A Thousand Weddings

A Thousand Weddings

A Story by Philip Muls
"

On living authentically.

"

Although it is a Saturday, I wake up at 6 am from an uneasy sleep and look at my mobile phone. I see I have five missed calls and one voice mail. The country code of the incessant night caller is +91, which is India. I wonder what this might be about. I dial my voice mail.


I listen to the message which is delivered in Indian English with heavily trilled r’s. When the content finally reaches my brain, my heart seems to stop. My mind races backward to my last trip to India, now 8 months ago. Every minute and every hour of that journey flash before my eyes.


Early May is a great time to land in Bangalore. A balmy breeze welcomes me as I close my eyes and take a deep breath just outside of the Karnataka International Airport. The glorious fragrance of Black Cardamom and Holy Basil in the humid Indian night air is as unique as it gets. Like a master sommelier who can tell his Grand Crus in a blind tasting, as a traveling man, I know my cities just by taking in the air. Moscow is gasoline, Beijing is smog but Bangalore is heaven.


I am dead tired. After an eleven-hour flight from Europe, our Airbus-320 was kept from docking because a stray dog was moving freely about on the tarmac. It took two hours before the control tower gave us permission to taxi to the gate. The Hindustan Times of tomorrow will cover the delay stating matter-of-factly that the airport’s GHOST Team - as in Ground Handling Operations Safety - was unable to locate the proper procedure in their operations manual on how to capture the poor animal.


It has become increasingly clear to me from curious incidents like the one with the stray dog that this country is destined for spiritual rather than practical greatness. To be fast and efficient seems to go against the grain in India. For natives, to struggle along is the natural way of things, happily meandering  and straying off course in their very own dimension of time, jokingly called India Stretched Time. As a foreigner, it takes some getting used to.


I love this country because its circumstances simply force you to take a philosophical stance in life. Although we tend to look down upon their funny, half-baked approach to things, Indians seem to capture the essence of human existence better than we do. The Buddha taught that all things and beings are impermanent, and, therefore, any attachment to them is a source of unhappiness.


Indians eat and breathe this ‘Life is life’ attitude and attach less importance to the illusion of control than we do. They take joy in letting things be what they are. Thinking about this reminds me of the excellent lyrics of the song Container by Fiona Apple: “I have only one thing to do and that's to be the wave that I am and then sink back into the ocean.” 


I smile when I see the billboards outside the airport. Incredible India is the aptly chosen tagline of the Ministry of Tourism’s advertising campaign to welcome the inbound traveler. Incredible indeed.

 

This time around, I am in Bangalore to hire a new India country manager for my firm. The previous one was detained a week ago by the Fraud Investigation Office on charges of collusion with local officials. Turns out he paid speed money to get faster clearance through Indian bureaucracy, an unfortunate misinterpretation of the sense of urgency I had imposed upon him. We operate a zero tolerance policy when it comes to corruption so I had no choice but to take a firm stance. This type of firing is not uncommon among multinationals in India but a first for me. Anyway, I want to move on and reboot the complete management team so I’ve got a bunch of candidate interviews lined up in the coming days.


But this trip is special also for a more pleasant reason. I have been kindly invited to attend the marriage of Aneeta, the sophisticated and elegant young woman who is my local Operations Manager. Her name means Grace and fits her like a glove. She has a regal air about her, with her long black hair always done up and her dark brown, almond-shaped  eyes in a self-assured glance. Her soft voice demands respect and her coy smile makes me forget sometimes that we’re in a place of business.


She’s been the first in her family to earn a Ph.D. at the Indian Institute of Science, an absolute top university, and has proven herself to be invaluable in the team in the two years she’s been with us. She’s an ambitious and proud young woman, which makes her choice of a husband all the more intriguing.


The marriage, an inter-caste affair, is somewhat of a controversy in the office. Aneeta originates from Brahmin lineage, the upper crust social class in India. She has her mind set on marrying Anirudh, a young man from the backward Dalit caste. Dalit, meaning Oppressed, is the caste of Untouchables, the fifth group beyond the four-fold classification of the Indian population.


