I stayed horizontal in bed for most of the day today with waves of stomach cramps coming and going. I was not too sure how I would go at the wedding function tonight – dolling up in my sari and being happy and jovial. All I was concerned about was how easily can I get to the toilet in my sari?
The girls were ratty today too. They wanted to get their hair done for the night – Billie wanted the blonde steaks I had promised pre-departure (because she thinks her hair looks orange), Ash wanted to get her roots done as the auburn regrowth was coming through, and Dacey wanted to get her hair cut and shaved underneath so it is not as thick for the year away. Charlie is dead set against having curly hair for the entire year, so she has her heart set on getting her hair permanently straightened (there is a 3-hour process you can get done here that straightens the hair for about year). I just had to hand the reins over to Steve while I was dying in bed. And he did an amazing job – getting them all to the hairdressers around the corner which gave me some peace to sleep and recover from this stomach bug.
Charlie returned to the hotel first shattered. Because she had her hair coloured with blonde tips the other day, she needed to wait at least a month before having the straightening procedure done. Billie returned all smiles and looked lovely with her blonde tips, and Ash too came back happy and without regrowth. Dacey had her hair trimmed and got a long fringe, but the idea of shaving underneath was much too foreign in a women’s hairdressing salon. So she didn’t get that done, and was abruptly angry about it.
I got out of bed in the afternoon, started sitting on the side of the bed and walking around the hotel room to try and get my body going again so I could make the decision as to whether or not I would be well enough to attend the wedding function tonight.
Garry and Aarti had booked in a stylist woman to come to our hotel to style our hair and apply our makeup as well as get us into our five saris for the night. She came with her brother and a friend (they’re never alone). They arrived at 6:45pm and didn’t finish until after 10pm! It took forever. In the meantime, Garry was calling asking where were we? I tried to hurry her along, but not very successfully. We had a taxi booked downstairs, and the place was about 15 minutes away. We were the foreign guests and we were late! Great.
Ash wasn’t happy with the way her makeup was done – said we were ripped off at 1000 rupees ($22) each for hair, makeup and sari fitting. She said it would be better to buy our own makeup and apply it ourselves next time. “I could do a much better job than this shit!” I was more than happy with the hair and the makeup – got the smoky eye look. Billie and Dacey’s makeup was amazing with the colour of the eyeshadow matching the colour of their saris. Anyway we crammed into a 6-seater taxi downstairs and drove to the function as very late foreign guests.
We walked in on the third level of a hotel function room, and were greeted with a crowd of wedding goers saying “ahhhh!”. We had dolled up in traditional Indian style for this wedding and I think everyone appreciated our effort. Steve in particular received many compliments as he wore a golden coloured kulta with red vest and golden pants and flat Punjabi shoes. He couldn’t get the shoes where the toe curled up and over as they were too narrow for his wide feet. It was lovely already knowing and recognising some of the family members at the wedding function who immediately came up to greet us which made us feel a lot more at ease.
The set up was a different to what we know of for weddings. The function room was inside (we had taken all our warm jumpers with us just in case) with round tables and chairs, and a buffet meal with water and soft drinks available. To the side of this main room, was a smaller room where many of the men were sitting and drinking. This was an area of smoking and drinking and, Steve tells me, where the meat snacks were being served. I was feeling okay, but the offer of a beer was politely refused until this stomach bug had completely and officially left my body.
It was an entertaining night. Another very late one too. The family eat at about 1am altogether with the bride and groom. But before eating, the bride and her family members make an entrance through the doorway, and walk in with family members to where the groom was sitting up on a stage area with his family and sister (who was an MC or organising the whole thing between the families). The videographer and photographers were out in force, recording each and every step. It is actually hard to get a proper view of the couple without a camera in the way. It’s really all about the video, which I think is a shame. Seems that today’s Punjabi weddings have become influenced, possibly coopted, by Bollywood maniac videographers.
Once the bride had made her way to the groom, they sat on a regal looking chair up on the platform for the entire night having professional photos taken with groups of family members. Once that was complete, they walked down the platform and onto the stage where they performed a dance, and then watched other family members perform traditional wedding dances in front of them.
It’s a strange thing to see, but family members go up to the bride and groom, or in fact anyone else, and with a bunch of brand new crisp and uncreased 10 rupee notes, flick a note into the air just above their heads, one note after another until there is a plethora of notes cascading down onto the person. Then with some notes still in their hand, they bunch and hold the notes together and twirl them in a circular motion (many times) just over their heads and then throw the notes into the air. There was a girl who was a maid looking after one of the family members’ 2.5-year old child called Veronica, and she seemed to be more of a poor girl. I had first noticed her at the henna party as she was a girl I had not been introduced to before, and assumed she was a friend of 13-year old Diksha. When I asked who she was, they replied she was a maid employed to mind their daughter. I saw her again at the wedding function, and she and her mother were collecting the 10 rupee notes that floated down to the floor.
The guests were certainly intrigued by us in our outfits, with our makeup and hair done. And that meant requests for zillions of selfies. At one point Garry came up to me and said “are you guys okay – tell them no more selfies.” So we did, as it was reminiscent of the overwhelming selfie request beach experience in Colva Beach, Goa.
The buffet dishes were awesome, even though I couldn’t enjoy the range and style of food on offer, I snacked on some poppadums. There were salads, curries, naan bread and more – paneer too. No meat in the main buffet, but as I mentioned bite sized pieces of tandoori meats in the men’s drinking area.
We finally got to meet the groom and introduce ourselves. Ashish lives in Epping Australia, so his wife, Ekta, a Commerce Lecturer, will move over to Australia too. It will be the first time she has been to Australia. The groom is a really nice guy, and we got some photos with him. He was asking where to go for a honeymoon for 5 days – Kuta or Seminyak in Indonesia to get away from it all and try and relax. We are noticing that the bride and groom don’t really get to enjoy their own wedding – so many photos, so many rituals, so many clothes to wear and the protocols to get through. I now understand it when Indian friends have told me you never want to repeat that, that’s why we don’t get divorced!
We had a dance on the stage, more selfies with more Indian folk, and then the Indian family sat down to eat their meal at a large table at 1:30am! And I mean a full on meal! The kids were still up running around, and the bride and groom were somewhere. Hopefully eating too. We picked up our jumpers, and made or way back to the hotel to start the process of getting out of the safety pins that kept all of our saris in place.
I was feeling good, a bit tired and still a little fragile in the tummy, but so glad I didn’t miss the first Punjabi wedding function – called a ring ceremony. Tomorrow night was the real thing where we all get to dress up in our hired gowns and skirts. I have no idea how that function looks, but we’re here to find out.