Saturday, June 25, 2011

Four weddings battery in the camera!!

Yes, I've now been to 4 weddings in the last seven months here in India. Last night Simon and I went to the reception (before the wedding) of a brother of one of his colleagues. I left my camera battery on charge at home - so pics are from our i-phones - not the best!!

This reception was hosted in a party hall in the distant suburbs of northern Bangalore.  Tracking down an address in Bangalore is not as straight forward as plugging the details into your sat. nav. or GPS. Every area has 1st, 2nd, 3rd.... Main and 1st, 2nd, 3rd....  Cross, which are not always in chronological order. As the city has grown the old villages/areas have slowly overlapped and intertwined. Essentially one slowly homes in on the venue. First one drives towards the area/village. Then one has to identify prescribed "landmarks" (bus stops, temples, malls etc) - these are normally located by asking other drivers, pedestrians, shop keepers etc. The trick seems to be determining who actually really knows where said landmark is and who is just getting a bit of  exercise waving their arms about in a random fashion. Once you have found said landmarks you know you are close and yes the brightly illuminated wedding hall is visible. As this is an auspicious time of year, weddings abound, so a quick check we are at the right one and in we go!!

Manju, Simon's colleague, had been involved in the preparations for the wedding for weeks. He comes from a very traditional Indian family, the extended family live together and therefore are all closely involved in the preparations. I'm not sure how many people were invited as the reception is quite an informal event as regards timings - you can drop in and drop out! I think everyone in the village (the outskirts of Bangalore seems to be a collection of villages) was invited. Update from Simon, about 3,000 were invited! A carpenter at Infosys, replacing a door knob on Simon's office door the following day, was proud to tell Simon he had seen him at the wedding!

The bride and groom had only met two months previously, this being an arranged marriage, and poor things still seemed a tad ill at ease with each other under the endless flash and glare of the cameras. They both looked great - the bride in traditional red and gold and I imagine feeling weighed down by all her glittering jewelry.

The format of the reception - which differs throughout the country, apparently can even be slightly tweaked from village to village -  got under way as people gradually arrived and were seated. The women and kids all in their finery - the color of the saris and the abundant jewelry was breathtaking. The guys however definitely lower the tone!! - pair of pants and a short sleeved shirt seemed to suffice. The bride and groom then walk down the aisle to the flower decked stage where two thrones await. At that moment everyone leaps out of their seats and there is a sort of polite stampede to form a line to greet the happy couple. It took a while for me to work out that once your particular family group has wished the couple, handed over gifts, been photographed, the next stop is dinner. So was the mini stampede to wish the couple well or head to dinner? Apparently in the village chatter the next day, the quality and quantity of the food can be a deciding factor in assessing the "success" of the wedding! I imagine this wedding passed with flying colors as everyone seemed to be enjoying the spread with great gusto!

As with everything in India there is an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new. The photo/TV screen technology was the latest - as pics were taken they were instantly uploaded onto the 2 LCD screens - not just straight up but with all sorts of backgrounds and artistic effects.  This combined with the traditional Indian dress and the traditional foods and eating customs. The food is served on a banana leaf - hows that for going green!

I do seriously think that home cooked food, eaten with your fingers tastes the best. There's something earthy and wholesome about eating with your fingers and apparently it is more sanitary than using utensils, as long as you wash your hands. Apparently not all dish washers get up to temperature and people can get sick as much from the silverware, cups and plates as from the food. Well the food was absolutely delicious - we tried everything, at least once.!!

The hospitality was once again so generous. I always felt sorry for Simon spending long hours at work but now I've met some of his colleagues I'll have to rethink. They were all really friendly and a lot of fun! Apparently they are trying to educate Simon in Indian culture - I think on that one they have a long way to go!

It was a really great evening - and yes I am wearing the same, as for the previous weddings! - really gotta go shop!!

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