Saturday, June 9, 2007

A Belated Topic

I'm going to start this post on a higher note than my other ones, and talk a bit about the wedding we went to about a month ago for one of Alison's fellow teachers, Ben. He's from the States and his now-wife Amanda is Chinese. However one couple we met a the wedding was the opposite - Chinese guy and foreign (in this case Irish) girl, which isn't so common at all. Anyway, the wedding was held in Songyuan, which is one or two hours away by train.

(Oh yeah, and the resolution to the cliffhanging state I left you in, albeit at the beginning of the previous post: The water came back on after six days.)

Further ado aside, here are some guidelines for anyone who plans to attend a Chinese wedding:
- Be ready to get up early. Everything will be over before noon.
- Unless you're one of the people getting married, don't waste time getting dressed up. Wifebeater and/or baseball cap is pretty much expected attire.
- If you don't think you can hold out until 8:30am to start drinking, you can bring your own beer to the table, as demonstrated by another of Alison's colleagues who was sitting with us.

Me, I was a bit hung over from the night before when we all went out and ate barbeque on a street corner near our hotel, so I partook in neither the beer nor the baijiu ("white liquor" - pretty much the hard alcohol in China, though it's less than 40% - and you can get it in various flavours from stuff having soaked in the bottle - one bottle I saw at a restaurant last night had a large root and a snake in it).

On the topic of the hotel (from which we were but a block away), it was a rather curious, place. We didn't get room keys; there was simply an attendant on each floor who had to open the doors for us whenever we wanted. The rooms were a little dirty and not too well maintained - one of the two bed lamps in ours was dangling from the wall where it should have been mounted. Our shower produced not so much of a shower as a dribble (though I'm told ours was better than most). Finally, each room had a water cooler in it, but it wasn't until I'd had drunk least two or three litres - I went for a run on the first afternoon - that I learned they were actually filled with tap water. I had to put my faith in whatever remnant of a filter was left. (Nothing came of it, so maybe I could save the two dollars we spend almost weekly to have water delivered, and brave the tap... On second thought, tap water often has a stench to it, so I think the two dollars is worth it just to avoid that.)

Back to the joining of two souls forever in happiness, etc.:

As friends of the groom we got to go through some morning pre-wedding rituals with him. First we went to Amanda's parents' home and Ben had to bang on the door and convince them to let him in, which they eventually did. Inside were some friends of the parents, and some snacks and stuff laid out for us - this included a platter of cigarettes. On with the ritual, Amanda was in her bedroom with her mother, and Ben had to go through the same routine to get through that door. Once inside, he had to find her shoes, which he did in record time because one of the Chinese English teachers from Aston (Alison and Ben's school) had advised him on the most typical hiding spots. Finally, after much picture-taking, the last step was for Ben to carry Amanda outside, which he did only after she descended the stairs from her parents' sixth-floor apartment on her own.

On the topic of the shoes Ben had to find: they were red, and Amanda's socks were yellow. Aside from that, for the first half of the morning they were both in rather Western wedding dress: he in a tux and she in a white gown. Later on they changed into something more Chinese: red suits, both his and hers. Ben said later that the shoes to be more traditional were actually meant to have been green, but he drew the line there on the thought that she would have looked too much like a traffic light.

The only downside of the whole process, ignoring the getting-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn element, was the MC for the ceremony. They had Lucy, another of the Chinese English teachers from Aston, acting as a translator for us outlanders, but the main dude's strategy seemed to be to talk overly loudly into a mic that was already being ampilified too much, to make jokes about foreigners, and to drown Lucy out before she could get more than two words in edgewise.

Ack! I just read over my second entry and came across the line, "Is it too much to as for a waiter to leave give you time..." I can't believe I got away with that.


Jaymanz said...

crazy! I guess the find the shooes game prepares you for life with your new wife - "Where'd you leave them THIS time!"

Becky said...

Ha.. I'd like to see you in a wifebeater and a ball cap. I think that would be just so out of character. If you guys go to another wedding, wear that and take lots of pictures.