A Phone Wedding!

Shipment from China to Dubai?? outward shipment from Dubai to S.A?? Shipment on hold??. Container at the yard?Penalty for late shipment?.

I was totally engrossed in the mails shooting in and out and coming in from all parts of the world, while suddenly my Nokia started ringing.  I could see the incoming call was from my mother in Mangalore.  Without wasting any time, I ran to the pantry to take the call, as we have cubicles in our office, and a long distance call would disturb everyone.

It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon in Dubai and I thought it could be a well wishing call from Mom, but I was informed that my little sister had a proposal and the groom’s parents would be coming home next week to see my sister, as my would be BIL was a doctor in U.K.  I was very happy on hearing this news.

Just after the call, I went in to my work area and walked down memory lane. I remembered when I first saw my sister, I was 6 yrs old and she was draped in a white cloth at the Glen View Hospital in Mangalore.  Soon, I thought, she will be draped in a white gown as she walks to the altar to say “I DO.”

Memories flashed back.  Me designing her class album, having our tiffin together at the lunch break and finally dropping her to her college so that I could spend some time in front of the St. Agnes gate, where Chaddi Peter (watchman of the college) had a wild stare reserved for me.

Next Sunday was the day when I kept looking at the phone almost every minute to get the flash news from home and it came finally.  “YES” was the answer.

I was home some time in November and had just returned back to work.  My dilemma was – how do I ask for another leave to attend my sister’s wedding.  Mr. Harding (my line manager) would go crazy.  Moreover the wedding dates were fast tracked by my BIL who was on a short leave and the big day was supposed to take place in 15 days.

Finally I got the expected answer from my boss – “No chief you cannot make it?we have a heavy workload plus the year end- NO?. I cannot help you in this matter!!   Please do understand Mr. Pinto”

I’m sure even if Menaka or Urvashi had come down Mr. Harding wouldn’t get influenced.  All my emotional mails – me a father figure?me a shoulder of the family?.me the bread winner?.didn’t work and the answer was NO NO NO!!!

Mr. Harding however was intrigued with one word – Proposal? He called me into his cabin and asked what was this ?proposal’ all about.  No amount of explanations were enough for him to understand this strange practice.  Finally I told him “Listen Boss!   This happens only in India where we obey our parent’s decision and they find us our life partner.”

At this he said, hope my May (His daughter) would follow this tradition.  However, the answer to my request for leave was still ?No’ so I resigned myself and decided to keep track of the wedding over the phone.

Finally the wedding day arrived.  Since it was a Sunday it was a working day in the Middle East.  Though bodily present in Jebal Ali, my mind was all at the St.Sebastian’s Church, Bendore, Mangalore.

At about 2:30 pm (U.A E. time) my sis called me for the blessings as she was all set to leave for the nuptials.  I was in tears and trying to control my emotions as I was in the pantry and Abdul the Office boy was around staring at me.

Having lost my Dad I was the father figure to my little sister and so had to say what he would have said if he was alive – “Sambal Puta, Vecha gharak uswad dee, God Bless you my little angel!! (Take care my little one?.)  

It was raining heavily in Dubai and thus we got a mail stating that we could leave early due to the water clogging in some areas which had brought a stand still for the vehicles in most parts of the city.

It was almost 6:00 pm when I left FZCO. Few minutes I was at the Exit Gate 7 and then the high arc of the gate reminded me of the St.Sebastian Church in Bendore.

Now to get me the regular updates of the wedding, I had Selwyn a childhood friend who I was supposed to call every half n hour of the proceedings – “Resper zalye re?. Vokal foto kadunk gellye?” (Nuptials are over and the couple has gone to the studio for photographs).

I was on the Shaikh Zayed Road and I must admit the traffic was somewhere from Abu-Ahabi into the city.  Just then I saw a hoarding on the SH Road?. screening a bride running to the groom sitting in a car and driving away.  It was an advertisement for the Chevrolet Trail Blazer.  Again a call to Selwyn – “Kalle zale?.Vokal ani Nuvro pavula re?Hallache Bair asath” (Bridal couple has come and are at the entrance of the hall). Everytime they screened the Chevrolet ad on that big screen, I imagined that bride as my little sister.

When I was talking to Selwyn on the phone, in the background I could hear the band playing the bridal entry music.  All alone in the car, my tears just rolled down.

