To say that the delegation woke up just after dawn would be to imply that they slept at all. They had left the festivities a little after midnight but their absence, simply fueled the party and all inhibitions lost now that the strange trio had departed, ensured that the parties continued till dawn. The old one and tall one braved the bathroom but the young one, unwilling to relive the trauma that was her 2am visit to the sole outside bathroom, 3 stories down, popped a stick of gum into her mouth, rubbed some cream on her face and decided that that would suffice for the day.
Breakfast was brought to the room by the kind uncle and after intensive negotiations between him and the older one regarding their departure time for the city, the older one won, mostly because she is quite scary. They grabbed their stuff and headed down to one of the teacher’s houses nearby so that the old one could brush her teeth before returning to the groom’s house and seating themselves on the edge of the porch so that they could watch the morning’s activity.
They heard the wanwun, softly at first, drifting toward them from the tent. Wanwun, the old one explained were traditional Kashmiri wedding songs, the tune of which remained the same, but the lyrics altered according to the function. They saw scores of five and ten rupee money garlands making their way to the tent to be presented to the groom. They saw the cooking contingent down below serving up plates of halwa and bowls of chai, mixing the contents of pots with huge sticks and moving pots with carefully selected y-shaped branches.
They saw the beautifully decorated horse arrive to carry the groom to the bride’s house. They saw the uncles, aunts, cousins and elders from the night before, all dressed up for the wedding, in high spirits and showing no signs of evident sleep deprivation. They saw Mr I-am-the-after-party tending to his two kids. They saw snow, which after a moment’s shock turned out to be party spray, as the groom was carried out of the house and onto the horse. They saw unprecedented numbers of camera phone photographers positioned at every corner of the house, porch and outhouse roof. They saw the wedding procession leave, the groom on the horse and the rest following on foot, to the bride’s house. They saw the groom seated in one of the top rooms of the bride’s house surrounded by his family and representatives. They walked down the side of the house to a room below and saw the bride, in a crowded room, standing rather glumly against a blanket backdrop, with one of the ladies holding up a gas lantern to light up the room. They saw the paalki on which the bride was to be carried to the groom’s house, luckily for the carriers in this case, not so far away.
The young one looked hard for the imported napkins she’d grown accustomed to at weddings back home. She looked for the predetermined seating plan that dictated at what distance from the bridal party she was allowed to sit. She strained her eyes to find the guest list; surely there was a mistake. There were too many people and far too many kids. Didn’t the invitations have a family quota? She combed the room in search of the judgmental aunties, criticizing the décor, food, outfit choices and flower arrangements. She searched the faces of the family for signs of wedding frustration and fake smiles. She even lurked in the corners to see if she could witness tension filled arguments between tired family members. She searched tirelessly but after yielding no success, several hours later, she eventually gave in and trotted off in her two day old jeans-mexican-dress-hiking-boots wedding ensemble, to find the other two.