Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Smile Please Madam

We went to a friend’s house to congratulate them on their newly wedded status. They showed us their wedding album. It was a tastefully done coffee book with pictures that didn’t garishly shock, but rather sublimely blend. The pictures showed the bride and groom laughing into each others eyes looking lost in love and there was a picture of their silhouettes walking on the sands of Kovalam beach hand in hand. At the wedding ceremony the people were not even looking directly at the camera. The photography was brilliant and the lighting natural. The album brought a tear in my eye. A tear of abject jealousy and self pity.

‘That sucks!’ I said swallowing back more tears. ‘No, I mean it really sucks’ I tried explaining to the visibly perturbed hosts. ‘Not your album, but ours.’

‘Oh, come on…I bet it is awesome. We must see it sometime when we are your place.’

Both Pi and I cried in unison, ’Nooooo!

I shuddered thinking of the photos and the cameraman from hell (or rather Triplicane). On the album cover was my face, almost murderous, and around the photo was a message in golden letters ‘Heven shower blissings on the happy coupple.’ Next to mine was Pi’s face with his eyes closed…hoping no one could see what he saw.

If he hasn’t burnt them already, Pi guards the photos like a crazed watch dog. His figure not being a perfect ten during those days, made him protest vehemently against the cruel treatment given to Brahmin bridegrooms. ‘Sorry, you can not wear a shirt and the poonal (sacred thread) over that. You will have to go bare-chested.’ they said.

‘Can we wait for a year longer to get married? I could go to the gym or convert to Christianity.’ he begged.

Unfortunately no one even considered it; Pi had to pose without a shirt. I believe the constipated look on the guest’s faces was actually shock mingled with sympathy for me.

So there he was consciously half naked exposing chest hair to open fire and there I was telling him how his tummy was making the priest jealous as I poured some ghee into the flame. At that time, the the cameraman would call out loudly, ‘Madam, look here madam. Can you smile please? Tilt head towards him please and point that little pinky towards the Jupiter if you don’t mind. And while you are at it, could you move to the right so we can get the mapilai’s (groom) love handles in our frame.’

When Pi tied the mangalsutra, the camera guy made me shake hands with Pi and pose. *Click* At first I thought it must be the first kiss equivalent of Indian weddings, but later when he made my brother shake hands with Pi after my brother poured puffed rice into the flame, I was a little confused.

Some things perplex me to date. First, why should there be a videographer in a reception? Second, why is there a band on a stage singing ‘Gemini Gemini Gavani Gavani?’ Third, why should there be a reception at all?

On Pi’s insistence, who was now more comfortable in his Sherwani, I decided to stop making faces at the cameraman. ‘It’s alright. Just deal with it today. Cooperate with him so you look good in the pictures.’

‘Madam, don’t grin. Please look here. Smile saar. Saar, look here saar. Aiyoo Saar, here here!’

‘Ok, who hired this moron!’ Pi was livid.

Video guy would pull people who were in the middle of greeting us and rearrange them beside us and make them stand straight and look directly into the camera while he rolled his video camera to take action shots. The camera guy clicked a still picture to accompany the action shot just in case we missed who presented that plastic tea cup set.

Ohm… Ohm… Ohm! Slow breaths. There will be an end to this. All I have to do is believe in it.

I protested against the filmy poses and he finally gave in. If I lived to tell this tale, I want to retain some dignity. Not a single wild horse was going to make me hold Pi's cheek with one hand and throw my head back in coy abandon. I told him not to bother with any graphics and just do a simple album and video. 'No frills pa.'

‘Aiyoo, how is that possible madam? For all that money, you will have to get all this only no?’ I considered handing him all my jewelry to disappear with the photos forever.

He wanted to do real time computer simulation and dazzle the crowd. It definitely was a crowd puller as we turned around and performed a fake puja to the screen behind us; he morphed the screen with an image of Thirupathi Balaji Yelumalai Venkatesa of Govinda Govinda fame. The audience could see all this and we had no idea what was happening. As we offered flowers to the screen and folded our hands in devotion, the crowd was yelling how close I need to go to the screen to get the flowers falling in the right angle. Next we had to stand with our side profile to the camera. We were being flown to Singapore on this Honeymoon Airlines with our faces sticking out of two windows, one behind the other. Even they were prudent not to get us booked on adjacent seats.

