Gourhari Babu had been a banker.
He was a typical Bengali bhadralok ( Gentleman ) who loved his rice, fish curry, rosogolla, and the occasional beer with fish fry.
He had given up on whiskey and other hard drinks long ago. The beer however continued to be his occasional accompaniment.
When he had crossed the age of 55 he had realized that beer suited his age and his guts. The other hard drinks like whiskey and rum had started behaving strangely with him as his years advanced. While Whiskey gave him acidity the rum gave him a headache.
He thus had denounced them and befriended the chilled beer.
He was looking forward to his retirement when he could finally hang his boots and come out of the drudgery and monotony of office. He had certain mental plans around his retirement and most of them revolved around leading a relaxed life at his terms. No meetings, no making notes, no deadlines, no nothing but the 24 hours of the day to himself to do as he pleased.
Wake up slightly late, go for a morning walk, make friends with few morning walkers of his age, come back to settle down to some nice Darjeeling tea and the daily newspaper, followed by morning chores and a small nap.
The lovely breakfast would follow the nap. Luchi ( White flour puffed Indian bread )Radhaballavi (A Bengal delicacy – stuffed puffed bread ),the Bengali triangular paratha ( a type of Indian bread ) the conventional bread and omelet, some nalen gurer Sandesh ( Sweetmeat made with Date jaggery ). Heavenly.
Do some gardening and pursue other small hobbies like working on the crossword to finally go for a nice bath followed by a warm meal preferably rice and fish curry with different types of typical Bengali fries every day. French fries, bitter gourd fries, crispy fried lady finger, the loveable begun bhaja ( A Bengali brinjal fry dish ) the jhuri aloo bhaja ( thin and crispy French fries )with a dash of curry leaves, chilly and groundnut. Ending with Papad and tomato chutney. Mishti doi ( sweet curd ) once in a while.
Then the quintessential afternoon nap with a novel to read before the slumber, the evening tea with some small savory eats like samosa ( Indian stuffed deep-fried patties ), aloo tikki chat ( A snack made with Potato Patty )the evergreen jhal moori ( Famous Bengali puffed rice small eat laced with chiily, peanuts, coriander leaves, spices and stirred with a dash of mustard oil ).
Late Evening would be for the TV serials, movies followed by a nice dinner with chicken curries of various kinds. Rezalla being his favorite.
Basically Gourhari Babu had his retirement plans cut out. Time to himself and life to himself was the central theme.
However, just as he retired, was given a short farewell, reached home, and decided to settle down to his retired life a thought suddenly struck him like a thunderbolt.
He suddenly realized that he had to accomplish the one important mission of getting his daughter married to a decent groom and send her away to a nice household.
So the next day morning he folded the newspaper, placed the teacup on the center table, and beckoned his wife. “Look Nandini” he said, “before the second wave of the pandemic sweeps me away to the beyond world we should get our daughter married”.
Nandini suddenly flared up as if some dying embers inside her had been suddenly stoked and replied in an acerbic tone “Have I not been telling you this all the while for the last two years”. “At least you can start by putting an advertisement in the matrimony section of the newspaper” she continued.
Like a man possessed and enlightened Gourhari Babu pulled out his pen and notebook and got to work. After a few scribblings and strikeouts, he finally came up with what he thought was the perfect draft of a matrimonial ad for his daughter. He called his wife Nandini and placed the notebook in front of her, a victory smile hanging on his lips.
The ad read like this:
Required for COVA-1 beautiful and educated 24 only daughter a vaccinated groom. Reply with Photo, IT Returns and vaccination certificate on WhatsApp number 96********. Preference for double dose applicants.
Nandini looked confused. “Look old man, “she said, “ your memory seems to be failing you”. “Our daughter is Sova and not Cova” and why do you need to mention only daughter.”
Gourhari babu laughed and said “Hello, that is not Sova it is COVA-1 meaning that she has taken the first dose of Covaxin. This is a piece of important information and should be mentioned. Writing it fully without abridging it would have cost another 600 Rupees. Well, as you can see the ad is quite crisp and accurate.”
“The mention of the only daughter adds some weight to the ad and conveys a lot.”
After the publication of the ad, the trio of daughter-mother-father would keep waiting eagerly for responses. Within a short period, a shortlist of five applicants was prepared. These were mainly those who had taken both their doses of the vaccine. Those who had not mentioned the status of their vaccination history were outrightly rejected.
The boy whom Sova had liked the most was eventually rejected after a lot of debate because he had taken just one dose. Though he was registered for the second dose Gourhari Babu was reluctant to take any risk. What if he did not get his second dose before the marriage?
Well, the process proceeded well and through the usual rituals of meetings, discussions, more discussions, and more meetings a match was found and a final decision regarding him was arrived at, and the day of the marriage was decided.
Now was the time for invitations.
Gourhari babu and Nandini had a lot of relatives on each side, and they were quite well known in the locality too so as per Pandemic Regulations it was getting too difficult to restrict the invitee list to 50. Even the essential and must invitee list was going to hundred plus.
