Good Night and Good Luck


by Rohin
23rd February, 2006 at 4:05 am    

Farewell my Pickled friends, as the Interweb faithful say, brb. This is what I’m doing. I will try to drop in when I can and I shall certainly keep my eyes open for anything interesting to write about. I thought I’d sign out with something a bit lighter, but first the headlines:

Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka and the England team have got Delhi belly.
Al Qaeda’s next target identified.
Google Maps puts up new high(er) res images of the infamous Area 51, but Google Earth now less cool as 3D timetravel now possible in London.
Vegas casinos outsourcing to India (warning – shocking grammar in this piece).
Brokeback Mountain entitled ‘Faggot Cowboys‘ in Turkey.
Christians and Muslims kill each other in Nigeria, no one surprised.
Bullock racing, jumping cows, teeth pulling tractors – India’s rural Olympics.
New beer launched in Palestine, called Hamas. Explosive taste.
Christians feel left out, protest about cartoons.


And now our feature presentation:

TIME ran a piece this week entitled The Land of the Wedding Planners, charting the rise and rise of the mega wedding in India and amongst Indians around the world. Weddings, it seems, have become a field in which Indians lead the way. The country’s burgeoning middle class have embraced weddings as an opportunity to show off their often obscene wealth.

Alex Perry, author of the piece, describes the wedding of a New Delhi doctor’s daughter:

The 1,000 guests mill under a marquee that’s the size of a cricket field and help themselves to a 42-dish buffet. The sides of the tent are crimson chiffon, the ceiling is black satin inset with sequin stars, and the drapes and the throw cushions are gold and amber silk. The place is heated by 20 gas burners and illuminated by 25 chandeliers, 40 lanterns, 66 spotlights and 288 candles. Tradition dictates that separate celebrations be held for the groom, the bride, their engagement and their families and friends. So Chopra, a prominent New Delhi physician, plans to throw five parties over seven days.

I’m sorry, this is small fry. I met up with some friends recently, all of whom came over here for university, from India. They were recounting two weddings, held a week apart. Both were friends from LSE, both were sons of diamond merchants from Gujarat. They estimate 10,000 guests were present at each and a raft of the Bollywood A-list pranced (including Hema Malini and her daughters). This is more like it.

Perhaps most famously, two years ago the Bengali head of Sahara, Subrato Roy, flew 10,000 guests on 26 planes to an £80 million wedding for his son. The candles cost £250,000, there was a 100-piece orchestra, the Moscow State Circus showed up and everyone who’s anyone was there, often performing on stage. All photos were banned. This also serves to demonstrate that it is no longer the father of the bride who solely foots the bill. On the contrary, many weddings now pool money from both sides in order to really push the boat out.

Amazingly, the $10 billion Indian wedding-planning industry actually creates a wedding season economy boom. TIME reports:

Commodity analysts say Indian demand for gold wedding jewelry helped lift the metal’s price to a 25-year high last month.

…weddings that range from $20,000 (the average cost of a wedding blast in the U.S.) to $2 million, which gets you hand-painted invitations by artist M.F. Husain, a Thai banquet for 2,000 and a helicopter to ferry the groom to the ceremony. Indian weddings, Raheja says, are more than the union of boy and girl: “It’s the merging of two families, often two businesses.”

Indians abroad are no less brash when it comes to flashing the cash. Laxmi Mittal’s daughter’s mega-wedding, featuring those Bollywood stars again – plus Kylie – in Versailles was reported around the world, allegedly costing £50 million (right). Playboy Vikram Chatwal recently wed model Priya Sachdev in Delhi and Mumbai (somehow) with a guestlist including Gisele, Johnny Depp, Naomi Campbell and the family Clinton, who were in India to promote the Clinton Foundation.

For every celeb wedding, there are at least a hundred unions between super-rich Indian families and apparently the richer they are, the less likely the wedding is to feature in the gossip rags, as they are paid to stay away. Even Dev and Sunita’s wedding was given the star treatment on Corrie.

Weddings have far-reaching implications. Festivities are predominantly held during the cool, dry season. However, with Indian marriage comes superstition and as astrologers tend to select the same auspicious days, only a handful of possible dates occur where the stars and sky are in agreement. In Delhi, 15,000 weddings take place on a busy night (wow, I might become a hijra) and the 14 million residents suffer gridlock and load-shedding across the city. Post celebration, drink driving is hardly frowned upon. A great quote from the piece comes from Delhi official Ajay Kumar, explaining why the Delhi High Court banned wedding parades on public roads and parks:

“Everybody loves a good wedding, but there are times when the city turns into a kind of happy hell.”


