India wastes up to Rs 58000 crore of agriculture produce, that accounts for almost 40% of the total produce screams a statistic. And the remaining unwasted 60%, comes with sweet inflation attached to only get wasted in fat Indian weddings. In most weddings after the guests have left and the last member of the catering crew has grown thicker in the waist, there’s still food left. Not left over, but perfectly good food, enough to feed a needy slum to slavery. Wait…wait…the tone’s changing with the prologue. Almost got carried away there. Well this piece by any stretch isn’t about waste management, vigilante justice or any kind of gentlemanly intention. Sorry if you got that impression.This is in fact a first person account of my shenanigans and the guilty pleasures I’ve derived over the years at the expense of several clueless couples.
I’ve always believed that most of us have a dormant side- by ‘us’ I’m referring to the movie buffs -that gets instigated by some movies. Though I’ve always been pretty good with numbers, I’ve never got that part of me tickled after Good Will Hunting. But there’s been this cheapskate within, waiting to be unleashed. Wedding Crashers was the Aladdin that got him out. It was a movie that glamourised the entire shindig of crashing weddings-celebration, music, food and women. And it has been one hell of a ride ever since. A continuous learning experience of sorts. Sometimes I’ve learnt about rituals. Sometimes about cuisines. And sometimes even discovered new things about myself, like the fact that my appetite improves incrementally in the sitting position than the standing one.
In a convoluted way, it’s an act of altruism where you do your bit to make someone look good. The common complaint at the end of most weddings- in this part of the world – is of the turnout not matching the invited ball park number. This is where, we the uninvited lot step in, to cover up for the invited. By beefing up the headcount and filling the hall, we make the host feel and the event look good. It’s quite easy to spot the tribe, especially in the dining area. While the legit ones would eat quietly, the crashers like empty vessels would make more noise.They would be conspicuous by the number of times they ask for a starter or a refill of a gravy. They would often be found occupying corner positions in a row and munching with the desperation of a famine hit refugee. Check their faces in the wash, it would be plastered with a post coital relief. For it’s just not about relishing good food, but also the relief of not being caught in the act.
Crashing is a gift that keeps giving and can be therapeutic in more ways than one. Some times when you just don’t want to be alone, it becomes the perfectly crowded excuse to get lost. During month ends, it serves as a multi cuisine alternative to save on dinner spend. And if you get a tad shallow, you get to sport those expensive jackets in your wardrobe that have hitherto been cultivating cobwebs. While it is a prerequisite to be well dressed, attention is to be paid to not turn up overdressed. Never go wearing a crown to an uninvited coronation.
There are times you can always improvise like how I once threw a birthday treat at a respectable wedding reception. Or another time when I took a date to a midnight wedding. It’s up to you to have something in hand for the sake of effect while making an entrance , like a gift wrapped empty carton or a fancy envelope. I’ve always adhered to the “empty handed” school of thought myself, while a friend likes to carry an envelope with a limerick scribbled on the back side of a random invoice. Since it boils down to one’s cheap thrill, subjectivity of the modus operandi has to be respected when with a co-crasher.
With time, like with most habits, we tend to develop an unique signature of completion. While the most common one in wedding crashing is leaving with a return gift, mine’s a little different. My ritual comes to its closure with a picture with the couple. I go up the stage when it’s crowded, wish them quickly and leave after getting a picture. The sheer thought of the bewildered look on the couple’s faces guessing my identity- while going through the photos -alone is priceless.
I would like to think of this as a batman kind of alter ego if you will, that responds to the crime of lavish weddings. Misplaced reasoning apart, most of us in our childhood couldn’t have resisted the lure of a low hanging mango in the compound nearby. We would’ve flicked a pebble and fled with the stolen fruit. It’s not like we couldn’t afford to buy one. Just the pleasure of the stolen mango is something else. As adults, some of us continue to preserve this child in us. I’m just one among them.