Lessons to be learned at a Parsi wedding

Russi Mistry’s son’s wedding was different, though, in some ways. First of all, he firmly said, ‘No gifts or flowers’. I do see this happen more and more in today’s weddings though. ‘Blessings only’ is a phrase you come across very often nowadays. It’s good for the guests, of course, but what of the young couple? Why should they be deprived of gifts? I think the British system is best. The couple specifies a store; say Selfridges or Harrods or John Lewis, depending on their social status. The selected store is given a list of things the couple wants as gifts: cutlery, tea sets, iron etc. You select what you can afford; that item is then struck off the list so the couple doesn’t get one dozen irons).

But the really unusual thing about this wedding struck me when we finally sat down for dinner. On the right side and across, there was a row of familiar looking faces I recognised, but couldn’t place. Who were they, and why were they all beaming at me? Then it struck me: they were all waiters at my club (Bombay Gym). Russi had invited them all, and the entire Gym staff — librarian, office clerks, tennis markers, you name them — was present. That’s democracy in the true sense of the word. After all, we may be a democracy, and a thriving, practicing, rambunctious one at that, but social hierarchies are preserved as rigidly as possible. You may extend all possible courtesies to your domestic servants, but they will not sit in your presence, and if they do, never on a chair. They might eat the same dinner as you, but never with you.

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