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Filed in: Culture,Economics,Humour,India,South Asia






38 Comments below   |  

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  1. David T — on 23rd February, 2006 at 9:49 am  

    You’ve been a star. Good luck and have fun.

  2. Jay Singh — on 23rd February, 2006 at 10:25 am  

    Have a great time – although I trust that when you return to England you will resume your headline blogging?

  3. NorahJones — on 23rd February, 2006 at 10:45 am  

    Wow.

    Have a safe journey and hope you have a fantastic time.

    Love the first vid!

    xxx

  4. BevanKieran — on 23rd February, 2006 at 10:53 am  

    Have a great journey Rohin.

  5. Vikrant — on 23rd February, 2006 at 11:20 am  

    G’bye Rohin bro. Have a nice time ‘n try to put on some weight man… also put up some pics on DR of the babes you’d happen to meet on yer travels!

    Neeways this will last of me you guys would be seeing here for quite some time…

  6. Jai — on 23rd February, 2006 at 11:34 am  

    Have a great trip, Rohin buddy. Your posts (here and elsewhere) are always entertaining to read, and I do hope you will occasionally find time to stop by Sepia Mutiny too and say hello (my usual neighbourhood, as you know).

    Have fun with the SM crowd over in the US if you do decide to meet up with them while on your travels ;)

    Safe journey, and very best of luck.

  7. Jai — on 23rd February, 2006 at 11:38 am  

    Vikrant,

    I’m assuming this means you’re now about to move to the US too ?

    Well, it’s been good talking to you here on PP — you have a lot of intelligence and insight for someone so young (certainly more than I did when I was your age), so keep up the good work and you’ll go far.

    Hopefully you will continue to stop by SM too.

    Anyway, good luck for your new life in the States — I’m sure you’re about to have the adventure of a lifetime ;)

  8. raz — on 23rd February, 2006 at 11:50 am  

    “Neeways this will last of me you guys would be seeing here for quite some time…”

    :(

  9. Vikrant — on 23rd February, 2006 at 11:56 am  

    Naah.. I’ve got well over 2 years b4 i go to States.The truth is a bit mundane. I’ve got stupid exams! Well will be back here by April, thats when i’ll have done my Deutsche (*spit* ) GCSE.

  10. Jai — on 23rd February, 2006 at 12:13 pm  

    Vikrant,

    Well, best of luck for your exams anyway. Revise like hell and make sure you do yourself justice in terms of your coursework and (especially) exam performance — these grades stay on your CV permanently, even if you’re looking for a new job many years from now (I’m 32 and my GCSE grades are still on my CV). Get as many As as you can — it’s all about making a great impression on your future employers, so having the highest grades possible will make life a bit easier for you in the long-term.

    It may seem like a lot of hard work right now, but trust me, in the years ahead it’ll all pay off.

    Also, as you probably know, the grades you get now will determine which A-Levels you can do and (subsequently) which university & degree you are suitable for. So make it a habit to give it a 110% and do the very best that you can — you won’t regret it.

  11. Vikrant — on 23rd February, 2006 at 12:20 pm  

    Thanks for the advice Jai. Well I’ve already given a Higher Maths and Physics GCSE. I do hope an A in those if not A*. But not too sure about languages though! Well results wont be declared until i finish all 11 by June. So lets see….

  12. Jay Singh — on 23rd February, 2006 at 12:21 pm  

    Vikrant

    Good luck in your exams. Please tell us how to say ‘commie-pinko-Hindu-hating-pseudo-secular’ in German when you’re done.

  13. Vikrant — on 23rd February, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    That simple: Herr Jay Singh ;)

  14. Kay — on 23rd February, 2006 at 12:27 pm  

    Aufweiderzen matey.

    All the best.

  15. Rohin — on 23rd February, 2006 at 12:52 pm  

    Aw shucks. Thanks very much guys. Still a day or so before I go (got a frikking exam to do first), but I thought I’d get the post up while I had time (5am last night – hence please excuse garble).

    Of course I’ll resume when I get back Jay! I’m doing a kind of Thompson-Twain-Bryson travelogue for my paper (well, with none of the humour and more medicine) so I’ll try to post here if I can. I also have to write a book before the end of March, so I’ll be busy.

    Good luck with exams Vikrant, you can listen to Jai’s serious and responsible message or you can do what I did and half-arse your way through GCSEs. “I’ve already given…” – ah, a true Indian GIVES exams. But remember, anything less than an A* is a FAILURE.

