Sunday, March 23, 2008

Surviving Wedding Receptions

Surviving Wedding Receptions
A first-person book review by the author

By Cecil Pinto


Since nobody seems to be buying my latest guide-book, leave alone reviewing
it, I have decided to review it myself. "1,200 copies in print! The perfect
wedding gift!", reads the blurb of Cecil Pinto's latest offering,
"Surviving Goan Catholic Wedding Receptions: A must-have Manual and Guide".
A worthy successor to last year's "Surviving the Nuptial Mass", from the
author's Goan Guidebooks series whose combined readership must be in the
millions. In fact "Surviving Calangute in Peak Season" has gone into its
second edition. I particularly remember a succinct phrase from the
'Nuptials' primer (the introductory paragraph of the chapter, "Ten things
to do with the stupid Mass Booklet"). I quote, "Keep in mind that the
entire fifty copies of this totally unnecessary booklet has been printed on
the office computer, an immoral act that also harms the environment.
The precious few who still attend nuptials will bear in mind that the main
purpose of attending is to observe sacrilegious acts committed by the other
side of the family. This cannot be done efficiently if you're busy
examining the beautifully formatted Mass Booklet embellished
un-aesthetically with disproportionate clipart of doves, hearts and what
distinctively look like Christmas Bells. Pay attention to the homily and
responses uttered by the main celebrant and stop reading them from the
booklet!"

In fact so many such gems of advice abound in the latest book,
"Surviving Goan Catholic Wedding Receptions", that I will take a back seat
as a reviewer and just quote from the book.

Quote from Chapter 1, "The Beginning of the Blame Game".
"Mummy why are they sitting quietly in the wedding car?" In the last few
decades parents have had to hear this question and find it difficult to
explain why the bridal couple are having their first marital silent fight
in a beautifully decorated wedding car a few hundred meters from the
reception venue. As always happens, despite the very modern and
cosmopolitan couple having printed "7.30 p.m sharp" on the wedding invite,
none of the guests see it fit to arrive anytime before 8.45 p.m. Which
means the bridal couple has to wait outside the hall till sufficient guests
have accumulated to have a proper wedding march. The bride blames the
groom's people for being late, and vice versa. This blame game will
continue through the celebrations with each side finding flaw in whatever
the other side has arranged for. If the Master of Ceremonies lacks pizzazz
the bride's father will make it known that he had suggested hiring Alan
Pinto, who would have done a much better job. And the groom's brother
will casually mention that he could have got Alcatrazz to play, which would
have been much better than the clowns the bride's people hired - who can't
differentiate between a fox trot and a waltz. How does one explain all
this inter-family rivalry to a little child? Does one just go with the flow?
Why do guests at St. Estevam have a full dinner at home and only then
suit-boot themselves up and leisurely stroll over to the Casa da Povo hall,
ensuring the wedding march will never begin before midnight? Let's attempt
answering these questions with...

Quote from Chapter 2, "Things that go Blast in the Night"
In recent times firework displays have become a compulsory part of the
celebrations. Considering that till date no major fires have broken out as
a consequence, this author considers them a very low risk factor. Far more
dangerous are the two cylindrical upright pipes, stuffed with confetti,
that explode very noisily around the time of the cake cutting. Elderly
people, and those with heart problems, are advised to sit on their haunches
and shove their fingers in their ears around this time. People with
semi-senile parents please ensure that their hands are free of those tiny
thermacol balls, that are distributed for throwing on the bridal couple as
they enter the hall. A case has been reported from Bicholim where
extraction of one such ball from the ear of an elderly gentleman had to be
performed in a nearby hospital. Apparently he shoved his finger in his ear
to avoid the blast and shoved a thermacol ball deep into his ear in the
process.

The aerosol cans which spray strings, jets and showers of 'white stuff'
have not been proven to have any health risks but it is advisable to use
them from at least one meter away from intended victim. What is
questionable though is the sheer aggressiveness with which these spray cans
are used. Is it to temporarily decorate the couple, or is it a subconscious
attack on the groom for snaring the prize girl that we all salivated over
frustratedly right through high-school and college?


Chapter 3, "The March of the Tunnels"
Enterprising MCs have been known to use their skills to keep the tunnel
going for a full five rounds. The tunnel as you know is formed by couples
standing apart and holding hands under which the next couple passes and
follows suit. It is considered mathematically appropriate to extend this
totally mindless ritual for two whole rounds within which each couple has
had a chance to form a tunnel and march under it twice. But certain
sadistic MCs use this opportunity to vent their frustration (at having been
present from 6 p.m for a wedding that was supposed to commence at 7.30 p.m
and eventually started at 9.30 p.m.) by having the tunneling go on
endlessly - thus aggravating claustrophobia and spondylitis. My advice is
to grin and bear it. Later in the reception you can get even with the MC by
just refusing to join the crowd on the dance floor. Remember an MC in Goa
is graded as being good only if he can convince the maximum people to
dance. All other criteria of his performance are incidental.

------
I seem to have run out of space but will continue this review at some
later date. Join me then in previewing further chapters on surviving
receptions entitled, "The Never Ending Toast", "Watered down Whiskey",
"Snacking up for the Long Wait", "Positioning is Everything: Between the Bar
and the Buffet", "In-your-face Video", "Grin and bear the Flash", "Cha.. Cha..
Change the music!", "MC who thinks he's a Drillmaster", "Encircling the
Bride/Groom", "The Death of Birdy Dance, Macarena and Ketchup Song",
"Escaping the Masala Mix", "Presents in Presence only", "Heaping Twelve
Items in One Dinner Plate", "Distinguishing between D├ęcor and Edibles",
"How much Dessert is Enough?", "Hernia-philia: Four Enthusiastic Friends,
a Chair and an Overweight Groom" etc etc.

------
The humour column above appeared in Gomantak Times dated 2nd February 2006
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