I recently travelled to south west India to attend the wedding of one of my friends, along with 15 other friends from across Europe. By the end of our three weeks there, we were all good friends and minor celebrities – it turns out that tourists generally don’t venture too far away from the established and well-beaten track, so for many of the locals, we were the first white people they had seen in the flesh. By the end of our three weeks there, everyone in the village had heard of us, and half of them had taken their photo with us – our presence caused such a stir that the local press crashed the wedding to write a short column about us!
“World’s sexiest man arrives in Kerala”
The wedding itself was pretty much what you might expect – peculiar traditions (the night before the wedding, we had to go to the bride’s house to check that she hadn’t run away) and countless ceremonies which were interspersed with gauntlets of eating.
At this stage, you’re probably thinking “this is a very nice, yet mediocre post about a trip to an indian wedding”? Well you’re wrong. I don’t proofread or rewrite my content, and I’ve just decided that this post is a warning. A warning to all groups of pale people who’ve been invited to an Indian wedding. Because that’s how I roll.
In general, all Indian food will be the greatest you have ever tasted, and it probably won’t make you sick. The danger comes when someone feels that they’re hosting you – look away for even a second and your plate will become full again; the “tiny bit” of desert you agreed to suddenly becomes an endless pit of sweets; any objection is met with a smile and a head wobble – “Please”, they’ll plead, “just a little more”. The only way to stop your well meaning host from giving you another serving is to physically block the food from reaching your plate.
While we’re on the subject of food – Indian weddings are huge – there were almost 2000 people at the one I attended – wondering how they feed all those people?
The eating factory – 500 people eat for exactly 15 minutes (that’s 15 minutes indian time – anywhere between 5 mins and an hour if you own a watch)
While you’re in a small town in India, some people will ask if they can take a photo with you. This is normally fine, except that when I said “some people”, I meant “absolutely everyone who is the same sex as you”. It starts off with one person asking for a photo, and his friend will take it. After that’s done, his friend needs a photo with you; then they obviously need a photo with you all together – so ask a passerby to do the honours. This ends in a brutal cycle as the passer-by has found his way in and is calling his entire family over for photos with you.
It’s nice that they’re excited to meet a foreigner, but spending half your day getting photos taken (and an eternity as the profile picture on a hundred facebook profiles) gets old very quickly.
India is a fascinating place where nothing works well on it’s own, but collectively everything works in a kind of beautiful chaos – the firm belief that honking a horn will speed traffic, the overloaded rickshaws, the ability to get or do anything (if you have the cash), and the ever-ambiguous head wobble. India is one of the most chaotic, calming, smelly, and beautiful places you’ll ever go, which is why I’m finishing this post with this warning – beware of everything in India – you’ll probably fall in love with it.