Oh! NRI's Engagement Party

Jul 11, 2010

Soon after my masters my parents were behind me coaxing me to get married as every Mangi parents do, with the note “girls should get married in time".  Well, the elders say “Marriages are made in heaven" and things happen according to that.  So once the proposal is set, parent’s next worry is to fix the date of marriage. Well, finally we (my fiancé and me) both decided to step ahead.
There were many commitments to fulfill that came along with the decision namely, resigning the job and serving the notice period, then the visa procedures to move to the new country and in between coping up with parent's and others excitement.

So finally I came to India, to Mangalore, when there was just a month left for the engagement.  My family was kind of excited as it was the first wedding in our family.  It was the first engagement programme for me which I was going to witness and yes, I had no clue how it was supposed to be.  Dad had to guide all three (me and my 2 brothers) of us, on how to go about the entire event.  We had a meeting on that evening which we can be named as "Engagement phase 1 meeting".  Dad explained the procedures and made a list of the invitees.  These meetings went on every night at home after dinner.

We had started counting the list of people from different places, like from Arva to Urva, Attur to Puttur, B C Road to Kasargod, then from Bangalore to Mangalore.  I was shocked to see the number of relatives we have and was even more perturbed by the fact that we kids had no clue about at least half of the relatives included in the list.   Now, the point was how to invite them!  I had heard about “Vovly sangche” and if my grandfather was alive, he would have explained to us what it was and I would have loved to have this as its part of our Konkani culture. Then my brother came up with an idea of invitations which means our job was made easy.   The hall was already booked with no discount as it was the engagement of NRI's.  T here were many other things to be taken care as well and so dad took up the responsibility of inviting priests, arranging MC, DJ, photographer, caterers, transport etc.

Well, after that the discussion started on whom to call as MC.  My friend Roshan was supposed to come from Sharjah as MC but he expressed his inability to come and  I had to look for someone else.  We started enquiring people around about a good MC in Mangalore. Bannu uncle said " Ricchha is the best MC,  go for him".

Then Rony  uncle said "No not Richcha, he is just okay, you can think of going for Peter, he does well". Then Selly aunty chipped in saying “Not Peter, go for Silvy, she does a great job”. Then my other uncle Leo said “Oh no, not ladies. Go for Lawrence".  It really confused me and I had no idea what to do.

In between,  a friend of mine gave me a contact of a MC and I called him over the phone to say I needed his services for the engagement " before I could say 'Its just a simple engagement programme', he started shooting questions after questions and his first question was - "Is it the posh party,  who is going to arrive for the engagement?"

Then I said - “It is only the human beings who are going to come for this program". “Oh you joke well, by the way where your fiancé is from and what does he do?" he asked me. This question drove me crazy as I felt he was asking unnecessary questions but I managed to answer ignoring his half question.  I said “he is from the US”, and he was very happy to hear it and immediately he wasted no time in raising his fee. “Do you want the program to be in Konkani or in English?" he asked.  "Well, in both the languages as Konkani is my mother tongue and I am proud of it and also to be in English as I would have few relatives who do not understand Konkani, and I don't want them to get bored… so "

"Well, that's wonderful, so when is the wedding? and make sure you are going to call me as the  MC  for the wedding as well and I will make it real good. You can pay us the advance for that as well now."I was stunned for a while as he was talking more than what was required and I had no choice but listen to him and then I said “well, since the wedding is not here, you cant master the wedding ceremony"

“Oh then we can make your engagement program like wedding you know, it would just charge Seven thousand rupees only", he muttered. My head started reeling, I had no word to say thinking instead of me working outside the country, I would have taken this as my profession.
He continued "On this account you can also go for a life insurance policy which is specially made for couples. I can suggest you a good investment package".  I thought its too much and I wanted to stop him talking further, I said " Let me get back to you after I check with my dad and if I need you, I will  call you back" and hit the disconnect button with a bang.

I was already half mad searching for a MC.  I immediately dialed Roshan’s number and said - “Hey Roshan, I am helpless, you have to arrange a MC for my engagement.  I have no idea who could master this ceremony. If I call my gurkar (leader of the ward) he would not be able to converse in English.   Do something man".   I explained to him about what had transpired between the M C and me.

 He said “Don’t worry I will train my niece Cassey who can do this job.  She is young and it would be the first programme for her but she would do well".  After speaking to Casey I must say I was relaxed a bit.

Now, I had to choose the photographer. I had someone in my mind and when I said this to my friends while talking they came up with different photographer's names like Willy, Alwy, Melwy, Rikku and and I didn't want to take trouble. I went and booked whom I wanted to.

