Let’s start with this. I love this video so much. I’m not even sure what it is that makes me so happy, but I could watch it all day, on repeat. It’s just..so…good.
Okay, moving on. While being a foreigner definitely has its challenges (you constantly get ripped off by tuk tuk drivers, men leer and say rude things to you, you’re never sure what’s going to give you diarrhea), it also has some amazing perks. Like being invited to weddings, lots and lots of weddings. If you’re an Indian, having foreigners at your wedding is prestigious, and if you’re a foreigner, going to an Indian wedding is a great way to experience the culture, build relationships and get free food. It’s a win win! Instead of getting a save-the-date in the mail, the person inviting you brings the invitation to your house. Then they stand on your front porch while you open the invite, read it, and tell them you can go. Depending on the family, they might even bring you gifts! I once received a roll of beautiful bangles with the invitation. YES! FREE BANGLES!
The first wedding I attended was for the cousin of a friend of a friend. If this was an American wedding, I would totally be crashing. But because it’s in India, I was thanked for coming and shown to the buffet. The wedding goes on for days and days, but the part we attended was the main event. You file past the bride and groom, seated next to each other and covered in flowers, and offer your congratulations. Now, I knew these people had no idea who I was, and normally I am about as awkward as a vegan at a rib eating contest, but it was totally fine! It’s bizarre how quickly you can get used to things. The lovely bride’s hands and arms are completely covered with Henna, and she had more bangles than I could count. They smiled as we offered our hopes for a healthy future, a picture was taken and then it was time to eat.
The more weddings I went to, the more I realized I needed a sari. All the cool kids were doing it. Even my driver told me it was bush league for me not to go full wrap. So I ventured to the mall, where I picked out a lovely pink number, approximately 18 feet long. Now, the normal thing to do is to have a half blouse made with the extra fabric, but seeing as how I needed it that night (procrastination is pretty much my thing), I settled on a tank top (super ghetto, in the eyes of the general Indian public). An auntie (older woman) down the hall came to help me and my friends wrap our saris. While she was appalled at my lack of a petticoat (again, super ghetto), she nonetheless wrapped, pleated, tucked and pinned the shit out of that thing. We ate, talked, posed for pics and boogied our booties off. God damnit I love Indian weddings.
While they can be tricky to put on, hard to keep up and tough to maneuver in for an inexperience gal like myself, wearing a sari makes you feel beautiful. There’s just something about the way the fabric falls across your shoulder and halfway down your back that inspires notions of elegance, however ill conceived they may be. Plus, you totally get points for trying. The dress code in Hyderabad varies wildly, some women wear western clothes, other kurtas, others saris and others burkas. The women who wear them everyday pull off a kind of ease in them, they’re not constantly hitching up their skirts or tucking them into their leggings like a shmuck.
Another advantage of being a foreigner is that you get your picture in the local paper. If you attend a concert or nightclub or horse race, sure enough, there will be a couple of dudes with cameras. They will ask you your name, take your picture, and crop out any Asians that happen to be with you. Seriously. It’s a little ridiculous. Two or three weeks later, you’ll be flipping through the latest “You and I” magazine and there you will be, in all your glory, labeled “walking in.”