    Jai I may well be meeting a few Mutineers…

  16. Jay Singh — on 23rd February, 2006 at 12:55 pm  

    Rohin

    Damn! You are one busy Bengali. Writing a book? Tell us more.

  17. Rohin — on 23rd February, 2006 at 1:05 pm  

    It’s boring dude, for medical students. All about the new training system and how to get a kick-ass CV. Probably will make sod-all from it, but how cool will it be to have my name on the shelf in Waterstones? That’s basically all I’m thinking about. Then I have finals when I get back, excellent.

  18. Jay Singh — on 23rd February, 2006 at 1:06 pm  

    Rohin – doesnt matter, the important thing is that you get your name in print and it is something for your CV! Congratulations.

  19. Vikrant — on 23rd February, 2006 at 1:06 pm  

    ah, a true Indian GIVES exams.

    Ahh.. well i started my school at Bombay Scottish ya know…

  20. Vikrant — on 23rd February, 2006 at 1:08 pm  

    your book will be at Waterstones?…. now thats cool.

  21. Sunny — on 23rd February, 2006 at 1:10 pm  

    We’ll miss you for sure you slag. I know Shabbs will, for more than one reason. PP ain’t going to be the same for a little while at least.

  22. El Cid — on 23rd February, 2006 at 1:33 pm  

    Jammy cunt
    Enjoy!

  23. FOB — on 23rd February, 2006 at 3:58 pm  

    Have a nice trip man..you posts are alway fun…

  24. j0nz — on 23rd February, 2006 at 4:46 pm  

    Have a good one Rohin ;)

    (I bet he carries on posting, even on holiday!)

  25. Don — on 23rd February, 2006 at 5:49 pm  

    Happy landings, Rohin. And don’t take sweets from strangers.

  26. jamal — on 23rd February, 2006 at 5:55 pm  

    all the best.

    i would say have fun, but i notice your map destination line veers in the direction of san francisco.

    no surprises there!

  27. Rohin — on 23rd February, 2006 at 6:00 pm  

    Jamal, you’re a bit of a tit, aren’t you? I dunno, perhaps you think you’re being funny. I didn’t really mind you until this week.

    Thanks, to everyone else.

  28. jamal — on 23rd February, 2006 at 6:07 pm  

    Touched a raw nerve eh! or maybe you are just over-reacting.

    as i said, all the best.

  29. Sunny — on 23rd February, 2006 at 7:27 pm  

    I’d love to go San Fran… I hear its even more friendly than LA… and in LA everyone says hello to each other.

  30. FOB — on 23rd February, 2006 at 8:09 pm  

    Rohin, looking forward to some posts from Jesusland extolling the virtues of FOBs and slamming ABCDs..hope you will oblige..

    Sunny, yeah San Fran is friendly all right..just .not the kind of friendly straight men ususally like…:)

  31. Siddhartha — on 23rd February, 2006 at 9:17 pm  

    Big fun bondhu!

  32. Jay Singh — on 23rd February, 2006 at 11:57 pm  

    Yeah Rohin, jamal is a tit.

    Look forward to your posts when you return.

  33. mirax — on 24th February, 2006 at 1:28 am  

    Have a wonderful trip, Rohin and g’luck with the other ventures too. Remember, every second you are in Frisco, Jamal’s envying you like hell! The repressed twat.

  34. Steve M, BSc Reading (failed). — on 24th February, 2006 at 1:54 am  

    Live it, Rohin. Enjoy.

  35. mirax — on 24th February, 2006 at 2:43 am  

    Heh, Steve. Trying for honesty with the new handle?

    Reminds me of a shady relative of mine from India whose name card still states ‘ EX-MLA(member of legislative assembly)’ though the joker lost his constituency like 20 years ago.

  36. Pocahontas — on 24th February, 2006 at 10:23 am  

    Have a fab time Rohin! I am in NY and Boston soon, drop me a mail and may be our paths will cross!

    All the best buddy.

  37. Don — on 24th February, 2006 at 2:01 pm  

    Having had another look at that itinerary, that’s one hell of a carbon footprint, mate. I trust you’ll be planting a shit-load of trees when you get back. Something the size of Shropshire would probably do it.

  38. Rohin — on 24th February, 2006 at 4:00 pm  

    I’m flying with Jeremy Clarkson, so my carbon footprint looks smaller.

    I drive a wee car and am one of the greenest people I know, so I feel less guilty about it Don!

    OK, my last message so take care y’all.

    Peas.

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