I’ve been standing in line for about 15 minutes.
Everyone in front of me seemed comfortable. They seem like they’ve done this before.
The longer I stood there, the less comfortable I felt. I was getting a little nervous, and I didn’t know what to expect but I knew this was something I had to do.
The weather wasn’t helping me feel either. It was spring in New York City at ten o’clock at night and this tropics island girl was just not used to the standing in the chilly weather for long.
It also didn’t help I had a lot of trouble trying to get to the location. I got lost walking the endless blocks of the city while trying to pretend to know where I’m going, occasionally sneaking a peek at the map and instructions I printed out. (I’m not a big fan of fancy gadgets, they can die on you.) See, I didn’t want people to know I’m not from around there because in my mind that would open the floodgates to endless unsavory possibilities. I don’t want to make myself look like an easy target for crime and shit.
People say it’s easy to find your way around New York City. Just look at the street signs, they said, it’s all a systematic and intuitive grid, they said in guidebooks.
Well, them guidebooks didn’t tell you that the signs are positioned to correspond with the street it’s aligned to, and not the direction you’re looking at. Maybe it’s just me but you know something else they don’t tell you? Google map tells you where is the subway station is but it doesn’t tell me where the entrance to the station is -_-
(Okay right now I know you’re thinking don’t you know there’s an app for that. I don’t just trust gadgets. Well my gadget-free navigation did get me to the spot eventually and there I was still in line and I’m thinking what’s taking so long.
And then. A loud booming voice from the front of the line went, “ Hello!” Everyone fell silent and cranked their necks to see the source of the intimidating presence.
“Listen. We do this like a drug deal. You give me the money, and you’re in. You give me trouble, you’re staying out here. Cash only!”
“Oh crap. ” I thought to myself. I hope he won’t chew me out for paying with a hundred dollar bill.
And I hope he has change.
I got to the front of the line and handed him the cash. He looked at it and said in a much kinder and less intimidating voice, “Damn this is the first time anyone gave me a hundred dollar bill for this.”
“Oh I’m sorry. That’s all I have.” I said with a trace of worry and nervousness.
“You don’t have to apologize” he said as he handed me my change and let me in the venue.
And there I was.
A life goal fulfilled.
An item to strike off my bucket list.
I’ve always wanted to do this! This was an exciting accomplishment in life.
I was in the Nuyorican Poets Café in East Village in New York City on a Friday night, to watch their renowned poetry slam.
Before the poetry slam took place, the hosts did a roll call for every borough in the city. Do we have anyone from here Queens tonight? Do we have any one from The Bronx? Brooklyn? Harlem?
And then she asked Do we have any out of town folks here tonight? Members of the audience yelled out the far away places they are from. Europe, Australia, some other far away places.
I wait patiently for the chance to holler, “Singapore!”
“We’ve got Singapore in the house tonight! And the host asked, And how long did it take you to get here?”
“Like 21 hours!” I said.
“Damn that’s a really long flight!” she said.
It sure was.
And it was all worth it.
So you’ve been invited to a Malay wedding for the first time, and you’re rather clueless? Here’s a rough guide on what you can look forward to at a vibrant heartland wedding.
If you’re lucky enough to witness the solemnisation, you’ll notice trays with food items and various products. It is customary for the bride and groom to exchange gifts in equal numbers of trays.
However, you would probably be invited to the wedding feast, which is likely to take place a day after the solemnization. You can come with anyone, as there are usually no restrictions on the number of guests you can bring. Newlywed Hermawati Dolfata who got married on 13 December explained: “In the Malay community, the number of guests is usually not a that big of a concern because we believe the more, the merrier.”
You can arrive at the venue at any time indicated on the invitation card, unless you are encouraged to come at a specific time. The couple will not be at the feast for the entire day and it’s okay if you need to leave before they make an appearance at the venue. Don’t worry about seating arrangements either; feel free to occupy vacant seats.
If you notice some people wearing outfits of a similar colour at the event, it’s not a coincidence. Family members and friends are often requested to wear a particular color (which sometimes match the décor or theme of the wedding). It also makes it easy for you to identify and approach them if you have any questions.
Let’s Get Loud
Besides the loud colours, you will also be in for an aural treat at a Malay wedding. One of the highlights is the arrival of the groom to the venue where he is accompanied by the rhythmic sounds of the kompang. The groom will have to get through some obstacles posed by the bride’s family and friends and this is when things get rowdy and fun, so get your cameras ready!
While you’re uploading the photos on social media, check if there is a wedding hashtag, so the couple will get to see them later. Don’t miss your chance for photos with the couple on the dais. Just keep an ear out for the announcements for you to make your way to the dais for photos.
When you are up there to congratulate the bride and groom, don’t present your gift of cash to the couple. Pass it to their parents on your way out instead. And yes, it’s true. You don’t have to write your name on the envelope.
With that, you’ve survived your first Malay wedding! If you’re still unsure, perhaps this can give you an idea of what to expect at a Malay wedding:
Each wedding you go to will have its uniqueness according to the couple’s preference, so do jump at the chance when you’re invited.