My Driver’s Wedding

October 25, 2013 at 10:02 pm

My  new driver was married this past Tuesday.  See pictures below.  You will note that the groom is dressed as a flower pot.  He is covered from head to toes in flowers.  New idea for the Rose Bowl.

He told us that the wedding would start at 8:30.  As it turned out we were the first ones there at 8:30 .  The tent was pretty much full by 10 pm.  There was not a real ceremony.  At 9:15,  we thought that the bride was arriving.  Instead it was Shah.  He could not see and had to be led by the hand to the entrance to the tent and then down the aisle and up the steps to the stage.  Since the folks at work, recently had me play “pin the tail on the donkey” as part of the going away party for my predecessor, I was quickly reminded of how blind I was I walked around feeling like a donkey.

Shah’s family had myself and  3 other expats walk down the aisle immediately behind Shah.  It was a bit awkward.  I was afraid that they were going to have us get up on the stage.  I peeled off  about 3 rows from the front.  But it is example of the hospitality in India.  People treat you like a king and make you feel special.  His parents, brother and uncles were so friendly and solicitous.   They waited on us hand and foot as we ate dinner.  They served us our food as they stood around our table and kept offering different food. We were truly honored. One of the guys said that he never seen chicken prepared in so many different fashions.

We were on the “guys” side of the tent.  We could not see any women, nor the bride.  Separate ceremonies and eating areas.

The ceremony wasn’t much.  A little bit of paperwork, then  the imam stood up and said a two minute prayer that was completely ignored by the guys in the tent who were talking away.  Then folks went up on the stage and gave Shah a hug and we had dinner behind the stage.

That was Monday night.  We all got back together on Tuesday night to celebrate the consummation of the marriage.   Interesting concept.

Shah is 28 and his marriage was arranged.  One of his sisters snuck him a picture of his bride.  Surprisingly,  on the second night, Shah was able to take us over to the entrance of the tent for the women and we met his mother and the bride.   We took pictures with his mom while someone went to get his bride.  She was courteous and shook my hand and my predecessor, Curt’s hand.  I had a sense of how we were part of a new foreign world for her.

Her face looked filled with fear and anxiety.  I was thinking how prior to coming to India, I was wondering if I was making a big mistake and felt some fear. That was nothing compared to how her world is being rocked.   In her culture, she is marrying someone she has not met, moving into his house to live with his parents, leaving behind  her home and all she has known.   Not to mention having sex for the first time with virtually a complete stranger.  Now that is moving beyond your comfort zone or pushing the envelope to use a couple of banal statements.

Shah is sweet, hard- working guy so she married well.   I do not know the mother in law.  That could be a little more tricky.

One of the expats was telling me that his wife attended a Muslim wedding and that the bride was in tears the whole time.  Wasn’t a pretty picture.

Let me close by saying, that surveys had shown that arranged marriages are more successful.  Not sure what that means though.  Is that a measurement of the rate of divorce which one would expect to be less in a religious culture?  Nevertheless, people do grow into love in arranged marriages.  As I read in the Church bulletin here today:

A newly married couple said, “What shall we do to make our love endure?”  Said the Master, “Love other things together.” – Anthony de Mello.

Kathleen and I are going to love India together!  (After she gets over the initial shock.)


filling out the paperwork