My brother was worried about DJ and few old uncles of mine said “What is DJ?" Get Pasku's brass band". We were confused.  Looked at him and asked “Have you ever heard anyone using brass band for the engagement?” “No, we can do something different for Americans (in a funny way)". I just didn’t want anything to be 'something different', and later hear nasty comments about it.   But in between I had to convince all.  My brother finally found a DJ who could do the job. .

Catering was one more pain where we had to choose the menu and that had to be liked by all. Finally, we decided to cook by ourselves. So my brothers got his friends and it was done more perfectly than catering food with taste and service.

In between my worry was to look for a beautician to be dressed up as the bride to be.  People whoever I knew were a kind of scissors on my pocket by charging me double or triple than what they charge normally for their services.  They try to sell things like Diamond facial, though I wanted to do fruit facials.  Just to keep them happy I said okay with whatever they used to say as they flattered me with their sweet talks.  It was a bitter experience for me as every time I ended up paying triple than what others could pay for the same service, just because I was a NRI.
 So, for the engagement I decided not to get trapped as I had to maintain my budget.  Couple of beauticians whom I knew in my place started calling me as soon as I landed Mangalore, “Hey this is Allie Baie, Sellie baie from so and so beauty parlor, heard you are in India and that your engagement is fixed and all that.  Just wanted to know when you are able to come for the facial and other things?"  Their calls used to surprise me and used to think - Gosh, how did these ladies come to know about my arrival and engagement and they talk as if they are offering me a free service".   Suggestions like “You have to start doing things at least before 15 days of your engagement, so that you look gorgeous " etc., started pouring in.

I had to be smarter this time not to fall for these sweet talks and get a hole in my pocket.  So I decided to go to some other town to get someone to help me with this. Until the last day of engagement I started getting calls from these beauticians like the follow up tele-marketing calls in the US every now and then, and I used to say “well, have not thought of anything as I am quite busy. Will let you know”. Still people didn't stop calling until the previous day of my engagement and on that day I managed to say

“Well, I have my relative who is going to dress me up and she is going to take care of everything". I know it hurt the sentiments of many of my beautician friends.  But I had no option even though I didn't want to hurt them.

Well, I went to the nearest town to approach a beautician and prepare myself by dressing as simple as possible, and was extra careful by asking the price of each and everything whatever I wanted to do before she would open her mouth to sell me her products because of the experiences I went through.

On the engagement day, looking at the crowd and the programme this beautician had left a bill with my cousin with triple the  charges agreed upon .  It really surprised me as we had agreed upon the rates.  But she had her own explanations like, we charge different for different category of people and I didn't know you were a NRI and all that stuff.  It is really surprising that charges of MC, DJ, . Catering   etc., are based on what your status is and not for the services rendered.  I felt if they find you are a NRI then you are screwed to the highest. However, at the end, when the engagement was over, my over all expense was 50% more than what I had anticipated.
I had to take a long breath and say - No wonder why our elders used to say "Perform marriage and see, build a house and see".  This quote very well applies  to all especially the NRIs.

Jess Lobo - Archives:

Jess Lobo, Ann Arbor MI, USA
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Comment on this article

  • Langoolacharya, Belman/USA

    Sat, Jul 17 2010

    Mathew Singh, Freemont/USA,,

    I am still waiting your response!

    Never mind B.F, enjoy.., your post Syndicate Bank days!!!

  • Jerome, Mangalore

    Fri, Jul 16 2010

    Hats off to you Mr.Langoolacharya.I really like your style and stand.

  • Langoolacharya, Belman/USA

    Thu, Jul 15 2010

    Mathew Singh, Freemont/USA,

    This is my e-mail address,

    If you send me your e-mail address, not only I will give you my street address, but my social Security number too....

    If you are a real man, you can sue me any where in US, including Freemont,CA.

  • Tania, Mangalore/Pattaya

    Thu, Jul 15 2010

    Guess this article is bit more exaggerated more than anything...

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Thu, Jul 15 2010

    Mr. Mathew Singh, USA. With all respect I must comment on your comment of Mr. Langoolacharya. There is nothing wrong what MR. Langoolacharya's comments. Why do they call hispanic Americans? Indian Americans? Irish Americans. Mexican Americans. Ethinicity plays a big part in demographics and culture.
    Why there is so much discrimination against Black Americans? History of America and segregation? History of Denial of voting rights for black Americans?
    If American children are thought to respect society , community and parents why there is so much crime by students, shootings, killings and the list goes on?