After a few days 3 humungous albums in sets of three and 3 sets of DVDs arrived at the door in a truck. I left my copy back in India giving the airline-baggage-limit excuse. If they ever needed an extra bed, it would come in handy. My mom teared up as she watched the video for he 10th time on the same day. Now I realized who this was for.


I had no courage to watch the video for the longest time. When I finally did in the company of a few drinks and persistent friends, I was pleasantly surprised to see most of our footage replaced with Simran and Surya’s dancing. Then there was the whole computer graphics deal that would put Spielberg to shame. My head splitting into ten and forming a little trajectory into Pi’s eyes. It’s quite possible I actually performed that stunt under those circumstances. I wish he could have turned me into Kali mata with blood dripping from the corners of my mouth and tongue sticking out. Oh well, that wasn’t necessary. From what I saw of myself in that red saree, I came close.

A year later back in India, just as I walked into my parent’s house, I saw a gigantic laminated picture of the both of us looking completely hassled in our wedding garbs, hanging on the wall. The very picture I detested as my hair was all frizzy and Pi was er... fat. Horror of horrors!

‘The nice fellow that he is, Popular Studio guy presented us with two such laminated pictures, for free!’ my mom gushed. ‘The other one is at your in-law’s.’


Anonymous said...

LOL!!! An Indian, particularly hailing from the southern parts will instantly identify with this. The horrendously enlarged picture at my in-laws flashed before my eyes. My parents, luckily, opted to go for a small photo frame on the corner table with a relatively un-ruffled us featured. Phew!

shub said...

thank you, thank you SO much for this post! And "we offered flowers to the screen and folded our hands in devotion" Really? Is this on the dvd too? Can we meet?

Glad to see you back posting, even if only intermittently :)

Alpha said...

Anon: You be quite lucky I tell you. Two walls are eliminated from my line of vision. In fact in some ways its a blessing coz when we show up now, the friends and neighbors look at us in pleasant awe. You guys looks great these days.

shub: thanks..if that'll make you visit, anything man..i am willing to put my maanam in stake here.

Anonymous said...


"His figure not being a perfect ten during those days ... the constipated look on the guest’s faces was actually shock mingled with sympathy for me."

i believe the sympathy was for pi.

btw, ten is no longer the universal standard of perfection. gymnasts have moved along to 17 (or some such), batsmen like an average of hundred, and batters - they would hope to bat a thousand!

"Next we had to stand behind each other with our side profile to the camera."

i'm still wondering how one (or two) can achieve that! aah ... i get it, back2back (i had this hilarious montage of alpha running to get behind pi ... pi running to get behind alpha ... rinse, and repeat). ;-) needless to say, this pose is not in our wedding album.

me too, glad to see you back. very busy, eh?

- s.b.

p.s.: diving still measures by 10, but you need to be chinese to be anywhere close to perfection in that sport.

bloghopper said...

So you tied the mangalsutra to pi !
Horrors of horrors !!

Alpha said...

sb: The animation was funny! I can see how you could get confused. And lets not get too hung up on the tens and hundreds yaar...give Pi a slack. If he thinks ten is perfect, I am waiting bated breath for him to achieve even that. Yes, miss you too. been ultra busy traveling and planning for the next travel.

sb: haha! I can only imagine Pi sitting on my poor dad's lap.

Zoheb said...

Real time compi effects. Kaash meri shaadi mein ..... Anyway, I will hope for better luck next time.

AB said...

LOL!!! I recently watched bollywood films with non - desi friends and had a tough time explaining y the heroine was aimlessly rolling on grass and running around with an extra long dupatta flying in the air. I wonder how a marriage video will go ?

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

My head splitting into ten and forming a little trajectory into Pi’s eyes.

ROFLMAO. so accurately put. trust me you're not alone. i've seen a few of those. :)

Jairam said...

Let me put it this way, I resisted all persistent efforts of my dad to have one of those damn couple photos at my place for just about 365 days of the marriage.