He’s an equally striking young man who goes through life undeterred by his low-born heritage. He’s strong-willed and Aneeta is what he wants, ever since he met her in the hospital where he works as a security guard. He did not hesitate to ask her for a date and his earnestness and sheer determination won her over. This has become a familiar story in the office corridors.


I have seen the couple together on company functions a couple of times and to me, they seem a match made in heaven. They have eyes only for each other and do not care what social compatibility guideline they are supposed to adhere to. I am happy for them and my gut says: “Go for It”.


But things are all but straightforward here. Caste fanatics raise hell whenever an upper caste woman marries a Dalit man because she will bear - unavoidably - a lower caste heir, thereby contaminating her social class. This sort of ‘mismatch’ often leads to violence. Many marriages are pre-arranged by the parents based on caste and horoscope sign, exactly to avoid this kind of unfortunate outcome of real love. The cynic in me understands, but the romantic says: “Screw it”.


It all seems hypocritical. Caste politics here at play are about masculine ego more than anything else. If a man of a higher station marries a Dalit woman, he is praised for his benevolence, he is said to have uplifted her. If an upper caste woman marries a Dalit man, all hell breaks loose.

 

So, I’m still apprehensive. The last thing I need is for this quagmire to seep through into the office space and pollute the already delicate working environment. My attending the wedding means taking a clear position and I need to make sure I don’t open a can of worms.


But when I arrive at the office, Aneeta is all smiles and assures me again not to worry. The two families have had intense discussions and agreed, in the end, to dismiss all outside criticism and fully support the union in the name of true love.


And to be fully validated under India’s Special Marriage Act, the couple have put up a Notice Of Intent at the Registrar’s Office to publicly declare their engagement to be married as an inter-caste couple. Much like we in Europe would put up a sign on a piece of land declaring our intention to build a house. And in effect, two fundamentalist organizations have come forward to protest, as was to be expected. But luckily, after another three months of deliberation, the State Governor has ruled that the marriage can be solemnized on the grounds of there being ‘mutual consent and soundness of mind’, the only two criteria which count under the Act.


Love overcomes all obstacles, it seems, with a little help from the government in this particular case. I decide for myself I am absolutely fine with this state of affairs. I feel relieved and buoyed.


Aneeta & Anirudh will not be the only ones in Bangalore to be joined in matrimony this week. This coming Friday, the Sixth of May, the city has a thousand weddings scheduled on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, a most auspicious day in the lunar calendar. According to Hindu mythology, the sacred river Ganges descended to the earth from heaven on this holy day. All of Bangalore’s wedding halls and all of its priests have been booked a year in advance. A thousand proud fathers of this city want to give their daughters away in marriage on this enchanted day because that is believed to bring great prosperity.


The city is vibrant with the preparation of a thousand nuptials. Never before have there been so many on the same day. It is hard to imagine ten weddings or a hundred. But a thousand couples getting married is a number beyond comprehension. You can feel the anticipation in the streets. Rich and poor get ready to celebrate the good fortune of their sons and daughters, assured of divine protection by a multitude of Hindu deities on this special lunar date. I am usually all business and not easily moved but this gets to me. I am absolutely thrilled to be part of this.


The big day presents itself under a scorching sun in an ultramarine sky. While being driven in a taxi through the city, there is music and flowers everywhere and literally everyone is dressed to the occasion. Even the beggars seem to own an ‘Auspicious Day’ suit for an occasion like this. Just for today, everyone manages to forget the harsh realities of life in Bengaluru. There are higher things at stake today.


I arrive at Aneeta’s posh wedding venue, the Leela Palace Kempinski, which is by far the grandest hotel in Bengaluru city. Young girls are scattering flower petals and boys are carrying metal torches emanating clouds of incense. Two giant white elephant-shaped flower sculptures guard the hotel entrance.  The hotel’s monumental architecture is inspired by the Royal Palace of Mysore, the official residence of the Maharajas who used to rule the Mysore princely state in Karnataka.


The ceremonial area itself is a beautiful elevated terrace with an opulent pool sitting on nine acres of lush tropical gardens within the hotel walls.


