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It was probably August, when I first started writing about my big sis’s wedding.
Well many bloggy interruptions and build-ups later, I bring you the final chapter…
…After epic preparations to make myself look hot in the Indian way (see last week’s post), I arrived at the reception hall by 6:45pm. Since the bride and groom wouldn’t roll in for another two hours, all eyes were on the first families. I’ve experienced this phenomenon as well when attending other weddings. It’s like you suddenly become obsessed with the bride or groom’s family: what outfits they’re wearing, how their hair looks. And if they toss you a glance or even a smile, you feel special.
At my sister’s reception a similar fawning occurred, as people were practically pushing each other for a slice of my attention. It was weird, because normally I don’t even like these people. One of them tried to touch my hair and I almost punched her.
Yup, I was definitely channeling a Naomi Campbell style of self-importance…
Before I could throw my cellphone at any unsuspecting heads, the party ended for me…only fifteen minutes in. That was the moment when the stress of emceeing hit me like a truck.
We did have a couple of wedding assistants for the day, but since these blondies were experiencing their first ever Indian wedding, they were more excited about being in pictures vs. helping me organize the evening’s events.
I was so preoccupied I couldn’t even enjoy the array of appetizers! (which in Indian world, is as much food as two normal dinners). I managed to down a few bites of something that would normally be delicious, but the nervousness made me nauseous. So from then on it was straight up gingerale.
After that, my brand new brother-in-law who was also my co-emcee dropped a bomb:
“Wahhhh…I feel sick and I can’t emcee with you. Sorry. Good luck.”
I later realized his illness was in fact a pansy-like shyness, since at 1am he was dancing it up like a party animal.
And so, rather frantically, I wrote in the edits.
Time flew by but my sister kept calling to tell me she was running late, and then more late still. The extra time made me all the more frantic, and it didn’t help when the lowly plebian “after-thought” guests kept approaching. Like it’s none of your business when the bride will get here! Just go sit down at your table in the back with the shittiest view!
When my sister and her husband finally arrived, and finally finished with photographs (and when she finally adjusted her tiara for the twentieth time…pfft), I ran to the podium to get things started.
And it actually wasn’t so bad.
I mean aside from having a shine slick on my face from nervousness and constant sweating (I do NOT want to watch that wedding video), I was charming. And funny. And confident. In fact, for a whole week following the wedding, my parents, parents’ friends, and relatives kept complimenting my performance. They said I reminded them of Indira Gandhi. The Indira Gandhi who was assassinated in 1984. Hmm…
With the stress of speeches and announcements mostly over, a new kind of stress came upon me:
-trying to kick the damn kiddie performers off the stage.
This army of boys must’ve kept on performing for something like…twenty minutes? It was song after song and costume change after costume change, with their stage mom standing next to me, yelling them along, and lining up the next coloured turban for the clothing switches.
To the audience, it was a show that wouldn’t end. Behind the scenes it was my sister and her husband screaming at me, telling me to shut it down.
So umm…I engaged in a yelling match with the stage mom. Tantrum style.
She said the many songs were a part of the package deal. I said she would still get paid the same amount, but people were bored, so throw these kids in the van and move along!
She said no.
And she was scary-looking.
She then assured me we had reached the last song, and it would only last two more minutes.
Well it was TWO more songs and SEVEN more minutes.
When it was over we forgot all about it, but if made the reception less than perfect, and for that I feel permanently scorned.
Afterward everybody danced and ate the night away. Somewhere along the way I forgot to eat dinner. I REPEAT, I forgot to partake in a spectacular Indian buffet.
I was too busy being instructed to take candid pictures, or hoarding cupcakes so my sister could bring some home. Or making sure the kitchen staff sealed up the top tier of the cake instead of serving it (which they almost did).
I did get to eat a cupcake though. My one meal for the day.
On the negative side, I forgot to bring home the metal tiered cupcake stand (which was rented…oops. We never were able to retrieve it. A thieving kitchen worker is the only explanation).
And also I lost my sister’s camera.
Well I never said I was a PERFECT maid-of-honour…
[So I think I’ll finish the ’09 blog with some memories of a recent trip to India. After that a brand new blog theme on the way for 2010—back to basics, that’s all I’ll say for now. I hope you don’t lose sleep over all the suspense of not knowing (even though I know you will…)]
So I continue with the wedding that wasn’t mine, in my attempt to give my noble readers the full “Indian Wedding” experience.
Will the story conclude here? Will there be a final post? Well I’ll just write and see, because I’m literally transferring “real time” brainwaves into word count (adventure baby, that’s why I blog).
We left our bride and groom in a park for some lame-ass “gaze in distance” photos, and the rest of us rushed back home for the main event.
And yes, there is a major main event before reception time.
