So it’s the peak of the wedding season, and I was stuck in yet another wedding this weekend if you’ve been following my twitter timeline. Nowadays I started to make use of weddings as they provide me with deep insight into the social behavior of people. Besides the fact that I utilize the time to get in touch with people through whatsapp (used to be bbm before I got rid of it). So this weekend the clamor from the stereo was too loud, I refrained from communicating verbally with anybody (I was on the ‘smile and nod’ mode). The thing is, I hate having to scream over the noise to be heard, let alone screaming under the noise because chances of that occurring were pretty high.
Anyhow, so I sat around watching how people were actually ‘talking to each other’ and it was quite fascinating. It made me think, how can they even hear each other speak? Until it dawned on me; maybe they don’t hear each other speak.
I mean, think about it, most people would rather talk than listen, and this is the perfect opportunity for them to talk without having to listen to what the other was saying because it was just too noisy.
So anyhow, this wedding was perfect because by 10.30 pm we were out the door (actually, to be more accurate, “We were out the tent flap.” )People who organize weddings in this part of the world need to do that more often; release people by 10.30 by feeding them earlier. Some weddings go all the way to midnight, and organizers need to consider that people still need to drive for 30 minutes to 2 hours if they live in another emirate. Plus they also need to think about how difficult it is to find parking at night. What saves us sometimes is that we live next to a hotel that has parking space, so we could get parking space that was emptied at about the same time by someone who was attending (yet another) wedding in that hotel.
Some people might say, “But it’s just one night when you’re going to reach home late.”
But this ‘just one night’ would get translated to a 100 nights per year considering how complex our society’s connections are. In some cultures, wedding attendees go up to 200. In our culture, it goes upto a 1000 because friends of family, family of friends, neighbors of family, family of neighbors, and just about any combination of “friends, family and neighbors” you can possibly think of. Plus we run in a lot of circles that are not only limited to Kemenies but can extend to Yemenis and Emiratis.
If you’ve been following this blog for long enough you probably would know that I am not a big fan of weddings. Being an introvert, I hate the crowd, the noise, and just about everything about it. I feel people put so much attention into the details of the wedding, they stop focusing on the marriage itself.
I wonder what the results would be if somebody conducted a study to know how much people waste annually to attend and arrange for weddings, by considering the cost of dresses that would be worn only once, the time wasted driving to and from the place, the food that would go to waste…among other things.
That’s it for today
For those who are wondering why this topic is clingy this week, it’s because it’s the holidays people…and my statistics have gone down so I’m searching for a cheap way to give my stats some CPR to resuscitate them. So the other day I was thinking of classifying weddings, and here’s the classifications we got for Kemeni weddings:
1) The Let’s-Rent-A-Whole-Stadium Wedding: This is the type of wedding with an astronomical number of attendees. It’s one that gives the organizers a challenge to follow who has attended and who hasn’t. I don’t know if people who organize these weddings are actually popular or they just get a huge number of attendees because they send the invite to one friend by SMS and then request, “Please Forward.” These weddings make business for the caterers. So much so that a doctor decided to run a catering service along with his clinic in Mombasa. So if it’s a good business day, you might go to his clinic to find his secretary chopping onions.
2) The Everybody-Bring-Your-Own-Food-And-Chair Wedding: This lies on the opposite extreme of one. It’s normally a small party held at home for friends and family. Since there aren’t many people, the invitees contribute by bringing in plates of food so that the family does not carry the burden of the whole party.(Okay, the chair part is a bit exaggerated. Since these weddings are normally held at someone’s home, people normally sit on the floor – so there’s no chair in sight aslan except maybe for the older folks).
3) The A7santum Wedding. In this one, the men go to prayer in congregation as usual and discover that there’s 3agd (or nikah) being held after prayers. After the whole script is said, “Zawajtuka…”/”8abeltu”, the imam announces, “A7santum” to the audience, and everybody goes home. Total cost = 0 dirhams.
