ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Vive la Difference!

Trying to organise an international, multicultural and secular wedding in Paris turned out to be a lesson in differing bureaucracies.

Several years ago, I used to regularly troll Government of India websites. Not all government sites, obviously, but the ones relevant to my work as an environment journalist. It always required a minute or two of steeling oneself for the assault on the eyes. I used to particularly dread the Health Ministry site which was filled with yellow and blue strips of links, plus multicolour links scrolling along one side and then virulently-coloured ones bobbing all over the screen, blinking away furiously.

So it was with much trepidation, last year, that I logged on to the Corporation of Madras’s website. This was necessitated by brother dearest’s announcement of his plans to get hitched to his partner, a French citizen of Vietnamese origin. This meant we had to get some documents ready for the big event. The wedding, a civil ceremony, was to be in Paris and apparently la mairie (Town Hall) requires the happy couple to provide “recent” birth certificates (less than six months old). Civil ceremonies in France—remember the French predilection for separation of Church and State—are supposed to be stripped of anything remotely religious but to us the whole affair sounded like a religion-neutered version of a church wedding. It was very similar with the “Do you X take Y to be your lawfully wedded...”—except they skipped the “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” parts.

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