Friday, 9 January 2009

A Wedding in Jaipur



These days if you have to travel by train from Mumbai to Jaipur, you have convenient direct trains connecting the two cities. For example, if you board the Jaipur Superfast Express from Mumbai’s Bandra terminus at 3.45 pm, you are in Jaipur the next day by 10.40 am.


Such was not the case 25 years ago, when my friend Tata Kumar got married.


During those days, to reach Jaipur from Bombay, you had to travel in one of the main line trains plying the Delhi route up to Sawai Madhopur, where you got down and changed over to another train to Jaipur.


Tata Kumar, no stranger to the regular readers of this blog, is from Kerala and his wife-to-be, also his colleague, is from Rajasthan. The course of true love, steadfastly adhering to a familiar script, has not run smoothly in this case also--the girl’s family has vehemently opposed the match. After many episodes fraught with emotion and drama, during the course of which our hero has unwaveringly withstood with admirable dignity all threats and inducements to break off the relationship, finally good sense has prevailed and the girl’s family has relented and agreed to the marriage, which is to be held in Jaipur and as per Rajasthani traditions.


Thus we find ourselves on a cold morning in Sawai Madhopur railway station, boarding the first class compartment of a metre gauge train which will take us to Jaipur in seven hours. What we did not know at that time, of course, was that the bride’s uncle was a high-ranking official with the Western Railway and instructions had been wired beforehand to the local railway authorities to “take care” of the baaraat.


The “baaraat” is a motley crew consisting of a few members of Tata Kumar’s family, a few of his friends, couple of colleagues, and my uncle MK and his family.


It was to be an unforgettable journey. The entire first class compartment, washed clean, dusted, and beautifully bedecked with flowers, had been exclusively reserved for us. As the train pulled out of Sawai Madhopur, we were handed over toiletries and fresh towels to spruce ourselves up after the grimy, overnight journey from Bombay. By the time we were back in our seats, a refreshing cup of steaming tea awaited us, followed by a fruit platter and an elaborate breakfast served by attendants who were intent on fulfilling their guests’ slightest whim and fancy. It was as if we had moved backward in time and were in the India of the British Raj.


Finally, we arrive in Jaipur to be welcomed, to our acute embarrassment, with rose garlands and much fanfare.


And that night, the members of the baaraat, most of whom are equipped with two left feet when it comes to shaking a leg, bravely try dancing on the streets of Jaipur, in front of the decorated, open-decked car in which Tata Kumar sits in his sherwani and turban, a picture of silent and heroic stoicism.


Picture Courtesy: www.planetware.com

3 comments:

Vijay said...

Helps to have connections eh Rada??

Cynic in Wonderland said...

That is so nice!

Vidya said...

Is that a entry complete.... I mean there is no ' happily everafter', so was wondering!

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.