Friday, June 10, 2011

A Date with Tea; A Tea with Dates

Over here the height of summer usually signifies the time for the Duanwu Festival 端午节, more popularly known as the Dragon Boat Festival. Arguably the longest day for those of us in the northern hemisphere - like its celebratory winter counterpart on the far side of December.

Generally I don't return for this particular festival since it's usually right smack dab in the middle of the year - usually a time for job transfers in my line of work. Can't very well go jauntering about when half the department's been emptied for some reason or other.

My cousin however picked just that time of the year for her wedding dinner. It's hard ( impossible? ) to say no to Lispy Lori, especially when she announced the date an entire year back just to pre-book all of us to attend.

And hey, I love weddings :)

Now exactly where am I supposed to stand?

Trouble is attending a wedding these days is just fraught with unexpected difficulties. For unmarried fellows past the age of thirty, we have to endure endless cross-examinations by curious relatives on the state of our bachelorhood, along with the unforeseen social solecisms that seem to creep up everywhere when someone much younger than us ties the knot.

For instance the tea ceremony prior to the wedding - one of the most significant events in a Chinese wedding, ostensibly a wonderful way to introduce a new member to the extended family. Now do I receive the tea along with the proferred greetings as an elder in the family eventhough I am technically still unmarried, or do I brave the horrified stares of the children to stand in wait for the prerequisite red packets from the bride and groom? Should it go by precedence of age or marriage eligibility?

Unfortunately with the emphasis on marriage and children as one of the tenets of a Chinese Confucian society, a man past the age of thirty and unmarried is considered quite the novel oddity. Where do we stand in the larger scheme of things?

Surely an existential dilemma to be solved on another day - especially since Lori solved the smaller problem for me.

Lori : There's simply no question about it. You're sitting and I'm serving you tea.
Paul : Is that how it's always been done?
Lori : Do I look like I care about how it's always been done? It's my wedding and I'll serve you tea if I want to.
Paul : Wow. Bridezilla.
Lori : It had better be a big red packet though.

Guess I worried for no reason at all. So yes, I drank the sweet tea Lori handed to me on a porcelain platter. And yes - need you ask? - she got a big red packet in return.


Life for Beginners | Kenny Mah said...

Bridezilla, Chinese-style! That's always fun, haha... :P

dazzakoh said...

Oh course you get served the tea - she's the junior. Her hubby has got to know who he has to kneel to in the family....

Tempus said...

bridezilla that's a good one. Owh I can't imagine the stares i will have when i hit your age. Celibacy till 30 vow still on the go~

john chen hui long said...

as a chinese bachelor, i know the feeling. age does not immediately qualify us as 'elders' - we have to have children.

savante said...

Think she planned out the entire wedding on her own, life :P

VEry true, dazzakoh!

You'll get the endless questions first, tempus. BUt don't worry they will stop asking after a long while.

Time to go adopt a few, john!


Ban said...

Big red EMPTY packet? ;)