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Wedding pose


Eric and Rahul had met through work. Rahul's father is from Kashmir and his mother Gujarati. Through an old family friend Rahul had met Tanya, who is also Kashmiri. Soon they had fallen in love. The wedding would be the first union of a Kashmiri with another Kashmiri in two generations. The family wanted it to be as traditional as possible. We were excited and honored to be invited to attend the wedding ceremonies in Bombay.

The people on the streets of Bombay were generally friendly and didn't bother us. We had a few days to shop for “dress” clothes before the wedding began. Anne received help from the ladies. They loaned her saris and taught her how to wear them correctly. Eric bought a waist-length “kurta”, a long-sleeved, loose cotton shirt. For the formal ceremonies he borrowed a long kurta, worn like a long nightgown over baggy trousers.

We began to meet Rahul's extended family. Since each parent is from a family of many siblings, it was very difficult to keep track of who was who. Eric tried to write down the names and family relations of everyone we met, quizzing the others incessantly about their family ties. Eventually we began to understand the relations between most of the immediate family members. As time went on, however, more and more guests arrived, making it difficult to follow. To help, Eric carried a small notepad in his pocket to jot down names and relationships. Keeping track of everyone was compounded by the fact that Indians often refer to cousins and close family friends as “brothers”. Sometimes, upon close questioning, they would say “cousin brother” instead of just brother, although it might be an uncle or nephew of the same age, or even a distant relation. Later, when we attended Tanya's functions, we were completely lost. Now we were confronted by an entire new crowd of hundreds of new faces!

All of the guests on Rahul's side of the family were put up in a service apartment block near the airport. There was a pool and a lawn for outdoor parties. Cooking was done outside on the sixth-floor roof. Three Kashmiri chefs brought along with sacks of special vegetables were in to supervise the cooking that would feed the hundreds of guests during the week-long wedding.