A Goan Affair

After a rigorous month of Chandigarh weddings at the familiar expansive farmhouses, with the same old menu of lemon fish and lemon tarts, a destination wedding in Goa came as a breath of fresh air! Tickets were swiftly booked. Enough time to halt at the Mumbai airport for a mouth watering Vada Pav was cleverly incorporated by my efficient better half.
After a turbulent ordeal of four hours, we had finally reached the land of beaches and bumps. The one hour stretch of the hotel from the airport was scenic. The many speed breakers we encountered on our way managed to keep us awake from our stupor on seeing the gushing waves hit against the majestic palm trees and brightly coloured houses.
The air of Goa spelt freedom. The usually demure new brides had shed their modest salwar-kameez and were experimenting with outfits straight out of Bollywood. The oppressed students made the most of sun and sand, and were seen whizzing past on rented bikes. The families were sighted bonding over coconut water, reprimanding their mischievous children every now and then. The more courageous ones were spotted indulging in water sports-either hanging by a harness mid air, or driving at breakneck speed on a motorboat. Then there were couples like us-sitting reclined on a beach chair, under a shaded shack, revelling in our share of adrenaline rush by merely watching the daredevil tourists, whilst sipping chilled mojitos and sangrias.
While savouring our moments of bliss, we were occasionally interrupted by stocky women and lanky men for pedicures and massages. It was very interesting to see how the locals had created sources of income for themselves in the state of Goa, which thrives on tourism. These women not only offered pedicures and manicures, but also carried with them an entire gamut of beauty essentials for braiding hair, creating eye catching nail art, giving specialised massages, etc. They boasted of a long list of foreigner clients who employed them for months together, as long as they stayed. After getting my share of beauty therapy on the beach, I was ready for the wedding functions.
The main affair was solemnised at the local Gurudwara, which was proceeded by a lovely lunch at a picturesque beach side resort. Round tables had been arranged in the lush, manicured lawns. A colourful tent had been set up at the centre of the venue which served as the dance floor. The vast, serene beach could be seen, which endlessly stretched into infinity. The whole setting was such a contrast to the ostentatious tents and floral arrangements, which are a regular feature in Punjabi weddings. It did not require any larger-than-life sets or dramatic floral peacocks! This was nature at its prettiest. It was understated, but surreal nonetheless. This spectacular view served as tonic for the eyes and the balmy Goan weather was soul invigorating. We savoured the spicy Goan fish curry and rice, and placated our raging senses with coconut cake and chilled icecream.
The weddings in the North are known for their grandeur and pomp. They are a stark contrast to celebrations in the rest of the country, where the number of guests and the dishes on the menu are limited.
But when the state is heading towards penury, suffering severe agrarian crisis, don’t you think it’s time to downsize the big fat Punjabi wedding?
Do we really need a hundred and twenty dishes of different cuisines?
Is it mandatory to invite distant relatives and acquaintances just because that’s the norm? Isn’t the beautiful meaning of marriage lost among this show and din?
I was searching for answers to these while the couple of the moment danced away without a worry in the world, and I silently wished for them a union- unpretentious, spirited and magical- just like the essence of Goa!