Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Semi" Short Post - Our First Indian Wedding!! (w/ video!!)

We went to our first Indian Wedding last week!!  Well, only Amy Suzanne went to the actual wedding.  The ceremony lasted three days.  However, we both went to the Reception on Saturday night.  And quite a reception it was, too!  Our old driver, Naseer (he was truly great, but now that we have our new Skoda Laura, Krishna is our full-time driver!), got a little "turned around" in the Begumpet district of Hyderabad...and almost dropped us off at the wrong place!!  The reception was at "The Celebrity Club" - - Naseer stopped the car in front of some local dance place called "The Country Club" - - but thank God I caught it before we got stranded at an "Indian disco" instead of the "target" reception!!  After asking a few people and eventually a policeman, good ol' Naseer got us back on track and we found the right location!

I have heard this from a few other ex-pats who have been invited to weddings here:  The family and the newly-married couple treated us like Honored Guests!!  More than that...we were treated more like ROYALTY!!  We arrived in the very nice reception hall just as the professional photographer was posing the family (under some very harsh lighting!) for some official-looking wedding photos.

The next thing we know, we were being grabbed-up and hustled into the picture...despite our vigorous head-shaking and loud protestations!!  Not only were we to be IN the photo...ladies and gentlemen, I kid you not: WE WERE IN THE VERY FRONT ROW....DIRECTLY BETWEEN THE BRIDE AND THE GROOM!!

The wedding was between two of Amy's employees from Deloitte.  This is very exciting for everybody, and many of Amy's group were there, both for the wedding and the reception!  I know this for sure, because our driver took a bunch of them over to the wedding hall on Thursday!!  Also exciting was the fact that this was a "love marriage" - that's the name given nowadays to the very recent innovation of a actually having a "non-arranged" marriage!  The invitation (like most all Indian wedding invitations) had a depiction of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, for good luck and blessings.  I know the happy couple will remain blessed!  Soumya and Keshavan looked so happy together!!  The family was so wonderful and welcoming to us! 

I just have this strange notion running through my head...that someday, Soumya and Keshavan will be a sweet old couple, married for fifty-years...and they are going to be looking back at their wedding pictures.  One will say to the other:  "I still love you, after all of these years, sweetheart!  But, who in the world is this big American guy and his very blond wife between us in the front row??"

We visited with so many wonderful people!  Quite a number of them were from the bride's family...and a few of them had even lived for a time in the U.S., and they were anxious to hear about where we were from and how we were liking Hyderabad.  The food was served buffet-style - and it smelled incredibly good!  As I got up from my seat and started for the growing queue - Amy gave me one of "those" looks.  I stopped and came back to the table where we had been sitting since we got done having our picture taken.  "What?", I asked her.  "You've been eating everything that's not "red-hot-or-nailed-down" since we got here .", she said.  "Remember Rick Wolfe (a Deloitte Partner who got deathly ill the first (and only!) time he came to India) ??  You had better be careful!"

"Sweetie...it's a catered wedding, for goodness' sake!", I challenged.  "Nobody's getting sick from this food...besides, it looks and smells wonderful!!"

She followed me over because I think I had her convinced that all would be well.  We never found out.

As we reached the start of the line, one of the men in the family came up to me and said: "Excuse me, sir, drinks have been arranged".  Huh?  "Arranged"??  What did he mean?  We found out in under ten-seconds.  We were ushered into another, much smaller, banquet room, where the lights were very low.  Groups of men were sitting at round tables.  One of the tables served as a makeshift "bar" - with several bottles of wine, Scotch, rum, and all of the goodies one might expect to see at an "open bar" at a wedding.

And open it was!!  Insisting that Suzanne and I sit at yet another "table of honor" with one of the bride's uncles (a great guy who shared a wealth of knowledge with us about traveling in India and the various cuisines we might find as we travel around this amazing country!) - I asked for a "Teachers 50" (that's an Indian brand of Scotch...I have found that single-malt imported varieties carry a hefty duty and are very pricey!!) with no ice (I'm still a little bit careful!!)  Amy, not being much of a drinker, got a Diet Pepsi.  I drank and I chatted ... and Amy asked a bunch of questions about going to Rajasthan and other possible travel destinations. I had two (oh, perhaps maybe three or four!) drinks as we talked...and people kept bringing food to our table in the "bar".  It seems that we would never have to brave the queue outside!  Another thing to note:  One could not help but notice that this was definitely the "boys club" - - as Suzanne was the only woman in there...and I'm sure she was the only woman to be in there all night long!

We had an early morning planned for the next day (Sunday), so, Amy quietly whispered to me that we really should be calling Nasser and going home.

May I say that there is no possible way to "sneak" out of an Indian wedding reception that is going full-blast!  While we had merely taken leave of our new friends in the "men's club" bar and gone back to the main reception hall to pass along our regrets on having to leave the party early...the family would have none of that!  Amy and I were literally herded into the center of a "dance circle" in the middle of the room.  Think of it as sort-of a Hyderabadi "mosh pit"!  Pounding music, the room having been filled with sweetly-scented "disco smoke" (that's the best description I can come up with! It *looked* kind of like the Sanctuary at St. Mary of the Angels after the Solemn Te Deum on All Saints Day!) - there were flashing colored lights with the occasional green "laser-light" beam that flashed in hypnotic pulses to the throbbing drum beat!  And we were basically, with hand gestures and wide smiles, told to dance!!  And dance we did.

Now, the standard-variety Indian dance step seems to be....well... picture dancing with your left hand in the air - pretending that you are "unscrewing a light bulb".  The other (right) hand is down more at your side... and, with that hand, you pantomime "turning on a water faucet".   Then, after some time doing this...you simply reverse hand positions and "unscrew the light bulb" with the raised left hand, and "turn the faucet" with the right.  All the while, keeping the beat.  Repeat as necessary. Ad infinitum. Got it??

As is becoming quite usual for us here in Hyderabad....my wife and I really stood out in that crowd.  All the while, the other guests kept encouraging our totally lame dance-moves with whoops and cheers!! Thank you, Soumya and Keshavan, for including us in your special day.  I hope that when your 50th Anniversary arrives, you will remember us as fondly, as we will you!

Here are two brief videos on YouTube that I managed to take with my Blackberry camera!

Our First Indian Wedding Reception!!  (only 43-seconds!)

Now THIS was a wedding reception!!!  (only 18-seconds - but LOUD!!)

Comments, as always, welcome below or on our Facebook pages!

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