  • Mathew Singh, Freemont/USA

    Thu, Jul 15 2010

    Mr. Longoolacharya, Belman/USA,
    Please give your correct name & address. I would like to file a case against you in US Court. 1). Your comments are racial because you are calling African Americans as Blacks and Caucasians Americans as white. 2). You are discriminating one American community against other by saying that one community has more children than other with out marriage. 3). You are providing wrong percentage data on American marriages & children and the data you are providing is discriminatory.

    America is a developed country and people respect the law & live by the law. Government & people respect the privacy of each person, ethnic group and Children. In America Children are thought to respect their parents, country and fellow citizens and the Children do respect and love their parents and are not growing up with fear of their parents, Government and Society. In America each person live for himself/herself as a free person.

  • Langoolacharya, Belman/USA

    Wed, Jul 14 2010


    Thanks, comments from people like you help me to be a better person!

    I only said if we respect our parents, our children will respect us...., In US most children dont respect their parents because they see same from their parents!!! remember I was talking about americans not Indians...

    By working at star hotel in Dubai if you understand americans well you are a fantastic judge of human beings, being in US for decades I think I hardly know them.

    Again thanks for your kind comments sir.


    Tue, Jul 13 2010



    Tue, Jul 13 2010


  • Poonam, UAE

    Tue, Jul 13 2010

    Well, won't take too long before we have a wedding planner in mangalore. And every Tom, Dick and Harry won't be an MC/Beautician/DJ/Caterer up there. The good one's will survive the other's will perish. As far as the photographer/Decorator's are concerned the known one's are doing a pretty good job so far!! Anyways money wise, Mangalore has been more expensive than anywhere on earth for the longest period of time that I remember, as our people want to get richer overnight.

    Be it the dresses you buy or the bus fares you pay, or for that matter even education is a business. Mangalore has a history of looting the common man particularly NRI's. The catholic institutions are also guilty of drilling holes into peoples pockets. People are too greedy up there. And as far as NRI's we are forced to become NRI's as we don't want to live a life paying bribes if not being exploited, as it is hardly any rules and regulations exist in there. Everyday we must fight just to live a descent life.


    Tue, Jul 13 2010

    well written....

  • Rahul, Mangalore/USA

    Tue, Jul 13 2010

    I agree with Lydia. This is to much cheating on NRI. Why do people do this. This is issue of Trust. We has Mangaloreans need to resolve this cheating situation.

    langoolacharya: I agree in USA 100% of people have sex before marriage, how can people respect the sanctity of marriage when premarital sex is involved

  • Melwyn, Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 13 2010

    Jess well written article ... sad u put a full stop on engagement itself !!! what about marriage !!! what about life after that in US ..... Pen down one more article on same . Good Explanation on MC....?

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    Hey Jess, do you know how much NRIs pay for fish like Pomfret and prawns in Mangalore when they come down for few days?
    They pay whatevever the cost asked and drive the prices high for locals.

    Now can we blame the locals for milking the NRIs specially for an engagement time?

    Now since you are in USA, you will be paying through your nose although sellers of services and goods put up signs(50-70% Off) but still they have almost 100% making profits after sale?
    That should tell you engagement will cost you much more in USA or Canada or any other western nation than in Mangloor. You will be surprised. Mangloor is a bargain.

    Try writing an article on these prices and experiences in USA for daiji audience.
    Perhaps you will appreciate living in Mangloor than USA.

  • Olivia L, Toronto, Canada

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    Well written article Jess. I had encountered the similar situations as well.
    @ Reyan - It would be possible in the cities about beauticians being busy as far as they are known, where as in the villages and small towns, I have seen many with no job and hunting for business.
    @ R G Lobo - You have not read the article properly, I would suggest you to read it properly before you comment on it.
    @ Langoolacharya - Regarding children respecting, I wouldn't agree on what you say. It depends on how parents raise their kids. I have seen many in Canada, Europe and in US the kids respecting the parents. It says from which family have you come from? It's nothing to do where the kids are raised, but something to do with how they are raised.
    @ Lydia - I don think there is some thing called as US version of marriage, Indian version or Europian version. Marriage is something how you take it as.. The meaning is in you, in your hands, not based on nationality. If you want to make it beautiful you can, if you want to make it worst you have the choice.
    @ Lavina - I would agree. For the people who work away from the country, have no option but go for it. So Jess, I would say you have written well. It happens in every place.
    Over all, my commment about the article is, she has expressed her feelings about the experiences she has encountered. Also, the reader has their right to comment on what they feel about. I would appreciate her for lightening up many things over here. Keep writing Jess

  • Dony, katapady/Dubai

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    Jess, Seems to be having some irritations over the systems & charges back in Mlore. If you guys feel so bad about all these things, why at the first instant you arrange your engagements/marraiges in Mlore? You guys should have it in your resident country or town.
    The Guys who leave the shores of Mlore always find everything is wrong in Mlore. At the place of their new residence they keep their eyes,mouth shut & simply accept the second class citizenships & pay whatever it costs. NRI always forget they get a big fat salary & that is why they want to be NRIs.

