Everything is booming in this country such as property, business, airline companies, malls, cars, nasi goreng, bakso. Even the people are getting bigger, which is not good at all by the way. But, as the Grumpy French Man, there is something that I see growing really too much – the wedding ceremonies! I am on strike, no more weddings.
I already had enough of those weddings in Europe since a long time ago. When I was 25, many of my friends got married. The two or three first weddings were, let say, “OK”. But then, this first wave of brave people started to divorce within five to 10 years. Logically, you would have thought that it would take time to see the second waves, regarding the first wave disaster, but I will tell you something, people never learn from other’s mistakes! So the second waves came when I was 30, 35, a bigger one as most of my divorced friends came with a new wife or a new husband with more kids again who were lost to explain to me who were their parents or step fathers or half sisters and brothers, not really sisters, not really brothers. Completely lost those poor kids.
I remember one in particular, who was listening to the priest giving us a lecture and advice about the way we have to manage our relationships for the next 50 years! This is already crazy knowing that the priest will normally never experience any relationship! But anyway, I was looking around me and could see that no one, I repeat ya, really no one cared about this long and boring speech. All my female friends were just waiting the last two minutes of this mess (or mass) to be able to cry and say, “So sweet, so cute, so emotional”. Sorry, but I have never been touched to see a couple of friends from behind say, “I do”. Few will say that I have no heart, but it is a fact that I am personally only happy when the show is coming to an end because it means that we will start drinking wine – and not the one from the priest – some really good wine until we collapse at 5am!
But anyway, next to me I could see this boy with round glasses, extremely concentrated on the priest’s story. He was 10 years old and his name was Maxime. I asked this kid, “Who are you?” And he replied, “I am the step son of the half brother of Christophe.” I said, “Who is Christophe?” And he said, “I just told you, Christophe is the half brother of my step father!” What could I say? Then I asked him, “You seem to enjoy the speech of the priest, you were quiet and really focussed. I’m sure you were dreaming to get married, no?” The kid looked at me and said, “Are you crazy or what?” and he ran away. On this day I found my spiritual kid and I still know him, an extremely intelligent and brilliant young man. And married! I tell you, nobody learns, even Maxime!
Now being in Indonesia for many years, I thought that I would be free of these wedding stories, but it is worse than ever! Here it’s bigger, longer, and more boring than in Europe and it happens every two weeks! In Europe we used to invite some good friends and family, but not the guy who sold you a pack of Marlboro two years ago! Here, YES. You sometimes meet people who don’t even know what they are doing there. It happened to me in East Java where I ended up in a massive wedding without being invited just because a friend was going there and I had to follow! Here it’s giant and 200 people is a joke. 1,000 is a decent one and all has to be the best. People spend crazy money to marry their kids, ending up in debt. Some rich families book 200 bedrooms and import cakes from Paris (I saw it)! Many of them fly abroad to shoot photo sessions before the wedding.
In the village, we have the ‘magic box’. You have to drop an envelope inside it with some cash. As a bule (foreigner), don’t even try to cheat ya – they will recognize your envelope and ruin your reputation if you put Rp.50,000 inside. And if you are the only bule, then you are deep in sh*t because the entire village will want a picture with you and there can be 400 in a village ceremony. Don’t even try to refuse.
In the rich and important weddings, it’s more like in Europe actually – you sit at a table where your name is with some people around who will be able to communicate, or flirt, or match-make. They also need to show off a lot, which means having a few celebrities, or ex-celebrities, a Jakartan band (which does not guaranty good music), and if they are really rich, then you can expect a symphonic orchestra from Europe or ballerina ballet from Russia! In another crazy wedding, I saw an American magician going from table to table performing magic tricks. It was really good, but I am still wondering how this guy ended up between Cilacap and Pacitan doing his job.
But there is always something positive in Indonesia. One thing that you will never dare to do in Europe is to stay only 20 minutes at a wedding! And here nobody will complain about it as long as you go on stage to shoot a picture with the couple, the parents, the brothers, the sisters, the cousins, the grandma, the singers, the Pak RT, the local police and the event organizer who will use your picture on Facebook!
Anyway, for the ones who were thinking to invite me to their wedding party, they will certainly change their minds. For the ones who are already married, sorry, I was there and it pained my ass. But the good thing about writing this story is that I won’t be invited to another wedding for the next 10 years and I won’t blame you. Thank you!