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Tag: planning

The Wedding Planner

My sister got married 2 weeks ago – in style! It was a 2-day event that concluded with a beach wedding. There were over 150 family members and close friends, who were all put up in a resort for a night.

My sister and her fiance belong to different parts of India and the customs of both families are significantly different. The couple began to plan and prepare for the wedding about 2 months ago. There was extensive discussion on the nature of the functions, type of rituals and the scope of the celebration. About a week or two after their engagement, that happened in October, they had finalized on the major parts. The wedding was to happen in a beach-town that was miles away from either of their hometowns. The functions included bridal art (henna), a cultural evening and an early morning wedding ritual. There were 4 meal sessions and a couple of tea+snack breaks. The girl and the boy wanted to be thorough in their preparations, especially because of the lack of time. Hence, they hired a wedding planner to ensure that the logistics involved would be well taken care of.

It made a lot of sense, especially because I live in a different country and despite my best intentions, it was hard for me to be in-charge. The resort was finalized after multiple visits to the town; the caterer was booked after many food sampling sessions and the wedding planner was hired to take care of everything outside of these two major items. The planner’s responsibilities included :

  • Decor for all the functions
  • Food service in the function areas
  • Permit for the beach
  • Seating arrangement for all guests
  • DJ and runner-boys
  • Stationery, flowers and other function requirements

The word ‘planner’ means much more to me. It includes a careful study of the client’s requirements and then, a proposal that offers a couple of possible designs. However, I felt that even if he wasn’t a typical planner, he would ensure that all the individual tasks were streamlined, were well-designed and packaged together to put up a stress-free show.

The show was indeed stress-free; because the person who caused great stress missed the event. My uncle checked in to the resort 2 days before the wedding and quickly took the information from both my sister and her fiance. I observed him as he went after each person and made a note of various things.

While I have a lot of experience in leadership, I find it impolite to claim charge unless it’s handed over to me. To watch my uncle, taught me how to do that with politeness. However, I was 4 months pregnant and I might have not been happy about all the running around. So, I decided to go about the tasks I had taken up.

  • Photography and Videography
  • Conduct the Sangeet Ceremony (cultural function)
  • Brief the wedding planner on the Mandap design
  • Order 50m of flowers and distribute them when required

The first event went quite well; even though I had my own self-criticisms. I had also briefed the wedding planner multiple times and discussed the mandap design. Finally, I had ordered the flowers and when they came, I gave a bunch for one of the bridal rituals.

On the morning of the wedding, I went through a series of stresses over a period of 2 hours. I woke up to a message by my photographer that she was denied transportation the previous night. I panicked because the photo-crew could have decided to not show up for the 4am bridal makeup. I called into my sister’s room to check and the entire 5-people team had arrived on time. Next, I thought I will get ready and look my best. My mother walked in after I had taken a shower and asked me for the flowers; they were required for my sister’s hairdo. I realized that I had left it in the banquet hall the previous evening. I rushed to look for it and didn’t find it in the place I had kept. I called my uncle, who tried to call the planner and order a new batch, while I went to the reception to check with the cleaning team. The over 15-minute of crisis lead to a great deal of disappointment. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten about it. My sister, however, had used the batch of flowers from the previous evening – and that made me feel even worse. My greatest worry was to find loose flowers for the wedding ceremony. Unsure about it, I moved on to the wedding part and got into the bus with my family and the couple.

We reached the venue after a couple of transfers between a bus and a jeep. As we walked into the beach spot, I started to observe the decor. It was random and the horror stuck us when we saw the Mandap. Almost nothing was arranged on it and we had ordered 180 chairs and there were less than 70! I had personally explained the decor for the Mandap to the planner but none of it was as discussed.

We all hurried towards the Mandap. Panic drove us all, especially the couple. The groom’s father grabbed the phone and began to scold the wedding planner; my mother began to give some instructions to my sister and the groom himself tried to assemble a couple of his friends around. He asked them to manage the chaos. I decided to walk down at that moment. I spotted 2 guys perched up on the mount that sidelined the beach. They were the planner’s guys and they sat next to 2 huge baskets of flowers. I demanded that they gave me at least 2kgs of lose flowers quickly. One of the groom’s friends helped me and to my relief, I had 2 bags of flowers before the priest finished the mandap set up.

I settled myself next to my sister; the groom’s sister sat next to him; both set of parents were on 2 sides of the table and the priest sat right across from the couple. The planner’s part was over. The wedding had begun.