  • Kishore, Dubai

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    I really like Mr.Reyan Kuwait comments.

    People should stop gossiping and pointing at others their profession, status etc.Stop Praising Ownself.. i have seen people roaming with laptop in the village n showing off.Every dog has his own day....

  • RG Lobo, Kuwait

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    You would be fool if you call Roshan from Sharja as a MC by spending Rs 20,000 for air ticket. So if you are ready to pay him ticket then why not pay Rs 7000 for the beautician?

  • Anand, Karkala/Dubai

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    The nice article presented in a proper way and even I too had gone through the same when we arranged my sister's marriage recently. Each and every bill I found it was doubled compared to my friends marriage.

  • Wilfred Crasta, Bela/Jeddah

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    Lets stop telling other to have simple marriages, Lets just practice it. Lets not spend our entire savings on marriage day. Lets keep it for post marriage life.

  • D M D Souza, Bantwal

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    Its great to know u had invited people from B C Road as well.
    I remember one person didn't attend the wedding of my brother-in-law, while attending his engagement-reason the M C that person intended for the wedding & given the contact number of my relation wasn't approached for the ceremony-(that person had a cut in his service fees).

  • Reyan, Kuwait

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    It is a fiction Jess? I dont believe beauticians queueing for their job. Most of the beauticians are not available and they do not bother to call u up. Are we working in gulf are NRIs? We are NRE (Non Residencial Expatriates)and do no have dual passports. NRIs do not marry in India I feel.Anyways nice writeup.

  • Gracy, Bangalore

    Mon, Jul 12 2010

    Hey Congrats on your engagement. This article is really a good one.most of the people when they come from abroad want to show off their status and due to this they are ready to pay any amount to the MCs,DJ,catering and etc etc. This encourages the Latter to demand the same from others!

    The same thing happens when u get out from an airport at mumbai if ur bag has an foreign tag then they charge u double but if you are normal India to India tourist "Aage chalo". Many people go abroad to settle down their families and after a long struggle they succeed and when they return here to live in a peaceful life they are bothered by the questions if they are single by the marriage proposals and if they are married people irritate saying stories about their family. this happens often.

    Anyways its upto us what we want. people are always ready at the door but key lies within us..

  • Ayush Prasad, Bangalore

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Most young people today have a career. Marriages get postponed to the late 20s. Hence it is best that people pay (atleast in part) for their own marriage. It would be the best marriage, as bride-groom will be partners in making the announcement to the world.

    Lavish Weddings have become part of the tradition. There is a competition to outdo the other. People take loans to put up a show, a facade. Its better to invest the money for the future rather than blow it off on a party.

    NRIs work hard. They slog it out and also save moeny. Having lived abroad, I understand their situation. There are economic constrains on some, while others have to save for a show they are sometimes forced to put up on an annual vacation back home.

    Let us all be real to ourselves, lives would be much better.

  • Ronald, Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    I know many NRI's (qualified professionals) who when come to India do the show up that they are hi-fi and critisize each and everything in India becuase they are used to luxurious life in the forign countries. Deffinetly qualified professional NRI's earn much more than people earning in India (for the same role they perform). Currency conversion to rupees gives them the benifit. This does not mean that they should be looted / charged 3 times more in India. The things i like in the western counties is that there is honesty in people and respect for the individual irrespective of jobs they do.

  • Silvia, Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    No one is forcing anyone to go for an expensive wedding...its each individual's choice. Most of the NRIs don't mind spending lavishly to exhibit their status and the service providers take an advantage of this. Who is to be blamed?

  • Langoolacharya, Belman/USA

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Lydia Lobo, Kadri,

    30% of white, 70% black americans dont marry but have children...

    So you better rephrase your question to Jess before she is offended....

    Now sanctity of institution of marriage is too old fashioned for present generation unlike persons like you and me......

    Thats why in US children are not respecting their parents, because they see their parents dont respect their parents...., its like I smoke and asking my children not to smoke....hypocracy of first order.......

