Tuesday, April 25, 2006

No, He Didn't Kiss The Bride

Another wedding, another experience. This one was the sister-in-law of my lawyer friend. I figured since he soaked me for legal services the least I could do was take advantage of the reception supper. I ate as much paneer, gosh, rice, fish, and roti as I could handle, but I’m still far from making a dent in my legal bill.

A mutual friend picked us up and we arrived at the church fifteen minutes early. Even our Indian friend wasn’t certain if the service would begin at the stated time of 5:30 p.m. The family are professionals, so there was a chance they would operate in “time orientation.” However, it was no real surprise to any of us that the bride began her walk down the aisle at 6:40. It’s a law here that one must be married or buried before sundown, so by the time we got to the “I now pronounce you…” they just got under the wire.

As the pastor cited the familiar phrase, “Do you promise to love and honor..” I wondered if the bride and groom would lie? Love? This union, like ninety percent of the marriages in this country, was arranged. After the relatives made the match, this young couple perhaps had a cup of coffee together to give a quick analysis on whether their parents had made a good choice. American speed dating has nothing on this society, how about speed engagements! A quick review of educational qualifications, and her willingness to immigrate to Canada and the deal is done. When will they learn to love one another? Maybe after a year, perhaps after their first child, maybe never. But they signed a contract, so the chances of them not honoring their vows are considerably less than the emotional drip ("But, daddy, I just loooove him so much") that is in my country.

There were more video cameras at this wedding than a Bush Rose Garden press conference. They even had one guy who was panning the congregation that was then projected on a screen in the front of the church. I felt like I was at the Texas Rangers stadium and when I saw my face was on the screen I had an incredible urge to wave and yell, “Look! It’s me! Hi mom!”

After the service the bride and groom stood on the steps of the church for photographs. About ten eunuchs (transvestites) showed up, clapping and being obnoxious. They show up at all weddings to harass the guests for money. Some Hindu’s believe they have the power to bless or curse so they would rather give into their demands than beat the crap out of them. (I have low tolerance for rudeness, whether it is a he, she or "I'm not sure?").

Five and half hours later, we made it home. We left very early so I am supposing the reception went on for another four hours. My comments reflect my “time” worldview. For this culture it was an “event,” which is to be enjoyed by all. And, no, when they were pronounced husband and wife, the groom lifted her veil but did not kiss the bride.