I encouraged the old driver to report to the police and explain everything as the young man must be conning a lot more people in the same way. The old man, even had a couple of phone numbers the con-artist had given him (but no one’s picking the phone now). I gave him one thousand rupees, when I reached my destination, which the old driver initially refused, but I insisted. He then broke down crying. I told him, that he was depressed by his loss and that he may need three months to recover from the depression and that he will feel better in a while. I left him with tears in his eyes…and my heart burning with rage and sadness at his plight.
The Brahmin priest in the above story had officiated the wedding of four siblings in one family over a range of 18 years. Due to his advanced years and frail health, he was reluctant to officiate at the last wedding but agreed when the family insisted. While interacting with the first of the brothers whose marriage he had conducted 18 years ago, he discovered that the guy was childless. Even though the guy insisted that he did not want to have children and that it was by choice that he was childless, the aged priest was upset and wondered if he had done some mistake while performing the marriage rituals and if this was why the couple did not have any children! The childless guy laughed and told the priest not to worry but the priest, pulled this guy's wife forward and asked her if she had stomach pains! He even asked the rest of the family to leave the room so that he could speak to the childless wife in private!
Talking of weddings, my cousins and I were discussing how weddings have changed over the decades and the changes are tremendous! Let me tell about the weddings in rural areas about 50 years ago ( I was not born then but this is what I heard). The relatives who came stayed in the houses of thier relatives in the village where the wedding was held; these days, no weddings are ever held in the village! The villagers couduct thier weddings in nearby towns. Food was cooked by the women of the wedding party in huge containers on wood burning stoves, outside the house in those days. Now cooks are hired. Previously, the food was fairly simple except for a sweet dish or two. Now, even village weddings have a range of foods served during weddings. The 80 year old priest with whom I spent some time said, that people did not go and get a brand new cloth to hold as the screen between the bride and groom (part of the Gowda wedding ceremony) in those days. Instead, the person conducting the wedding would ask for a dhoti and one of the audience would take off his dhoti (and stand in his underwear, until his dhoti was no longer needed!) and hand it over to be used as the screen! I found this hilarious but the priest insisted that it was true. My grear-grandmother was married to a widower more than thrice her age, when she was just 10 years old. She was sent to her husband's house as soon as she attained puberty and bore 5 children (or more assuming some died in childhood). Now of course, there are no child marriages ( I hope!). In those days, farmers, did not want their daughter to marry into a family which stayed even a few miles away from their village but now, women are ready to marry and move even across continents, as distance is not a big problem now. (My grandmother told me how, in her childhhood, they travelled for months, to Tirupathi and back to her village in Tumkur by bullock cart !) Thanks to prosperity or other reasons, now it is not just the bride or groom who buy new clothes for the wedding, but all family members. In those days, it was just the bride and the groom. My own wedding, 17 years ago, did not have much by way of decorations. All we had was the traditional banana plants at the entrance of the wedding hall but now, city weddings, even middle class people's weddings, cost a fortune for flower decoration of the wedding venue.