Big Fat Chindian Wedding


“There you are Ram. We were looking for you everywhere”, Tina Aunty continued, “please help your uncle with these suitcases. Our room is on the second floor you know.”

“Of course, aunty”, I said with a smile gleaming at the unexpected attention I was getting at my best friend’s wedding.

“Thank you. The way you have shouldered all the preparations today I am sure God will gift you a splendid bride.” Tina aunty took time to bless me.

Mrs. Meena was a very close family friend. She had a daughter who graduated along with me and as usual was eavesdropping on us. She took the liberty to suggest, “Ram the girl who marries you will be very lucky. Why don’t you find someone in this wedding itself?” I replied with a grin, “Sure aunty. I will be on the lookout.”

Both of them were happy to know that i was looking forward to settle down in holy matrimony. Their happiness reflected on my face as well and I guess my mother was going to add something when suddenly my phone chimed.

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It is Xia, the love of my life. We have known each other for past three years and she is the one person I truly care about apart from my family. And I believe it is imperative here that I mention her nationality. She is a Chinese citizen. Yes, the same country that has been at loggerheads with my motherland over some territorial issue or another. The last one year was particularly testing as the two countries used economic strategies to outgrow the other and we jostled over commitment issues. The final verdict came after two weeks of email embargo between the two of us imposed by a jealous boyfriend (me). We had consolidated the fact (over these two weeks of cold war) that without the shadow of a doubt it was impossible for us to live apart. In fact the next thing on our checklist was a holy union and probably a solemn agreement for the next seven incarnations sanctioned by a Pundit.

“Ram my boy,” a roaring voice from behind me caught the attention of the entire room, “now that you have completed your MBA, I see hordes of suitable girls queuing up for a slice of that 7 digit pay packet.” He winked with a slanted smile to reassure me that he was just pulling my leg.

I smiled back and my father reminded me to congratulate him on receiving the highly prestigious military honour last month for rescuing three Indian corporals who had been captured by the enemy. The remaining patrol unit had been beheaded by the enemy soldiers.

Uncle Rajesh interrupted us, “I tell you. We need more men like Brigadier Saab in our army. I am sure the Chinese would not even dare to take us on.” I nod in approval but at the same time slip a smiley to my Chinese bride. Just when I thought nobody would interrupt my romantic chat (which had slowly shifted to a corner of the main dining hall) my phone ran out of battery. The only vacant socket in the room was next to the bar table. I left it there under the supervision of my chatty teen sister.

It couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes when the brigadier cornered me. He was accompanied by my parents. Even my best friend was standing somewhere behind them. Two policemen in plain clothes held me by the arms and dragged me out. I was yelling for help, still trying to understand what was happening. Nobody looked me in the eyes. They just watched as I was thrown out of the house. I heard a lot of commotion but could only make out one word. “Chinese spy”.

 Written by Vinay Dora       Photographs by Arpan ganguli             Edited by ‘bhilash

Spanish Lessons


Hola amigo”, She said over the phone.
“Muy bien”, I replied stuttering halfway trying to recognize the voice.

She definitely knew the fact that I am learning (well actually), was learning Spanish once. She enquired about something else and I was dumbstruck by her accent which was essentially native Mexican.Finally I gave up and asked her name. I even apologized for not saving her number.

Lady: So you never went to the class after that week.
Me: I actually got busy with my work.
Lady: I see, but you looked so determined back then.

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I was about to think of another excuse and had even come up with an interesting list of priorities but instead I figured it was more important for me to know who she was and how she knew all about me.

Me: Aap kaun hai? (Who are you?)
Lady: Mein Aria hun, Cervantes se. (in almost perfect Hindi)
Me: Oh my God! Aria, how long has it been?
Lady: Four years.

In 2009, I attended an elementary Spanish language course at the Institute de Cervantes, New Delhi. Aria worked there. She was a substitute teacher, who taught us for a week. I guess she must have been in her early 50s back then and had recently moved to India. Within the first week itself we had developed a very good student-teacher bond. I shared with her my dream to backpack across Latin America with an arsenal of certified Spanish lexicon. She wanted to learn Hindi and at least one other Indian language. Her travel plans included the whole of India and some South Asian countries. We had promised to check on each other’s progress over the years.DSC_0007 copy

Aria: I have been good! I travelled to all those areas which were not marked as “Unsafe” by the embassy.
Me: Wonderful, you might have noticed I did not pursue Spanish after a few weeks. I guess once student life comes to halt, it is very difficult to resume learning. Maybe I am a bit too old to pursue my dreams.
Aria: Well my dad had his first driving lesson yesterday. He is 80.
Me: I see.
Aria: There is an elementary course in Spanish starting from the 18th and I do not get any incentives from Cervantes to sell their course.

I registered for the course and have been going there regularly.

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– Written by Mahaveer Bisht
Pictures by Arpan Ganguli
Edited by ‘bhilash

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