Monday, August 16, 2010

The wedding

The wedding
An invite to a wedding is also welcome and all the volunteers received a very kind invite from a lovely family. From experience, a great way to see and experience the local culture is to attend a wedding. At least this time I was invited. A wedding I attended in Goa, India several years ago was a gate crash on my behalf but I was generously accepted once I spoke with some people, namely the groom! Being the only foreigner and tallest person in that wedding I was sure I would of mixed in no problems without being noticed
The dress for women is a Sinn and a shirt with a collar with shoulders covered. A Sinn is like a sarong but made from heavier materiel and beautifully made. It wraps around the hips and goes down to the ankles. For the guys long trousers and a shirt with a collar. This is the dress we the volunteers wear into our classes and is traditional Lao attire. My backpack leaving Australia had nothing in it with any style so I have north face zip off trousers for moving between schools in the heat and just wear converse runners, yes very trendy.
We depart the guesthouse on the back of bikes, in Tuk Tuks and descend at the place of the wedding. The family who own the guesthouse we stay were also invited, so we had local knowledge very close to us. We arrive at an open piece of ground with red plastic chairs for all the long plastic tables that was set up, similar to garden furniture. We’re all are advised to line up at the entrance to the open ground that has a large golden arch. Then guided to the entrance and through a large elaborate arch to walk one at a time. There we were greeted by 3 young ladies, one with a large bottle of Lao Lao Whiskey. One with an empty glass and the other greeting us with “Sabaidee” Everyone is greeted all over Laos with “Sabaidee”. So each person that walks through the arch hands an envelope with the equivalent of $6 US then knocks back a shot of what only can be described as devil water! This stuff would strip paint I would bet on it, as we proceed into the ground along a long line that consists of every family member from both parties. We clasp our hands together as if we are about to pray and face each person in the long line with nothing else but – Sabaidee!!!
We are shown to a table, which is full of food and beer Lao. Many different bowls containing rice, noodles, pork, chicken, some spicy some not, various soups with a mixture of everything. It’s a tradition here that every person at the table picks up a glass about the size of a half pint glass and a bottle of large Lao beer. This person pours beer into the glass and drinks it. Then they fill up the glass and give it to the next person, who downs it. The pourer keeps filling up the glass and walks around the table until everyone has drank one glass. This ritual happens for everyone at the table. Once the person pouring the beer has completed a round of the table, the next person stands up pours themself a beer lao, drinks it and performs the same ritual of pouring a beer and giving to it to each person around the table. As you can imagine after a few rounds of the table people become quiet tipsy. Now we are ready for our Laos traditional dance lessons. We all grouped into a large circle and moved anti clockwise slowly swinging our hips from side to side and our hands waving around in front of our bodies. Every now and then, we stopped and started turning around 360 degrees with outward feet actions I could not quiet master, but looked OK, or so I thought. As the night went on we drank more and our dancing became quiet sporadic but I’m sure I thought I was the Laos master dancer that night. We made lots of locals laugh and everyone was around us for the evening keen to show us the correct moves. I resigned to the fact I was busting half-cocked Lao, quarter club moves and a quarter just being an idiot!
The night was so good, everyone was a tad tipsy, and we had many laughs and even managed to make back by 11.30. Once again the hospitality of the people here is second to none, we look forward to other invites. Blog by Stephen Howard the not so good Lao dancer....