4) The Indian-Series Wedding. This is the one that has part 1- Girls Henna Party, part 2- 3agd and waleema, part 3- kesha (white dress and slow drive), part 4-sub7a. After such weddings, one needs to take note of the stock price of panadol since they might have gone up because of the high demand as a result of the head-pounding noise pollution from the stereo for four days.
Talking about the wedding dress why does it have to be a heavy baggage that makes walking in it enough exercise? And about the drive, what’s up with the slow drive of the newly-married couple after the wedding? What’s wrong if they decided to hit the highway instead? Oh yeah, and if they do that, and a radar camera goes off, they must not forget to say cheese. That way, they won’t need to get a “professional photographer” for the wedding. They can pay the government to do it.
Okay I can’t think of anything else. Please add to the list
PS 1: The doctor-cum-caterer story is NOT fabricated.
For those who’ve been following my blog since 2006, you probably know that I’m not a big fan of weddings. Sadly enough, sometimes you feel the whole point of our “cultural” weddings is showing off/music/food. For instance, what’s up with Yemeni events and Dana-ish songs? Who’s this Dana they keep on singing about anyway?
*Ya dana dana*
And the Kemenies got it even worse, because some of them can’t even decide whether they’re Kenyans or Yemenies, and that identity complex can be spotted even in their dances that appear as a weird mix of shar7 and chakacha.
Then of course, don’t forget the “Islamic” anasheed with all the “non-Islamic” instruments in the background that drown out the “Islamic” words…
For music-non-lovers, you sit and start a count-down to the food. Alternatively, you may switch on your phone, facebook/chat/write a note…Alternatively, you play the role of a shelf-cum-clothes-hanger as people who stand up to socialize throw their phones and sheilas/abayas at you.
Then you got the Shami weddings, where attendees’ first question to ask is, “Is it mixed?” Because apparently the answer to that will determine whether the attendee will attend or not.
And you know what’s sad and ironic at the same time? How even though weddings join two people, they may result in breaking other people up. The bride and groom can go and live happily ever after…
But how many relationships break down as a result of weddings? Let’s go back to the Yemeni/Kemeni way of doing things. We are supposed to invite all those people…some we know, others we don’t; the extended family, the neighbours, friends. Friends of neighbours…family of friends…you get the picture…Then one of them doesn’t show up, and there’s another reason to get angry at each other, and sever family ties, etc…etc…etc…
And once upon a time, I used to wonder, if you’re going to print out 1500 invitation cards, and invite all those people, how do people keep count of who came and who didn’t? But then I discovered that relatives disperse, and take different positions inside the hall and at the door, to keep an eye on who came and who didn’t. And then they can actually spend days – if not weeks – involved in the post-wedding discussions about who came and who didn’t. By the end of these discussions, I always wondered if they can actually model the wedding and simulate it as well, because their accuracy is quite impressive. Subhaan Allah, if only the time could be spent in something else.
Also, since so much emphasis and importance is put on weddings, we can’t deny that families break down because of these endless weddings; the mother is never home during wedding weekends, the parents argue because the mother always wants new clothes for the wedding, meanwhile, everybody ignores the children….And on it goes. People get angry, others sever relationships, generations get lost…and the more people you invite, the greater the probability of that happening. And the more parts you have in your wedding, again, the probabilities sky-rocket.
I remember just before my older brother’s wedding in Kenya, we were driving somewhere and this kid just leapt in front of the car. My brother hit the brakes suddenly and I literally screamed thinking that we had run the kid over. Suddenly we saw him on the other side of the road, alive and unharmed, alhamdullilah Allah satar. But we told SH to be careful otherwise, “tutacheza harusi yako central.” (we’ll hold your wedding at the police stations).
My aunt said something along the lines that knowing watu wa Mombasa, “Watatugeeza.” (They’ll think it’s the latest fashion and start copying that – i.e. holding weddings at police station).
That’s it for the day.