How the table looked at the time I managed to get to the food.
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This time around I had accompanied an uncle, once again, to a family wedding – a consolation from the previous week's wedding where, if there was the all-important after-party – I wasn't invited. This occasion however, was to be that all-important after-party – the mixed-sex, go-wild and dance-because-it's-generally-forbidden part.
"Mr. Daveed, hello, how are you?", smiled another senior as I struggled to remember how I knew her or even if I was related. This was one of the many warm greetings I received during the evening, yet I was embarrassed as I failed to recognise most faces or associations. It troubled me that they knew me and asked knowing questions while I tried to not let my amnesic moment notice by making calculated guesses, "Yes, when was it now? I saw you at that funeral?".
I met the bride and groom mid photo-shoot and again was surprised that they knew me whereas I drew blank, generalising my questions. The all-female camera-crew of 3-DV camera-persons and 2-photographers interrupted me, circling the newly weds and demanding cliched poses. It seemed that another of the impressively over-produced wedding DVDs was under construction.
I joined the pulsing dance floor, with silhouettes of bouncing Iranians singing along to the contemporary tunes played by the band on the stage before them. The perimeter of the room was lined with chudored ladies watching on as hair was not only on display but fully let down. A young female cousin took my hand and led me to dance, her giggling friends surprised that I'd picked up a few moves whereas I was surprise at how close she danced. The music variety was as mixed as the dance-floor, with a blend of regional traditional-tones played at a higher tempo. I could not remember atmospheres as good as this, nightclubs in other lands cannot compete with such moments in Iran – what is gained in ability is made up for with intoxication, I pondered.
A line of angled tables ran up the roofed drive way, decorated with flame torches and many exuberantly presented dishes. Rice spilled from the torso of a stuffed sheep, as the head of which sat to the side and little forward. Neighbouring the steaming remains stood creme caramels, sharing the tables with the usual main courses and mixed salads. The area was sectioned off while the camera crew took care of business, asking the newly weds to parade and take the occasional sample.
The more feeble guests eventually joined me in swimming a spoon around in search of meat, I poked at the bones of a sheep, lifted rice and ran the cutlery through the more stew like dishes - no flesh remainedFollowing the 2nd take the visitor were set free with mostly women in the forward position. Mothers made for the plates and cutlery, screaming instructions to their immediate family while amassing plates with the meat from any dish present. With my arms above my head holding a plate in the right hand and cutlery in left, I drifted downstream, unable to access the tables. Forced along by elbows, hands and plates as I contemplated my soft English manner, "excuse me", "I'm sorry, can I just...?", "please, you first!". The more feeble guests eventually joined me in swimming a spoon around in search of meat, I poked at the bones of a sheep, lifted rice and ran the cutlery through the more stew like dishes - no flesh remained.
Having found my cousins in the garden I shuffle plates around their table to make room for my vegetarian option. Possibly 12-plates towered with food between these 6-people, each one possibly half containing parts of animals congealing with creme caramel and salad dressing. "Here Daveed, I can't eat any more chicken", offered a cousin to my right as I stared on at the Jenga-like display of flesh on the centre plate.
"Have you found a girl to be your wife?", discretely asked the cousin to my left before adding that she thought those available at the wedding were below average. "Your dad doesn't want you to marry", interrupted another cousin, explaining that he could do without the expense. The subsequent communal laughter explained a few things. Further comments were made by non-relatives that I failed to understand, putting me on the defensive – shamefully I resorted to cutting the topic short by remarking on advice from a senior, "our grandmother says that Iranian girls are not good and I should find an English bride". I wasn't proud when I saw the jaws of my three female cousins drop, yet the desire effect came about as I made a sharp exit back to the dance floor choosing the warmer company of distant blood.