I've been attending several weddings recently. Suddenly there seems to be an outbreak of wedding fever such that nearly everyone of even slightly marriageable age in my neighbourhood is jumping off the dock. If an arranged marriage can be called "jumping off the dock" of course. There are a couple of girls who are only midway through college. They are going to drop out now, in order to serve their new families with the utmost devotion and half-literacy they have to offer. Another one, hold your breath, has only just finished school!
Anyway, whatever their families decide for them is their matter, not mine. If they want to chuck away the education that thousands of homeless young girls yearn for and have Arundhati Roy campaign for, its upto them. Some girls want to be Kalpana Chawla, others watch Ekta Kapoor serials. Fine.
The point is, a wedding is an interesting place to be these days. Lots of stuff happening all the time and I've only just begun to notice it for some reason. The one I want to talk about right now is the kids that attend weddings. They've changed. I'm going to dedicate this post to just the amazing little tykes I've seen of recent at weddings.
I cant really remember what kind of kid I was back when I used to run around in carefree abandon at weddings of people I didnt know, but I was fascinated by a group of kids I happened to see at work at a recent marriage. They were I think 7 in all, all guys. Not more than seven or eight years old. I was just standing in a corner with a drink (soft) in my hands since I didnt know anyone at this place, and these cute little infernal brats were making merry near me.
They started off with playing the well-known game of Musical Chairs. The chairs were whisked from nearby and music is sort of always playing at weddings. There were 7 of them, and they'd brought 10 chairs. Hmmm...Somehow the game went on alright, despite the extra number of chairs. But these days, kids arent really disciplined. One of them in an orange shirt, whom I'm sure is going after Mike Tyson, wasnt going to be stopped by any silly rules of the game. He kept jumping into the game even after having lost. And when he was forcibly pushed out by the dude (aged 7 and a 1/2) organizing the whole activity for the 3rd time, he showed his Tysonisque colours. No he didnt bite him, but he punched like nobody's business. The poor guy went off crying for mommy. His exact words were - "(sob) (sob) Muuuhhhuuuummmyyyyyyyyyy", I believe. Orange-shirt took his place again in the game.
Another chap (aged what looked to be 4), who will be a politician of some repute, would not yield the chair once he had sat on it. The object of the game is to run around in circles and snap at the chair again when the song and dance is over, right? Just like elections? But he wouldnt budge. The others tried to make him see reason but he wouldnt understand. So they toppled him off the chair. Once again I say, like elections, right? This started off a turf war sort of thing. Orange-shirt came to the rescue and started flinging fists left and right. I like to think of him as Slayer. Slayer went through the entire group in rapid succession, his fists striking everywhere equally without discrimination. What began as a poorly set up party-game, degenerated into a melee of fists and shoves. Parents had to intervene and untangle everyone from each other.
I also ran into several other species of kid. I'm going to go into rewind mode to compare again now. Back in my days of carefree joy and youthful exuberance, I dont recall being dressed up in atrocious costumes for weddings. I have always been quietly dressed, since I can remember. The strong, silent type making a powerful impact nonetheless. You know. But I see around me little boys who cant even count upto 57, running around with beaded necklaces hanging from their necks. Not hanging actually, because they seem to be more choking than that. There are little girls wearing outright ghagharas and stuff, with sets of bangles and jewelry and armed to the teeth with makeup. These girls are also supposed to dance in the sangeet parties that precede the wedding. Sweet, innocent girls with childlike innocent joy in their faces dance to the rhythm of sweet and innocent tracks as Ishq Kameena and other such soulful item numbers.
I came across the earlier group I was hanging with at dinner time. Of course, after all the games and tantrums and boxing matches these sweet, angelic, annoying, irritating little pokemons would get hungry. They descended on the food with inspirational enthusiasm and vigour. I think they upset approximately 7.6 platters off waiters' hands. I use the .6 because one of the waiters did this incredible gymnastic manoeuvre to just catch the dish before it graced the head of Slayer. Completely baffled Slayer for a moment he did. Slayer pushed him hard in annoyance of course. Not many went by that day whose lives (and/or ribs) hadnt been touched by the little monster.
I had an interesting time, like I said, playing observer to these kids. They brought back memories of the times when I used to frolic without thought of punishments and recrimination. When we were children, we spake like children, bandied nonsense like children and kicked waiters like children. But when we grew up, we gave up childish things.