I think today I’m going to write a quick post to honour a past friend, we haven’t spoken for a long time (after she found out I was into researching planetary physical/geological changes and their social consequences, I wrote quite a long email in response to her regarding local rioting and I think it surprised her) and I’m fine with that, not trying/wanting to rekindle anything – just I was reminded of her today and thought what the hey. I remember her wedding. Indian weddings are not gunshot or even ‘big day’ style with a few extra events in the lead-up – they’re long term calendar events (and I’m not even talking about betrothals) before and after the main ‘do’s’ and can be a whole community thing. I taxied back and forth between events and stayed over for the main ones, imagine the time/effort put in by those organizing and traveling long distance! In terms of public events the two main events were the official registry one in a grand hall/heritage building and the Indian fire ceremony in a much bigger venue, thousands of people were invited to the latter (and many certainly turned up, sadly some of the mass behaviour I thought disrespectful to the couple, a tad like people who stampede on religious pilgrimages – ironic, horrific – nowhere near as bad as that but still the horde ‘me first’ stuff you also get at temple events – though I don’t think anyone’s stuff was dumped/damaged which can happen at temples).
Being a friend and a solo traveler is kinda weird at these things, they have extended families and many guests are related in some way (that grosses me out but that’s the world we live in although I am for looking after others, just don’t need to be related for that). So I was included but also separate, part participant/part watcher – ha she surprised us by telling us at the last minute that we had to dance for the thousands in the procession on the Indian wedding and then at the stage area (I hate to think how many people have me on video camera, especially as so many ‘complimented’ me on it after and the photographers were abit too keen looking at me *shuddershuddershudder*!) At least she chose a song with a good beat… Anyway most of the time I tried to be courteously involved, available to help (her uncle was surprised at my ability to carry a big heavy box on my shoulder down stairs in my too long skirt and heels) and then back off when it was family time. Plus no matter how close you are to the soon-to-be-married person if you’re not related then you’re bottom of the pecking order even after the members with whom there is little love loss. So by the time it may get to you you’re not sure whether you are actually supposed to get involved in a particular ritual or photo session or if they want you to, it depends – you hang around just in case and not to offend anybody but sometimes they want you and at other times they’ll stop before they get to your/at your turn lol. Obviously it depends on the person too, on the mehendi evening one of the ladies doing the drawing was more than happy to do the family’s with the careful consideration it needs but when it got to me she got abit put off and begrudging trying to stop after every quick stroke so I politely reassured her that I didn’t need much, just a simple, basic design and it didn’t have to be like everybody else’s – she perked up at that and so I just directed which bits to do which turned out as on ode to my mother and looked very nice indeed :-). In contrast, my friend’s younger sister, some cousins and neighbours were kindly accommodating, and at the very end of the main Indian wedding I had a nice talk with the priestess with mutual respect.
I’m kinda on a boundary, I’m not typically Indian so I can come and go/pick and choose how ‘Indian’ to be (though I’ve not considered myself separate or non-Indian) but that can work for and against me, it can make people uncomfortable, ignore, reject/distrust and/or get extra possessive. So for example I don’t like the social grouping at parties that veers into children, unmarried-eligible-‘generally accepted that they will mothers soon enough’, young busy dutiful mothers and expectant ones, older mothers (who eat last; men, old people and children are served first) and grannies – it’s pretty much expected that if there’s going to be any objection it’ll be from me even if I have no intention of saying anything and don’t, somehow it’ll be seen as my fault but it also means that I can stand up and comment if needs be. ‘She’s not really one of us so she doesn’t understand’ or ‘she’s different so we can’t treat her the same (good/damnit)’ or ‘great we have to listen to this impudent wench and maybe even have to change/she’s pretty cool and yeah she has a point’ or ‘just pretend to listen’. Tough place to be, at least I’m considerate at gift giving but anyway veering off the subject myself…
Back to weddings, unless you dress traditionally Asian (and yes I’m saying Asian generically, not just India since it’s a colourful, elaborate continent, like Africa) you have little chance of competing with of upstaging the bride. Good! I hate that, I would never want to do that though I know some people go to weddings just to gossip about the couple, eat the food and show off, and I know some mothers/mothers-in-laws think it’s their right to dress as ornately as possible and act like it’s their show day too beyond being proud parent… At the time time if you do dress traditional or in the style of, then you’ll likely look like a peacock but that’s perfectly acceptable and also very nice, as long as you don’t wear red (I know styles are changing). Peacocks were actually the theme of her wedding and she looked beautiful and standout in all her outfits! I never really noticed how tall she was either until she towered in her main two; statuesque, dignified and just gorgeous. You have to be strong for some of the outfits that are available – seriously try lifting them off the rack let alone putting them on/wearing them, though she didn’t go for that style nor the too traditional body makeup other than mehendi on arms/feet.