It’s clear that all the guests have been made aware of my coming. The family of the bride considers it a big deal that Aneeta’s hierarchical superior celebrates this life milestone in their midst. I walk through an impressive arcaded gallery and step onto the grand terrace amidst the clangs of ceremonial cymbals. My name is proclaimed by a colossal man with a deep voice and dressed completely in black. I feel self-conscious but decide to go along with the role of Distinguished Guest although I would have preferred to be observing from the side.


The bride looks absolutely gorgeous in a traditional bright red Wedding Sari, considered to be the most propitious color. Her hair is done in an elegant waterfall braid which is both sexy and chaste. The handsome groom is clearly so very much in love that it puts a smile on everybody’s face. It’s strange to think there was ever any doubt about these two getting married. Fate clearly has put its foot down here.


The couple exchanges marigold garlands of flowers and thread, symbolizing happiness. Just as the thread never leaves the flowers, even when they lose their luster with time, the married couple swears to never leave each other, through all the ups and downs of life.


The climax of the wedding, the equivalent to our ‘I do’, is the Saptapadi or ‘Seven Vows’ which bride and groom recite to each other while taking seven steps due South. Everybody cheers and claps and  the two families stand united without distinction. No doubt that Aneeta’s parents foot the bill of this extravaganza, but I think is a great gesture of open-mindedness.


After the ceremony, we get seated along heavy wooden tables in the long shadows cast by two rows of Silver Poplar trees. Giant crystal candelabras with white candles sit upon the stretched tables. The newlyweds get seated in 2 statuesque  antique chairs decorated with bright ethnic cushions and drapes. 


I take a deep breath as I look around me, holding a Bohemia Crystal glass of freshly squeezed tangerine juice and smelling the abundant lavender all around me. This place seems unreal. We could very well be a millennium back in the past, the place would look exactly like this. I feel like I have been transported to a more profound time when things were clearer, less complicated somehow.


All the men, including myself, are dressed in ethnic Dhoti Sherwani, a long coat-like garment which makes me feel part of an ancient Indian aristocratic protocol. I look at the ladies, adorned with henna patterns on their palms, hands, and feet, which gives this scene an archetypal and primeval touch. As part of an after-ceremony, Mehndi or henna is applied by the sisters of Aneeta to her hands and feet. It is believed that the bride should not work in her marital home until her Mehndi fades.


Since we have known each other, Aneeta has been aware that I have an interest in spiritualism and has seated me next to her great-grandfather, Mr. Lakshmi Kaur, who is known throughout Karnataka State as the ‘Healer of the Soul’. He is renowned for his deep expertise in Vipassanā, an age-old meditation technique to see things as they really are through self-observation, resulting in a balanced mind full of peace and compassion.


Aneeta mentioned him once to me but never would I have dreamed to have an afternoon with this wise old man in this most wonderful setting. It is Aneeta’s very personal gift to me and a thank you for my moral support through the difficult time leading up to this day. This feels truly reciprocal and I accept the gift with gratitude and enthusiasm.


During and after a splendid Chaat table with an incredible amount of deliciously spiced South-Indian dishes, I have a mind-baffling conversation with Mr. Kaur that will stay with me for as long as I live. This is what I remember.


Me: “It’s a pleasure meeting you today at the glorious occasion of your great-granddaughter’s wedding, Sir. May I ask you how old you are?”


He: “I could be ninety-four. No way to be certain.”


Me: “That would be exactly twice my age.”


He: “Age and time are an illusion. The Past and future exist only as thoughts in the present. Now is all there ever is. ”


Me: “Mm…Sir, with all due respect, it is hard to get my mind around the concept that there is no past or future. My whole life revolves around my calendar.”


He: “There is no yesterday or tomorrow, except as a memory or anticipation in your mind. There never was, nor will there ever be any other experience than present experience.”


Me: “But I always feel like the clock is ticking and I should hurry and change things because time is running out on me.”


He: “The clock is not ticking because there is no clock. Only now exists. Time is a construct of the mind, not an entity that exists in nature.”


Me: ”Right. It is true that I have trouble living in the present, I carry my past with me and I worry about the future. How do I stop that?”


