Early on a Sunday morning, the ride on NH 46 from Bangalore to Chennai had the touch of a psychedelic overture to the wedding of Vivek and Sangeetha. Phalgun, Pia, Mahadev, Sandeep and I – we were five sleepy people and the ride was like a serene dream until we stopped for breakfast at some 'Chola Restaurant'. The breakfast tasted beyond what we expected, more so with the company we were provided for free – a flock of ducks and geese that roamed the grounds outside the restaurant. The funny gait of the webbed birds impulsed me to bring my camera out. But, I should say that the call of the goose, which kept reminding me of the word 'cacophony', was only slightly less amusing.
We reached Chennai at around two in the afternoon. The weather seemed to be in favour of us. Chennai was unusually pleasant. We spotted our hotel with Phalgun's versatile but much ridiculed use of the GPS on his mobile. Having some quick food, we rushed to Mani Mahal in Saligramam, the reception hall. The bride and groom had just been engaged and Phalgun and Pia took them aside for a few couple shots.
As the couple returned to dress up for the evening, Pia stayed with the bride to capture moments in the dressing room.
Phalgun, Mahadev and Sandeep indulged themselves in recording the decoration of the hall on the go. I decided to walk around the place and check what my camera could do in the fading light. When I came back to the hall, I was hit with the splendour of what anybody would want in their wedding reception – a karaoke and laser lights! The decoration was now complete as an explosive picture of flowers basking in the glow of shimmering gold. As the bride and groom walked onto the stage, I could think of only one word – perfect.
Mahadev, Sandeep and Phalgun cast the evening live on the web, which was an instant hit.
As guests congratulated the lovely couple, the music brought to the party the touch of love that can exist only in families. People sang – for the couple, for fun, to dance, to please. As the evening dispersed slowly into emptiness in the hall, the DJ wound up by rocking the hall with a Tamil rap song making the evening one of a kind.
On the morning of the wedding, we reached Mani Mahal at 0630 after a much addled ordeal. Phalgun used GPS again, which seemed more to mislead than to direct. Every GPS indication to take a turn at a road would be an impossible task for we were met with either a flyover or a one-way. We were forced to drive along extra legs of road to try and reach the place. Though Phalgun kept refusing, I felt we were in a maze. He was probably right for we did reach the wedding hall eventually.
The experience was unique for the Cusp Concepts team, as this was the first Iyengar wedding that we shot. What needs mention here before anything else is probably that the food at the wedding was a prodigal luxury to the taste buds.
Both Sangeetha and Vivek were dressed in traditional wedding attire but it was Sangeetha's intriguing hairdo that stole the show. It took me by awe and I took many shots of it only to realise later that Pia and Phalgun had also been mesmerized by the same thing.
The event was again cast live on the web and there were umpteen number of viewers. (Watch it here)
There were rituals galore, each more awe-inspiring than the other. The families stood closely knit around the couple always, watching the most important event of their lives unfold. Not wanting to disturb the highly charged air of emotions, we took particular care not to disturb the group and slipped in wherever we could to capture the best moments of the wedding. Watching the transcending emotions on their faces instilled a feeling of gentle bliss even as spectators.
It was only when Phalgun remarked on it much later that I realised that rituals in South Indian weddings often require the couple to hold hands. I've been reflecting on the symbolic beauty of the gesture ever since and played back the scenes in my mind when I found the couple holding hands and not letting go.
After the wedding, pujaris blessed the couple, garlanding them in turns. At the end of it, what we had in front of us was a wondrous scene – the couple was radiant with a divine touch.
Relatives posed with the now married couple for some shots after which we packed up and left.
Phalgun decided to use GPS, yet again and hunted down KFC in Chennai. As we headed towards it, Phalgun stopped on his tracks staring at the building in curved-eyebrow doubt. Realising the confusion, I confirmed that the queer Tamil script indeed read KFC! Heartily appreciating the sumptuous lunch, we headed back to Bangalore. Plagued by tired, sleepless eyes, the journey rocked us into slumber. We woke up for tea at the Chola restaurant. I saw the ducks and geese again, walking away in clumsy merriment and the experience seemed to conclude as the twilight descended in a slow diffusing stroll from blue to orange to ink black on the road winding its way back to Bangalore.