Monday, April 22, 2013

Our Wedding

My Shaadi  

This blog entry is about how I came to marry my Indian husband. We met in the U.K. where I was an au-pair and my husband – a student. We met on the net and then it appeared we are in the same college – studying Arabic. We got married after 9 months of knowing each other. I didn’t really expect it can go this smoothly.

At the shaadi (wedding)

No one from my family attended the wedding (India is too far and too expensive to go), so Vikram and I flew to India and I immensely enjoyed that flight. I will never forget those great mountain tops in Afghanistan-Pakistan that looked like squashed aluminum foil. 

Dancers at the wedding

I was so terrified because I had no idea what to expect. My husband told me he was ‘not very rich’ so I imagined we’re going to live in a  two by two meter room with one bulb, one towel and one bucket. There were about ten my husband’s relatives waiting at the airport and it was extremely hot. It was the same when you open the oven to check whether your pie is ready and you kind of burn your face.

Food is a very important part of every shaadi

All that followed was adaptation to the weather, adaptation to stares, adaptation to food and adaptation to constant buzzing of a fan or A.C. 

Gol gappas and other snacks

After three days or so I got food poisoned with paneer tikka that was brought from the local restaurant. It followed three weeks of vomiting, diarrhea and total exhaustion. The funny thing was that no medicine helped and we visited maybe 5 different doctors and they all couldn’t help the dehydration. The wedding was in two days and I could hardly walk. Soon, the Indian wedding dresses were bought by my in-laws, the mehendi designs were done on my arms and legs (I really wanted to do this part although it’s not compulsory).

Groom and bride always sit at these type of chairs on the stage (our chairs are not equal as you can see).

It was all very strange but very exciting. Sitting there with an Indian dress I felt like I’m acting some role in a school theater rather than really getting married. I was happy though that I didn’t have to do anything (like walk or talk or dance) and could just sit and observe. After this ceremony my mood suddenly improved and I was actually weeping when we had to return to the U.K. after 3 months. 

Indian wedding dancers

After two years we came back to India again and have been staying here since 2009. I love the weather and the people and I have no wish of living in Europe again.

They danced really nice but short


L Kirsten said...

Thanks for such a great post! It sounds quite similar to my situation in a way. My husband is gujarati, I am british, and we met in america.... where we still live. We got married in a courthouse here 18 months ago (9 months after we met) and will be visiting India in December for the first time (first time for me, and he hasn't been home since he moved to america 5 years ago).

His family have planned 9 days of marriage celebrations and pooja's.....9 DAYS!!!! I have no idea what to expect.... my husband doesn't seem to know either- he just keeps saying I will have to dress up for the three weeks we are there, and that there will be mehendi (which I love).

I'm so excited to meet his family and see India, but terrified at the same time- what do I wear that won't be offensive or inappropriate....but at the same time won't look silly. My husband says his mum will want me to wear sarees a lot.....but honestly, I have had mixed success with wearing sarees....they're gorgeous for a celebration....but walking around during the day I think I'll be paranoid about them falling off! Would a salwar suit be inappropriate? My husband says normally only young girls and unmarried women wear these.....but they're just so much more comfortable than a saree to me.... how did you deal with this?

How do I communicate with his family, and make sure they like me? My gujarati is limited....and I can't see it getting dramatically better by december- how did you communicate with your husbands family initially?

Are there any tips you have regarding trying to not get sick during our time there? I'd like to do whatever it takes to avoid falling ill while we're there so I'm not an inconvenience more than anything....

Finally, I've been told we will be surrounded by family, friends and neighbors for the full three weeks- visiting people's homes for meals everyday, with no time to ourselves. I've visited several of his family members in america, and in the least negative way possible- it's exhausting to try to engage in a conversation and follow it in a different language for more than a few days. Everytime we've visited one of his family members here at least 15 show up 'by chance'- I can only imagine it will be the same in India, how did you deal with this?

I love your blog, and am so excited I found it! It's an invaluable insight to me!

CrazyLassi said...

Dear Kirsten, thanks so much for reading the post and writing such a lengthy comment! Indeed, I think I should write a new post on this as everyone asks the same questions! Before that, short answers to your questions:

1. OK, just know that you will have some sort of cultural shock even if I describe everything in detail for you. Main thing: just relax and try to enjoy. Don't try too hard. They know you don't know anything about their customs. Even non Gujaratis will have no idea what's a Gujarati wedding like and how long will the pooja take. Pooja is something they need to do and you are not supposed to understand it. You just have to be there. You can smile. Even if you don't talk like crazy it's OK. Yes, you'll have to wear very heavy (in weight) embroidered shiny clothes, change them two three times for different functions, go for dark colors - they look better on foreigners. They might even buy them for you, so just wear it. Also, mehendi is always applied. That might take 3-4 hrs, but its fun.

2. What to wear? Jeans and tops are appropriate. Avoid shorts, mini skirts, knee length skirts, sleeveless, backless tops and vests (better wear sleeves) and avoid tops that show off cleavage. Indian girls wear that but when meeting parents, its better to wear "normal clothes".

3. In India, actually clothes worn after the wedding may depend on the caste of the family. So, say Muslims and Sikhs would usually wear salwar-suit and some would not allow churidar (tight pants). Some would let their daughters-in-law to wear jeans and skirts. Depends on how open minded the family is. In some castes, traditionally it is required to wear a sari after the wedding, especially at home and family functions (you may go out with your husband in jeans). So it depends. However don't worry, saris don't fall off, you can use as many safety pins as you want and also, there are sari-skirts (just wear it as a skirt but it looks like a sari), you can ask the tailor to make it. In my family I can wear whatever I like, usually jeans, sometimes suits and even saris, if I'm in a crazy old Hindi movie mood.

4. The language. Mostly, majority of the Indians know English. Everybody in my family knew English, so I had no problem. My mother-in-law used to speak in Hindi with me though, so I learnt it faster. Don't worry about this in the beginning. You'll learn by time. (They understand how difficult it is for you, so I don't think someone would mind).

5. About not getting sick. Firstly, you could avoid street food, especially meat and paneer (animal origin food). I would advice drink only bottled water in the beginning. Even if the food is clean, you may still be unused to it, so your body may react. However, cooked home food should be OK. There are also McDonald's and Pizza Hut and other fast food joints if you miss a burger. Also, be aware of mosquitoes and drink loads of water and eat salty stuff (chips will do) cause due to heat you'll loose loads of salt from your body and that can cause dehydration (if you don't drink and use salt).

5. I hate meeting relatives and going to functions. However that's a part of the game (they also don't usually enjoy). So just be strong, you can do it! It's only during your wedding - the most hectic time of your life.

Main rule: "Accept it and go with the flow". Be relaxed and don't think about it too much. They are just "traditions", like "formalities". Good luck and if you have more questions, ask!

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