29 June, 2010


"It is Saturday so you must be heading south", said my friend. Whenever he calls me I am driving to attend one of the countless social functions that I am invited to. The balance sheet for May 18 read like this, drove four hundred kilometers, traveled nine hours, profit four free meals!

Celebrations in life starting from birth and not even ending with death are innumerable because there are death anniversaries even after the goodbye forever.

The most common celebrations for us are baptism when one is initiated into Christendom which takes place anytime after a week or month of birth followed by the first birthday party where oblivious to the baby the parents and their friends make merry. Then there is a lull in the celebrations unless there are birthday parties every year which thankfully are rare. First Holy Communion happens when you are around eight or nine years old. Then comes the major celebrations starting with betrothal or engagement as some call it, followed by the grandest of them all, the wedding. Now weddings run to three days of festivities. On the preceding night of the wedding is the ‘Mathuram veppu’ which is a rehearsal of the actual one that is going to take place on the stage, or ‘manakolam’ at the reception on the day of the wedding. And then the culmination of the wedding function is the wedding night party where sometimes liquor flows freely. The cycle repeats with the newborn of the newly wedded couple.

The final ceremony one is present albeit in rigor mortis is one’s own funeral. But for friends and relatives it is not all over as they will have to make one or more journeys to attend the seventh day, or thirtieth day, or forty first day memorial services as the case may be and without fail there would be the death anniversary. These could be breakfast, lunch, or tea but never dinner.

May be because it was an auspicious day, there was a rare confluence of social functions on May 18 and we were invited for all the four meals. A very rare event when the kitchen was completely shut down for a day. I stay at Kottayam, Kerala. My brother invited us for his son’s first Holy Communion and breakfast at our native place Mundakayam which is a little more than an hour’s drive about fifty five kilometers east. Then it was westward returning to Kottayam to attend the betrothal of my brother-in-law’s niece followed by lunch. As soon as the lunch was over I set off to Trichur hundred and fifty kilometers to the north and a drive of about three hours to attend the wedding of one of my friend’s daughter and tea thereafter. The day culminated with attending the wedding reception of another friend’s daughter seventy five kilometers south of Trichur at Kochi and dinner was taken care off. Finally I returned home well past midnight.

In the past invitees were seated for enjoying the spread. Now- a- day’s because of the large number of guests the food is served in buffet style. Since everybody is in a hurry to leave all tend to go to the food counter simultaneously causing a serpentine queue. Attending a large number of these functions day in and day out, one becomes a veteran as to how to tackle these situations. The technique I have perfected is, as the function on the stage is going on I wash my hands and strategically place myself near the head of the counter where the plates are stacked. That way I’ll be the first to delve into the spread and avoid waiting in queue with plate in hand for my turn.

One celebration that has not so far been launched is divorce. And the day is not far when an invitation reading “you are cordially invited to our divorce and to the reception in connection with the same”. That will be the mother of all celebrations!