I just got back from the first wedding reception for a co-worker. (The first is hosted by the bride's family and the second is hosted by the groom's family.) The wedding itself had already happened and so had the Bengali version of the bachelor and bachelorette party (which involves the bride and groom being covered with turmeric.)
I am now officially renaming the "Bengali wedding reception" as the "Bengali photo torture". The Chinese have their water torture, we have some pretty messed up people who worked in Abu Ghraib, and the Bengalis, well, they have their cameras. Now don't go dismissing this as some joke, I am utterly serious when I say torture. 'But cameras don't cause pain!' you protest and I would argue that I'm a pretty big fan of water on most days but it can be torturous just the same, thank you Chinese.
Now please, look at this picture. Yes, you notice little ol' me in the right hand corner and a rather dolled up couple in the middle and another coworker to the right. You might think, aw, what a nice photograph. Yes- but there must have been *thousands* of them- just with different people in the side chairs and maybe standing behind the newly weds. They must sit there, as photogenicly as possible- for hours on end without a break. They're not allowed to get up! And tomorrow night they'll do it all over again!
Okay, now, lets admit that having to sit still for photos for hours on end without repose is a perfectly rotten way to spend your first 2 days being married. Now, please take a closer look at Maheruk. She has a rather heavy chain with a thick golden charm going from her nose to her ear. When I sat beside her she told me it was horribly painful and she didn't want to wear it. Apparently there is only so far a bride may go to trump customs. She already ex-nayed the super bright red sari and opted for, what I would say, is a perfectly charming cream sari. (She told me earlier that she was not going to be "that bride"- meaning the one in bright red with gold from head to toe and pounds of make up. I think there was only so far the families would let her go to break the mold.) Honestly, if someone hadn't said, "There's Maheruk" I would never have recognized her.
I was particularly impressed with the henna on her hands. I went up to take pictures. I think this amused her, but she complied. She asked me what side I wanted and i said BOTH! So I share with you. Yes, Yes, you're welcome.
So, in case you're ever invited to a wedding reception in Bangladesh, let me give you the protocol, quick and dirty.
1) Arrive 1.5- 2 hours late.
2) Go to the bride and groom and get your fill of the photo op.
3) Gawk at all the gorgeous textiles
4) Go eat
5) Immediately after eating, leave. Go home. That's it. End of story.
(Apparently people in know have informed my that yesterday's part of the wedding is much more interesting and involves dancing. But unfortunately, I am not in the know. )
Now, I know at least some of you were wondering how well I could pull off a sari. I have to say that my jewelry is not nearly flashy enough and even the tailor looked a bit disappointed that my shoes didn't match the sari perfectly. Alas. But I let you all judge for yourselves. And if you don't like it, remember what your mother told you. "If you don't have something nice to say keep your trap shut." She might have said it nicer, but that's why she's your mother and I'm not.
So now I need to pack and get ready to go. It's winter break and I have 3 weeks vacation (you can hate me later- save it up from when I get paid to fly to Bangkok and present at the NESA conference and then earn Masters credits at the same time- or when I have two whole months for summer break) My friends who have been tooling around India are heading back and I’m going to meet them at a Bangladeshi boarder town where we'll chill for a bit before heading back to Dhaka. After that they'll head home for Christmas and I'll head to Thailand for some great Shul and some Scuba. (Which yes has been suggested as a title for my maybe some day to be written memoirs- Shul and Scuba)
So- enjoy the pictures and commentary and I wish you all a Merry Christmas (Dec 25) and an Eid Mudbarak (Dec 20, 21) and a Happy New Year. (I've already wished you all Hag Sameach so don't feel like I'm leaving a group out- just that that party has passed and I'm not one to look back.
Now Go! Make some great memories and please write and tell me about them.