What does he give us as a gift for our first wedding anniversary, one damn laminated photo where I look tired, and the missus looks......well, plain scary with all the damn make up and hassled hair.

Anyways, your story, my story, all stories related to wedding photographers seem to be the same. What can I say other than welcome to the club.


silverine said...

Absolutely hilarious!!! Lovely way to end the week! :)


nomad said...

Hilarious, thoroughly enjoyed it with a sense of deja vu !!

We too have a similar tale, narrated by wife here

Alpha said...

zo: are you saying you had a classy photographer? Come on...

ab: Not sure how you'll handle that..maybe its best to say it's cultural and keep a straight face through out. That'll surely make them respect us more.

girl from that place: yes and just like you, i thought it happens only to other people.

jam: tsk. my condolences. now when do we have club meetings etc?

silverine: thank you! my woe, your happiness.

nomad: funny post. thank god i have so much company! Your guy at least had apt songs at right fella didn't even put that much thought into it. While we were placng garlands, the song in the background was 'Rukh rukh rukh'

shub said...

"maanam" you say? After you've done semiya payasam of your maanam on your own blog for all to see? :D

and whatcha running next week? you're gonna do great I'm sure, you kilimanjaro climber and al! :)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Ok this is hilarious. Fellow sufferer.

Because i threw tantrums the photographer first declared to all and sundry that i was "uncooperative" ( for not sticking my index finger in my cheek and coyly blushing and instead showing him my middle finger) and subsequently went and asked my sister in law whether "Does the bride want to get married? She doesnt look too happy"

Incidentally a year and half into marriage i STILL havent seen the dvd. and the albums are safely bundled and locked away in a suitcase under the bed..hopefully never to be opened again

Neo said...

LOL...amazing..but true :)

Aqua said...

LOL *wipes tears from eyes*

I haven't laughed this hard in a while.

It's SO nice to see a post from you finally. Alpha, you were missed!!!

congrats on the kilimanjaro climb again! :)

neha vish said...

I don't dare look at my wedding video. But the consolation was that our pundit look liked he was out of a sumo wrestling ring. Compared to him all of us looked thin.

phatichar said...

Oh Alpha, Alpha, Alpha..still the same :-) This was a wonderful read, after so long.

Pssst, why don'tcha come over to my humble ab(log)de? You've been remembered. ;-)

Anonymous said...


i think it is unanimous among the commentators - an alternative good title for this post would be(yes, i know you didn't ask for one):

marriage reception: pro's dream, couple's nightmare!

- s.b.

p.s.: your posts have started that familiar trend of disappearing once they are commented and "blissed on"!! me not like :-(.

Rambler said...

Reaaally funny post. I was reminded of a marriage photo I had seen where the bride and groom's faces were morphed on butterflies sitting on a bunch of roses :-)

Anonymous said...

Hilarious post. Why do you want to remind so many of us the bad memories of our wedding pics?


chakri said...

when do i get to see the video? would appreciate it if it is mailed overnight ;-)

chakri said...

when do i get to see the video? would appreciate it if it is mailed overnight ;-)

maduraiveeran said...

Very Funny post, enjoyed it every bit. These days photographers use software to do the magic. Actually, the photographers in Madurai are totting around Nikon DSLRs and using Photoshop and printing photos directly on the album papers. It is actually awesome!

Sat said...

hehehe....I have to re-live my own horrors when I drop by here, only it all seems funny :D
I luckily with a lot less posing, thanks to the fact that I had seen a lot more otherwise perfectly normal people having to go through all this, so I made it a point that come what may, I wont be caught in a pose during the wedding. But then yeah my face ached from all that smiling and fidgeting with the saree....!
And the one thing I was extremely glad about, the video guy was not around when we were having our dinner, he beat us to it :) ….and the feeding-sweets-to-each-other snaps that we were forced to take never made it to the final cut. Phew!
All that hulla and I haven't given a second look to that album till this day

Ron said...