———

Later that day, after a great session of swimming, I bid goodbye to my relatives. The happy faces, the content hearts and their joyful spirits humbled me. My sister and her new husband had left for their first drive and night out together. Finally, it was just me and my friends with a few cups of coffee.

“I have barely spent 2 years in USA and I find myself a misfit here,” I said.

“What do you mean?” Friend said.

“I have worked with many talented, efficient people; they work like children”

“Children?”

“Yeah – and when they are done, they make your eyes shine with their love-filled work.”

“Wow!”

“In the last few days, I saw someone behave like a kid without any creativity.”

“That child wanted us to run after him, poke him, remind him to get the job done; it had gone astray.”

“Hmm..”

“I couldn’t exercise my greatest ability – to get heard without raising my voice”

“In fact, I saw my uncle lose his voice. Yet, that child who called himself The Wedding Planner, didn’t hear our calls.”

 

 

 

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Squared planning

To write after days feels good; to write after months? Is to recover from grief.

I gave my first piano recital on March 8; became a San Francisco City Guide on May 9; and 2 days ago, I launched an event called Aeolian Day for the world to experience the sound of the wind. This all must read like 6-months of reward driven work, but it turned my painfully nourished artist-soul away.

April was the greatest dip. I took a 10-day trip to India in mid-April. On my onward journey, I had to take 4 flights spread over 30 hours to get to my parents’ winter home in Coimbatore. The 4 days that I spent there, however, more than made up for the travel fatigue. There was a moment when I felt like a writer again and completed one of my short stories. I sat in the balcony that looked out at the horticultural farm and in great peace, the words just flowed out. That was the end of it.

The following days were filled with a wedding ceremony and more cities to hop. In the last leg of my trip, I was in Trivandrum and spent a lot of time with my extremely pregnant sister-in-law and my mother-in-law. I realized they were in great need of someone who could just make the world seem worry-free. I did my best and played a few games of scrabble and performed a few songs in the evenings. I know they felt joy, at least for sometime. But then, before I knew, it was time to leave. Why didn’t I stay for the delivery? – you may ask. Well, I had a training session that I had planned my trip around. In fact, my trip was exactly between 2 training sessions. A day before I had to leave, my mother-in-law said “It feels good to have your support, both physically and mentally.” I think, at that moment, my heart shrank. I considered cancelling my ticket too; but my partner comforted me and gave me enough confidence to leave.

On my flight back, thoughts of helplessness trapped me. The year 2014 offered my life a gap that unleashed an artist inside of me. I wrote, I painted, I played music and I sang; outside of these pursuits, I continued to create at random occasions – a glass harp, a spacecraft suit, 3 camera obscuras etc.. It was the most beautiful year and the one I hadn’t even expected. I taught myself to swim and trained myself to enjoy routine that in effect, fueled my creativity. However, on that flight I realized that to have just your ‘own’ pursuits is not only hard but weighs you with decisions that you don’t want to partake in. If I had an employer, I would have applied for a vacation and just to put my foot down and say “I have to be with my family.”, would have made me feel like a winner. I would have not kept my training sessions at such high priority and just worked around them. To have the world think that you have all the time to spare feels weird. You feel vulnerable and insecure about being taken for granted.

I felt bad that in my efforts to grow without an employer, I had become a slave to myself.

I returned home(alone) in San Francisco; somewhat broken but sick otherwise. A nasty flu (that I picked from someone on the flight) became an uninvited guest. It stayed with me for 6 days during which I had to recover from a jet-lag and an emotional low; and I had to prepare my first Mock Tour. I barely had 3 days for the tour preparation and despite a decent research and a rough story-line, I was too sick during the tour to make it fun. That felt like hell!

I withdrew into a deep state of despair along with a sense of failure. There was no one to listen to my rants, nobody to comfort me with a hug and for the first time I realized I didn’t have a friend around to call up! Yes, there are friends that I have made and yes, I would still call up just for a chitchat; but I found no answers in my head to my cries for help.

It took me about 6 days to recover from the flu but that depression hasn’t left me yet.

The event planning partially helped but towards the last few days, I burnt out. The joys of writing are best experienced alone but the success of a job is meaningless in solitude. And there is no reality to all this. It’s in my system and it continues to grow and I have spent a week blowing it off. There are still a few dark sparks but I hope that the rest of 2015 has enough lessons for me to plan my life better. I want to enjoy every day that I have, every minute that I live and every breath that I take. And I am quite uptight about that.