Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Anatomy of a wedding: So you get down from the bus, already tired from the three hour long ride, assaulted by sleep and the Titanic movie that you've been avoiding all these years, but all the tiredness washes away as soon as you see the flaming lamps lighting up the entrance of the kibbutz where Sagi and Ran are getting married. You wander inside, and see the bride and groom, both in white, but Sagi is pristine, a fairy tale princess, complete with sparkles lining her face. So you say hello to them, and go to the nearest drink stall and get something just to hold in your hand, while you check out the surroundings, because as you know, a sudden uprooting from the desert is not so good for the heart. You see the pool in the distance, with the hupah in front of it, a few empty chairs standing idly, you see the low divan-like chairs slung around carelessly around the dance floor, you see the many people milling around figuring out where they're supposed to sit, and of course the scent of food in the air, drawing everybody to the tables. You find out you 've been inexplicably placed at a table with the Israelis, rather than the one with the foreigners, as you were expecting, and you wonder if it's going to be another of those-could you pass the salt please,-kind of conversations, but no, you've been here long enough, you know enough random Hebrew words to sidetrack any conversation, and you settle down to eat. Since you eat only vegetarian, you go around the food stalls, saying 'without meat, without meat' till the girl at the counter looks at you like you're some demented brahmin, which of course you are. You polish off the food, gradually dipping into the conversation as well, but it's almost impossible for you to concentrate, this is the largest wedding you've been to so far, and things are a buzzing. So you idly watch the bride and groom make their way around the tables, you see sagi holding a flower in her hand, just the touch to complete the princessness. So the food done, you wander away from the table to look at the hupah, which is set at the edge of the pool. Soon others join you, and you spend a lot of time trying to figure out whether the white things flying overhead are bats or birds, and then the consensus swings to bats, though rather large bats and everybody's happy. You think its singularly appropriate, because you know that sagi works on bats for her project, and here they are giving her a flying salute. Then you look at the duck like things floating in the distance, and then the odd flares that light up like a second sun (very small one) every now and then, and somebody tells you that the occupied territories are in that direction and you wonder-how far- because the bus took so many turns while coming that you haven't the faintest clue where you are.

You suddenly hear the drumrolls announcing the beginning of the ceremony and you sit while the people gather towards the hupah, and then when the rabbi has taken the mike in his purposeful hands, you see the couple come up to the hupah. The ceremony proceeds as planned, you know without understanding the actual words that the rabbi is making the couple squirm in his desire to come across as a genial, jovial kind, but you wonder at his intent. Songs done, prayers done, you witness the final braking of the cup with some kind of floral firecrackers as accompaniment and the group breaks up and heads to the dance floor, where the djs are already busy dishing out the beats. It starts slowly, with soft waltzish music, but you know that this is just a prelimnary, just a tease, because the djs have been itching to let the bass roll all evening. And soon the party starts proper, with the young people coming on to the floor, and the waitresses near the drinks counter add to the revelry in carefully timed intervals, a barrage of whistles, soap bubbles and other party tricks. You wait for an irresistible song before joining them, but you find your attention distracted between the dancers and the non dancers, because there are people whom you haven't met for a long time, and you want to spend a few moments chatting, but you also know that parties such as these don't happen all too often and you must make the most of it. So around midnight when the bus threatens to leave, you reluctantly pull away from the center and make your way to the bus, always casting looks backwards to see what else is happening. You wish the newlyweds on the way, they're leaving tomorrow, and it will be some time before you see them again. You get reluctantly in the bus, already the alcohol is calling you to bed, and you know that the journey will be a long one, and you manage to fall asleep to avoid the tedium of looking out through the window at the darkened landscape, with only pinpoints of light casting strange constellations in the distance.