Monday, 4 June 2012

Things I am not very good at: weddings and saris

The Queen is telling everyone about my blog 
In honour of the Queen's Jubilee, I thought I should show you my photos of the royal wedding. As you can see from this photo, I was a tad underdressed as I was going to a rugby game straight afterwards and couldn’t be bothered changing. But I have to admit that dressing for weddings is another thing I am not very good at. My family are still recovering from the trauma of helping me choose my outfit for my daughter Alana’s wedding, and she and I both still remember another wedding dress saga that occured many years ago when we were living in Bangladesh.

I had been honoured and thrilled when my Bangladeshi friend Shova invited Alana to be part of her wedding party. Alana was a little less excited, especially when she saw the dress Shova had chosen for her to wear. She absolutely hated it with all the passion and intensity that a young nine year old can muster for something she deemed to be totally unacceptable to be caught dead in, and what happened if some of her friends saw her???? I had to admit that I was equally dismayed. It resembled a party dress for a toddler; white organza, knee-length with layers and layers of frills and lace and it looked decidedly odd on a young girl who was more into jeans and t-shirts. Alana begged and pleaded to wear something, anything, else, and I was totally sympathetic, but there was just no way I could say any of this to Shova. I assured her that none of her cool nine year old school friends would see her, and to her credit, and very reluctantly, she wore the dress. But as it turned out, I was to have some dress issues of my own.
The Queen insisted I join the family photo
Despite living in Bangladesh for three years, I never really mastered the art of wearing a sari. It is harder than it looks as there is a lot of material to be wrapped around ones person, though a number of highly annoying expatriate women could do it with ease. My few attempts were disastrous and after I started to unravel once in a restaurant, leaving a trail of sari behind me as I rushed into the toilets, I gave up trying. To avoid any chance of unraveling for Shova's wedding, I had asked Momena, the lady who worked in my friend's house, to help me before I set out. I thought I looked quite delightful (really I probably looked like big white galumph compared to the natural grace of the small beautiful dark Bengali women, but I liked to kid myself) until I reached the church and looking down, realised the material was inside out, and the pretty little gold threads that looked beautiful on the right side were sticking out all over the place, making me look like a prickly pear. I had a sneaking suspicion Momena had done this on purpose, being particularly disparaging of the fact that after so long on Bangladesh I could still not put one on myself and she had been doing a fair amount of muttering in Bengali throughout the process. What was I to do? My husband, with all the calm assurance of an utterly clueless male, assured me that no one would notice. However, I knew three things for sure:
  • I had noticed and now felt I had a sign attached to my forehead saying stupid foreign women wearing inside out sari.
  • Every woman there would also notice because we are women, that is what we do! No matter what culture, we are trained in this department like navy seals, we can spot a back to front top or an upside down skirt or an inside out sari from 100km.
  • Bangladeshis love to stare; they will stare at each other if they have to, but if there is some stupid white woman stuffed into an inside out sari, they are certainly going to notice.  
So I thought I was doomed and was hiding behind a rickshaw until I saw another Bengali friend arrive, and she helped to unwind me and then wind me back up in the church toilets so I could face the world with much less embarrassment. Fortunately my dress issues could be solved, but poor Alana’s will be caught for all time in Shova's wedding album. (Many of my photos of Bangladesh are in storage in NZ so can’t find one to show you, which I am sure Alana is very pleased about)

Wills and Kate are laughing about my latest blog
Greg's parents were due to arrive to visit us from New Zealand the day of Shova's wedding so we were unable to stay for the reception, which was probably just as well as if there was one other wedding thing we were not very good at, and this was a problem for us in both Asia and Africa, it was knowing what time to turn up at a wedding reception. Clearly the time printed on the invitation was NOT the time to arrive; that was the time that you began to make lunch at home, then went to visit a friend, did some shopping, watched a movie and then began to get ready and strolled along to the wedding but not too fast as you don’t want to be early. Apparently everyone knows and understands this but the stupid foreigners! Even when the stupid foreigners have taken a poll of all their local friends the day before and been assured over and over again by a varied number of people.
“Yes, the invitation says the wedding starts 3pm so I am going at 3pm.”
“Oh yes, you should definitely be there at 3pm!”
“Most definitely, we will see you there at 3pm!”
“My family and friends are all going to be there at 3pm, no doubt about it.”
Even when we have been particularly daring and turned up at 3.30 or even once at 4:00, guess what? Apart from the people cleaning up from a function the night before, we were the only ones there!! Everyone else was just getting into the shower. We learned to make sure we had eaten something as it can be a long time to sit waiting for something to happen, and you can’t leave because the bride just may turn up at any moment. Oh and to pray the venue is air conditioned. It is pretty hot in a sari, whichever way round you have worn it.

(Thanks to Arina for my completely unaltered and totally unshopped royal wedding photos)


  1. Keep them coming - but please write them quicker - I need more laughs!! Hugs, Sharon

    1. Thanks my dear, doing me best!!

  2. Hey lady - loved the post! Was the perfect "wake me up read" with my coffee on this cold morning. As Sharon says - keep them coming!

    1. Thanks Sanchia, I aim to serve!

  3. Love this!!

    You should blog about your modesty Fay. Why did you not share your celebration with the queen (or Eliz as you call her) diamond jubilee celebration with your followers...

    1. As you say, I don't like to brag!!

  4. So glad you included one from Alana's wedding - you rocked the mother of the bride outfit!