Large, expensive wedding cards have begun to arrive; lettered in silver and gold, with tassels, fringes and ornate scrolling as well as boxes of delicious sweets! Our fourth favourite season is on its way.
The lackadaisical assistants at the jewellers have begun to look alert, sensing big diamond sales. The glass display cases are stocked with sparkle, with the choicest of new items to dazzle the eyes and delight the soul: huge gold and platinum sets studded with gems; necklaces, bracelets, and earrings of all kinds. The jewellers are generous with their coffee and snacks, their faces wreathed in smiles, both genuine and fake.
Meanwhile, in the sari shops, the assistants, too, have stopped lounging and ignoring customers, and have begun to sit up straight, and practice their special smiles for the wedding season ladies, hoping to sell many rich silks and satins. In winter, we do not need to scold them for being slack and inattentive. They offer us soda and 'paan', and do not protest if we put the soda down next to the saris.
The little boutiques run from within private homes, with their choice selection of one-of-a kind saris, embroidered, sequined and studded, sell out quickly during this season. All the fashionistas know which sari has been designed by whom. The great ladies dress for each other, since most gentlemen have not a clue about exclusiveness, or the finer points of dressing for weddings, or the importance of, for example, large florals over small, or diamantes over gold thread.
Ladies know how to enjoy themselves. They dress with pleasure and anticipation, for themselves, and to elicit the admiration of their friends; some in gorgeous new purchases, others in the dressy saris they got years ago, carefully preserved.
Out come the zardozi blouses, the velvet bows at the back, the vertiginous high heels, and their mothers' rubies; or their anniversary emeralds, adorning the throats. It is worth going to the weddings and other festivities just to admire the flowers and decor, the jewels and the beautiful clothes. The biriyani and 'cheer' are unimportant, as many guests prefer to eat a low calorie dinner at home, before coming. Gorgeous clothes look best on trim figures, so for some ladies, it is either diet and fashion, or heavy food and drink, but not both.
The season often brings heart-warming pleasures of a different kind. Sometimes, guests bring their children to parties, and we are confronted with dazzling young women in place of the cute, cuddly babies with their two-toothed smiles that we knew, or recognise in the features of some tall, handsome young man — the little seven-year-old boy who played at a birthday party in my garden.
So the years float by, the cycles marked by the fun and flowers of spring, the languor of monsoon lunches, the baking post-rain heat, and finally, the cool mornings and starry nights of winter, our best season, the season of fashion, feasts and festivities.