For winter break I went home to Dhaka, Bangladesh and it was forty degrees warmer than Poughkeepsie. You see in Bangladesh (South-East Asia), the dead of winter is as cold as fall here at Vassar. That meant I flew out of JFK bundled up in three layers and landed in a t-shirt and shorts. It was great to go home- away from snow, finals and most importantly, Deece food. Food. Home cooked food. If you’ve ever been to South-East Asia, or have watched those travel shows, you know what I’m talking about. Let me put it this way- authentic Indian/Bangladeshi/ Pakistani cuisine is not what Kismat would have you believe it is. It is richer, tastier and unhealthier …which all boiled down to me gaining my freshman fifteen over winter break.
Coincidentally, my sister also got married this winter. Well, not coincidentally, that was the reason why I made yet another transatlantic trip to the other side of the world. South-East Asian weddings are radically different from weddings here. For starters, a “small” wedding usually has upwards of 500 guests. Buzzfeed recently posted an article titled 16 Signs You Are At A South Asian Wedding and they were uncharacteristically accurate. Yes, there is always a 100% chance you’ll be having biriyani, and yes there is almost always a coordinated dance-off between the bride and groom’s families. My sister’s wedding also included dancing, biriyani, uncountable guests, unknown family members and persistent aunties looking for brides for their own sons.
Although the wedding itself is four main events, the celebrations usually go on for weeks-complemented with more food, invitations and a mindboggling array of traditions. Bangladeshis are big on traditions, and the day after the actual wedding, I visited my sister at her new home only to find her holding a knife over a monstrous fish. Apparently, a ceremonious “cutting” of the fish initiates a transition into married life. It also makes for funny photos. So when her husband visited our place after the “Walima” (Wedding Celebration Pt 2), we made him take photos with a fish as well.
The wedding was the highlight of my break, and it was an unforgettable experience- up until the point when an aunty came over and reminded me how I had sat on a cake in their house when I was three. Unearthing embarrassing memories is also somewhat of a tradition, a testament to the easy going nature of Bangladeshis and an example of how warm the people are. So if you’re thinking about visiting cool places this summer, put Bangladesh in that list!
Buzzfeed Article: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tabirakhter/16-signs-you-are-at-a-south-asian-wedding