Monthly Archives: March 2013

Indian Wedding Season Is Here Again

This is turning into a year of wedding celebrations in my friend and family circle (completely unrelated to Bollywood pictures used here).

What a big deal we make of them! 

Are there any wedding celebration showcases bigger, grander or badder than the ones that Indians are prone to put on?  (And why is that, by the way??)

All you have to do is to check out some of the contemporary bridal attire promoted today to get the idea of how far they have come. This is simply a representative area since I am talking about the whole gamut of products and services surrounding the special event. We have effectively created a shaadi industrial complex around Indian weddings – not just in India but here in the US and anywhere else that has settlers from India.

Back to the future?

It’s only early, early spring, but ‘the season’ has started, alright.  I expect to attend and participate in a  plethora of weddings during the year. And it will take all kinds –

    • Elegant and sophisticated
    • Simple (these days, the exception that proves the rule)
    • Grand
    • Ornate
    • Over the top (for those of you interested, Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc* will rent you elephants for the baraat)
    • Mixed Race/Mixed Religion/Mixed Region
    • Arranged Marriages
    • And not.

* This is actually a neat enterprise that is committed to elephant care and welfare. So when you rent an elephant for your wedding, you are actually doing a service to this endangered species. If there’s no wedding in your future, check it out anyway!

This year, for a change, I am looking forward to wedding season. Hmmmmmm, I wonder why? I’m actually quite excited.

The closer my relationship to the bride or the groom, the more fun I expect to have. Especially in connecting and re-connecting with friends and  family. I’ve already got  two under my belt this year.

Depending on which region of India dominates the planning of a wedding (or whether it’s the bridal couple or their parents that rule) , it can turn out to be any of the following (not all are mutually exclusive) –

  • One big party – fun all the way
  • Quiet and Solemn
  • Noisy and Chaotic
  • Ritualistic and Ceremonial
  • Meaningful
  • Unforgettable

I’d guess that if wedding planners had one wish then, across the board they would aim for that one universal experience for the bridal couple, their entourage and wedding guests, i.e. making it unforgettable (for all the right reasons!).  

The corollary to this, of course, is that no one wants their wedding celebration to invoke that punishing, forgettable feel of ‘bland’. But just look at the vibrant colors in the picture below, as an example. Indian weddings, in general, are just this colorful and vibrant. Combine this with some spicy Indian cuisine, and luckily for my Indian friends, bland is simply not an option. 

In any case, best wishes and good luck to all who are making 2013 their special year!

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A Shameful Anniversary

This week marked a significant anniversary –  a full decade since the terrible invasion of Iraq by the U.S. – under completely false pretenses.

All one can do now is lament the dubious or rather, completely disastrous decision by Dubya.

Seen through a night-vision device, paratroopers conduct a raid on a suspected terrorist's home in Fallujah, Iraq. The Soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's Company B, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Seen through a night-vision device, paratroopers conduct a raid on a suspected terrorist’s home in Fallujah, Iraq. The Soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

What did it result in at the end?

More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians and 4000 Americans lost lives. And countless families were forever and tragically impacted because of an unnecessary war.

This week, virtually every publication had articles and photographs that documented the war and reminded us of its heinous repercussions. As I read them, I couldn’t help but feel for all that went wrong and all that could have been prevented – with one right decision.

I have pulled from a few of these images and write-ups – not to celebrate but to remember and honor those who served in this ill-advised venture.

Iconic Images

Here are some of the iconic images of this shameful war (courtesy: Foreign Policy magazine).

Remember this travesty?

A Decade of Despair

Published in the NY Times is this editorial by Ahmad Saadawi, a writer in Iraq. It is called A Decade of Despair.  He writes –

AN Iraqi saying claims that those who endure one day just like the next have been dealt an unfair hand in life. During the 1990s, when I was in my 20s, this saying was frequently invoked. In those stagnant times, it seemed nothing ever changed, so much so that looking back, I can barely differentiate between 1997 and 1998.

Those days came to an end 10 years ago today, when United States forces invaded Iraq. The contradictions that had been contained under Saddam Hussein burst forth into the open. Lives were uprooted in the process. It is no surprise that, a decade later, some people find themselves yearning for the ’90s.

Read more here.

A NEW ERA — Iraqi contractors prepare to remove a statue of Saddam Hussein's head from the Presidential Palace in Baghdad, Iraq, on Dec. 2, 2003. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Houghton

A NEW ERA — Iraqi contractors prepare to remove a statue of Saddam Hussein’s head from the Presidential Palace in Baghdad, Iraq, on Dec. 2, 2003. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Houghton

Cheney Marks Tenth Anniversary

Andrew Borowitz is at his satirical best in this column – Cheney Marks Tenth Anniversary of Pretending There Was Reason to Invade Iraq. I can’t help but reproduce some of it here –

In a sombre ceremony attended by former members of the Bush Administration, the former Vice-President Dick Cheney marked the tenth anniversary of making up a reason to invade Iraq.

The ceremony, held on the grounds of the Halliburton Company headquarters, brought together the former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and other key members of the lying effort.

 Calling the assembled officials “profiles in fabrication,” Mr. Cheney praised them for their decade of dedication to a totally fictitious rationale.

“Making up a reason to invade a country is the easy part,” Mr. Cheney told them. “Sticking to a pretend story for ten years—that is the stuff of valor.”

Read more here.  

The Last Letter

The Last Letter

And finally, this moving letter from a dying veteran of the Iraq war. This letter – the last letter – is addressed to George W Bush and Dick Cheney.  Here is an excerpt:

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Read more here.

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I said earlier that it appears that all one can do ten years later is regret and repent the terrible decisions made with this war. But perhaps not. If what this country did is learn some hard lessons instead, perhaps there is something valuable that can be gained.

The lesson worth learning most from this dreadful decision to invade Iraq is that this is something that should never, ever be repeated against any country. Period.

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