April 8, 2006
Today was supposed to be my last day in Kashmir. Syed Ijaz Gillani offered me to go together to Islamabad where I could stay in his family house. He said that there would be a wedding ceremony that I probably interested to attend. He said that he would pick me very early in that morning, at 8, to go together to Islamabad. But not until 1 pm that he came. This kind of little bit delay of appointment is quite common in Pakistan.
Some of my friends in Muzaffarabad would like to meet me for the last time. They came at 8 in the morning. Ali insisted to take me to his house to have breakfast. I refused as I was worrying Ijaz would came early. Ali, the 16 year old boy, said that he knew his countrymen much better than me. And he was right.
The morning was full of waiting. Those little boys of 16-20 years old were also enjoying the sexy gabshab (conversation). One scene I was so surprised to spot, that one guy had erected tool marked very clear behind his tight jeans when he did massage to me. The conversation was not a merely conversation.
The trip to Islamabad was not quite enjoyable. I prefered to take big bus, as it should be cheaper and spacious. But the guys, Ijaz is one of the most important man in our camp in Noraseri, said that the bus would be too slow. They wanted to charter a car but invain. So they bought six tickets for four of us in a Toyota. Still I didnt quite enjoy travelling in Toyota. It reminded me to rough journeys in Afghanistan.
Syed Ijaz Gillani had a quite reputable family business. The family contracted the famous Chettar Park in outskirt of Islamabad, a theme park which provided anything from hotels, restaurants, and even huge wheel-go-round games. It was amazing that he could spend months and months working with relief team in the mountain areas of Muzaffarabad. But he was originally Kashmiri anyway.
He said that the ceremony today would start at 8. But we arrived in Islamabad at 8:15. Actually I was much more nervous than him that we would come late. It seems that Ijaz was much more relaxed. We zipped to his house, he changed his clothes, and collected family members to fill the two vehicles. He had arranged a guy to sit beside me and give me explanation. That young guy, forgive me for my bad memory that I forgot his name, said that there were many Indonesian students in his university, mostly couples, that the males go to male university and females go to female university, and meet the couple during lunchtime in the Super Market. He tried to put me right about Pakistan. He expressed his willingness to go to Malaysia to work in Islamic bank as he was Phd for Islamic economies. He said that Pakistan economy was vigourous at that time. He misunderstood me when I said that sexual segregation was my impression of Pakistan. He thought I was saying that women had no liberty in Pakistan as he claimed women also could be pilot (Indonesia had women astronaut!). But i just pointed those special place for women in buses, restaurants, universities, and even they have “First Woman Bank” in Pakistan.
Back to the wedding, we arrived in the groom’s house at 10 already. Outside the house there were little blinking lamps with English and Urdu letters: “Welcome, Shadi Mubarak!” The ground next to the house was prepared with stages and seats, where guests were welcomed to sit and wait. Waiting, somehow had been the culture in Pakisan, like it or not. Ijaz said that the program today would start at 8 and end at 10, but it was not until 11 that the program started. We were invited to have dinner on the rooftoop, while the local village band started to entertain the guests with some Indian songs (Kyon Ki, Ashiq Banaya, etc). Children, seemed had been invited for special purposes, dance in front of the stage happily with uncoordinative motions. Some children were even equipped by colourful sheet of textiles. One song, two songs, about a dozen songs in total. The little boys were tired of dancing, but they were still energetic. Some adult men also joined the stage.
Where were the women? They were not supposed to join this scene. Of course there were many women guests also. But all of them were placed in the groom house. Sexual seggregation is the rule. The women was entertained by their human nature, chatting.
Today was the second day of the whole wedding ceremony program. It is called as mehndi, which means giving blessing to the bride and groom by putting the black tika to the hand. Now I was in groom side. The ceremony run simetrically in bride side also.
After 12, the band stopped, then the real ceremony of today was started. The groom was brought to his room, then the members of the family (ladies first)were in queue to gave him blessing. It included sweets, black powder, and of course money. Somehow the ceremonies were full of money. The children dancing together with band was poured with money, and now the groom had also accept the flooding money.
I didnt observe too much today as I was very exhausted. It was 2:30 already that Ijaz decided to leave before it come to his turn to give blessing. He said that the program tomorrow would be more important