Finally, Gourhari Babu resorted to the Man Friday of the locality Raju. Raju was summoned.
Raju was the most popular odd jobs man in the area and there was nothing he could not manage. This skill made him a very wanted man in trying circumstances.
“Look Raju, Sova is our only daughter and even after a lot of deletions my invite list comes to a minimum of 500 people. Suggest something Raju Bhai,” Gourhari pleaded.
Raju was cool “Look Dada leave your problem to me, what am I here for, I have schemes and plans for all such situations.’ “These schemes are flexible and can be chosen as per your budget and requirements.”
“If the invitees are in and around Kolkata I can organize home delivery for them. During the delivery, if they give wedding gifts our teams shall collect those too and deliver them to you for free. If you also give me the catering, I will get the wedding card printed free along with it.” Raju had started explaining his services in detail already.
“Look Raju, we can do a digital card on WhatsApp. In any case that would not cost,” reverted Gourhari babu. “Raju Bhai making that free is not a big deal that you are giving me.”
“Dada,”said Raju “After all it is about your only daughter. The digital card has to be designed. Also, since you have at least 500 invitees I will prepare around 50 Printed cards and 200 digital cards, I shall customize them too. Every digital card shall have either a Zoom or YouTube link wherein the invitees can log in and watch the marriage ceremony. In the process, the invitees shall also have the option of selecting the food of their choice from the menu available within the link itself. The orders shall digitally get recorded with us and parcels shall be prepared accordingly. The menu card shall be programmed and shall be in sync too. For example, if you have invited someone singly without family, he/she will only be able to place one order and so on.”
“The number of members invited per card shall be captured and hardcoded and nobody will be able to place unnecessary extra orders. However, the process shall also allow a bit of flexibility to factor in few extra people in the family which you might not have envisaged. In that case, the invitee shall have an option to escalate, and an approval link shall come to us which we shall approve upon discussion with you.”
“Generally, as per our experience this does not come into play because we also tend to factor people who might not attend, could be traveling, could be sick, and so on. The invitees shall have the option to select between Veg, Non-Veg, and Jain food. However, the cost per plate will depend upon the flexibility you advise us to build into the digital menu card and order processing”.
“For example, in marriage we do not have a limit to the food one can consume but you need to factor this into the program when we move online so that people do not order too much extra food. For example, you could limit the Fish Fry Selection to a maximum of five per person. Our rates will thus depend on these options that you select.”
Nandini was listening with astonishment writ large on her face. The was all Greek to her. She had a question though “Raju there could be few elderly people who would not be able to order online like this. What do you do for them?”
“No Tension Madam,” said Raju. “If you can list them out we can even have the option of order on phone or on Whatsapp where they could choose to order through an IVR assisted system or directly go to our Customer Executive who shall take the order and explain the menu. Also, for people in the locality, I can get the marriage function broadcasted live on the local cable network. The elderly need to only switch on their local network channel at the given time.”
“We shall be recording the entire function and can share links later and one can always playback and view the entire ceremony.”
Gourhari Babu was impressed but had a question at this point “ How can we create the option for gifts?” he asked.
“Not to worry”. said, Raju. “The link shall also have an option for ordering gifts. The gifts link shall take the invited to popular sites like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, and the like. You can decide the sites and let us know and we shall create the link. Dada, we have also thought of many things. Suppose you do not need certain gifts like Microwave, Mixer, etc because you might already have them we can disable these gifts and people would not be able to select these. Also, to ensure that various people do not order the same gift we can lock the system accordingly as well.”
“For example, we can limit the gift link to say three wall clocks. So as soon as three wall clocks get ordered no one else can further order a wall clock. We can set these locks and limits after a discussion with you. You can thus avoid unwanted gifts or duplication of gifts. We can also create various payment options of by Card, Net Banking, G Pay and all of that.”
Gourhari babu and Nandini were impressed.
“Let us go ahead Raju,” they said.
“Just make sure that the program allows selection of menu only after a gift is selected and ordered”. “After all Sova is our only daughter”. Gourhari was now thinking of the positives of the technology. He continued, “Make sure you have online IT support for those who are facing difficulty in ordering the gift. Also, make sure that a gift once ordered cannot be canceled. We should also have a minimum threshold for the gift order, after all, we cannot have people ordering just a small bouquet and then going on to order a full course menu, You may not extend such IT support for the food order. There I am sure people shall be able to figure out themselves”.
Friends, You are all invited to the marriage. A link shall follow soon.
Please do attend.
“Raju Raju this is me Gourhari this side on the Phone. I have a special request. I have made a list of 30 People for whom you shall have to specially program”.
“What is to be done,” said Raju.
“Well, these thirty would first have to go to the gift order just as we discussed for everyone. But these thirty should not be able to access the food menu after they place confirmed order for a gift. The system should throw up some error or the other”.
“Settling old scores”, said Raju
“No these are the ones who did not invite me to their son’s or daughters’ weddings so let us digitally teach them a lesson”.