For the bridal side of the family, it’s where the groom returns with his wife, and he has to be “let in” by all her female family members. It starts with a big satin ribbon tied across the doorway, plus a bunch of cash (and maybe jewelry) he has to offer up, before we’ll ever let him in. On the groom’s side, he’ll then take his wife to HIS house, so she can be welcomed by his clan (again involves cash, Indian sweets, and middle-aged aunties patting her on the head).
Since bride-chick was my sister, I’ll stick with OUR side of the happenings.
In simple terms, he offered up fistfuls of cash, and complimented me and my cousins just enough to get his chance to cut the ribbon.
Although the scene inside the house was a happy one—my family, extended family, and lots of middle-aged aunties craving one-on-one access to the bride—there was a very ominous undertone:
-the taking of the bride
In other words, after some tea and Indian sweets, the husband quickly ushers the bride from the house; back into the limo and out of our lives.
I’m not going to go into detail, since I prefer to be invincible robot-girl who laughs at those silly “emotion” things, but let’s just say that seeing my mom and dad hug her, and watching all of them cry? It killed me!
By the time it was my turn to hug her, I was already in tears.
Never in a million years would I have thought the removal of my sister from my life would bring me anything but joy. In hindsight the crying still feels weird and unnatural. Basically it makes me feel dirty so I’m moving on.
Once she was gone, my aunties hauled ass to the kitchen to console my mom. Meanwhile the hair and make-up girls had arrived. Almost instantly my tears dried up, as I imagined how awesome I wanted to look, and how these girls would help me get there.
Overall I was pleased with their work. They curled my hair in the sort of coils I’d never known, and they provided me with KICK-ASS eyeshadow colours. The sort of eyeshadow that would’ve NEVER worked on the street due to its gaudiness, but for an Indian wedding it was perfect.
I also had the girls apply fake lashes, which I had never tried before in my life. I didn’t NEED fake lashes, and in fact most girls seem to envy my lashes the way I envy big-breasted girls (thanks God, that’s a totally fair trade). But I sort of wanted to look my best…to show my sister she’s a moron.
I know that sounds horrible, but when she found out I was getting my hair and makeup done, she was not what you would call supportive:
“Why don’t you just put on a tiara and call yourself the BRIDE!” Followed by her running into her room and slamming the door. Exact quote.
To add to that, she’d been a big time “B word” for weeks as I’d catered to her every slave task. Overall, I knew how stupid she was to think I could ever upstage a bride covered in jewels, so I just wanted to stretch it to the limit to prove her wrong.
And also, I’m vain.
Once my make-up was done and I’d been properly wrapped up in a sari (which due to its embroidery was ten times heavier than a regular one), I added the last detail:
I’d been wearing heavy earrings all week for the various pre-wedding events, but these were like cinder-blocks attached to my earlobes. And they had to be, because the wedding reception was the last hurrah. I was so afraid that by the end of the night my earlobes would stretch down to my shoulders, like how you sometimes see on the tribal women in National Geographic.
But alas, my earlobes still have reasonable elasticity, and are as juicy and biteable as ever (what?).
Well it seems that my stream-of-consciousness has brought me to the end of this post, leaving one more installment for the insider’s view of the reception.
And even though I speed-type blog posts and publish them without much thought, I am not omniscient. As in I DID do a proofread for grammar.
(and if I still missed a bunch of grammar-type stuff, well I’m a moron…)
And we carry on, with the epic saga of a sister’s big day.
To start, let me shake up your memory from installment number one:
-looking hot in a seafoam-coloured get-up, getting uncomfortably close to Indian man-folk, and filling up the SUV limo with middle-aged Indian “spotlight hogs”
Okay you’re caught up, let’s continue…
When we arrived at the temple, a mini crowd had formed to see my sister, which had a side-effect of making me feel a little famous. The only thing missing was a red carpet, reporters, Daniel Craig on my arm, and people who actually gave a crap that I was there.
My sister and I went inside to one of the bridal rooms, which was really an office for the temple administrators, with wall-to-wall glass completely robbing us of privacy. And so, when my sister got her pre-wedding jitters and puked in the garbage can, everyone would’ve seen it…if they hadn’t been outside with their eyes glued on the groom.
(phew, first crisis averted).
After trying my best to re-apply any face decorations post-puke, I allowed my sister to peek outside the office window, so she could longingly stare at her groom. I looked outside for a little bit too, and while my brain tried hard to compute the reasoning behind her emotional gaze (you just saw him yesterday!), I failed and took a seat on the couch instead.
Maybe one day, when my stone-cold heart warms to love, I’ll understand the way she felt. Ahem…I think it’s time to switch those gears now…
So the most exciting part for me? Walking down the aisle (and yes, my SISTER’S wedding is all about ME…don’t you know this by now?). Up until that morning, I had never been a bridesmaid or anything, not for an Indian wedding or a white-person one. But the aisle, the flowers in my hand, and the camera actually being on ME?
