to care about his mum/dad, he pleads for me to send the 11 month old with him..’he says please…send her, I’ll take care’ and when he comes back the first question is where is my sister? The little one’s eyes follows whereever her brother goes. So, they’ve somehow figured out that these adults have their own business, but there is only one constant being!! Isn’t it true in your case as well?

  24. “A sea of expectant, smiling faces, you know that they’re there for a reason – to watch you make the biggest commitment of your life. That if you walk away from it today, you take away that little bit of hope that each one of them invested in you when they came there to be witness to your union.” – beautiful!!! A wonderful way to make each and everyone who attended the wedding a part of your life.

  25. I can truly relate to the guilt that you wrote of! I have a cousin who thought nothing of leaving her kids behind and jaunting off with hubby, and I found her attitude slightly tough to emulate but a tad bit more healthier than mine, when I had to leave my brood in the care of elders!

    You’d say i’m carrying this too far by admitting that even now when the boys are 18 and 16 respectively, I find myself cringe when i tell people that they are holidaying without us in India, even if it’s at my aunt’s place! Oh well…this raising and letting go is so tough!

    Sorry for the long comment! really nice post!

  26. how the other part of the holiday to Kerala… and Pondicheery? Beanie looks adorable….Whatever anyone says…. you look the best in a saree…. so am glad….. grean, silver and pink.. sounds good an unusual…. want to see it….

    Me: You’ve seen it. Its what the OA picked up for Diwali for me a couple of years ago. When you see the pics you’ll remember.

  27. I don’t belive this…u think delhi is more open to dresses and Chennai is not? unfair!!! Every single delhi/punjab person ive met is more conservative than the ones in the south …and how they ogle..eeks!!! My personal experience is that in Chennai, you can get away with wearing most things coz even if people mind, they do not make comments…..but in delhi – the snide comments, the eve teasing..too much!

    Me: Lets not start city wars please! Arent we sick of it? I know I am. That is probably your experience while mine is different. 🙂

    As for clothing, I think there’s no debate that people dress a lot more conservatively in a Chennai than in Delhi or Bombay – try any wedding or even a restaurant. Girls wear shorts to college here, while in Chennai I think some colleges have a salwar kameez rule!

    That said – It wasnt so much what I thought as everyone else telling me not to at which point I lost courage. And I’ve dressed up enough in Delhi to know that I don’t really get eve teased or harassed or stared at here. There are people dressed for more daringly here for me to attract any attention at all!

  28. Some of these lines are going to get quoted a lot, maybe even at future weddings! What you said about the relevance of the witnesses to a wedding resonates at a time when many people want to get married on an island, just the two of them. I have to admit, I might have been tempted to do that too. But at the end of the day, it’s important to be surrounded by people who you love and who love you. Unfortunately, it often becomes a lot of people who you don’t even know but nvm.

  29. Looks like we’l ahve to have party here in Delhi so you can wear your gorgeous brown dress and I’l wear my new pink one 😀

    Howzzat?

  30. Hey are you going to be writing in detail about your Kerala trip..I’m planning one next month, so pointers will be great..if you’re not then I will mail you..

    Me: absolutely. that will be the next post – as soon as I get some time!!

  31. You said it about marriages. I’m not yet married, but I get all emotional and teary eyed when the mangalsutra is tied. A lifetime of togetherness, sharing yourself with someone. The moment, it just feels so divine. And as usual your kids are gorgeous babies. Beanie looks so cute as a flower girl. Do post at least a back pose 😉 of you in the beautiful saree.

  32. Good to see you back!
    And that thing you said about not really looking at the bride walking in, but at the groom, a funny does come up in the Katherine Heigl film 27 Dresses:

    When the bride comes in and she makes her giant, grand entrance, I like to glance back at the poor bastard getting married. Even though I think he’s an idiot for willingly entering into the last legal form of slavery…I don’t know, he always looks really, really happy.

    Me: LOL! really? I wouldnt call him a poor bastard – but I totally get the sentiment 😀

  33. wow, and i thought people went to weddings for the food. (or is that just me?)

    Me: nope 🙂 you have the OA for company. he goes everywhere just for the food.

  34. ^ i go to weddings to look at the clothes and the jewellery:)
    i am sure your pink and green sari was happy and smiling. mine lie in suitcases for years on end waiting for their day in the sun…

  35. You should have had it on MM.. Hell a lot of people wear dress in Madras… its no more that conservative society…

    Me: 🙂 Probably. Not a risk I was willing to take it. For instance we roam around in Delhi all day doing our business while people from other cities are terrified of it or have had bad experiences – which I understand. I was particularly scarred by an incident of some guy getting beaten up while I lived there, for wearing a red shirt to college!

  36. Well you rocked what you wore…and I forbid you henceforth from saying nasty things about the perfectly nice Mr OA…a more made for each other couple I ne’er saw…

    Me: what nasty things? he is grey, and pockmarked… and hot! :p

  37. I loved the post.
    I think you need to take a break from kids once in six months to rediscover yourself as a couple or even an individual. You do feel guilty but come back with extra love….

  38. Loved your bit about this range of emotions one goes thru while attending a wedding. I have gone through it myself. Also, this bit about marriage of two different cultures being about mutual respect, almost like a well presented dance form..so true…one has to give and take and that’s what makes it spectacular! Love your blog MM!

  39. The bean’s looking beautiful. I am sure you were looking great in a sari. Maybe you should post some pics and satisfy our curiosity :).Have you ever done a post on your wedding? Would love to read MM on/about that day…. 🙂
    You last line of the post is what I go crazy about too…..
    Do enjoy your Kerala trip…..:)

  40. I think, I read parts from this article this weekend in some newspaper article. Since I am into HT/TOI only i think it was one of them… Esp the “he does not brings me any more flowers… remote control” part. I know it must be becoming very common for you now but just wanted you to know.

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