Delhi to Akbarpur

With a little help from my friend

It is pleasant to reach our destination in a journey; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. On a trip to attend the marriage ceremony of our dear friend, Ved Prakash, we had a hell of good time, some of them, which were quite memorable.
By Kapil Arambam

There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.  But it has been a journey – and I'm quite enjoying it, taking each step cautiously like I've never done before in my life.  In the meantime, Ved Prakash, who works as a sub-editor at Panchjanya monthly journal, has started his second innings – he married Bhumika on Feb 20 (Friday) 2009, and we had a marvelous time attending the ceremony. Excellent foods, delightful moments with friends, and Ved's generous family – all of them blended well to provide us some memories we would cherish forevermore. Eight of us from Delhi went to his hometown in Akbarpur (in Ambedkar Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh) for the festivities, while another three joined us from Allahabad.

A successful marriage, it is said, depends on two things: finding the right person and being the right person. We hope he has a wonderful life together with his partner. Like a long conversation that seems too short, let's wish he had a pleasant way of life and found a new, blissful terrain in the nuptial world.

As it was in the beginning

It was a 12-hour ride by train to Akbarpur. At the outset, I felt rather ease to have made the journey, for one week, Yatish has been swearing to me after we failed to attend his brother's marriage in Allahabad on Valentine's Day. I have been also wishing for trips to north Indian towns for long. Anyways, we board the train from Old Delhi on Feb 19 – I was accompanied by Gupteshwar Kumar, Vivek Vishwakarma, Himanshu Sharma, Deepak Ruwali, Diwan Bisht Manu Shrivastav and Shanu Shrivastav. The train departed, much to our excitement, as scheduled at 7:20 pm.

However, we had only four confirmed tickets to travel all along 12 hours. It was no issue, though – with plenty of tittle-tattle, scrambling one upon another and music on the cell phones, and the TT didn't even made his wolfish appearance. When we got up at daybreak, we were three hours away from our destination and passed through two main stations – Faizabad and Ayodhya, two of the main cities in Uttar Pradesh.

A warm reception – waking up to smell the sweet coffee

We reached Akbarpur Junction around 8:30am, 90 minutes behind schedule. Ved's father was already running around at the station to receive us. We have met him once when the Media House was in Bharat Nagar. A jeep was reserved for us and it took nearly an hour to get to Mubarakpur, a Muslim locality where Ved's house is situated. It was a bumpy ride and nobody, (except Himanshu who had already been there), could have imagined the long-drawn-out distance. Meanwhile Vivek kept giving lectures to me about the landscapes, which he says, are common to the North Indian towns. Finally we were allocated to a guesthouse that was a walking distance from Ved's house.

The guesthouse has been built recently and a part of it was in fact, undergoing refurbishment (Ved later informed us it belongs to one of his father's friend). Unsurprisingly, it was really stunning in the rustic neighbourhood. We got freshen up and were told to come over for a breakfast. But before leaving, Ved's brother-in-law and one of his cousins came and we planned for the drinks, which was a priority to attend the marriage procession in the evening.

We had our breakfast and hang around there for some time. When we went back to our lodgings, we found one full Royal Stag and a few beer bottles. But it was not an ideal time for the drinking bouts as all of us dozed off after a couple of pegs. The three Allahabadis – Yatish Shrivasta, Manu and their friend Gyan Gaurav had also arrived there in the meantime. (Yatish sweared to me again for I was making flimsy excuses but I assures him that I would definitely come to his wedding with Leesa or whosoever).

Happy game, fun bomb – drinks, food and party

We started with a few pegs on the way, getting ready for the barat (main marriage ceremony). Deepak was complaining the Royal Stag was a fake and that he didn't get any kick. Guppu chipped in the beers were also spurious. But I got high gradually in the evening (while Deepak had covertly drank a half RC with fellow Uttrakhandi, Diwan).

It was almost dark when we headed for the bride's place, which was situated about 20km away, near the railway station. We were received at a janmasa, also known as a dharamshala, where the barat is usually kicked off. We enjoyed plenty of delicacies at the fête and gulped down more whiskies and beers inside the reception house. It was during this time Deepak and Diwan did a disappearing act. Incidentally, there was a wine/beer shop quite close to Bhumika's house and the janmasa.  

Everyone was exhilarated and ready for the fun. The music started and the groom had aleady changed his coat and tie into a sherwani. He had put an effort to lose weight for this auspicious occasion. And he has succeeded! I don't even feel like calling him an elephant anymore. When he mounted on the embellished horse cart lo! The ball started rolling for the barat!
Unfortunately, I could not dance at all! It is not in my blood – I feel like moving my legs while dancing, when I should be lifting my arms and vice versa. Don't ask me to dance. But I remember one Japanese proverb I read somewhere: We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. But don't tell me.

