I remember last October when my buddy Soerha told me she was getting married. I got pretty excited, like an “OMIGOD” kind of excited. And then she told me it was going to be in Toronto on August 20th.
Me: “But that’s in Ramadan!”
I didn’t say anything for a second and thought about it. I could make it work. This is Soerha we’re talking about, one of my closest friends. I can make this work.
So this past weekend, I made it work.
The thing with Ramadan is that you never want to waste it. You never know when it’ll be your last Ramadan and you should try to utilize the month for the holy month that it is. That meant that I was going to be in Canada for an incredibly short amount of time.
I reached Toronto Friday evening, about an hour before it was time to break my fast. I scanned the crowd for my cousin, who I was going to stay with. I hadn’t seen her in 13 years. I caught a flash of a hijab and started walking towards it. I realized before it was too late that it was some random Muslim lady and so I steered myself in another direction. [Before you judge, pause and think about the time you made the mistake of thinking a random hijabi was someone you knew. If you haven’t done it yet, you will.] I eventually found my cousin and spent the evening with her and her family.
The next morning, I got up at 4am for the pre-dawn meal with the rest of my relatives, downed a paratha and an omelet, and then got a few more hours of sleep before I geared up for the wedding.
I admit, I was a bit freaked out about getting ready since I was going to wear a dress. Folks, I don’t wear dresses unless it’s the kind that I could wear over slacks or jeans. I wear Pakistani clothes to weddings. Getting ready in shalwar kamiz is easy. I can rock those (I say humbly) but a dress? I went out of my way to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions. It took me a while, but I finally got to a point where I looked presentable.
I was so paranoid about getting to the church on time that I got there super early and almost accidentally crashed another wedding ceremony. I waited in another room, listening to bits and pieces of the ceremony to try to figure out when it ended. I soon heard the organist start to play something. I totally, honestly, thought that he or she was playing the music at the end of Star Wars when Han and Luke are being rewarded for their valor. Instead, it soon became apparent that it was the wedding music that signifies the ended of a ceremony. Well, in the movies anyways that’s what that particular music signifies…
Soon enough, the first wedding ended and people I recognized started coming in and the ceremony began. It was 3pm, I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink for 10 hours, and I was still a bit tired from lack of sleep.
Soerha walked down the aisle and I knew that if I had missed this moment, the moment that one of my favorite people was getting married, I would’ve been devastated. The friend I was sitting with and I both agreed that she looked amazing (and we also conceded that Andrew, the groom, looked “okay”).
The priest gave a short talk, the couple said their vows, signed a few papers, and Soerha and Andrew were married. I’m pretty sure I had a big stupid grin on my face the entire time.
And then it was time for the reception.
I took some pictures as I was milling around, doing my best to ignore the appetizers. However, I didn’t make the same mistake as I did at my cousin’s wedding a few years ago though – I wanted to take a ton of pictures (I had just bought my first SLR) and so I failed to live in the moment and never even got a proper picture with my cousin. This time, I made a point to hand my camera to my friend Monica (who is an actual, honest-to-God photographer) and had her take a picture of Soerha and me. Otherwise, I enjoyed myself and didn’t worry about getting the best pictures. I wanted to remember the day as a participant, not as a spectator through a viewfinder.
Later, it was time for the speeches.
I have to be honest with y’all, I wasn’t completely satisfied with my speech. However, people said it was good so instead of thinking about how much better I could have made it, I’ll just stick with the judgment of those people and not lose myself in the self doubt that I felt after I gave the speech. All I know is that I wanted to grab the mic from the next speaker and say “DO OVER!” and say a few more words. But I didn’t. (If I did do that, I probably just would have said that I was feeling light headed from fasting *cough*)
Soon enough, the sun set, I got to eat my vegetarian meal, and then I got my photobooth on.
I left for the airport the next morning. I was leaving Canada after spending less than 48 hours in the country. I didn’t see Niagara Falls, I barely got to hang out with my cousin and her family, and I didn’t explore Toronto at all. I’ll have to make a point to go there in the future* for a proper visit.
For now, it’s Ramadan. Gotta focus.
Congratulations to Soerha and Andrew!
One of the other guests at the wedding who flew up from the Bay Area recognized me from the coffee shop I go to in Oakland where he used to work.
The “I don’t think that’s how it works bro” moment:
Upon seeing the cloudy sky long before sunset and wondering when I was going to break my fast, Jon, who MC’d the reception with me, said: “There’s no sun! I’m pretty sure God will be okay with you eating.” He was joking. I think.
Check out my blog post about Soerha’s photo engagement session.
*Aren’t we already in the future? Where are the hoverboards and flying cars??