Did it make me want to get married? NO. I’m sympathetic and easily moved, I was happy for her and that was enough. They tried to coax me to be one of the bouquet catchers and I repeatedly declined (and that throw was totally fixed and we knew it in advance lol). People say to me ‘why don’t you get married/settle down/find somebody/have children?’ Settle down from what exactly; being a responsible, well behaved, dutiful, mature person? I haven’t even lived, people too busy interfering and controlling and yet they want more? Even people you haven’t seen in ages and it’s one of the first things they say like they have a right to/are that close, or then from people who do see you and know better – I remember one said ‘put your genes into the gene pool’ ha – she saw the error of her ways by events that happened later! I give them a look and/or possibly politely refuse and try not to feel sick.
Many of my Asian friends in general weren’t the most reliable, whereas I was available for them if they wanted to talk/do something/go somewhere but when it was vice versa I always needed to give notice and then it was subject to change, they’re so family orientated and obligated that most of their company is their family and so I was a bit like an escape route when they’re tired of that/need some space/need support ‘backup’/source of strength at an event that might be intimidating/overwhelming.
After a while older members of her family felt able to speak freely with me. For example her father, met him once before at his surprise birthday party but he’d seemed uncertain of me being there and we didn’t talk. However on those wedding mornings when the older women were busy cooking mouth watering food from dawn (and they cook a lot generally as it is obviously, used to feeding many) he decided to talk to me about his daughter/my friend, how she’d grown up etc. Maybe he just needed to talk but I’m glad I was there and that I’m trustworthy/sincere enough to hear and remember such sentiments.The groom got on with everybody (he had an impressive entrance at the Indian wedding with drummers), but after the talks with her father perhaps not so obviously it was left to me to let the groom know I’d break his legs if anything happened – he was the martial arts expert and it was said in jest, we laughed about it but he’s not foolish enough to underestimate a young hag/crone like me ;-). I was also grateful that her mother was generous with the leftovers so I could take enough home for mum and I to enjoy later!
Previously she and I had a third friend and both of us were actually closer with that one individually than together but that one went her own way (and became her own independent, successful woman which I was so very proud to hear) and the friend (who inspired this post) reached out to me and we got closer. I look back in fondness and know that our separation (including the third) was necessary to move on our separate paths and I wouldn’t go back, there’s no regrets. Thanks for the memories, for introducing me to Lush, for trying to stop the third one cooking pasta directly on the flame on the cooker (though it turned out great), for trusting me enough to lean on and thanks for the goodbye.
So this didn’t end up such a quick post but oh well. Unfortunately I don’t feel I can post some of the wedding photos even though tons of people have them, they’re still ‘private’ and should be kept special, I can’t post ones of us together either (*thinks of the Indian wedding and the people afterwards who recognized me but I didn’t know them*…) I’m just a loyal grouch. Fine, here’s one of the civil/official wedding which was professionally taken and the vague one of the bunch, the ones without the guests were really artistic and even cinematic with their locations, lighting and chemistry, if I remember correctly the photographers flew in from South Africa.
I knew her all those years and she still managed to look stunning to my old eyes. They (couple) were so cute!