Desi Weddings

Wedding season is upon us and for anyone from the Indian subcontinent this means a full on bling and colour fest. Dazzling jewels and vibrant colours are the hallmark of most desi weddings (desi is a term which loosely refers to anyone/thing of South Asian origin). You will rarely find an understated desi wedding. It’s a full on assault of the senses and one to be marvelled at. However, there are also some more subtle issues that commonly arise.

All blinged up for a recent wedding
All blinged up for a recent wedding

Firstly nobody ever worries about upstaging the bride. Short of draping a dupatta over one’s head (which is the customary veil for Asian brides) pretty much anything goes by way of guest dress code. The bigger the hair, the more sparkle and the brighter the lipstick the better. The bride will always make a regal entrance and be inspected on her attire. Heaven forbid should she decide to go for a more “natural” look. That would, in general, be deemed a fail by beady eyed onlookers who expect glamour and a bit of razzle dazzle. Guests will often scrutinise the bride in every possible way. In fact at my own wedding, whilst I was sitting on the stage as a bride, I kid you not, I was asked by an inquisitive “aunty” how much my wedding jewellery cost. Admittedly, I was somewhat surprised by the timing of the query.

A rather spectacular wedding cake at a recent wedding I attended
A rather spectacular wedding cake at a recent wedding I attended

Secondly, it’s all about the food. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on decor and style, if the food isn’t up to scratch the wedding will be deemed a disappointment. That’s all people will remember about the big day. Indeed some people only attend weddings for the food (many a husband has been dragged out to a wedding by his wife, lured by the promise of a delicious biryani). The older generation are particularly opinionated about their culinary expectations. Should you decide to experiment with the food options be prepared for the backlash.

Desi weddings have traditionally been a family affair
Desi weddings have traditionally been a family affair

And then of course there is the highly contentious issue of the guest list. There used to be a time when a wedding guest could bring his/her entire extended family to a wedding but those days are well and truly gone. Desi weddings are big business now and with rocketing prices it’s all about the price per head. That means being more selective about the guest list which inevitably leads to more than a handful of people getting the hump. It’s a political minefield. And even if you do only offer a “Mr and Mrs” invitation, you will still somehow end up with dozens of kids running around the wedding hall screeching at critical parts of the ceremony. Some guests clearly don’t read the memo or choose to ignore it. But in all fairness, overexcited, hysterical kids are part of the fabric of desi weddings and I have yet to attend one without any kids whatsoever (despite the best efforts of some hosts to limit them).

Furthermore, we cannot overlook the fact that a desi wedding is considered a major community event, when people will savour the opportunity to catch up on local news and inspect any potential suitors for their various friends and family members. The gossip mill goes into full overdrive with news of who has fallen out with who, who is checking out who and what various scandals are unfolding in the local network. No desi wedding is complete without some big news story breaking either immediately before /during or after the event.

And finally, it is a rite of passage for every wedding guest, at some point in their wedding guest career, to have a video man creep up on them and start filming them, at close range, when they have a mouthful of kebab or chicken tikka. It happens to everyone. You will be caught off guard, mid bite, and no doubt footage of you scoffing will make the final edit. Allow it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Desi weddings tend to be big, bold and extravagant affairs, but it’s often what goes on behind the scenes that is most interesting of all. There is never a dull moment at a desi wedding…you can expect excitement, glamour and always a touch of drama.

Date Night

Recently I was having dinner with some girlfriends and we started talking about how often we get to go out on a date night with our other halves. When I casually mentioned that the Old Git and I only tend to go out on special occasions (birthdays, Valentine’s Day and anniversaries) due to babysitting issues, some of them looked completely aghast. They told me they go out on a date night at least once a month, one friend even told me she goes out every Friday with her husband, which I found astonishing. What the heck? The Old Git and I probably go out on a date night about five times a year..MAX. How on earth do they find the time, the babysitters or the energy? The level of logistical planning that is required for regular date nights to take place, when you have small children, can be excessive, making it a complete hassle most of the time. However, it appears for some couples, date night is high on the list of priorities.

A rare date night on our anniversary. Steady on!

Of course in an ideal world I’d love to have regular date nights with the Old Git. I understand the importance of investing in one’s relationship and keeping the spark alive. It all makes perfect sense to me. For our ten year anniversary the Old Git and I left the kids for a long weekend for the FIRST time ever and it did feel rather glorious. We went for long walks hand in hand, enjoyed leisurely lunches, had romantic dinners…I didn’t find him annoying at all! It would seem being outside of the domestic environment and away from the kids made us get on splendidly (no bickering, no whinging and no passive aggression).  I think that’s the whole point of having date nights. You leave all of life’s responsibilities and dramas at home for a few hours and enjoy being a couple.