The attention alone is enough to want to have my own wedding. Maybe I’ll sell myself on a marriage website yet…
The ceremony itself wasn’t long…but it felt long. It’s just that sitting cross-legged is rough-ass times for yours truly. I mean I totally respect that you don’t sit on chairs at the temple (except for grannies with bad backs who are propped up on milk crates against the wall), but THIS kid? Well she’s got some chronic neck and shoulder problems fool!
I should’ve brought along my muscle relaxers. Or smoked some weed pre-ceremony. Or maybe I should go to temple more often than for weddings and special events, maybe then it wouldn’t even hurt.
Woulda-coulda-shoulda aside, the ceremony ended without incident, following thirty minutes of me staying cross-legged (gah!), so I could be in all the pictures for the bride and groom “cash grab”. You all know what the cash-grab is right? It’s when the bride and groom get blessed by every guest (with bills plus a har), who line up in an orderly fashion for this sagaan as it’s called.
Once the debts were paid, I dutifully carried my sister’s bouquet and purse, as she and her husband(!) made their way down the corridor for some greetings.
And that’s when the showdown happened.
It was my sister and “other bride”, who were now standing face-to-face.
Other-bride had also just been married, in the crappier hall to the left (whereas my sister had just been married in the MAIN hall). Aside from hall supremacy, my sister in her pink bridal gear, totally outshone the shorter, gawdy-looking other-bride in red. She was fugly is what she was, and it’s not my mandatory loyalty that makes me say that.
Other-bride was a bridal train-wreck.
Since other-bride didn’t have a sexy leg to stand on, she conceded and smiled at my sister like a proper inferior.
My sister looked right through her though, and kept walking on. Burn!
It was a good thing but also not, ’cause I was sort of hoping that other-bride’s sister and I would have a cage match. Or maybe a throw-down in the parking lot.
A girl can dream.
After that my sister and her husband were ushered off for cheesy photos in the park, which left our crew in “intermission”. That in itself is worthy of a re-cap, not to mention what happened next:
-the reception that I frickin’ emceed.
Yes, still a bit more to cover…
Four months ago, on a perfect sunny day, my sister had a big fat Indian wedding.
(you knew I’d write this post eventually, right?)
Like most weddings, the day began at 4am (at least for my sister it did. I “slept in” for another hour). By five o’ clock she was already being transformed from whatever she is on a regular day (bleh), to a Bollywood bridal princess. After I brushed my teeth, I snuck inside her room to check out the work-in-progress. The hair had been put into a lovely up-do, but the make-up was still underway. In other words the eyeshadow was finished, but the furry fake lashes had yet to be glued on (sorry, but you CANNOT get married “Indian style” without fake lashes, it’s a disgrace to our culture if you don’t).
I smiled in approval since it WAS her special day after all, but my mother who was standing in the room as well, was a little bit more on the bolder side.
“Why are you putting so much eye makeup on? You’re making her eyes look pointy and long.”
Poor stylist, poor sister.
I didn’t have time to enjoy the motherly insults, because I had to get ready too. I originally thought I’d be getting professional hair and make-up for the morning ceremony, but I quickly realized my sister wanted me to look uglier than her, so it would have to be a self-service job.
My first choice of hairstyles would always involve kick-ass curls, but for Sikh wedding ceremonies, you had to cover your head and tie your hair back.
So ponytail it is!
I still looked pretty good with my sea foam-coloured eyeshadow and matching sea foam outfit (sounds ugly but it wasn’t I swear), so by 7am I went downstairs to help out. This involved putting fresh rose boutonnieres on all the men, who apparently can’t pin a simple flower to their jackets. I didn’t like this job, mostly because we Indians aren’t very “touchy feely” people (except for awkward hugs with distant relatives). So to go through man after man, whether uncles, cousins or brothers, and stand mere inches away while I pinned on the flowers?
Once that was done my sister came down and the photographer hi-jacked her. For like over an hour. Yawn.
So I caught up on some TV (not that I didn’t have TONS to do later…just wait until I get to the reception).
By the time the photographer released her, it was time for the videographer to have his fun. He envisioned this heartwarming story, where every one of us, including my brothers, would smile and hug my sister. After which he’d put on a lovely soundtrack. I found this to be the most amusing part of the day. Thing is, any display of affection between my siblings and I is like kryptonite. Sure a hug is not a glowing green rock, but it will cripple us and make us beg for mercy just the same.
For MY “video hug”, I pulled her in from the shoulders and supplied my best glowing fake-ass smile (what? I want to be Hollywood some day, this is my test-screening). For my brothers, they tried to get away with a one-handed shoulder pat plus a nod of acknowledgement. But our director wasn’t having it. So my parents and I waited through take after take, until they finally acted out some semblance of a hug.
