Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The modern Punjabi

So my friends at work never tire of telling me how lucky I am to be engaged to a Punjabi; not only are they a strong community ("You'll never see a Sikh beggar!"), but they "love their mothers," "have lots of money," and -- best of all -- "always have the nicest things and the latest gadgets!"

Most of the time I chalk this up to uninformed gabbling to placate the white girl. But after seeing pictures from S's cousin's engagement ceremony, I think I see what they're getting at.

At left, you'll see a crude recreation of a page from the cousin's photo album. The confused young man, the scowling bride to be, frozen in one pose while various relatives parade into the picture, pinching cheeks, feeding sweets, and passing the befuddled young folks envelopes of filthy, filthy lucre -- if you've ever been to a wedding or engagement in India, you know the scene. But who's that happy chap in the background? Why is this beturbanned buck blemishing every portrait of the happy couple?

Observe the man's right arm; it's in a slightly different position in every frame. When I first saw the photo album, I was absolutely confounded; my brow wrinkled in concentration as I tried to divine the reason this chachaji was omnipresent. After a few minutes, S leaned over my shoulder and began laughing, laughing so hard he was nearly in tears.

"Is that...is that a remote control?"


After a rapid exchange in Punjabi, punctuated by deep belly laughs, S explained, "See the remote? My chacha had just gotten a new digital camera for my cousin's engagement, and this new toy was in the box. He set the camera up on a tripod, and instead of standing and looking through the viewfinder, he stood behind my cousin and his fiancee, controlling the camera from afar."

Completely impractical, absolutely ludicrous, and apparently, stereotypically Punjabi. God bless his heart -- some people might say the pictures were ruined, but to me they're all the more memorable.

1 comment:

Cory said...

Those drawings are adorable!!!