He: “Do not resist the present, accept this moment as if it is exactly as you have chosen it.”


Me: “But there is so much I would like to fix about my life.”


He: “You want to change your life situation, not your life. Your life is your essence, your true self, which is already perfect. You can experience your true self in those moments when you are not caught up in your mind. Glimmers of awareness of the real you occur at key turning points when a direction in life needs to be chosen.”


Me: “So I should get to know my true self and not care about what others think of me. Is this what you mean?”


He: “The flower said: You fool! Do you imagine I blossom in order to be seen? I blossom for my own sake, and not for the sake of others. My joy consists in my being and my blossoming.”


I think about this for a minute and sense the wisdom of what this man is saying. But it feels like it is just out of reach. So I struggle on to find clarity.


Me: “I always feel my self-worth depends on my actions, not on who I am. I need to prove myself constantly. To others, but also to myself.”


He: “Stop doing and focus on being. Let the present unfold. There is no problem in this moment. It is perfect as it is.”


Me: “From what you say, it seems the present moment holds much more importance than I am aware of. You trigger a real concern in me. If I do not pay attention, my life could be passing by without me living it.”


He: “You are walking along a path at night, surrounded by a thick fog. But you have a powerful searchlight that cuts through the fog and that creates a narrow, clear space in front of you. The fog is your life situation, which includes past and future. The searchlight is your conscious presence. The clear space is the now.”


Me: “That is a powerful image…I think I am starting to understand. But it is elusive. When I try to focus on the present, my mind wanders. I’m always thinking about what I did yesterday, how I could have done it better. Or what I want tomorrow and what I need to do to get that. These thoughts take me away with them.”


He: “Observe your thoughts but do not judge them, let them pass by and do not follow them. Stay in the here and now.”


Me: “Pardon me but that seems like an impossible task. My mind is always working. It is absolutely restless, that is just who I am.”


He: “You are not your mind. Do not identify with your thoughts and feelings.”


Me: “I am sorry but what am I then?”


He: “Picture a lake high up in the mountains. You are the deep and permanent stillness at the bottom of the lake. Your thoughts are the wrinkles and waves on the surface of the water, always in motion, never enduring.”


Me: “I get it. You are telling me that I can live more authentically if I just focus on being. Rather than lose myself in the diversions of my everyday life situation…”


He: “That is the truth. Do not worry how things are, stand in awe that things exist at all.”

 

We both stop talking and we just sit in absolute silence for at least twenty minutes. Mr. Kaur signals me to stay quiet every time he sees I am about to ask another question. To him, this is clearly a natural state. I realize he does this to give me the time to let it all sink in.


He masters silence  just as he masters words. I feel there is great value in the sentences just spoken but at the same time, I feel frustrated because it feels evanescent. It seems impossible to capture the essence within my preset European frame of mind.


Dusk is setting in and the sky colors an hue of amethyst I have never seen before. Eventually, I feel I have to say something.


Me: “Well, at your age, you must have attended many weddings I guess?”


He: “This is my first wedding now.”


I smile at this perfect ending to a perfect day and my mind tunes down to enjoy the night falling over Leela Palace Gardens while I watch Anirudh inviting Aneeta for the closing dance.


All of this fades out as I return to the present day, sitting up in my bed holding my mobile phone to my ear.


The wedding images with a pixel density higher than reality have played over a matter of seconds from my memory bank. Just like a photo is the capturing of past light which we can see in the present, a memory is the impression of a past experience on our present self.


That ‘Auspicious Day Of A Thousand Weddings’ in Bangalore was an inspirational episode that was checked into a priority seat in my brain, instantly available to be re-lived with all the accompanying emotions and thoughts, just as if I were back there and then.


What triggered this vivid flashback on this Saturday morning so many months later is the voice mail from Mr. Pannerselvam, Commissioner of Police of Bengaluru City, telling me that his troopers found my name and number as an emergency contact on the phone of Mrs. Aneeta Garbinder-Pillai.


Apparently, when Aneeta came home from work on Friday evening, male university graduates from the same upper level Brahim caste stood protesting in front of her house, distributing pamphlets of their ‘Campaign Against Inter-Caste Marriage’, claiming that boys from downtrodden communities who deliberately targeted wealthy girls should be stoned to death.