We ain’t no Brady Bunch.
Once that was finished, people started filling our house, and we went through a TON of family photos. The only awkward part was when the not-so close relatives wanted the photographer to do special shots just for them and the bride. This happens all the time, and you can say you’re running late, but they persist and persist. So the photographer finally gave in, but whatever…AS IF we ever sent them the pictures…
At last (and already a half an hour behind for the ceremony—or right on time according to Indian punctuality) we made our way out of the house. And into the SUV limo!
This was another awkward moment. Only fifteen people would fit into the limo, with the original assignment being our six family members, our gran, two aunts and uncles and some cousins.
But then some “Indian moms” had a melt down. The funny thing was, they were my MOM’s friends, not my sister’s. But these forty to fifty something women were intent on being front and centre.
Which means the limo ride quickly became: bride, mom, me, cousins, aunts…and miscallenous Indian women who think they’re the shit.
I’d never been inside a limo before (please refer to Appendix: “girl who was dateless for the prom”), but within a moment, I felt like a ballin’ rap star. All I could think was “Where are my ‘ho’s, where’s the Cristal, and where is my bling?!”
We had the bling alright, but as for ‘ho’s and alcohol, did I mention the limo was full of middle-aged Indian women? Right.
That’s all for now, as the wedding day purge will continue in my follow-up post (’cause no one can stomach more than 800 words of Romi in a single shot…too bad I wrote an 84,000-word novel).
Continuing on with the days preceding my sister’s wedding, we find ourselves at “two days before” the big event…
In our Indian world within the world of Canadiana, “two days before” means an evening of wildly intricate mehndi designs. But before we could begin with this activity requiring more patience than I’ve ever possessed, we had to get our manicures!
That’s where most of my story begins and ends today…in the waiting room area of the nail salon.
For the entire time that I sat in the waiting chair, I found myself shocked and appalled by the Indian girls sitting next to me. These girls were already through with their appointment, but their presence in itself was the core of my frustration:
-why did a six-year-old girl and an eight-year-old girl have a nail appointment?
Your feathers may not be ruffled yet, and yes I understand the joy of your mother painting your nails just for fun if you’ve been very good, but this was NOT a mother-daughter bonding event. These were two little girls with fancy manicures AND pedicures, already stripped of their childhoods.
Six-year-old: “Yours looks better than mine!” She finished with a pout.
Eight-year-old: “No look, she gave you a nicer design on your feet!”
Oh right. It’s this recent phenomenon of complicated designs to augment the average manicure. I myself have not been able to try out the designs for myself, as I’m a simple girl of “french manicure” or “solid colour” persuasion (if and when I should even get a manicure). But to witness six and eight-year-olds applying the latest trends?
It feels wrong to me. It might not feel wrong to the world at large, since the world is okay with six-year olds oiling up their thighs for juvenile beauty contests, so fine…I accept that truth.
But you know what? Oily thighs on a child don’t work for me (it feels wrong to even type it), nor am I in favour of making little girls grow accustomed to cosmetic life. Imagine these girls going home and playing in the sandbox: “No! Don’t push me! I don’t want to scratch my manicure!”
A child is SUPPOSED to get all grimy and scratched. Screw getting your nails done, those girls should be cutting up worms just for the heck of it!
At least that’s what I did when I was a kid, and look how wonderfully I turned out.
I just start to wonder when the day will come that I’ll see a little girl with acrylic air-brushed porn star nails.
Should I just close my eyes now? Because I feel like it’s on the brink…
…Now where was I? Oh yeah, after our manicures, we got to dress our hands in mehndi! I suppose that’s the rest of the story, but my annoyance precluded me from mentioning it ’till now. Needless to say, getting your hands done is a whole lotta fun, but the hard part becomes the hours and hours you’re supposed to keep the mehndi in tact. It all depends on how dark you’d like the final product to be. If you wash your hands too early, the mendhi ends up looking like a faded light orange, even when its darkened from the first day or two of exposure.
But this was my sister’s wedding. We wanted the GOOD stuff, so we allowed the mehndi artist to mist our hands in sticky lemon spray once she was done, and then…we didn’t touch a thing. Don’t ask me how I went to the bathroom, but once bedtime arrived, I had to wrap my wrists in that white stretchy bandage material, the kind which resembles the mummy-wrap that burn-victims wear.
It was a less than comfortable sleep, but the end result was a strong amount of colour that lasted for a couple of weeks. And on a final note, while I went for the elegant and flowery designs on the inside, I wanted something different for the outside of my hands. So I picked a more unique design for that. It almost resembled pointy daggers shooting across my hands. I thought it was pretty bad-ass.
And now all I want is a fire-breathing dragon made of mehndi on my back.