Friday, May 25, 2012

Adventures of a Pakistani Groom to be

Preparing to become a Pakistani groom is a lot like watching Shahid Afridi bat. The thrill and the excitement that come naturally with the process are unparalleled. But the adrenalin rush also keeps you on the edge of your seat; you genuinely have no idea what’s going to happen next.   

Weddings are a big deal around the world. In Pakistan, they’re an even bigger deal and a bit of a roller coaster ride, especially for the bride & groom.  Incidentally, while Pakistani brides may be groomed (no pun intended) for this roller coaster ride all their life, the groom is kind of expected to figure things out on his own and fast.

You can find dozens of magazines on Pakistani brides (& the mini-industry that surrounds them) but there is almost no literature on the making of a Pakistani groom. This blog piece is an attempt to change that by capturing some of the funny but revealing moments that go into the making of a modern day Pakistani groom.

Zindagi na milegi dobara

 “I’m not ready to get married,” squealed a friend of mine, days before he was expected to tie the knot with the girl of his dreams. When a muscular young man, over six feet tall, curls up in your bed and pleads that he’s still a child (and not ready to get married), you really don’t know where to draw the line between your pep talk and your sense of humor.

Six weeks away from my own D Day, I realize now that it’s not so much the fear of getting married as the perceived enormity of responsibility that looms large. I call it the ‘how can I be responsible for another human being when I can barely keep my room clean’ syndrome.

Like all good Pakistani traditions, weddings naturally revolve around perceived expectations and according to my recently married male friends; it’s usually the grooms who are most clueless about what is expected of them.

One of these friends decided to give me the proverbial pre-marriage ‘talk’ a few days back. The talk wasn’t exactly what I expected.  

The talk turned out to be a mini-lecture on how marriage is a big responsibility. Knowing the particulars of my situation (my parents live overseas; me & my wife will live independently post marriage), he shared that I have to take full responsibility for managing the house, make my wife feel at home away from her family and keep my own family onboard throughout the process.

When you’re about to get married in Pakistan, you have to accept that everyone and their mother in law has some piece of advice for you (to be fair, most of this is well intentioned advice, even if it can be repetitive). Almost everyone tells you that the pre-wedding time period and preparations can become stressful. Some people recommend that the bride & groom should stop talking a few weeks before the wedding day to prevent potential arguments on the arrangements of the wedding itself!

In light of all this advice, there are times when I’m surprised and grateful that I & my fiancĂ© haven’t had any major arguments, yet, in the run up to our wedding. This is especially peculiar given the fact that we’re setting up a new place from scratch. Looking ahead, I anticipate a very busy 6 weeks but I don’t see any source of real stress on either of us. In a strange way, this lack of stress is now the only source of anxiety for me: is this the pre-wedding calm before the post-wedding storm?

Even Einstein couldn’t figure this one out…

In life, when you can’t find answers to the questions on your mind, you turn to those smarter than you. When it comes to marriage though, even the smartest of men have done pretty dumb things. 

“Was Einstein the world’s worst husband?,” screamed the headline of an article teasingly posted by my friend on his fiancĂ©’s Facebook wall. Einstein may have been the world’s smartest man but when it came to women, he wasn’t the smoothest of characters. 

Apparently, Einstein created an eccentric list of ‘rules’ for his wife to follow, which include the following (I promise I’m not making these up): 
  1. “You will stop talking to me if I request it
  2.    I will receive my three meals regularly in my room
  3.  That my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only
  4. You will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.
  5. You will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way”

It’s very comforting to know that I’ll make a better husband than Einstein, without even trying too hard. And that’s exactly how I view marriage right now; there are no written rules on what works and what doesn’t. You do your best, enjoy the journey and take every day as a new adventure.