When Aneeta arrived at her house and saw their provocative signboards, she angrily told them to go away. That is when one of the agitators noticed Aneeta’s belly showing her four-month pregnancy.


Anirudh was at work, unaware while Aneeta was beaten with pipe wrenches and wrecking bars by the cultured class activists until she and her unborn child died from what the forensic pathologist would later call Blunt Force Trauma.


© 2016 Philip Muls



Author's Note

Philip Muls
Inspired by the works of Dr Irving Yalom and Eckard Tolle which I read while traveling in India.

My Review

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Featured Review

This is a very beautiful, powerful, spiritual and sad tale. You have highlighted all the important things. Your descriptions are very nice. I love my country, India- I am a true patriot, but I am not a nationalist. My nation has many faults, rather the people have. The Constitution of India provides the right to equality to all the Indian citizens. But, it has never been implemented properly. Even after 68 years of independence, we have the awful, horrible, hateful caste system. Politicians use it for their advantage. Our politicians give statements like, "If I come in power, I will do this and that for so and so caste or so and so community." They are merely concerned about their vote bank. This, I believe, is the major reason why the caste system still exists. Many inter-caste marriages take place, but considering the huge population of the country, such marriages are quite low in number. Again, a very important role is played by money-power. The wealthiest can get anything done- even if they are from the so-called backward classes- and the paupers have to suffer and bear hardships- even if they are from the so-called high caste. I, being a person who does not travel a lot, have never been to Bangalore. But, I have read quite a bit about it and this affords me adequate knowledge to call your descriptions "nice and vivid". You have brought out our culture very well.

Even in the 21st century, there are many who are so narrow-minded, that they believe wooing a person from another caste is a crime. We have "honour killings"- where the parents kill their child because he/she has relations with a person of a lower caste; this is odious and has now become quite rare, but it still happens.

Until and unless, we believe that all are equal and there is no such thing as caste or community or wealth, till then we cannot progress further.

I also would like to commend the conversation that you have put in. It brings alive the values, the principles which, if one applies to his/her life, then he/she can discover his/her real-self and lead a good, stress-free life which is none, but the present.

I would give it 90%. Quite a lovely piece. Keep writing.

Posted 1 Year Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Being from Bangalore I know for sure there are strong elements of authenticity in this work. Caste system which was originally created to differentiate skills later became inheritance. I was in love with a Brahmin girl and was not allowed to marry her because I was lower by caste. It did not make sense at all. But when you read history you find the origin. In ancient times the Aryans came from Europe via central Asia to India. They were viking clans mostly men establishing their rule in the country and they introduced caste system. Since they did not bring women with them , they had to marry local women and they did not allow native men to marry their daughters to maintain purity as they thought it. This continued for ages so much so that it has become a ground rule for most of the weddings. However things are changing still you would rarely see a girl marrying a lower caste guy. Although I do feel that a city like Bangalore rarely see such incidents but they are definitely prevalent in small towns. I give a five star rating to your work.

Posted 3 Months Ago


Not knowing India's culture or traits, I can only think of the sadness caused by just thinking one was to high classed for the other. Even the poor and down trodden have worth. Valentine

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Yes I see the similarities to my poem! You tell he story very well but, like so many things in our troubled world it is very sad.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I lived in India as a child and this brought back so many memories of going to my parents' friends' wedding so long ago. I really enjoyed this piece. You're writing is meticulous and methodical and I appreciate that type of writing personally.

It's very sad that the caste system and misogyny still permeated the culture and this story is extremely sad to me. Luckily there has been more said about such topics and the rather rigid hierarchy is having less impact than it did in the past.

I like how you contrast the sage advice of mindfulness with the tragic death of an innocent women. It is really ironic that two such ideas can exist within one belief system. I'm unsure if that was your intent, but it came across to me that way.

