How to celebrate through the wedding season and live to tell the tale
If you have a large extended family, the chances are that you are currently neck-deep into the excesses of the Big Fat Indian wedding. And even if you don't, you have probably been inveigled into attending the nuptials of your office colleagues, neighbours, business associates, old college friends and the like.
We all know what that involves, right? Yes, an endless round of parties, much drinking and dancing, and a succession of outfits, each blingier than the next.
And then, there's the food. The buffet spreads take in everything from Thai to Chinese to Indian food, the canapés are an endless stream of deep-fried delights, and the desserts are best described as a heart attack on a plate.
So no, it is not easy surviving the Indian wedding season, with either your bank account or your digestive system intact. But I am here to tell you that it can be done, with some handy tips dredged from my own experiences in the trenches.
* Pick and choose your outings with care. Just because someone is celebrating their wedding with a dozen parties doesn't mean you have to attend each one of them (unless it's your best friend or immediate family, in which case, of course you do). Choose a couple of events to mark your presence, preferably those with a smaller guest list so that you can be noticed among the crowd. So, choose a mehendi, which is a more intimate gathering over a reception in which the guest list could run into thousands.
* If you do choose the reception, negotiate it on the revolving-door principle. Enter the party, head straight for the queue leading up to the stage where the newly-weds are ensconced, get your picture taken with them to mark your presence, climb down from the stage and head for the exit. Nobody will be any the wiser that you were there for a grand total of 15 minutes. No, not even your gentle hosts.
* Don't bankrupt yourself in the process of finding the perfect new outfit for each occasion. Instead, try recycling some of last season's wedding wardrobe by adding a new dupatta or a different kurta. Though frankly, you can also get away with recycling the old outfits. Trust me, no one else remembers what you wore to Pappu's sangeet or Sweety's mehendi. No, seriously, they don't. Consider this. Do you remember what your cousin wore for your neice's wedding? No, I didn't think so.
* In case you are loath to do that because your friends and family are insanely vigilant, you could try the outfit swap. You will need a close friend, a cousin or a neighbour of a similar size. If you have one, you can exchange outfits for the wedding season, effectively getting four for the price of two. My cousin and her sister in law once managed to go through an entire wedding season with four outfits apiece which they swapped -- along with matching jewellery -- for functions hosted by their respective families.
* Get a workout in during the course of the day. It doesn't have to be an intensive session in the gym. It could even be a short run on the treadmill or a brisk walk in the park. But do get at least half an hour of aerobic exercise in. It will compensate for your dietary excesses later in the day.
* One good thing about Indian weddings is that they provide enough opportunities for a workout in the course of the festivities. You can dance off those glasses of champagne at the sangeet by boogying late into the night on the dance floor. You can burn off a few hundred calories by dancing in the baarat procession. Seize these opportunities when they present themselves. Your waist line will thank you for it.
* Stop stuffing your face compulsively. Just because the tray of mutton kebabs passes by you every five minutes doesn't mean you have to help yourself every time. Turn down the canapés and save room for dinner instead. Alternate every alcoholic drink with a Diet Coke or a glass of water. Your liver will thank you for it, as will your head the morning after.
* You can go completely over the top where your outfits are concerned. But remember to wear comfortable shoes. Flats are ideal. But if you feel you need a boost of a few inches, opt for wedges or platform heels rather than stilettos. Even kitten heels will do at a stretch, so long as they allow you to stand comfortably for long periods of time. Of course, once the music kicks in, you can always kick off the shoes, and burn up the dance floor. You do have that dal makhani to work off, after all. And that chocolate cake is not going to eat itself.
So, as the saying definitely does not go: eat, drink and make marry. You can always diet another day!