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Friday, November 30th, 2012 | Author:

 

Last weekend we went to the wedding reception of one of our favourite former students, Butterfly.

As we neared the groom’s house, we passed an excited crowd on the road and spotted the beautiful bride in their centre: a man in flip-flops and with his slacks rolled up to his knees was dragging a small wooden cart in which Butterfly knelt, clad in her scarlet wedding dress and veil. 

Three motorcycles were weaving across the road in front of the bridal cart. While one man rode each bike, another straddled it backwards, using a cigarette to light firecrackers he’d then toss in front of the wedding procession.

The wedding lunch was served in the courtyard of the groom’s family’s house. Another hundred or more guests sat under temporary awnings erected in the laneway beside the house. A small army of caterers prepared all the food on the spot, using massive steamers and portable gas bottles to cook everything right there in the courtyard.

As is usual on special occasions in China, no rice or vegetables were served — just masses of meat and seafood. We ate pig’s ears, crocodile, lobster, crab, lamb, whole steamed duck, some dish involving huge slabs of fatty, steamed pig skin, and several different soups. There was one featuring dried mushrooms and some type of offal; another with bamboo shoots and pork; also a sort of egg custard with dried prawns and dried mushrooms sprinkled on top and finally, very sweet peanut soup. We scarcely had time to taste each dish, much less finish it, before it was whisked away to be replaced by the next.

Once we were all well and truly full, the kids spent a while playing in the marital bedchamber with Butterfly and Ifan’s nieces and nephews. No one seemed to mind a bunch of kids jumping about on the bride and groom’s new bed! Everything in the bedroom was new and either pink or red: new red sheets and pink pillows, floral arrangements of pink and red roses on a red plastic stool beside the bed, a swathe of pink fabric decorating the mirror. Looking down on all this from the wall was an enormous, airbrushed wedding picture of the gorgeous bride and groom. 

It was wonderful to see Butterfly looking so happy, and so beautiful in her traditional scarlet and gold qipao.