Thank you for this story! It made me remember a lot of beautiful and interesting things but it made me depressed as well. I think the hallmark of good art is to cause confounding emotions and you really did that perfectly.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

1 Year Ago

Thank you Mikaila. Take care!
i like the images and language learned by reading ..your experiences in your travels gives sound credence to all you have written ... for me ..the bulk of it reads almost like a long editorial covering the events ... i did have a sense that there may be a twist unexpected at the end so i kept reading ... i confess tho i started to "speed" read :} ... you touch on a lot that is India ..the castes ..the glamour ..the ritual and religion of centuries ..and the anger in disagreements that result in not only the tragic death of your Aneeta but of too many others because of what they believe or don't believe ... i think you have creative small sparkles of images throughout which are informative and creative ... a long read!! ;) now you owe me at least five poems of mine read :)))
E.
ps. just kidding ;)

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

1 Year Ago

I take your points E...is the dialogue too much ?
Einstein Noodle

1 Year Ago

perhaps ... or expand your characters and plot and give us a book :))
I felt that this was a courageous piece of writing in these days of "political correctness". We see this intolerance being perpetuated in the name of "faith, but it is merely political oppression. Sadly the philosophies underlying these travesties are deliberately obtuse. Your story has a ring of authenticity, which even if it is fiction, makes it compulsive reading. Not pleasant, perhaps, but definitely thought provoking.

Norman

Posted 1 Year Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

1 Year Ago

I appreciate your open feedback Norman. Kind regards Philip
This piece is utterly enchanting, devastating and a real thought-provoker.The ironic use of memory to recall a lesson about being in the "now" is brilliant. I love learning tidbits pertaining to Indian culture and the stretching my philosophical mind has to do in the end when the scene abruptly changes. I am so calmed by the elderly man's wisdom and then brought up short by the extreme brutality of the caste mongers. This story will not be soon forgotten and it will be my pleasure to recall its impact in future "presents." Well done.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

1 Year Ago

Thank you for wise feedback. I like it that you saw the irony in the flasback.
This is a very beautiful, powerful, spiritual and sad tale. You have highlighted all the important things. Your descriptions are very nice. I love my country, India- I am a true patriot, but I am not a nationalist. My nation has many faults, rather the people have. The Constitution of India provides the right to equality to all the Indian citizens. But, it has never been implemented properly. Even after 68 years of independence, we have the awful, horrible, hateful caste system. Politicians use it for their advantage. Our politicians give statements like, "If I come in power, I will do this and that for so and so caste or so and so community." They are merely concerned about their vote bank. This, I believe, is the major reason why the caste system still exists. Many inter-caste marriages take place, but considering the huge population of the country, such marriages are quite low in number. Again, a very important role is played by money-power. The wealthiest can get anything done- even if they are from the so-called backward classes- and the paupers have to suffer and bear hardships- even if they are from the so-called high caste. I, being a person who does not travel a lot, have never been to Bangalore. But, I have read quite a bit about it and this affords me adequate knowledge to call your descriptions "nice and vivid". You have brought out our culture very well.

Even in the 21st century, there are many who are so narrow-minded, that they believe wooing a person from another caste is a crime. We have "honour killings"- where the parents kill their child because he/she has relations with a person of a lower caste; this is odious and has now become quite rare, but it still happens.

Until and unless, we believe that all are equal and there is no such thing as caste or community or wealth, till then we cannot progress further.

I also would like to commend the conversation that you have put in. It brings alive the values, the principles which, if one applies to his/her life, then he/she can discover his/her real-self and lead a good, stress-free life which is none, but the present.

I would give it 90%. Quite a lovely piece. Keep writing.

Posted 1 Year Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

There is an incredible amount of detail here that points towards a lot of telling but little showing, meaning the reader doesn't have to work at following your journey. This may have been what you intended but another view is that you are not letting the reader work and create their own imagery. Obviously a travelogue needs to take the reader along into new worlds and experiences but I just wonder if there is a way to explain less and continue to intrigue the reader. For example, you could be an unreliable narrator and change the sequence of events, maybe coming back to some as you remember so you are having a conversation with the reader? Just a thought. I've not been to India before and this was an interesting episode.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

As always, I deeply apologise if my blunt review offends you. The greatest dishonour I could insult you with would be to lie. However, I do always try to focus on the positive as well as what needs improved. Remember, take on what's useful from my review and throw in the trash what isn't.

