Thursday, December 6, 2007

Adventures Adjacent to Matrimony

I want to die.

I want the festering stone of curry and bread and the 1978-90 rice crops of Southeast Asia to finishing gaining sentience and claw its way out of the gasping, convulsed hole that is my stomach and leave me be. Once I can fit through my door again, I am going to kill Vijay.

Vijay, with whom I've shared several brief and awkward phone conversations, recently drove 50 km to hand-deliver an invitation to his sister's wedding. When I arrived the next day, I was immediately forced to sit in the very front row, displacing grandmothers and other dignified and closely-related-looking figures. Keep in mind the fact that I still don’t know the names of the people getting married. The bit of the ceremony that I caught through the blasting Bollywood music and the massive crowd always gathered around the alter was lovely--the bride and groom took turns pouring rice, grain, and jewels over each other and saying things in…Sanskrit? The rest of us hurled rice at them as hard as we could--seriously, I think maybe they’re trying to physically harm the new couple to let them know that marriage is no picnic. I’m also pretty sure I accidentally cursed the bride by hurling rice at her with my left (gasp) hand. I was immediately assured by my colleague Ram and his wife that it was ok, but Indians love lying to foreigners, so I remain unconvinced.

Either way, we began the number one Indian party ritual: eating oneself into oblivion. Foreigners are at a distinct disadvantage during this particular tradition, as people REALLY like feeding foreigners. At one point, I had 7 waiters, 2 Rotarians, an in-law who only spoke Telugu, AND the bride all trying to get me to eat more. I was sweating and snotting and emitting extraordinarily undignified noises when they finally stopped putting food on my plate…and dragged me over to the dessert table, where they made me try everything. After I was almost weeping blood, Ram then took me to another wedding to which I had no connection…where I had to eat MORE so as not to be rude or inauspicious. This is why people kill over religion.

The next day, Ram sent me a text message asking me to have an affair with him. I then discovered one of the best things about Hinduism—if you are angry, you can put the fear of WAY more than one god in someone.