At least, not a story about wedding ceremonies.
I once went to a wedding in the UK. My cousin was tying the knot and the guest list was just shy of 1000 people – which is totally normal for Gujarati families – but it was the biggest wedding I had ever been to, and the most eye opening.
I like it when Indians dress up. We don’t know how not to bring it. Aunties rock up in all their bling and you just know that they’re all sizing each other up, as well as everyone else. As I was a part of the Bridal Party, I was also super decked out, albeit in a borrowed sari that I couldn’t afford and borrowed jewellery that I really couldn’t afford.
I remember the entrance to the venue; it was in this giant hall in a huge fancy hotel in London. I was welcomed into the hall by a waiter who was handing out one of those juices that no one really likes – the ones that you’re secretly hoping were champagne… Buuuuut it’s an Indian wedding, so no alcohol allowed.
(I’ll just let that sink in.)
Next to the waiter was a floor-to-ceiling banner of my cousin and her husband-to-be at their engagement photoshoot. I still don’t understand why she chose to wear a top that made her look pregnant. (By the way, MetroMallu, unrelated, but you could keep me anonymous?)
However, it was the next thing I saw that I’ll never forget: along either side of the hall were boys. Not just any boys – British boys… Hot British boys… On either side of the halls…Think about it. I later realised that they all do this because it’s the best way to scout out all the ‘babes’… And here I thought it was just the Aunties that did all the judging.
I later realised that whenever I look back at my cousin’s wedding, I don’t remember the sweet ceremony, the awesome food or the family time. What I remember is how I ended up knee deep in Indian shadiness.
So I don’t know if this is a UK Indian thing or a worldwide Indian thing, but when those hotties are standing in the hall looking at women, scouting? Yeah, they’re scouting for potential wives. If they see someone they like, chances are your aunt is going to say, ‘Hey beti, come with me for a sec’ before taking you outside the hall into the snow to talk to some guy you’ve never met.
So there I found myself, confused and cold, standing outside with a cute boy whose mother organised for us to ‘have a little chat’. Apparently, this is how it’s done. You meet, talk for ten minutes and if you click, you’ll probably end up dating for a short while, with marriage being the end goal. All from whatever you got out of a ten to fifteen minute talk with a stranger.
This happened to me three times.
I fell for it the first time, following my aunt outside. The second and third time, my aunt wasn’t as subtle. She just-about dragged me outside, asking ‘What’s wrong with talking to a guy about marriage?’ or ‘It’s just ten minutes, what if you end up liking him?’
I don’t actually remember the conversations exactly but I know they were really general, and intensely awkward. How old are you? What do you do? Do you drink or smoke? Do you like sports? What did you study? How soon would you want to get married? Do you like kids?
They were probably the most surreal moments in my life and these memories still haunt me today. I definitely wasn’t ready to play this game and it was probably horrible because of that. If I was ready to get married, I think it might have been like speed dating, and I might even have had some fun. But I was only 20 at the time, and my aunt is a bit crazy. To this day, she claims that she would never have gotten me married so young, but it’s been 7 years, and I’m still not convinced.
This experience did teach me a lot, though. I learnt that Indian weddings are insane. I learnt that women know how to hustle. I learnt that your looks will only get you as far as a ten minute talk outside in the cold. I learnt that guys actually really know what they want. I learnt that organising arranged marriages have evolved into ‘speed dating’ where both parties already know that marriage is in the cards. I learnt that if you’ve got a cheeky aunt, its best to hide from her.
Finally, I learnt that Indians will always surprise you. But I’m still deciding if that’s a good thing. -DayDreamer