By Jackie Thakkar Dec. 13, 2018
The Isha Ambani wedding extravaganza has led to natural speculation as to whether all Gujaratis are as obnoxious and flashy. We are not. First-class local compartments are scattered with affluent Gujju diamond merchants, and we’re the ones packing theplas for our Europe trips.
ukesh Ambani, India’s richest man just hosted the costliest wedding ceremony ever. The $100 million splurge-fest for his daughter, Isha Ambani’s wedding aka Gujju Coachella saw the powerhouses of Bollywood, cricket, and politics marking their attendance. There’s a rumour that at one point the organisers of IIFA and Filmfare contemplated giving away their awards during the pheras since the glitzy turnout far outshone their own. I mean, where else will you get to see Aamir, SRK, and Salman at the same time and place?
Naturally, this has led some to wonder if all Gujjus are this obnoxious. I am Gujju and I can say with confidence: We aren’t. At least not that much. Look, I get that Gujjus are renowned for their “Ame to evaj che” or “We are like this only” approach to everything. But trust me when I say this, none of us consider dancing to the decade-old “G.U.J.J.U.” as our definition of #ShaadiGoalz.
Most Gujjus aren’t as flashy as our Ambani cousins. Even the rich ones follow a tried-and-tested rule of “money saved, money earned”. First-class local compartments are scattered with affluent Gujju diamond merchants who could easily drive their Beemers or Audis to work. But instead choose to travel by train, because “Train ma convenience che.” South Bombay is overflowing with Gujarati families whose origins can be traced back to 1BHKs in Vile Parle and Malad, who have successfully scrapped their way up to penthouses in Opera House. All while remaining down-to-earth and fun-loving people whose idea of evening entertainment remains watching Taarak Mehta reruns while munching on some khaakra.
We are more likely to pack our theplas with us to Europe trips than we are to invite a Bollywood biggie to our wedding functions just for the eyeballs. Our first response to concepts like pre-wedding bashes is “baapa ni taang” because damn it, if it doesn’t involve garba, we ain’t biting. Yeah, live pasta and pizza counters are great but put a traditional pure veg Gujju thaali in front of us and we’ll be quick to call it a “Ekdum fuss class lagan.”
Like many Gujjus, even I was left deeply traumatised at the sight of the richest family in the world refusing to get the irony of proudly grooving to “G.U.J.J.U”
And then there are the Ambanis, who I imagine got Beyoncé to do “Dholi Taro” and Salman to go shirtless just because someone dared them to. It was almost like they looked at #DeepVeer and #NickYanka thinking, “Aww, that’s cute. Now help us make sure nobody remembers your weddings by the end of the year.” While the rest of us Gujju kids are thrust into “bijness” or “baapa no gallo” post college, the Ambani kids have one simple life goal – Putting the “dhan” in Jio: Dhan Dhana Dhan.
Like many Gujjus, even I was left deeply traumatised at the sight of the richest family in the world refusing to get the irony of proudly grooving to “G.U.J.J.U”. And if you ask me, Mukesh bhai has irreversibly tainted how the world will look at Gujaratis in the future. Which is quite a feat since we’re already a community infamous for single-handedly raising the decibel levels of any group discussion. At this point, we definitely didn’t need another blow to our abysmal cool quotient with this “wedding”. Although the confused look on Hillary Clinton’s face while playing the token white person trying to blend in at a desi wedding was pretty memorable.
The Gujarati diaspora the world over has had some landmark moments in the recent past. Our propensity for business has seen us become one of the largest immigrant populations in the world and there’s a popular saying that you can find a Gujarati almost anywhere you go in the world. Which explains the emergence of Gujju rap in 2005, or that time when aapdo Kalpesh Modi (or Kal Pen) became the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement in 2009.
However, spectacles like Isha Ambani’s wedding which showcase our fellow Gujjus acting extra AF, warrant an apology from our otherwise humble and simple-minded community. In retrospect, may be the “ame to evaj che” mindset isn’t that healthy after all.