Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Wedding Video

One of the memorable things in  Assamese weddings were the wedding videos.
( Am sure they are there in every wedding but speaking from experience here)

The process started with a briefing to the person in charge at his "outlet".
He would pull out a well worn register and note down the date, venue, time.
And the name of the bride and the groom.

On the wedding day, the cameraman and his assistant would arrive at the designated hour.
Usually on a motorcycle or scooter with a bag that held the camera, the wires and whatever tools they required.
Greeted by a male member of the family, they would sit on the empty chairs lining the wedding hall which would soon be filled with guests. Sipping tea from plastic cups and maybe nibbling a sweetmeat, part of the wedding spread, the assistant would busy himself setting up the camera and the light.

The first shots would be "test shots".
A little girl, dressed up in her frilly dress with matching ribbons in her hair.
A harrowed elderly aunt running around but stopping for a quick smile as she spotted the lens aimed at her.
The young tent decorators stringing up the last of the marigold flowers, under the strict supervision of a cousin brother given that responsibility.

Then the cameraman would approach the room where the bride was nearly ready,  with her close friends and family. The assistant would switch on the bright light, the cameraman would direct the bride to look at a certain angle, smile, gesture to her friends to move closer, pan the room lined with shy camera conscious faces.

As the wedding activity reached a climax, the duo always had vantage position, focussing on the wedding couple and the ceremonies. The veiled bride ( the assistant would call out to an aunt or friend to lift the veil up a little to capture the shy, happy face on the camera), the father performing the ceremony, the groom's family, the sacred fire, the flowers, and of course the guests.

In the wee hours of the morning, after the wedding has finally come to an end, and the chairs that lined the hall were empty once again, the cameraman and assistant would pack up the equipment and make their way home.

Two days later, a family member, usually the brother or cousin who had taken on this responsibility, would come home waving two or three VHS cassettes ( nowadays they are DVDs). The bride, now in her new home, the groom and the entire family would drag chairs, stools around the television. And then the videos would play.

Those were the days when social media had not arrived.
When family albums were for the family.
When videos were just about movies and an occasional song and dance medley.

Being a part of the wedding video was therefore the first public camera appearance.
The video would start off with a super with the names of the bride and the groom.
Rashmi weds Rajiv.
With a cameo of the two together.
The track would start playing.
Mostly romantic numbers from Assamese singers like Jitul Sonowal, Zubeen Garg and many others.
Sometimes Bollywood made an appearance as well.
Dotted with some traditional wedding songs at key moments.

The tearjerker moments would be enhanced by Shehnai strains. Or a sad number about the girl, now a Lakshmi in her new home, bidding good bye to her mom.

The commentary around the room would be about how an aunt did not get enough camera time, or how pretty the bride looked, or the way the guests were relishing the sumptious spread.
Tears would spring up when the screen brought up a close up of the bride hugging her father and the rose bedecked car pulling out of the wedding venue.
A household help would reluctantly push her bamboo stool away to get up and make tea for everyone.

And then , after two and a half to three hours of edited footage, tea and biscuits, the video would end with another shot of the happy couple and a super, "Wish you a happy married life. From Rajul Barua Productions.G.S Road, Guwahati".

Relationships may at times be faded and jaded.
May even break up at times.
But the wedding videos are always a reminder that the weddings in India are also about families.
About vows.
About parents pulling out the last of their savings.
About being made to feel special about the fact that we are stepping into a new phase.

And makes us feel committed once again about love, relationships, weddings.... even if the one on the video no longer exists.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Children of the Oil Field

I write this after dinner as I watch two generations of family relax and reminiscence.
Two generations of lives spent in the Oil Fields of Digboi.

There is something special about the Children of the Oil Field.
It started off with the belief that everyone in the oil field township is family.
We got together for everything.

We felt and still feel a bond that will perhaps never be severed.
The urge to reach out and help if someone is in trouble.
Even if that person is now seven seas away and the last we saw of her was a little child in pigtails.

We love to see the pictures of the new generation on Facebook.
Husbands we would have loved to meet.
Wives we add to our Friends List even if we have never known them.
Children who feel like they are ours.

We have the uncles and aunties, now retired, blessing us on social media.
We don't miss parents we have lost because the oil field gave us so many of them.
We connect.
We trust.
We fall in love every time we see a picture of a tree, a shop, a lane, a bird... anything that brings back thoise wonderful years.

Truly, we are the Children of the Oil Field.
And that makes us special. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thinking on a rainy day

A Friday break.
Tapping away on my laptop.
From why is it raining today.
To how can one make a difference.

Making a difference is not easy.
Change is always subjective and related to many lives.
Perspectives differ.
Opinions are varied.

There is that tug.
Head and heart.
Popular and taking calls that may befriend.
Permissions and action.

Expectations from a leader.
The sandbox of operations.

How does one break out and yet take everyone along?

Maybe the answer lies in just doing what we believe in.
Taking those calls.
Inspiring at every step.
Collaborate where possible.
Take calls where not.

Above all, it is about conviction in oneself.
The belief that no matter what, you will always emerge a winner.
Of not letting short term conflicts deflect us from the long term relationships.
Learning. Doing. Taking risks.

Suddenly, it seems easy... possible...
Thinking on a rainy day does help.
Everything happens for a reason.
Maybe that's why it rained today.
To clear the clouds in our minds by shedding all inhibitions....