Ever since my daughter got married last week, I’ve been flooded with questions from prospective fathers-of-brides, urging me to share the wisdom I have gleaned. Here are some frequently asked questions.
Q: How do I prepare for the wedding?
A: This is, of course, the most important question. The area of the most severe pain will be the lower back. Experts say that squats, with an exercise ball, are the best option. I can only say that the Utkatasana, Bharadvajasana and the Utthita Hasta Padangustasana gave excellent results, allowing me to stand for several hours welcoming guests on the dais. Yogasanas for the calf muscles too are a must.
Another exercise, especially for grumpy old men, is the sunny smile. Saying ‘cheese’ is not enough, a smile looks genuine only when the muscles of the mouth and the eyes both pull upward. Practise diligently in front of the mirror daily. Ignore family members who look at you with alarm. Remember, you will have to smile over a thousand times in one evening, often to perfect strangers. Keep a balm handy, in case your cheek muscles ache.
These simple exercises should steel you for the reception. Alcohol will help.
Q: I have bought a shiny blue suit. Can I wear that for the wedding?
A: Burn it. You are not the centre of attention, your daughter is. If she wants you to wear a feathered head-dress and a tutu, you will have to do so. If you need a suit, you can hire an excellent one from me.
Q: What should the menu be?
A: You seem to be under the misapprehension that you will take these important decisions. While your wife and daughter decide on the menu, the best you can do is slip in a couple of dishes. Try to smuggle in stuff that’s banned for you, like mutton or sweets, but pork might be too adventurous.
Q: Are there any mantras I have to recite?
A: There are quite a few, but the most effective one is this little invocation you whisper in the priest’s ear: “Om, hurry, hurry, hurry/If you want money, money, money.”
Q: Is there any way to shrink the budget?
A: Don’t be silly. Don’t you know your own daughter?
Q: What gifts do I give my daughter?
A: Everybody gives gifts. You need to do more, make a grand gesture, a big sacrifice to show how much you care for her. Take my example — I opted not to go for a Modi rally in my city and decided to attend my daughter’s wedding instead. It is such acts of selfless renunciation that bind families together.
Q: How do I shed tears when the bride goes away?
A: Do not conjure up scenes from old Bollywood movies, they will only make you laugh. Instead, think of some tragic event in your life, like when you lost that bridge championship, to allow the tears to flow freely. Wipe that look of immense relief off your face.
Q: What blessing should I give my son-in-law?
A: May you too become a father-in-law.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal