quinta-feira, 3 de novembro de 2011

Happily Ever After

Well, among my unusual experiences I have been invited for a wedding ceremony! Actually I didn't know the groom but since I work in the same place and the company is small I was included. Between the end of October to April next year it's the wedding season which coincides with the dry season. My boss gets invitations every day and some times it has more than one ceremony to go in the same day.

This is the party's entrance. Different from an Western marriage (among many other differences you will see), there's no specific place for that, obviously has no church and the place it's close or in the same street of the bride's family house. They close the street and put the tables and so on. 

I could notice that people attend to the party in lots. There are no tables for all the guests so who comes early leaves early and "change the shift" se the later guests can get a seat.

When we went to the table it happened that "alien" effect and I had my 5 minutes of fame with all the guests looking at me. 

This is part of the table but what I would really like to show is the beer cup. You can notice that there's an Iceberg floating on it. The waiters bring a lot of soda and beer cans (warm) and then some buckets with ice to put it on your glass. I know it's offensive to drink beer with ice in Brazil but it's impossible to drink warm beer.

Now you can see it better. Those are the appetizers. I would say that the table should have at least 10 people but that really wasn't the ideal number. I don't know if you can see but there are ham pieces, kani, a fried stuff that was very good but I don't know what it was, cashew nut and some fat/pigskin that I don't really like. 

Rathan (works with me), the groom and the bride, and me. You can ask why I was wearing jeans in the party. The thing is that I'm used to work like that and then I asked people how I should dress up to the occasion and then they replied that should be like I usually go to work. I think I was the only person to wear jeans but since I'm a foreigner they don't mind...

In Brazil you would have a religious ceremony, everybody's behaving well, then the party and at least some 2 hours of good behaviour. Then, people get on fire and more interactive, with some uncle(s) very drunk and so on. Well, in here, people don't come so formal dressed, start to drink since the beggining  and then after incredible 2/3 cans of beer they get very drunk. And, they toast - Chôl Muy - a million times!

After we had 3 main dishes including: seafood with salad (but much more salad), 1 entire seasoned and cooked chicken, 1 entire fish (very good), 1 seafood soup, fried rice, and some other dish I hadn't the time to try. 

Then it happened some ceremonial  stuff that I obviously didn't understand anything but I could follow the context.

It's funny how they get embaressed to kiss. You will also notice two other things, the naughty master of ceremony and the people attacking the fruits table. Neither the coconuts were left until the end of the party... A native friend told me that the countryside people when they come to weddings in Phnom Penh is common practice to bring some bags so they can take part of the food back to their homes! :O

After the ceremony, with everybody going crazy after "incredible" amounts of beer, the dance starts.

The dance happens in a circle around the table. You may not notice that in the video but in fact people are dancing in circle and moving their hands on a very funny way. I think we had an hour or more of it. Almost all the guests had already left except for the party lovers. 

To close the party, that's one of the recepcionits of my apartment, the party guy decided to climb on stage.

Well, that's it. It was extremly unusual and cool experience. From the point of view of what we're used the party was a total disaster, a mess. There were cans of beer thrown all over the ground, it was impossible to leave the table or to move since were all so squeezed. The heat was absurd and some places were all muddy and with dust. However, the marrying couple were not concerned with that and they really looked to be happy. People here take the marriage stuff very seriously. I think that all the Western brides should come here to watch one of these weddings before doing their own. It's very common to see the bride freaking out but here she was very comfortable. Oh, according to my boss since the 80s they stopped giving presents since what people really needed was money. The tradition now is to take the invitation envelope and put some amount of money on it to be delivered at the ending. The donations range from US$10-20. In the entrance you can see some people counting the money... haha, so genteel.

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