V decided that he wanted to buy me a proper diamond ring. The ring he had proposed with hadn’t been a diamond. So in case I gave anyone the impression that he was being a complete shit, he wasn’t – only a little one.
Because in somewhat anti-romantic mode, he had consulted his sister on where to buy it and she had suggested a jeweler and apparently, I was to go with her to buy the ring (because he wasn’t around). This strikes me as completely odd. Maybe, I’m buying into the cutesy sentiments that are a Hollywood conspiracy, but choosing one’s engagement ring with the sister of the groom (unless she happens to be your best friend) is not my idea of … well, anything.
“What if I want a really big stone, it would be so embarrassing to tell her,” I pointed out to V. To which he said “don’t worry” and ended up telling her to get me as big a stone as I wanted, which was obviously more embarrassing.
So one fine day, V’s sister orders me to Bangalore to see the ring and choose my wedding sari. This is another thing. Apparently, the Mallu tradition is either to wear a sari throughout or at some point in the wedding, go change and come out all dollied up in the sari.
It really makes no sense to me, except in an icky bride-as-exhibition sort of way, considering you’re shelling out fabulous amounts for the white dress anyway and the whole wedding is only a few hours anyway so why the neeed for a dress change? But this was a big thing for V’s parents so I agreed – apparently it’s traditional for them to give me a sari and some gold, including an enormous gold chain and a pendant of religious significance called a thali , something akin to a mangalsutra.
Anyway, my mom came down to Bangalore for the sari/jewellery choosing for moral support. She had also been reminded by V’s mom that it’s traditional for the bride to have some gold in a not-so-subtle nudge to my parents to buy me some.
Fortunately, my mom was also of the opinion that she must buy me some gold before my wedding and though normally I would have rolled my eyes at this, I had to accept this time.
So for the sari choosing we went to some few shops somewhere. It was all rather fun. Most people thought I hate wearing a sari but actually I love it because it’s so novel. I don’t associate it with auntyji-ness at all, because if you’re young and cool-looking, a sari can only be flattering. Also, I don’t only like the chiffon, Bollywood type ones. I like the traditional ones also.
I love the sari buying process also, where the shop guys are all chatty and give you chai and keep unfurling gorgeous cloth etc.
The wedding sari I chose was a blue and gold silk (Kanjivaram, I think) one but not overboard on the embellishments. The funny part is my Mil almost bought a very similar one to wear to the wedding until V’s sisters stopped her. Honestly, it was getting harder to tell who the bride was supposed to be.
Then we went to the gold choosing. I had made up my mind to refuse anything too heavy. See, although I was affecting the beyond-caring stance I am/used to be ideologically against piling on the gold. Or actually gold in principle. I just find the Indian obsession with it irritating – at every wedding, everyone seems to be checking out everyone else’s gold and often, it’s hideous and clashing with their outfits.
And while I was tolerating a lot, I just couldn’t stomach being a hanger for people’s show-off ambitions or be pressured into show-offness for some kind of face-saving purposes.
So in the end I chose a very modern looking necklace and earing made up of fine gold threads and blue beads to go with my sari and the smallest thali I could muster. The only compromise was a hideous gold rope chain, which actually didn’t make any sense because the thali was too small to wear it with and everyone knew that I wasn’t going to wear the thali otherwise.
Though maybe Mil hoped I’d get a thin chain and wear it later, and she even offered to buy me one, which I turned down on the grounds that I have too many. Which I really do. It’s amazing how many gold chains one accumulates as a girl growing up in India. And it’s also amazing how after I developed a will of my own, I refused to wear any of them and they’ve languished in my mom’s locker cupboard ever since.
Then it was time for the engagement ring. Turned out to be so weird because BS kept asking me if I wouldn’t like a bigger stone (because V had instructed her) and I kept refusing because I genuinely think very big stones are as hideous as huge necklaces.
Anyway, ended up choosing one I liked and telling the woman to make it in white gold. Only when it finally came she had done it in gold and BS summoned me to Bangalore to see it again and then when I commented that it was the wrong colour she said “but it’s ok no?”
And so I now have a gold ring which I faithfully get plated into silver every year.