Kashmir’s most lavish wedding

It was the most lavish wedding in Kashmir. Held in the crispiest summer of September. Each guest greeted with a bar of gold as they entered the tent-house, made of fine silk, that swayed in the fresh afternoon breeze of Dal Lake, since the gala was playing itself out in the resplendent lawns of Hotel Santoor, on whose finely manicured grass had sprouted red roses and yellow tulips of various kinds, planted just for this auspicious occasion, the news of which had spread far and wide, across the mountains, thus bringing busloads of officials, yes men, sentries and the city’s high and mighty, together with a motley group, 1200 to be precise, of uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbours and random relatives, themselves dressed in the finest cottons of the day, tilla-embroidered from the most expensive tailors downtown and wearing the most granular karakuls, sitting atop their heads a little askew, why not, for he was Mr. so and so and accompanying him was his bejeweled Mrs. so and so, as if they had come on their own offspring’s wedding, when suddenly a clink of Tash and Naer announced the feast was about to be served, and like ants, rows and rows of people organized themselves into circles of four, and the first dish that saw served, dear reader, wasn’t your usual methimeaz, but four giant goshtabas, accompanied by two little ones, so that each plate had twelve pieces of that amazing, spherical dish, served by waza-boys, who were feeling quite tip-top so far in their velvet coats, white socks and white gloves, embossed with letters M and S spaced out by a red curly heart, a token of appreciation and a bespoke honour for the bride and her groom. But soon, a litany of giggles broke out when the guests saw this reversal of buffet, for what had often come as a full stop on this sumptuous prose of Kashmiri gluttony was now its first dish, that is quite radical, a man said, yes, but it looks tasty as hell, the other man said, so let’s keep quiet and keep eating, and like that, each dish arrived one after another, the new one more presentable than its predecessor, but it was only when the six foot kebabs of the day got served that there happened some murmur of a protest, for the kebabs came wrapped in brittle gold foils, looking at which a bearded man overcame himself, had a gumption to get up, and shouted by God, enough. But, the poor moralist, his entreaties were soon submerged by a noise from outside. A rich siren came to a halt. The top minister had arrived, albeit carelessly late. He was bowed to and quickly ushered to a thickly carpeted baithak by a group of linen-clad men, those who most mattered on that venue. Oh, what a day it was in Kashmir, so peaceful, so serene, so warm and so hospitable, when the joyous eaters reached to their crafty looking boxes of salad, and guess what, found each piece of their bitter radish wrapped in a 2000 rupee note, when suddenly a loud voice oscillated from a speaker-system, clung to four neon-lit metal poles in the middle of the tent-house, and announced, ladies and gentlemen, pardon us for this, but the honorable host doesn’t want to accept anybody’s wartaw, any gift in cash or kind, in his sheer humility, so please don’t be offended or burden yourselves, instead, please enjoy the rest of your meal. The voice then casually pointed to mini-fridges, been brought along at that very moment by waza-boys, wrapped in glistening wrapping paper, look, he said, my dear esteemed guests, our host has even gone to the trouble of thinking how to safeguard the spoils of your plate, the leftovers, because we are going to have a long, cheerful night here, so make sure you deposit your thick packets of Wazwan into frigid souls of your sub-zero optimized fridges, and enjoy today’s delicacies tomorrow when you inshallah reach home.

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