And so it happened that two batchmates of mine from MICA decided to get married, and that wedding was to happen this weekend gone past. And so it was that a bunch of us batchmates from MICA found ourselves winding our respective ways to Hisar, a Erode-Coimbatore-ish town about 4 hours from Delhi.
Three of us were taking an early morning (5am) bus, so that we could get there early enough and still be safe from night-prowling highway robbers and other general night-time related accidents. We started off bleary-eyed (because we hadn't slept all night catching up and waiting for the third person's flight to land in the dead of night) in a bus that sputtered, hissed and wheezed its way past fairly fast-moving traffic. It sounded like steaming water in a great gigantic machine that had just gone to work. The National Highway (NH) that had started out pretty well became worse once we crossed Rohtak. However, our heads continuously lolled. When my head did not loll, I was surprised to see that the bus had gotten over-full and the people who now occupied nooks and crannies were all also lolling and slipping in and out of their semi-conscious states.
At Hansi, near Hisar, I got a taste of "This is Haryana". People ran after the bus, even as the driver yelled at the people shuffling off the steps to hurry it up. The cops, yes the cops, directed us into the bus stand, even as people positioned themselves for the eagerly anticipated open door on a stopped bus. Our driver had no intentions of stopping for this unruly mob to launch into his already packed bus, and he coolly drove in the entrance of the bus stand and drove out the exit. We were on our way once again.
Throughout the trip, I liked the way the driver, the conductor and some random passengers, some of whom were known to them, some of whom just travelled in buses a lot, made themselves completely at home in the front of the bus. They were very comfortable up there, and although I made an effort to listen to what they were saying, I couldn't understand a word. That was when I realised that this probably was not Hindi, but probably Haryanvi or Rajasthani (the bus went to Jaipur and back).
Saturday started with meeting old batchmates and the couple-to-be. The day was becoming very hot and in the middle of that heat, in a quiet hall in "Panchayat Bhawan", my two batchmates exchanged rings and got engaged. A hot Coimbatore day gave way to a breezy cool Bangalore evening. We went to the guy's house later in the evening where a function was happening. The food quickly served its purpose, and then, after some ambling about on the terrace that included singing by the Haryanvi women, the cricket match between India and Australia, the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup started. The women sang and danced on the terrace, but the men's festivities were crowded in one room around a television set. It was a great atmosphere to watch the match in, and an Indian victory just made it better. Surprisingly enough, all the ads that we had dismissed in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, now seemed to make more sense and seemed more interesting as we sat in that small town. "Hmmm... a 100cc bike, looks promising. Wonder if I can afford it?"
The next morning, after having witnessed an exhilarating win the previous night, we took our time getting into the groove. The morning was free and we wanted to do something worthwhile rather than just waste in our room. A couple of sight-seeing ideas were shot down due to the heat and distance, but a visit to the market remained the firm favourite with all of us, helped by the fact that people were looking at adding to their ensemble for the wedding later that evening. News trickled in at noon that the market closed at noon. So we frantically got ready and rushed to the market to see if we could salvage anything of our shopping dreams. Luckily enough, the shop-keepers were all standing outside their respective, ready to sneak us in and sell stuff on the sly, away from the prying eyes of the shop inspector who was on his rounds. We did some solid shopping, mostly of Jootis (a style of footwear typical to North India) and some jewellery. I picked up three pairs of Jootis, one for myself, and one for each of my parents.
We came back in the evening, well satisfied with the day's exploits. Our initial group had grown bigger over the past day as more batchmates kept coming in from various cities of their postings. We quickly got ourselves ready and most of us went back to the guy's house for the famed baraat. The guy got on to a horse, the band struck up its music and we danced. The band, by the way, turned out to be Maharaja Band. Back in MICA, The Unlike No Ones always considered its greatest competitor as Maharaja Band from Bopal. Looks like they've started franchising.
So the evening wore on well into the night, with dance and food filling the air. The two most important people of that weekend were married in a nice quiet little ceremony, and everybody began to make preparations to leave. We had managed to get a Scorpio for five of us. I drove soon after leaving for about an hour and a half before I handed it back to the driver. We hit Delhi in the midst of a monstrous Monday morning rush hour, and got suitably delayed and frustrated. And that was how I got to work nearly an hour late on Monday morning with absolutely no sleep. Quite a lovely weekend, I must say.