Wednesday 29th July 2009

What a weekend! I got back to Newbury just before 6pm (on Sunday), dropped off my things and then headed straight for the gym. I was there until just after 7pm, headed back to the flat and came online. I had so much to do before the weekend was out and I was back at work. When I had called home to speak to my sister, Natalie, reminded me that the Uri Geller interview was on ITV1 at 8pm. (I thought I had missed it a few weeks back on 16th July) Of course it meant a major clash with BBC’s Top Gear. I opted to switch to BBC2 during the ad breaks and will catch Top Gear, either later this week on iPlayer or more likely on Dave over the weekend. The documentary which included unseen footage filmed by Uri himself, did not really provide anything new to the debate but it was good to watch something overall that positive. What a busy weekend. There was Reena’s wedding on Saturday, then the arrival of my family from India, including my Mum from her holiday on Saturday afternoon. Sunday I popped into town with my cousin and uncle before relaxing at home, watching football and packing my things before getting to Newbury much much later than I had hoped for. On Saturday I got up much later than I had planned, if you consider 7.30am on a sunny Saturday late. Nobody else was awake in the house and my sister Natalie, only woke up and was coming down the stairs as I left the house just after 8am. I thought I was running late, but there had been no reason to rush around. The wedding (as all Asian weddings tend to go) was running very late. I checked the tyre pressures on the car and dashed onto the M40. I knew where I was going up to a certain point but after that I was in new territory even for Southall, which I have visited on numerous occasions. It was not the old gurdwara or the new gurdwara (the biggest outside India), it was perhaps the oldest gurdwara in Southall perhaps London. The Shri Guru Ravidas Sabha in Western Avenue. I found it easy enough but then had to find a parking space, first I headed down to a Purple Parking car park depot before turning around and finding a spot on the pavement in a residential road, walking distance away. I was early, too early. The table had been laid in the hall with refreshments at the ready. For a moment I wondered if I was in the right place, then I noticed the folded white A4 paper with the picture of the happy couple on the front. It was a pamphlet on the wedding ceremony. I was in the right place, but where was everybody? I went upstairs to the prayer hall and sat on my own for a few hours (although it felt much longer). This is not difficult for me, I am more than happy to be alone with my thoughts. Over time more and more of the wedding guests arrived and came upstairs to pray before heading back down to the reception hall. Eventually the camera man arrived and I knew that the wedding party were not too far away. I waited and then eventually around 10:30am, headed outside. It was a glorious day with beautiful sunshine and it was hot wearing a suit and tie. I decided to get my camera ready as we waited the arrival of Rakesh. What an entrance! A white stretched four by four limo pulled up outside the temple. Out came Rakesh and his family, but the Hummer then decided to reverse and park in the gurdwara car park, almost knocking down our groom in the process. It was just a matter of time before Reena would arrive. Sure enough, she did make her entrance soon afterwards, in a silver Cadillac.

HummerBride arrives

I must at this point mention the cameraman (of which there were several, perhaps one from each family and then a friend doing a favour which is the usual for Asian weddings). The one I am going to focus on must have been the most unprofessional cameraman I have ever seen in my life. He was poorly dressed for a wedding shirt tucked out, no tie or jacket. While we had all be waiting for the wedding parties to arrive, he had decided to get some rest of the wall just inside the courtyard of the temple. Talk about disrespectful. His young apprentice, a relationship perhaps to boss around, was learning little and he too had his shirt tucked out of his trousers. I doubt there will be many calls for further business following this performance. There was a lot of waiting around and I did not go to the hall for refreshments, I was not hungry and headed back up to the prayer hall and waited before going through. At one point I walked past the video camera and the owner barked as his young apprentice, you must have been about 15, to move it out of the way. I entered the hall, took a seat to the left with the other males and awaited for the bride and groom to enter. They did, a little while later and the ceremony began. A little over thirty minutes later they were married and a long queue had formed of family members plus close friends wanting to be the first to wish the happy couple good wishes. I went downstairs and outside and waited around for a while but this was a mistake. I should have headed straight for the reception venue. When I eventually did get going, I stopped by the local newsagent to buy a Yorkie. Why? Well I needed change for the parking meter, but also because I had been inspired by a tweet or two from Sippy. Although a Yorkie on a hot sunny afternoon perhaps tastes rather different from the time Sippy had his breakfast snack. I jumped in the car and headed to the reception venue – The Monsoon Banqueting Suite. It was a hot day and even with the air conditioning on full blast did not compensate, so I opted to switch it off (save fuel) and open the windows instead. I had been around the place during a few weddings but never been invited to one at this venue. My first dilemma was finding a parking space, there was no one available. I drove around a few times just to be sure and there was a parking attendant close by, hot to give a ticket to anyone that tried to park illegally. I asked him for the next nearest public car park, he gave me some very rough directions, which I could not follow. I found a small car park for twenty cars but it was full, so I turned around and came back to the car park but still no spaces, so parked on the street on a single yellow, thinking I would be fine. I would not be, but it was no matter. Heading into the hall, I discovered why everyone had rushed from the temple, there was only a few seats left and although I perhaps should have sat down, eaten or at the very least made use of the chocolate fountain (you know both Emily and Div would not have been able to resist it!). I decided that I should just hand over my wedding card to the couple, have a quiet word with them before disappearing back to Wycombe. Sure, not the ideal way to leave a friend, (and a good friend at that) on their wedding day but it was a case of having to make it back home to meet my relatives. However, there was one problem, the special couple were not even in the room, the top table was empty. I was informed by the DJ, that their arrival was only a few minutes away. I was now getting anxious for my car, particularly with the hot shot parking attendant around, so I opted to take a few pictures, hand over the car, say my piece and hit the exit. It did not go according to plan. When the couple arrived, I took some photos and then they had their first dance and it turned into a bit of a scrum on the stage, so I kept my distance. When they came to cut their cake, I headed up and took some photographs but inadvertently lost the wedding card under a table. First it took a while for the loss to register and then I had to hunt around, retracing my steps and trying not to bump into waiters / waitresses serving very hot food. I found it and then realised I was facing a losing battle, there was no chance I was going to make contact with Reena or Rakesh. I walked to the back of the room and waited to catch Reena’s sister, Niku. I did and handed over the card and a quick apology. I returned to my car to find a parking ticket. It had been printed just twenty minutes before. Never mind. These things happen. Reena & RakeshIt was a beautiful sunny afternoon as I drove back to High Wycombe. The sunshine brightly across the M40 and I wondered how it would feel to meet my Uncle and Aunty after a period of over eight years. I wondered what the rest of the weekend would hold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.