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Pop star for one night
Tehran (Iran), July 7th 2007
Weddings; you hate them or you love them. For the bride and the groom this is the best day of their live, at least that is what they say. I doubt it if this is true. In the first place you have all the stress of the preparations and the costs of the wedding. Besides that, you have the time stress on the day itself. And when the party really starts in the evening starts, you first have to shake hands with the arriving guests for one and a half hour. And just after you finished, the first guest come and shake your hands again because they have to leave already. But ok, it is a day on where you seem to be the centre of the universe. And only for this reason, it is the best day of the live of many people.

Is it nice to attend as a guest on somebody else’s wedding? It is, most of the time. Especially when you can drink a couple of beers at the bar, or when you can indulge yourself at the dance floor without being in the spotlights. Is it nice to attend on an Iranian wedding as a foreigner? We had the chance to be a guest on an Iranian wedding, somewhere in a small village between Tabriz and Tehran.

The first disappointment appeared quickly. The wedding is separated for men and women. Did we have a chance to party, do I have to do it with only men! Besides that, there is no alcohol available in an Islamic country. That means that drinking some beers with fellow guests is also impossible. The only choice is Cola or Fanta.

When we arrive at the wedding, I have to say goodbye to Ivonne. She is joining the women at the women’s party (second floor of the wedding location) while I am going to join the men’s party (first floor). By the way, the wedding location is a restaurant at a service station along a highway. They made no effort to bring some atmosphere in the restaurant. Tables are lined up in a white and empty room, and the lighting is made with fluorescent bulbs. We start with eating (no choice; rice, chicken and Cola/Fanta are served per person) after which the party will start.

From the moment I join the wedding; I know that I will be the big attraction for the evening. Everybody looks at me and within no time the film maker of the wedding starts filming me. Also my congratulations to the groom are filmed in detail (although I only know two words: ‘Salaam’ = hello and ‘Mubarak’ = congratulations). Everywhere I walk or sit, lots of people stand around me. Some guests use their mobile phone to make a picture of me while others want to pose with me. I feel a little bit guilty because it looks like most attention goes to me in stead of the groom.

There is not really time for me to eat. Every couple of minutes I have to shake hands with one of the other guests. Some people speak a little bit of English, making a short conversation possible. Most of the time, ‘Salaam’ is the only word we can exchange, of course together with a big smile. After dinner, the plates are cleared from the tables and a music band is installed. Ten minutes later the music blares out of the speakers and from that moment on no conversation is possible anymore. A couple of young men set out for the dance floor while the majority looks at the dance moves from behind their Cola or Fanta. The dancers are stirred up by the ‘watchers’ by means of clapping.

The evening ends one hour later. The close family goes to the house of the father of the bride where the bride and the groom will be reunited. In that house also a couple of last rituals will take place before the wedding really ends. The other guests, including us, are going home. It was a great night. I haven’t seen neither women nor alcohol, but I had the fun to have the feeling of a pop star for one night!

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