When my leave was not sanctioned, I had been all set to send my exit papers to Harding and wanted to say good bye to this country forever.  But at the back of my mind there were those obligations and loans I had to fulfill – my sisters dental college fees, my dad’s medical bills, new look to my old house and finally the wedding bills.  My thoughts toured around me and thus settled back in the Desert!
Car was moving at a snails pace.  By the time I called Selwyn again, I saw Hard Rock Caf? Guitars which reminded me of the Band again – “Selwyn kai powle?? (What’s happening???)”

Selwyn says “First waltz zatha re? Baari subith jode re?. (They are dancing the waltz?.nice couple man?..) And I could hear the band singing “Annie’s Song” in the back ground.

My car reached close to the Emirates Towers, where I could see another advertisement, this time of a South Indian Group having a chain of Gold showrooms in M.E.  The ad displayed a Bride wearing a Sado (traditional wedding saree) and a Mangalsutra and displaying tons of Gold Chains.
Another call to Selwyn? and this time Selwyn was not picking up?.a few calls desperate ? no sign of picking up?. Finally after about 20 minutes?.Selwyn came on the line panting – Kale zale re, call kityak kanaye?. Sorry re?.Jive Karthlo?. (What happened why are you not picking my call? Sorry I was Jiving)

“Kone vatu re?. I asked him?. Sandra re? Molly aunty che du? (With whom were you dancing?.Sandra Aunty Molly’s daughter)”

“Kale! Sandra Oh c’mon Selwy? She is a kid man?..”

Selwyn says, “If she is a kid then your sister shouldn’t get married today?coz they were classmates!!” Oops?11 Yrs in ME and the world has changed!!!

Anyways in the background I could hear “Mai montha Shegunache soon!! (A song in Konkani sung especially when the bride walks in wearing the sado – traditional attire).

For a moment I saw my sister on the Jewelry advt. hoarding placed on the SZ road.

It was almost 9:00 pm when I reached Diera the place where I stay, and getting parking after 7:00pm is like winning a Mysore Laxmi Lottery!!! So the hunt was on for the parking like a hungry lion hunting for prey!!

At the parking lot I saw an advertisement of a Gift Hamper with a red ribbon!!   Advertised by a leading chain of super markets.  It looked like everything reminded me of my sisters wedding today.

Again a call to Selwyn – “saang?Kale zavun asa? (Tell me what’s happening)” and he says ? “Ayar Zavun asa?.Jovan suru zale re  (Guests are wishing the couple and are also having dinner) Maxi, Suresh ani avu Jugulak peg marunk ailya?.(We have come to have a Peg at the Jugul wines – the only liquor shop in the vicinity)”

Finally!! I managed to get a parking with Selwy still on the phone, telling me about the menu – Mutton Green Masala, Sanna, Pork Bafat, Sweet Pulav.  My taste buds came alive and I felt like I wanted to have dinner at a mangalorean restaurant but had no strength to drive back to Karama (A place in Dubai where most of the Mangalorean restaurants operate).

Instead, I entered a Malbari restaurant which has been serving me daily bread for the last 4 years and there was Basheercha?.ever smiling.  Hailing from Kasargod Basheercha has visited Mangalore a couple of times, but the only place he knows is the KMC & Fr. Muller’s Hospital.
Basheercha as popularly known tries to speak Kannada with me?. Yenu Zamachara?. I do correct him Basheercha ?Yenu Zamachara alla?Aenu Samachara?. (What news).

Finally to the business which we both are in for a few years now? Yendha Vundu?. (What is in the menu?) Basheercha politely said ? Fish curry rice matra vundu.

While around 250 people in Mangalore were having a sumptuous dinner at my sisters wedding, here I was having the Mathi curry and Mota rice (Sardine fish & boiled rice) with a small bottle of mineral water.  I raised a toast to my little sister and my BIL and prayed that they have the best in their life.

It was around 11:30pm and I got a call from Mom? Puta pura Boryanth zale? Her voice was faint?while she said Ghar kali zalaye?.Vige Soon haad ?. (House is empty?.get me a daughter – in – law)

And at this the only thought came to me was?.With Mr. Harding around? mine could be only a Video conference wedding. With me sitting in the office and she sitting at the altar somewhere in India!

Even today when Shipment, Harding, sailing, containers make me mad?I minimize all my work on the laptop and look in to the screensaver?.where my sweet heart  “MAY” smiles at me?Oh GOD!  Don’t think me wrong “May” is not Harding’s daughter? that’s my 6 month old Niece who is in UK!

Arjun Pinto, Dubai

Author: Arjun Pinto- Dubai