I've been wondering how Vivek and Gyan Gaurav had danced all the way from the janmasa to the bride's house, which took us nearly an hour in the protracted procession and continued inside the marriage gathering. Guppu had told the DJ that both of them were hired from the locality, especially for the dance.

A tale that is knot

Do I need to mention we have more savouries and sweet dishes? I love the mayang's love for sweets. How could I describe the variety of toothsome sweets that we were served! As soon as we reach the place, everyone rushed in to the dance floor, while I led for the buffet. I had to play around with my cell camera while they were swaying and whirling to the Bollywood dhamaka numbers and the worst trance music I've ever heard.

When the bride made her presence in resplendence and a glamorous red dress on the dais, the camera/photo shoots went off in full force. The formalities lasted for quite long while we simply get through the time.

The long day ends for us but the elaborate ritual would continue for the whole night. Ved wanted us to stay at the janmasa, while we were longing to retire peacefully at the guesthouse. Finally, it was decided that we would be going back but Yatish and Manu stayed back as they were leaving for Allahaabd the following morning.

The good, the bad and the ugly

On Saturday, we saw the real Mubarakpur. Every item was low priced and we had a breakfast to our stomach full with a paltry amount. However, we had a hard time searching for some of our basic stuffs – the most important was cigarette and nowhere was any good brand available. They have one Capstan and Captain along with various brands of bidis. This Muslim neighbourhood is located in an interior part. We saw weaving as the only major occupation of the people as we could hear the clatter of the machines in each house. Apart from that, there were slowly moving people (most of them wear loongis only) and lines of half-empty kiosks selling tit-bits in the narrow alley, which serves as a main road.

Everyone gazed at me whenever we moved around, apparently, owing to my Mongoloid look.

The show must go on…

The main reception programme was held in the evening. The bride was already escorted to the groom's house and a similar dais, like the one they were seated the previous evening, was constructed in Ved's courtyard – where everyone would made their way for blessings and gifts for the newly-weds plus the typical Indian photo shoots with umpteen relatives. Adding one more illustrious snap to the family album!

We reached there before the arrival of the husband and the wife. There is one interesting lesson that married men needs to learn. We know more about women than they do – otherwise we would have been married too. I don't mean to infuriate the Mahila Mandal Samiti, but it marks the end of our self-governing bachelorhood. Still, Deepak was grouching he would persuade his mother to get a girl for him. Ved has aroused him; no doubt, both of them are near thirty.

Like the previous evening, everyone plunged into the dance floor as soon as we reach the place. In fact, one of Ved's cousins told us later that his father had wanted us to arrive early for the disco. While we were having a few rounds of Imperial Blue, we were almost forced to complete the pegs in haste. Some of us were also bathing and getting dressed at the moment.
And I did the same thing again when we reach our destination – I headed for the dishes kept in the buffet. But ultimately, I had to give in that evening. I danced with them, while Ved had jumped on to the dance floor from the dais earlier.

O haseena, o neelampari, kar gayi kaisi jaadugari
neend in aankhon se cheen li hai, dil mein bechainiya hai bhari
main bechara hoon awaraa bolo samjahon main yeh abb kis kis ko dil mein mere hai
dard-e-disco, dard-e-disco, dard-e-disco
The dance continued till late. In midst, I saw a funny thing as the ladies and gentlemen taking turns to sway their way. Was it traditional, prohibitive or a convention, I fail to understand but the opposite sexes did not mingle together. The gentlemen reign in the dancing department and occupied maximum time on the dance floor while most of the ladies were visibly inhibited when they took their turn.   

Smell like high spirit

Anyways, it was fun and frolic all around. Vivek was more amused after he went away with Ved's brother-in-law to drink. The party ended after midnight and we headed for the guesthouse, where we had another spectacle with Vivek's thetrics. Obviously, all of us were inebriated and it was a stage we were out of our sense. Vivek started the polychromatic gabbles – after his usual philosophical craps about friendship, he informed us he used to bowl at 152km/h but that he could not make it big owing to political nuisance. Everyone went wild.

Something struck inside my throat while drinking water and laughing simultaneously that I puked from my mouth and nose! But the high spirits remained unabated overtime.

An unbelievable sight captured our imagination the following morning on Sunday. Ved had taken us for some sightseeing at one Mahadev Ghat, situated a couple of hundred metres from his house. It provides breathtaking views of the river Saryu, flowing vehemently, with an exciting vista in the background, created by the blowing white sands on the other side of the riverbank. It was spellbinding.

But, on the way to the ghat and back, he could not receive the volley of questions that were hurled at him about the previous night. He answered some of them, which were quite obvious, and did not reply the curious queries. [:D] Later, we had our lunch and rest for a while before leaving the town. We were given clothes as gifts and bid goodbye.

We took a half RC from the shop near Bhumika's house and finished it off before the train departure.




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