Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday, August 26th - Covering Orange County

Tommy and I headed off to Orange County last Friday for 'My Big Fat Gujarati Jainist Wedding' and had a pretty amazing time. The groom was one of my fellows a couple of years ago and, as I had more or less gotten him into geriatrics and mentored him through the training, I thought it might be a good idea to show up - besides, no one else from Birmingham was going and he did live here for a couple of years.

We flew to John Wayne airport Friday morning without major incident and settled into the Buena Park Hampton Inn. The first step in the festivities was that night, a dinner/dance party called 'Garba Raas', thrown by the groom's family at the Jainist center/temple. (If you don't know what a Jain is, google is your friend...) Delicious Indian food and then several hours of traditional Gujarati dancing. I never did quite figure out how to do the Garba, a sort of quick four step that makes the women's saris float exquisitely around them, but Tommy and I did manage to master the Raas, a sort of line dance in which you cross sticks with the other dancers. Much giggling and laughter as everyone danced to traditional Indian music with a bit of a techno beat (great band, by the way.)

On Saturday, we were free for the day, so we journeyed up to West Hollywood to have breakfast with old friends we had not had a chance to see for a while. It was nice to catch up and share. Wayne is an amazingly talented cabaret entertainer and composer and I have to come up with an excuse to import him to Birmingham some day. After that, as it was still quite early and we did not have to be anywhere until dinner, we decided to spend a day at Disney. Both Tommy and I had been to the Magic Kingdom recently but had never been to the California Adventure park so we spent the day there. Can't say it's all that - part state fair midway tarted up Disney style and part stuff developed for Animal Kingdom and MGM parks in Florida that wouldn't fit at Disneyland. We enjoyed it, though. Rather spectacular stage version of 'Aladdin' complete with flying carpets, elephants in the aisles and the like. One very good roller coaster, the California Scream Machine and I like the Hollywood Hotel tower of terror.

For dinner, small party at the home of the groom's sister with his closer friends. Nice people all and I really enjoyed his parents and siblings. His infectious good humor comes naturally.

The big event itself was on Sunday at the Nixon library/birthplace in Yorba Linda. The wedding ceremony itself was out of doors in a large tent on the lawn. It was a bit warm for an outdoor wedding so coats were shed and the catering staff passed out the water and the ice cream (saffron pistachio) throughout. It started with the barrat, the traditional parade of the groom on horseback to the wedding site (I don't think the horse, rented for the occasion, thought much of this), with the guests all marching and dancing along. This was followed by a prolonged Hindu ceremony which was full of symbolic meaning, much of which was lost on me. We then all had a couple of hours to tour the library and museum prior to the reception.

The reception that evening: sit down dinner for four hundred in a replica of the east room of the white house. More Indian food (all vegetarian, Jainists do not eat meat), opulent saris, more dancing and then exhaustion.

We returned home yesterday. Travel was prolonged by Tropical Storm Fay wandering over the South East and disrupting Atlanta airport operations. We arrived home finally shortly after midnight, about four hours late. We are recuperating today although I had to work and Tommy had to start his classes for the semester.

One more blowout coming up. We're off to NOLA next weekend for Southern Decadence, than we settle down to drudgery for some months.