Pauline Thomason once said "Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener". But, even the pre-marriage phase also can open your eyes to so many things. And if you are as general-knowledge-deficient as me, every moment is a new discovery. If you have a sense of humor, each discovery can be complete fun.
Just before the saree shopping, mom asked about my fiancee - "AvLu work sarees wear maadthaLa?"
I understood it as "work 'ge' sarees" and told - "No mom, she generally wears jeans or salwars to work"
Mom was least surprised by the all too familiar stupidity of her son and said - "Work sarees do not mean the sarees which you wear to work. It means sarees that involve lot of handiwork like embroidery, mirror work etc."
Shopping for sarees will introduce you to so many new things - crape silk, tusser silk, raw silk, butta, mango border, peacock border, temple border, self, contrast, double color - the sheer magnitude of terminologies can cause a data overflow error! The shopkeeper comes up with different adjectives for even the most pathetic sarees, a skill that can put HRs to shame. Self border rich pallu, contrast saree grand look, big border traditional wear, lateshht dejign fancy saree - believe me, getting this knowledge imparted can be a very humbling experience.
The interesting thing is that while most saree shop keepers are such great ego boosters, the shopkeepers of men's dresses are in complete contrast (Yes, its a contrast, not a self :D)
You go to buy a formal shirt and the one Hritik is wearing in the ad looks very good. You ask the shopkeeper if he has the same piece and try it on. It looks quite ridiculous on you. You ask the shopkeeper if its a different shade or something. The shopkeeper would say its the exact same piece with a big "Thats Hritik, this is you" smile.
You look at some other trousers and ask your fiancee - "Will this look good on me?" and the enthusiastic shopkeeper jumps in the middle - "Sir, you go for that one - that one would look good on you. Since you are not tall sir, this will not suit you..."
You go for the suit trial and ask the tailor - "Is this okay? Or has this become a little big?", the tailor who has no idea of your beaten-up morale tells "This is perfect saar. Since you dont have broad shoulders, it looks like a little big thats all. Otherwise its just perfect"
Thats when I realized why men and women differ so much in their shopping frequencies. Women go to shopping to boost their egos. Men avoid it to protect their already low self-esteem from hitting rock bottom.
The other thing that strikes you at this stage is the importance of gold in human lives. Mythologies are full of gold related stories. "Hiranya garbha" or the golden womb from which the universe is formed, bears an uncanny resemblance to the big bang theory. Hiranyakashyapu and Hiranyaksha were the earliest of demons - kind of Bhimas and Chemmanurs of demonosphere. The earliest known story about gold was from Ramayana. One idyllic afternoon, Sita spotted a golden colored deer in the forest and suddenly realized that she had not shopped for gold from the last 10 days or so. When Rama was back from his jungle jogging, Sita looked at Ram in a way that makes men ask "What do you want honey?". Sita in a very husky voice said - "I want gold dear". Rama, who had studied mostly in bhojpuri medium schools understood it as "I want gold deer" and killed the golden deer Mareecha. This enraged Ravana, who then decided to kidnap Sita. The rest, as they say, is mythology.
The anthropologists also believe that the discovery of gold changed the equations in human society. In the very early hunter-gatherer societies, the persons who were strong, who could fight with animals, who could run for miles were considered to be very useful in the tribe. So the strong, big, fat, stout, sturdy people were well respected. The big, strong, sturdy guys got all the great girls (which means big, strong, sturdy girls) in the tribe. The thin, slim, sleek, delicate types were constantly ridiculed and were subjected to social bullying all the time. "Thin is in" is believed by many anthropologists to be the first ever hate slogan - to force the thin, slim types not to come out of caves. Within a few hundred years, gold was discovered and the big, strong, sturdy guys started losing out to the thin, slim guys who had found gold. But, this created a peculiar situation. The gold discovered was still not enough for the big, well built girls of the tribe. Jean Pierre, the first known statistician cum fashionista discovered that the thinner the girls are, the lesser the gold required and he manipulated the century-old hate slogan "Thin is in" into a very popular fashion statement. Humans, even today, have not discovered enough gold that meets the demand - and the fashionistas have maintained the balance with the still popular "Thin is in"!
Marriage is not without its share of compromises. If you take my example, I always wanted to marry on a wednesday in some city far far away from Bangalore. Sounds weird? There is an interesting logic to that. If you are marrying on a wednesday outside Bangalore, only those people who are very close to you will attend your wedding - applying leave and taking the trouble of traveling to a different city. Its a very effective method of avoiding unwanted acquaintances who might attend your wedding for the only reason that its anyway a holiday and the choultry is very near to their homes! But, I have compromised - for getting married in Bangalore on a sunday. Yes, this sunday! :)