However, reality is such that the process of organising a date night can be an arduous one. Having grandparents who are willing and available to babysit certainly helps, but I don’t like to overuse this privilege as I know my kids aren’t exactly the compliant type and give the grandparents the run around. Plus it always feels completely chaotic to organise the logistics. At the same time we don’t use babysitters either. So we really aren’t making things easy for ourselves and have fallen into a bit of a rut.

I’m pretty sure the Old Git and I aren’t the only ones that are in this rut. After having kids lots of couples tend to focus primarily on their children’s’ needs and leave their relationships to just tick along. The danger is if you leave it too long you end up being a middle aged couple with nothing else to talk about besides the kids, schooling and utility bills. Shudder.

So, I’ve had an epiphany and have come to the conclusion that despite the inconvenience and logistical stress of it all, it’s worth setting aside some time for regular date nights, albeit once a month or once every two months (once a week? You’re having a laugh). By putting it in the diary it’s something we can plan for as there’s obviously no such thing as a spontaneous date night when you have kids.  I have some friends who take it in turns to look after each other’s children so that they each get the chance to go out. Others use reliable babysitters and many use family. Whatever the preferred method, it’s definitely worth prioritising. So I’m going to get off my lazy ass, stop making excuses and start devising a rota. Grandma, you’re up first.


When your Partner Works from Home

I have some friends who tell me they love it when their partners work from home. They have lunch together, go for coffee together, their husbands help out with the school run…apparently everything is rosy. I, on the other hand, grit my teeth and groan with dismay whenever the Old Git tells me he’ll be working from home. I hate it. It’s like he is deliberately setting out to ruin my day.

There are two scenarios. The first is when the kids are at school/nursery.  The Old Git totally unsettles my domestic tranquillity and disturbs every aspect of my routine. He stomps around noisily, belching and burping, makes a mess and annoys me in a multitude of ways. Firstly, he interrupts me when I’m writing or sending emails, despite tutting every time I walk into his study to ask him a non-work related question. Secondly, he’s always watching what I do and judging me. “Going out for lunch are we?” or “Aren’t you lucky to be meeting friends today?” he’ll say, insinuating that I spend all day prancing around socialising. And thirdly, and most annoyingly of all, he insists that I pretend he is not at home and carry on as normal, which is code for him telling me not to even think about getting him embroiled in domestic chores. And yet, come midday he will emerge from his room asking me what’s for lunch. Excuse me? I thought you told me to pretend you’re not at home? Grrrr.

Working/annoying me from home

And then there’s the second scenario which is when the kids are at home whilst the Old Git is working. Now this can get dramatic. He hides away in his study refusing entry to any of us but on occasion will pop in for two minutes to say ‘hi’ to the children. He will then promptly exit, leaving a trail of emotional destruction behind him as the kids start screaming for their daddy’s attention and affection. I’m left to deal with two hysterical children having a meltdown whilst simultaneously trying to cook dinner and complete homework. In a matter of minutes the Old Git has caused chaos for us, trashing all hopes of a peaceful evening. And then, the thing that riles me the most is when he blames me for the kids interrupting him. Occasionally I might need to go to the toilet and the kids might storm his study. Despite my best attempts I can’t always monitor their every move. Sometimes the little pests get through. But rather than tell them off and set boundaries, he’ll huff and puff at ME for letting them disturb him. Inevitably this will lead to a barmy and all domestic bliss will be well and truly shattered for the day.

Rightly or wrongly, I’ve always considered the house to be primarily my space during the weekday. I’ve always worked from home as a journalist and used it as my base. It’s also where I look after the kids and have routines and systems in place to keep things going. Whenever the Old Git hangs around everything is disturbed, including my sense of zen. Of course, I’m not one to complain (as you know), and I do appreciate it when the Old Git helps out with the school pick ups and drop offs, but to be frank, that’s about the only silver lining.

I’ve come to the conclusion our space is simply not big enough for the both of us to be at home working/ looking after the kids. In fact, I can quite confidently say if the Old Git worked from home consistently it would be a marital disaster for us. We both like our own space, enjoy having separate aspects to our lives and actually appreciate each other more this way. We would probably kill each other if we were at home together all of the time. I’m not quite sure this bodes well for our retirement together, but we will have to cross that bridge as and when we get to it (trying not to panic quite just yet)! In the meantime, the office beckons.