Dancing on the street

posted by on 2007.11.21, under India, Travel

Yes. My business is with weddings. I read about weddings, I study them, I pretend to plan them, and some nights I crash them. Today was sort of one of those nights.

Tonight, I didn’t really crash a wedding, as it was a friend of a friend’s neighbors wedding, and for some reason since I was on a distribution list on an email invitation (probably by accident) I was was drawn to a Telugu wedding.

These weddings go on for days. We were told to show up to the family’s house at 8pm for just a small portion of the celebration. We were informed that the wedding party would make their way back there around that time in an outside procession of song and dance, traveling from the venue a few kilometers away to the house. Having waited until nearly midnight, we finally made our way outside when we heard the thumping beats from the drums.

As Hyderabad slept, 60 people gathered around a bridal couple riding in a horse carriage decorated with brilliant flower arrangements. The outfits resembled imagery I have seen in classical paintings of historical India. Ten men were leading the procession, pounding on drums that hung from their shoulders. They played variations of the Bhangra music that my heart beats to. Within minutes of arriving to the scene, our group of foreigners were immediately welcomed and invited to dance next in the middle of the group of young people while the elders and newly weds watched. Only half of our group accepted the generous offer to join the party. I admit that I felt awkward dancing sober with complete strangers at a wedding where I didn’t even know the bride and grooms name. However, it would be poor form to turn down an opportunity to display my gracious Bhangra moves to the present company. Instantly, the shoulders started moving back and forth while the fingers went up in the air rotating the wrist in a motion that has to drive the ladies wild. I admit, I am no Shahid Kapur, but this Hyderabadass can hold his own to the Punjabi sounds.

Fireworks were going off, and the drummers played more intensely. I couldn’t believe the police had not locked all of us in jail for the noise. It was hours after midnight. When we reached the house, half our group had dispersed and the rest were fatigued so we called it a night. I spotted Satyam enjoying the parade from a distance. He ran up to us and complimented one of the girls who was dancing with us. Keep in mind that Nafessa is a seasoned dancer, and was even in a music video for an Indian band.

I, on the other hand have no official training. I admit that I am usually a horrible dancer- the thumbs go up and the shoulders move way too fast so I normally avoid dancing in public. Bhangra is my specialty, and I was a bit insecure that Satyam only complimented the girl and did not say anything about me. I asked him how my dancing was….. there was an awkward pause followed by a blatant lie “you were…… ok, sir,” then looking at Nafessa “You were very good!” That damn Satyam…..had to pull that in front of the girls. Needless to say, my self-esteem would suffer for months. It was an outstanding night, even with Satyam’s comment. One of the girls in the group was in euphoria afterwards, having always dreamed to be part of such a wedding that she had grown up watching in movies. It really was a phenomenal way to celebrate a wedding, this a auspicious Wednesday night.

*To my colleagues and friends back home…I may have found a new profession tonight. If I ever suddenly leave the US again, and move to India, you should know that I have left the western world to learn how to master the Dhol drum, and can be found on the streets of India on various other auspicious days playing in these wedding processions. Don’t worry Eddie, I will continue to market TheWedLink in between songs if this happens.

Punjabi MC-ly

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