India has some peculiar social customs. With over 1.2 billion people and the richness of languages, art forms, food, and cultural habits, India is a mind-boggling experience for people visiting from other countries.
Despite all the diversified beauty of our country, we Indians have a special kind of attraction about a fair-skinned, blue-eyed foreigner in India.
Stalking that white person top to bottom is what people do when they find a foreigner walking with a camera around his/her neck while they roam around in India.
Some want to have a conversation with the foreigner, some are too shy to bump into one. While a few others wait in anticipation for the foreigner to approach them in search of an address or information.
We do all sorts of crazy things when we see a beautiful foreigner in India, isn’t it?
A couple of months ago, I heard that my father’s friend’s daughter-in-law was visiting India for the first time for his daughter’s wedding. It was naturally a big event (the former one of course) as she was a foreigner.
It was an exhilarating experience for everyone who was a part of the wedding. And these 5 things happened when we had a foreigner in India who actively attended a typical Indian wedding.
Be ready for the fun, folks 🙂
1. She checked-in a hotel at Juhu
“Oh! She’s staying in a hotel at Juhu, is it?”, Was all that people discussed and shared amongst friends and family. Getting adjusted in a tiny room of a chawl (click here for the meaning)was very difficult for the lady coming from London with her son, so it was apparent her Indian husband would book a hotel room for his white-family.
Her arrival’s news spread like fire. People were curious to meet her in person.
It’s incredible how the Indian aunties get a topic to chew upon. And to my astonishment, even I found myself enjoying all the stuff going around me.
2.The Haldi ceremony
Juhu was a good 20 km drive from her in-law’s house. She made it to the haldi ceremony which is held a night ahead of the big day.
The foreigner in India danced her heart out in the chawl vicinity without shying away. People seemed happy to meet her, and some even grabbed the opportunity to make a dance move with her.
3.The foreigner draped into a nine-yard saree
It was pre-planned that she’d be dressing up in a typical Indian attire for the wedding. As we were aware of this happening, my mother insisted on reaching the wedding hall well before the muhurta (the auspicious time when the bride and the groom tie the knot) so that we could see the foreigner in a navvari saree.
A quintessential Maharashtrian wedding is divided into two parts, the first half is more of the wedding rituals, hence to be kept purely traditional. The second part of the wedding is called the ‘reception’ where we wish the bride and groom a happy married life, and somewhat a party mood.
We reached the wedding hall 5 minutes before the muhurta. And we saw her, the white-lady. She was more beautiful than we’d seen her on social media.
She dazzled in the traditional navvari with a chandrakor bindi, a nath (nose ring), big round earrings with a chain beading the ear, a tight thushi around her neck, an elongated gold chain, the most important of the jewellery mangalsutra, bangles, bajubandh tied on her right arm and last but not the least a big kamarpatta tied around her waist.
Oops! I missed the Mehendi that completed her Indian look.
Hash! It’s a hectic job for an Indian girl, you see. But, there was a lady entirely new for the culture and tradition, yet perfectly dressed.
The way she carried herself was awe-inspiring. We just got a couple of minutes to gaze at her as she was off to change for the second half of the wedding.
4.And a six-yard also
The moment she left for a dress change, the very next curiosity was what would she change into. Most of us thought she’d wear a salwar-kameez or a lehenga because that would be comfortable.
But we were amazed to see her in a six-yard saree. Oh dear! She looked pretty.
This time the bindi changed to an oval-shaped thing with a tiny diamond on it, thushi was replaced with a cute small mangalsutra (the big one stayed in her neck) and a lovely thick and long necklace shined around her neck.
Her love for Indian culture was crystal clear by then. She literally followed the slogan “Jaisa desh, vaisa bhes.”
5.The encounter with the foreigner in India
So far we were only observing her from a distance. Then it was time to congratulate the bride and the groom, so we all stood in the queue. The queue leads to the stage where the newly married couple is the show-stopper. They introduce the relatives coming to each other and the relatives hand over their gifts.
We congratulated the couple and climbed down the stage from the other side of the platform where the foreigner stood to greet people who wished to meet her.
My father, who was busy attending the guests and looking after the discipline of the queue (this department is with him at all the weddings), popped up right there to introduce us to the lady from London.
Aha! How could he miss on the chance of flaunting his English?
After the formal introduction, my father got into his comedian shoes. We were accompanied by his friend’s family whose surname was ‘Kate’. And the fun part was the foreigner’s name was ‘Kate’. He tried explaining to her how the spellings are the same, but the pronunciations are different.
She broke into laughter, and so did we. He added, “You are Kate Vahini”, and her sister-in-law (who had managed the entire wedding arrangements almost single-handedly) guided her saying, “Vahini means brother’s wife.”
Kate found the word funny and said, “No no! Please call me Kate.”
(While I type her dialogue, I’m actually catching up on her foreign accent)
My father went on and on with his peculiar anecdotes, and we all laughed till our jaws ached.
I cut him in the middle and asked Kate, “How did you find the Indian wedding?”
She replied, “It’s bright with many people coming together to bless the couple.”
I had anticipated her to find the Indian wedding to be a noisy-affair. But she was so positive about everything. The best part of the lady was her constant and magnetic smile. She wore a smile throughout the day.
I thought, “And I need sleep after attending a wedding where the kaleidoscope of colourful sarees and bawling children in their father’s arms are too much for my eyes to tolerate.”
Hats Off to the lady with the ceaseless smile!
Kate showed us her cute little son who was lying on two joined chairs probably pissed-off by the Mumbai heat with the house-full hall nullifying the air-conditioner power.
Kate was attentive, she showed interest in our names, in our relationship with the family and at the same time was down to earth while she talked.
No wonder her Indian husband fell in love with this sweet lady back in the UK.
If you enjoyed reading about the foreigner in India, share the blog with your friends and family. Also, let me know if you had such a memorable experience with a foreigner in the comment section below or by replying to this email. I make sure to respond to all the emails I receive.
P.S. Uh-oh! If only I could know how did the cute couple (Anglo-Indian) fall for each other.