So we're headed home for a few weeks to celebrate Christmas and New Year's with family (our cat still hasn't seemed to figure out that we're going) after a day in Shanghai on their 48-hour transit visa. As you can see above, I got myself a fancy new haircut, complete with dip-dyed purple ends (hard to see in this photo, but they're there). Can't wait to shock the family!
Anyway, there has been so much tragedy in the news these days that I wanted to post a few photos of something happy before we go. Something that affirms love rather than questions the existence of good in the world: weddings.
Last night we attended the wedding of our good friends CK and Eliza (CK is my former student). Because I'm friends with people who generally don't choose the most normal paths in life - I have very few friends who graduated, got jobs, found a partner, got married and had babies: most have taken different routes - despite having lived in Taiwan for over six years, this was the first Taiwanese wedding we've attended.
I'm still getting used to my new camera, and while it takes fantastic pictures when you know how to use it, I don't always know how to use it. This image, for example, could have been sharper (and also looks lighter on my computer - I've lightened it some more since uploading for future posting):
What was great about this wedding, which was held at the Sheraton Taipei, was that it wasn't actually all that similar to what I'd heard about Taiwanese weddings. People said that we should be prepared for bad wine, mediocre food, 500 random people who don't know each other and don't mingle, and interminable speeches by people who seem to barely know the couple.
It just wasn't true: there were a hundred people there at most and all of them seemed to know the couple well - neither has a large family, and the groom especially was adamant about not inviting everyone under the sun, only good friends. There were only two speeches, one of which was short. the other was heartfelt and personal.
The food was...pretty good. I mean, it wasn't the greatest Chinese food I've eaten in my life, and it didn't shatter my world, but it was fine. Perfectly good hotel standard food. The wine was drinkable - although it's still weird to me to drink red wine with Chinese food, which I usually associate with beer (but then I usually go for spicy Sichuan, not banquet food). There was definitely mingling between tables, although we didn't know enough people to mingle that much - I didn't see any other former students from among CK's work crowd, but we did say hi to a few friends of the couple that we'd met at a party once. Despite joking about it, we were not seated at the 老外桌 ("foreigner table") - we were the only foreigners there!
I quite liked Eliza's choices of dress - simple and clean lines, flattering colors. She didn't look like a lot of brides in wedding photos I see - like an over-decorated sugar-flower covered cake. Not at all. And she did look like a movie star. As one friend said before they got engaged, "哇！If CK doesn't marry with her, he is the crazy man!" [sic - I left the grammar unedited because the definite article lends a nice emphasis].
I think one of the reasons I was so touched by this wedding is that I've known CK for several years, and he would always say that he was never going to get married, that he just wasn't interested in family life or married life, that he'd date women but they had to understand he wasn't going to marry anybody (at the wedding itself the emcee said "Honestly, CK, we thought you liked men!"). He had his reasons, and as a friend you can say "so he's an independent guy, that's cool". I admire independent people - I like to think I'm one of them, and married someone who respected, even liked, my need to just be who I am - but as an independent person who met the right guy (or rather, had known the right guy all along) and decided to marry, I was really happy to see my friend keep his independent self and yet still find someone he wants to spend his life with. Love is a great thing and we should have more of it in this world!
You could say that this is why this was a Christmas miracle - CK actually got married! - but I figure it's a Christmas miracle because someone was willing to marry CK!
The five-year-old daughter of some mutual friends (another kid, who was maybe 1 year old, came up to me, stared at me curiously, and when I said "hi" to him in Chinese, his face wrinkled up like crumpled paper and he ran away crying - no joke - but this kid knows and likes me)
Mutual friend and former student Linda
Of course no wedding in Taiwan is complete without wedding games. First, Eliza had to maneuver an egg from her husband's pants cuff to...ah...another place.
Then CK had to eat something (couldn't tell what) while blindfolded:
And then he had to eat a cookie or something draped in a suggestive spot on the bride's dress (hey at least it wasn't under the bride's dress):
Someone asked: "新娘好吃嗎?"
And because puerile humor carries the day in these wedding games:
...they had to play a game of...ahem...horseshoes!
I figured I'd end on that photo because it basically made the whole wedding. To wit: “他應該很外向因為大家都可以看他的香蕉!"
Super fun to watch, but I'm kind of happy this is not an American wedding tradition...
Anyway, Merry Christmas everyone, if I don't post again before then (depends on how much free time I have), and don't eat too many bananas this holiday season.