Did Popular Studio also give you two copies of a hideously shiny wedding/reception calender? Every month has different pics of the couple...with added special effects of course. So the month of January has a black and white me with extra red lips(somewhat like a well fed vampire) and a black and white husband with a horribly blue tie,looking moonily at each other.Our reception album has us in heart shaped thought bubbles emanating from each others heads *shudder*

AmitL said...

ROFL...Twin,you should be happy-so many hilarious incidents occuring every moment in your life(lives).:) I'm still grinning at 'Heven shower blissings on the happy coupple.' And,what a nice Popular Studio guy!

WA said...

Alpha, upload it on youtube no? Please.

Hehhhh said...

Vintage Alpha. Absolutely rocking post, complete with making Pi cringe.

And look ma, no toilets!

Alpha said...

shub: a half. god!

cynic: lol. true. If body language was anything to go by, it didn't look like being happy was on my agenda either.

neo: thanks.

Aqua: Good to see you again. Thanks.

Neha: Et tu?

Phatichar: thanks for the mention...

sb: Great title! Send meail id..and I will make you incharge of this..After writing the post in 1/2 hour, i spent an hour thinking of the title to come up with 'Smile Please' How pathetic.

I know..Unfortunately I read that post again.

rambler: yeesh...human butterflies?! If they ever have caterpillar children, they'll at least know whom to blame.

sat: Good for you. As you can see, life wasn't kind to many of us.

chakri: Why in the lord's name would I do that? maybe if you send me a pre-paid envelope.

madhuraiveeran: how did we not stumble upon such angels??

ron: haha! Jeez.. Thank God for small mercies..we didnt get a calendar..or maybe that would be at least expires in a year.

amitl: am glad the popular studio guy gave me so much grief so I can share it among you sadistic people.

wa: only if I knew how to.. wait..only if I had the courage to see it again.

hehh: Thanks. you really dont like toilet talk? that was an interesting revelation.

nandini: whats the use of having crappy times, if it cant be shared. To tell you the truth, I thought I was the only victim. That's coz, I never ask anyone to show me their album knowing they might want to see the same.

Me said...

..and I thought you would be bored in posting a reply to these comments!

Rash said...

where's them RSS feeds? Just when I take a break from checking if you have posted you do this one. Totally cracked up from laughing though secretly happy that we weren't the only ones who suffered a similar fate. Our videowala was primitive though. No balaji/mahavir/vaishnodevi siumulations. Shucks!

Rationale said...

Come to think of it, even I have seen your Wedding album! :))

Kudos to your bro for the lack of videography at our reception and the nice camerman. (Now I know where he learnt the lesson from!)

Hurrah for big sisters!

Thanatos said...

Haha! While reading the first half of your tale of horrors, I was about to thinking "well at least they weren't whisked away to honeymoon land in a cardboard plane". Oops :D

Munimma said...

Why do people 'pose' for wedding videos? Did you also have a caked face in all your pics, along with the frizz? Standard for such albums.

I guess I missed out on all that 'fun'. Having a wedding across the oceans comes with its advantages and disadvantages. My photos were not taken by any 'pro' picters. Although once the others got their dibs, we were left with only a handful of pics.

Chetana said...

LOL .. I haven't been able to stop laughing. It has been 3 months since I got married and I can exactly associate to everything you have mentioned in the blog !!
It was a good write-up.

Global Handler said...

aahh, good one on the custom(s) crafted at Indian weddings.

Anonymous said...

When did this post happen?!! I'd given up hope that this blog would be updated at all. Trust me, a band singing 'Gemini, gemini' on stage is not half as bad as the song dubbed on your wedding DVD.

So I won't get to see pics of you and Pi flying Singapore Airlines when I visit you?


AmitL said...

Sadistic people??*looks justifiably mystified*

Sid said...

Wonderfully written post. And the most accurate picture of a South Indian wedding.

And I don't know why we are so hassled with this kind of a marriage. I have been to friend's Marwari and Punjabi wedding. Man they have all the fun in the world.

Seriously I will need at least a year after finding my bride and before the marriage to lose all that flesh :(

Had great fun reading the post.

Alpha said...


Charanya said...

I am in tears!
Who needs a family or priests to conduct the wedding when we we have the cameraman and videoman?? :p