On Monday evening, after a seemingly endless day of classes, our group received a text, “You are cordially invited to the marriage of Nadeem and Arshiya.” First of all – we don’t know Nadeem and Arshiya. Secondly – neither did the friend inviting us with this text. The “happy” couple was the brother of our friend S’s friend N. Just to complicate things further, it was halfway across town and we only had an hour and a half to put on our sarees and rickshaw over there. It seems simple but saree-wrapping is no joke if you don’t know how to do it. We ended up, after nearly strangling ourselves with the 6 meters of cloth, asking a neighbor to help us, who graciously obliged us, giggling at us and through broken English, telling us that the same thing had happened with a USAC batch last year.
Let me just say, first of all, that the moments that followed our arrival at the wedding venue were amongst the most awkward I’ve experienced in the last 3 months. The awkwardness began as soon as we arrived in our sarees, attracting hoards of stares from passersby (we were dropped off by the rickshaws a little ways away from the venue). Waiting for our friend S to lead the way, we awkwardly hovered around the entrance, not wanting to get too close for fear of people talking to us and finding out our real reason for coming (because we are curious foreigners, not because we knew the actual couple). As we were led in by S and directed to sit down, we noticed a sign that said Ladies Hall. We looked around us at the mostly empty 50 seats, a few of which were filled by…men. Horrified, we scurried off towards the Ladies Hall, knowing full well that this was a Muslim AND Indian wedding and we may have just offended every single person of either culture by our ignorant, though innocent, presence.
However, just as we were getting settled in the Ladies Hall, our new friend N, interrupted the bride and groom’s photography session to announce our arrival. Awkwardly, we were introduced to the groom, though the bride kept her head down and eyes averted and wasn’t introduced at all. He seemed perfectly happy to have us there and to our mortification, LED US TO THE FRONT ROW of the ceremony to sit (BACK in the men’s/all-purpose/who knows what hall). The ceremony began…or so we thought. However, the chatter went on, people talking, laughing, gossiping, amongst themselves, seemingly paying very little attention to the actual formal union occurring on-stage between the bride and groom. To our further embarrassment, the videographer seemed intent on filming US during most of this, and to getting our picture with the couple multiple times (I’ve attached one such picture…).
To add to this delightful experience, they must have been doing some fast photoshopping/graphic design work because within 5 minutes of our faces being filmed, they were ON-SCREEN, horrendously photoshopped into strange wreaths of roses, the design on the screen suggesting we were part of badly designed Barbie-themed video game. La la la, the night wore on – more embarrassment, we had to eat first with the groom’s family, suggesting a role of honor in a wedding where WE DIDN’T KNOW THE COUPLE. I’m sure they were being so sweet and courteous and welcoming, but it just made us feel 100x more out of place. It’s bizarre to be a celebrity simply because of your skin color. At least famous people are known for something important – a great actress, a fantastic photographer, even being the guy who did a great YouTube video of playing clarinet while riding an emu – whatever it is, at least they have something to prove they are worthy of attention. All we have is a lesser amount of melanin.