A while ago now, I told the story of how I got stuck in a piece of traditional Indian clothing - The Churidar Kurta or How I Got Stuck in a Shirt.
This is part two.
I’m going to try to make this story entertaining. At the time it was anything but, however I feel like I need to tell it anyway. Some kind of catharsis maybe, or at the very least a cautionary tale for the rest of you.
After outfitting myself in Indian clothing, I felt ready, and even excited to experience the larger than life wedding that my coworker had been planning and talking about for months. She had something insane like 1000 guests attending, and how could that not be amazing to see? The scale sounded impressive.
And it was impressive, just not in the ways I had imagined.
When Husband and I got there, the first bombshell was that in the temple men and women could not sit together. There was a men’s side and a women’s side. This was uncomfortable…..but at least I eventually had my other coworkers to sit with. My poor, extremely tolerant husband would have to sit by himself on the other side of the room with 500 men he had never met before, to share a cultural experience that was surprisingly confusing.
As we stood around waiting to go in, my coworkers arrived. I was a bit taken aback by their outfits. They had all spent a lot of time talking about the fancy saris they had purchased for the event, yet no one was wearing them.
So, stupid me, I asked why not? Most fell silent, but the oblivious one piped up that the saris were for the reception the next day. Duh. Why wouldn’t you know that?….oh wait, you didn’t know about the reception?
We all stood silently for a moment, letting this information sink in. Ever so carefully, I asked What reception? Isn’t that part of this event? The question was answered by the sound of crickets and darting, terrified eye contact between the rest of the group. It wasn’t hard to deduce the answer on my own.
But seriously, why would I have known that?!? It had not occurred to me that these two events were on two different days, and the invitation hadn’t indicated anything. I thought we went from wedding to reception like every other wedding I had been to, not: oh sorry you’re only invited to the (painfully long) ceremony but you can’t come to the (much more enjoyable) dinner/dance part. Thanks asshole.
Trying hard to hide that I was dying inside as I’d realized, very publically, that I had been excluded from the main event, I grabbed Husband and staggered off into the parking lot to regain some composure.
I take some solace in the fact that as I left, they were all at a loss for words, and looked like a collection of flaccid, useless dicks waiting in the parking lot for something to come along and save them from what had just happened.
It was very awkward.
No, it was more awkward than that.
These proceedings may have coloured my opinion of the bride and her event, but I returned to the group, hiked up my big girl panties, and carried on into the venue to tolerate the rest of the day.
The ceremony itself was strange but interesting, and I lost myself for a while in the colours and singing going on around me. There were no chairs and everyone sat on the floor, and as far as I could tell, there was no definite start point to the ceremony. The singing/chanting was going on when we walked in and then suddenly the wedding party was walking down the aisle.
I use the term “suddenly” only to convey that there was no notification to the gathering hoard that she was coming. We turned around and there was the bride. No preamble, no notice, just bam! There she is! But don’t interpret that to mean that she came in with any great speed. I think we sat on the floor for at least an hour listening to the chanting (which, to be fair, was beautiful) before she made her way in.
I tried very hard not to be mad and hurt during this time, but the obvious exclusion from the event everyone else was attending made it hard to really enjoy myself. And then my ass got sore, and I was pretty much done with the whole sitting-on-the-floor shit. Plus, we had been there for well over two hours at this point, and it really didn’t look like it was slowing down. I also had to pee, and there wasn’t a snowballs chance in hell that I was walking down that aisle in front of the incredibly large group of people, while the bride and groom were still up there, possibly committing some irreversible cultural faux pas.
Lucky for us, our group of wedding goers included another woman who attended the temple. She looked around at our panicked, confused, white-girl faces, and matter-of-factly got up and said we could go now.
Wait, what? The bride and groom were still up there…should we really just up and leave? Apparently yes, you do, that’s normal. According to her, the ceremony would go on for hours, and we could go now. My ass was happy. I waved desperately at Husband who was sitting on the boy’s side, and pictionaried to him that we could escape.
Husband and I made it through the lunch that was offered…he likes Indian food, I do not, and eventually hit the magic point in time where you can leave without appearing to run screaming from the building. Basically, it was half a day of time and babysitting costs that I can never get back.
Overall, the cultural part of the experience was interesting, albeit long. (So. Fucking. Long.) I don’t think I’d be overly inclined to repeat it, however I think it’s important to try new things - even if those things turn out to be less like the experience you had anticipated, and more like an unending hell in which you are painfully aware of your social exclusion.
In the end the part that really irked me was that I had given the bride money as a wedding gift, which apparently wasn’t required, given that I hadn’t been invited to the part of the wedding that socially required a gift. Figures. At least I got a thank you card. Not sure it was worth it.