‘Tis the season of wedding bells. In the considered view of The Man from Madras Musings, the season’s population can be divided into three groups – the first which is getting married, the second which is in-charge of conducting the weddings, and the third which is attending them. Of the third variety, there are sub-groups: the ones that love attending weddings and cannot be kept away from them short of imprisonment, the second that takes them as a matter of duty and breezes in and out, and the third that grumbles and groans. The last one is rather like the wedding guest in Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, beating his breast over what is a joyful occasion.

But what MMM has chosen to ponder over in this missive of his is not so much the wedding but the invitation card which, rather like the events themselves, have become bigger and bulkier, though not any way better. There was a time when invitation cards were two-sided, oblong, pink on the outside and yellow on the inside, and when folded twice, could slip into a small envelope. These were none too great on the eye, and as for reading the text, which was blue on the pink and green on the yellow, you had to have near-perfect vision to manage it. But they were functional. You could identify a wedding invite from a distance though you may not have been able to read the text at close quarters. The printing process was simple as well. You rushed off to the nearest alley and identified a one-room printer in whose backyard an assistant operated a treadle press. One proof later, the cards were with you. Then all that was needed was to write the addresses on the envelopes, daub the corners with turmeric and then, ho, to the post office.

The whole thing has become hugely complicated now. These days, an invitation card is not one unless it is half the size of a window, as thick as a telephone directory and is borne in by a staggering set of slaves. Entrusting it to the postal system, which must be still handling mails in sacks, is clearly out of question. What would happen to the tinsel, the gilt edgings, the tassels and the pasted colour stones if these were unceremoniously dumped in sacks, hauled around by postmen and then pushed into letter boxes? The mind boggles.

These extra large cards, with a whole lot of shiny add-ons (MMM understands that the technical term for these iridescent things is ‘bling’), when opened, become several cards, each one colour coded for a particular auxiliary event, all of them adjuncts to the wedding proper. If this is not enough, some cards have a book explaining most unnecessarily the entire process of the wedding. Seriously, who is interested in knowing all this, apart from some research scholar in the United States of America? The bride and bridegroom have other things on their minds, the parents are probably calculating the expense and the guests are interested in the food.

What most of these new bling cards overlook is plain readability. By the time you manage to evade the gold-splattered gods, the ornate borders, and the pietra-dura inlay work to locate who is marrying whom, the wedding is probably over. And as for storing these cards till the actual day of the event, forget it. There was a time when invitations used to comfortably fit into mail-holders. The ones of today don’t fit into any receptacle including desk drawers. And woe betides you if the thicker ones fall on your toe accidentally.

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A wedding at Vadapalani