Tag Archives: Respecting Elders

Wedding Weekend Post X: “I like my American Bhauju”

Monday morning I would have paid anything to be able to sleep in. Actually ideally I would have loved to leisurely sleep in, then get up and have an entire day alone with P, perhaps open up wedding gifts on our own, go out for lunch or dinner, and just enjoy the high off the previous two wedding days, and probably go to sleep early.

Instead P and I had to get up pretty early, get ready, pack up the room and head back to our apartment where P’s family (U, Daddy and Mamu) were waiting along with a few friends that wanted to say goodbye before heading out of town.

An Indian friend from New York had stayed in our apartment that night and greeted us when we got in. After she left two older friends of P’s from Maine came to the house, and we chatted for about half an hour before they said their goodbyes. Next AS and N arrived to say goodbye before heading for the bus terminal in town, but were stopped by my mom and sisters who arrived and told them to jump in the car since all five were heading south to DC/Virginia. Finally with most goodbyes having been said, around 10:30 in the morning, the P family packed into the car to drive to the hotel to meet up with eleven members of P’s extended family.

Our wedding had been an excuse for a mini-American-based family reunion. Four families had flown in from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas and Kentucky, and had decided to spend an extra day in Massachusetts so that they could all see each other and visit.

P’s parents hadn’t seen some of them in many years—like the cousin from Minnesota. I unknowingly told a story about him once before (way back in September 2009 when I first started blogging!). The story was about how P and I wound up at the same university in northern New York (and ultimately first met), and included a paragraph about how P flew from KTM to Maine, stopping for a layover in pre-9/11 America in Minneapolis so that his cousin could pick him up at the airport, and visit with him—including a trip to the Mall of America (of all places!)—where P picked up an alarm clock, converted the US dollar price to Nepali rupees, and promptly put the clock down because the price seemed insanely expensive. His cousin scolded him that he had to stop converting the money back, because he was in America now, and he wouldn’t be able to function in our society if he always thought about what the price was back home. That was over ten years ago. P hadn’t seen his cousin since—and here he was, at our wedding—with his wife and their two adorable little sons.

I had met P’s relatives briefly (and a bit awkwardly) throughout the wedding. My first meeting was at the Nepali temple. P’s dad whispered that I should bow my head and say “Darshan” while cupping my right hand near my face/nose when I met them. I tried to do that, but it came out weird—maybe they weren’t expecting it, and thought I would be less formal. It almost felt like one of those comedy skits where an American and Japanese business man meet, and the American puts out his hand to shake and the Japanese man bows, and realizing their mistake on the second attempt they both switch and the American bows and the Japanese man tries to shake hands.

I was told at one point P’s dad wanted to organize a ritual that is done to welcome the new bride to the family/congratulate the bride and groom/respect the elders in the family. He had wanted to organize the ritual at the temple so that P and I could pay respect (touch feet) to his Nepali family and to my parents and grandmother, but with the ceremony/dinner/people heading out after, it just didn’t happen. Originally P’s parents expected me to do this ritual once we got back to the apartment the night of the red wedding, not expecting me to stay in a hotel that night, and they were really surprised to hear that I wouldn’t be around. The compromise was that we moved the ritual to Monday night after the wedding.

At the Nepali wedding after party the extended Nepali family all sat together at the bar, and eventually danced a bit, but I still didn’t clearly understand who any of them were or how they were related to P, or evenly which side of the family they were from.

At the white wedding they also hung out together, and enjoyed dancing. There were other family members at the white wedding—including a few from Boston who P and I had briefly met at another distant relative’s wedding two years before (“”Frank Uncle…”), but I still didn’t know who was who.

The four extended Nepali families at the white wedding

So even though we were both pretty tired, I did appreciate getting the chance to know these family members before they left Massachusetts. P and I, being the good little tour guides, took them to Quincy Market for lunch, brought them through the “T” (Boston Metro) to Providence Place for a Duck Tour (a little cheesy, but you get a lot of history and see a lot of the city) of Boston and the Charles River, and then a group split off to check out Harvard while a second group headed back to our apartment.

Duck Tour photo

P and I organized dinner at our place for everyone, and in the evening we sat around visiting. While the “adults” were catching up in Nepali, I started playing with P’s Minnesota cousin’s six year old son. We had quite a rousing game of “guess the picture” going on for over an hour. By the end of the night the little guy declared, “I like my American Bhauju!” (sister-in-law).

"I like my American Bhauju!"

As it approached eleven o’clock, we had not yet done the ritual (mentioned earlier), so P’s dad said it was time. All I was told was that we would be given coins, and that P and I had to pay respect to all the elder members of the family by bowing and putting the coins at their feet. Then the family member would touch my head and let me rise, and then as the new bride they would give me an envelope with money in it.

Touching P's parents feet, then paying respect to P's Minnesota cousin

First we did P’s parents. Then his cousin and wife from Minnesota, then the other people, until we had paid respect to all the older members of the family. A little after midnight the families headed back to the hotel.

Although I would have loved a day of crashing right after the wedding, it was really nice to have a chance to get to know P’s extended American-based relatives. More people to add to my holiday card list, and keep in touch with, and more destinations on the map to visit. I’m hoping maybe we will make a trip to Minnesota/Wisconsin sometime for another P family reunion.

And even though I was valiantly planning to go back to work that following day (I’m trying to save my vacation time for a trip to Nepal in December), I emailed my boss asking for a reprieve. Had I gone into work that Tuesday I would surely have fallen asleep on my keyboard. However Wednesday we were back to “normal” and the wedding weekend had officially concluded.

And thus so have the official “Wedding Weekend” posts, and just in time as well…

Happy one month anniversary to P :)