Friday, July 31, 2015

Lime, Seaweed and Videography

So I was minding my own business when a group of lime chiffon dolls blocked my path. They were 4-5 times as old as the costumes would suggest.
They were followed by sumo dudes and gargamels with hats. In an attempt to be culturally savvy, I looked up what festivals were on, but since there was nothing, this parade must not have been real.
So I went home and made wakame and noodles. Wakame I believe translates to: the chunks of seaweed that got stuck in fishermen's nets, then dried out in the sun next to discarded fish entrails.
I made these things because our friend Akiko decided we'd better start improving our Japanese cooking skills and make cold noodles properly. She is right. She was particularly concerned that we should not dilute the sauce. We're not diluters, but we're not wakame embracers either. Here is Barry doing it right (although we healthed up to whole grain noodles, don't tell Akiko).
Here I am doing it wrong, and waiting for my nori to shrink. I also put my shochu in a wine glass, but I'm not showing that in case Akiko uses the Internet.

In spandex-related news, Barry has decided lately that he needs to film things from his head,
as well as in a circle around his head. Both results cause motion sickness. But soon realized that he shouldn't be wider than a lane of traffic, and found something better than the can opener to use as his counter weight.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

South Indian Weddings - Intermediate Level

We learnt new skills in the intermediate level. Keri and Jeroen, who shop in the same place as we do, achieved family bling coordination!
I learnt how to put on my own sari. It is not straightforward to drape yourself in 6 meters of fabric, and I thank Ami, my tutor.
Chianoo learned how to bejewel her upper ear, not traditionally part of her culture.
And we got a little more adventurous in our eating. Did you know that Bombay duck is a fish? Luckily we didn't see its wiki picture ahead of time.
In any case, Indian food is the best food in the world, even with the species confusion.
Being at Intermediate level, Barry and I decided to adopt local custom and perform a dance. This was a BIG CHALLENGE for two main reasons:
1) I can't move my arms and legs at the same time.
2) Bollywood dancing involves much shoulder shaking. Mine can only shrug.
3) Barry somehow got through his education, including piano lessons and an alleged GnR cover band, without realizing that music has bars, and a count.
So, we practiced and adapted moves around these issues. Since I'm not advanced, I wore running shoes.
The most important thing is to keep smiling even if you screw up.
Early indications show that we mainly moved at the same time.
We're told that subjecting yourself to embarrassment (in our case for 1 minute and 52 seconds) shows respect for the happy couple. Others also performed, but I was too nervous/relieved to capture it.
The bride said "I know how hard it is for you Canadians". That's ok, we're better at canoeing.
I have not yet achieved the advanced skill of moving vehicle photography, despite years of practice.
Above, I learnt about the Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS), a discipline based on the concept of the four humours: Phlegm, Blood, Yellow and Black bile. Below, I found out how to buy a Morgue freezer, but wondered to how many passers-by that was relevant.
Shazé is against Christmas trees, perhaps for environmental reasons.
And I failed completely to get a picture of the goat I saw on a car, but it looked like this:
Ultimately, all of us Intermediate level guests were honoured to attend and improve our Indian wedding skills.
We recognize that when you look to adopt things from another culture, it's an imperfect effort. Here is our goodbye from the Sofitel.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

South Indian Weddings for Beginners

If you're invited to an India wedding, your first step is bedazzlement. I went with a forehead to navel rhinestone look with earrings that entrapped my ears, (which are taller, but with smaller holes than Indian earrings prefer).
Whatever you wear, the bride will be much more adorned, so no worries.
After arriving in India, (which may have required you to resubmit your visa application 4 times due to a clerk with an ill-fitting shirt and a bad mood), the first event is the Mehndi. If you're the bride, it looks like the above. If you're me, it looks like below.
For the wedding itself, we were provided with a helpful guide to figure it all out.
At first, Sam the groom gets adorned with an umbrella and fan. Sunita's family convinces him not to follow the ascetic life. Not following Asceticism myself, I googled, and it means that Sam's natural inclination was to "abstain from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals". Luckily, after years of this already, Sam was convinced to abstain from abstaining.
In the next step, the bride and groom are brought skyward for flower garland lassoing. Once ensnared, they cannot escape. Strong relatives are required.
To the ceremony, we women wore more bedazzle, and fretted slightly about sari wardrobe malfunctions. Barry was responsible for leading the call to male toplessness. We learnt that wearing no shirt halves the time men take to get ready, from 4 to 2 minutes! Despite Barry's newfound liberation, he still made me adjust the picture.
Then, other customs ensued, involving the following props: a swing, feet, milk, rice, rice globules, sacred grass, reed-grass, string, turmeric, grains, drums, and, of course, a grindstone. Below, it appears the bride is flame-throwing, but that is not explained in the guide.
 Below, the bride was heard saying: "Could I please have some more flowers?"
Below, the bride and groom give each other their first marital betel leaf to chew. By the looks on their faces, this will not be a common occurrence.
Below is where I was mystified. Sam opened his draperies and people threw stuff into the folds. I aimed some of my rhinestones to help with the good fortune.
During the ceremony, the bride changes into a second amazingly fabulous sari. Also, her hair grows much longer, to help support more flowers.
After bowing to and walking around the fire, Sunita and Sam are married! Thereupon, songs are sung to wish Sunita well in her mother-in-law's home, and to get her in the good books of her sisters-in-law. After leaving the venue, according to my handy guide, Sunita and Sam break papads over each other's heads and roll a coconut back and forth. Yup, that's how it's done.
 Stay tuned for "South Indian weddings - Intermediate".