    God bless and Jai Hooooooooooo

  • Alex Fernandes, California/USA

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Mr. Anson Furthado,
    Most NRI's I know are very reliable, hard working & are very kind towards their family members & community in India and most of all they do not find corruption in their adopted country.

  • Alex Fernandes, California/USA

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Even though 20 years ago I went to Mangalore and got married it took me years to realize how people of my own community took advantage of me and my in laws are still robbing me blind. So I have decided not to have my Children to get married in Mangalore and asking them to keep a distance from in laws & relatives.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Good article, which I hope will guide many people.

    I have attended several marriages of the American friends. They want to do it in a very simple way.
    Some of the well-known people will invite only a very exclusive number of relatives or friends.
    Also the food served in the receiption will be very simple with a decorated cake. Blowing up money to display their status is out of question.

    But the trend being practiced by the Indian community (my experience with the Kerala
    community) is getting rather suicidal.

    After each marriage, there will be discussion, whose marriage was very colorful and lavish. Blowing
    up $ 100000.00 for a marriage is  getting quite common for some  people.

    It is time to change the blind imitation of tradition and status quo, because the stress and financial ruin associated with each marriage is getting bigger and bigger every day.

    I still remember a person boasting about his son's marriage while driving his taxi, "nobody has
    seen a marriage like my son's marriage. I got 16 Bishops from Antioch, put them into 5 star
    hotel. Nobody should beat me until I die". What an ego of  life? How long the public will
    discuss somebody's marriage?

    May be for a day, and will forget about the whole episode within a week.

  • vittal, Padubidri / dubai

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Jess Lobo, it is true that few people in india apply a different yardstick towards NRIs and try to get as much as possible. But be sincere and ask yourself this question - why it is so? Answer is simple - NRIs are only responsible for this. The way few NRIs behave while on vacation / leave, gives out an impression that they get a fat salary. Few NRIs do not tell the truth while in India. We, feel that prepaid taxi fare from Mangalore Airport to Mangalore City (say Rs. 250/-) also tooo much while we pay Dhs 40/- from DXB Airport to Karama without uttering a word. Our brothers and sisters in india behave like that because they are there and we are here. Believe me if we are in their place, our behaviour would not be any better. So stop complaining, greedy people are all over the places including DXB.

  • Julie, Mundkur/Doha Qatar

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Very good article. Many people in India thinks that working abroad means you will get everything without money. But the life of a person working abroad is very difficult. You have to workhard to earn your daily bread. When I was in India I was thinking like that, but now I come to know the situation of person working abroad.

  • Anil Dsouza, Halealve/Cardiff

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Jess,First of all congratulations on your engagement.:)Happy engaged life and a very happy married life..

    Yeah all the things u just wrote are true as I experienced all of the above during my sisters wedding and how much ever planning one does, things have to go wrong on the real day . is nt i t?

    Keep writing

  • Lydia Lobo, Kadri

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Jess Lobo : Having narrated your engagement ordeal so nicely, are you now married or yet-to-be ? Can we hear about the US-version of a marriage ?

    Anson Furtado : It can be more harrowing than that : Not Required Indians !

    Lavin Pinto : When it comes to marriage, people (especially brides) are too selfish. They don't want even two-in-one marriage if two brothers decided to marry in one function. Whereas you are talking about mass-wedding ! That is asking for too much especially from NRI's !

  • Ivan Dias, Mangalore / Dubai

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Jess, Nice Article & very True facts.
    I too have experienced similar siutation while getting married. The wedding arrangers, the photographer, the caterers etc simply quote a huge amount just because NRI's wedding.

  • Lavina S. Pinto , Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Nice article. If you are helpless for the things, then these professionals would say - do not want to spend, then go for mass wedding. One or the other way, you have to spend and experience.

  • Anson Furtado, Mangalore / Noida

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Very well written article.....

    To be on the lighter side... Y people charge more for NRI's???? it is because, another full form of NRI is Non Reliable Indians!!!!!!!!

  • Silvia, Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Well written, most of the points are true, however, I have a doubt about the beauticians qeueuing up for a job..... I haven't met any one like that.

  • Alex D Souza, Mangalore/Dubai

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    Fact or fiction???
    It looks real life...Good writing...
    Some very good (comic??) insight into goings on in Mag'lore.
    Thanks for brightening our day...

  • munna, bangalore

    Sun, Jul 11 2010

    OH I Know this MC who has got beaten up once for his such adhika prasanga... and so many times he has escaped from such

  • Ranjith, Mangalore, Dammam

    Sat, Jul 10 2010

    Very True and well written.

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