Detailed Read Through (This is usually more critical than complimentary. If I don't have a lot of time, or the piece is longer than 1000 words, then this part can be not-so-detailed):

Opening line too complex and long. Make it more mysterious.

"+91, which is India" instead of "+91 which is India"

Good description, detailed and interesting. Brings us into it, well done.

"how strongly alive this cast thing still is in Indian society" seems like a confusing sentence, I understand the point you're trying to get across, but try and make it simpler in structure or more direct.

"masculine ego, more" the comma here doesn't seem necessary to me.

"don't" instead of "do not" in sentence "My attending...can of worms" because this is a monolouge and it makes it seem more like natural speech if you use "don't"

In the paragraph starting "Love overcomes all.." it's said that our narrator is going to attend the wedding in a show of support. But, he's already said that he's going in a show of support with the sentence a few paragraphs ago of "My attending the wedding...can of worms". That makes our current information in paragraph "Love overcomes all..." repetition, and inadvisable.

"While being driven in a taxi through the city" rather than "driving in a taxi" because he would be the one who is getting driven.

Perhaps "there are flowers and the melody of music everywhere" instead? "there are music" is a phrase that is grammatically confusing. However, grammar isn't my strong point so if you go check with someone else if this is correct.

end the last sentence on paragraph starting "The big day.." without the word "here". You could replace it with "now" or just cut it all together. Either way, it feels unnecessary.

The word "posh" here is negated by the following phrase "the grandest hotel in Bengaluru". The word posh also feels critical. Or that's just because I'm from a asnobby city.

Apart from my previous comment, I feel that the sentence starting "When I arrive at Aneeta's.." is far too long. "I arrived at Aneeta's posh wedding venue, the Leela Palace Kempsinki, which was by far the grandest hotel in Bengaluru city. Young girls are scattering flowers.." sounds a lot better and cleaner.

"the traditional bright red wedding sari" instead of "traditional wedding sari in bright red"



Overall Analysis:

As the 28 reviews and 500 views have already told you, this is a good piece.

You've used complex language to describe the scenes beautifully. We are right into the emotion and the very different world of India, which I guess from your author's biography you know a lot about.

The monologue shows insights into our character, and your use of language is consistent in complexity and style.

On all technicalities (apart from the points mentioned in my detailed review) this piece is perfect. However, personally, I didn't like it.

I found the dialogue to be confusing at times. Not overly so, so I don't think that's the main point that needs to be addressed. But the issue of why our narrator went to India in the first place (to replace a member of staff) is never addressed and the ending is very disappointing.

Not only in the saddening way, but the fact that we're suddenly taken to a scene which in a paragraph, you deal with a big issue in a small way. I guess, that can be overlooked. It has impact; it has shock.

However, your last line is a fact. It's a statement, and not an impactful one. One extra line on the end of it refering to present mindfulness or something slightly more mystic would end this piece better.

Please keep in mind that naturally, this isn't something I'd read. I'm much more interested in action and impact and the ending was too suddenly shocking (and disappointing) for me. But that is personal taste, not any fault of your own. The only comment I'd say that is not influenced by personal taste is the comment on the last line in my previous paragraph.

This review has been quite critical and blunt, more so than usual, because I think you can take it. Why do I think that? Because you're good, you're very good at writing. This is a very good piece. And many of the other reviews sing your praises, so I want to give you something a little different (and hopefully) more helpful.

8/10

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Philip Muls

1 Year Ago

Thank you for the detailed feedback. Many relevant points you make and I appreciate the bluntness. K.. read more
JCat

1 Year Ago

No problem, you're welcome

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Added on March 7, 2016
Last Updated on April 9, 2016
Tags: Incredible India, caste, wedding, Bangalore, tragedy, hope, auspicious day, ceremony, Leela Palace Bangalore

Author

Philip Muls
Philip Muls

Grimbergen, Belgium



About
Living in Europe, but travelling frequently in US and Asia. I love to combine what I experience during travel with observations and thoughts about the human condition. more..

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