Of Marriages and Presidents

I attended my first nikah (or Muslim wedding) last night. Since I’ve only been dragged to many Hindu, and one Jewish ceremony, till now, I was pretty stoked. It seemed like a brilliant opportunity to observe the traditions and customs of a community relatively unknown to me. It was my mum’s med-school-friend’s sister’s daughter’s wedding (whew!) and her son’s wedding reception. So we were treated like family and invited to the room where the bride was sitting with her female relatives, waiting for the vakil and witnesses to make the proposal, ask for her consent and relay it to the groom’s side. Simple and fast. The women and men were separated and seated in adjacent gardens, with people freely passing through. There were relatively fewer people and no earsplitting noise (masquerading as music) to hinder conversation (and permanently damage your eardrums). The impressive ambiance was only surpassed by the food. I finally got to the eat the sheermal this city is famous for.


The second part of this post is about the same day two years ago. On December 7, 2011 both Shimon Peres and I were hanging out at the university in Herzliya. He was attending a high profile Mayor’s Conference to discuss the Carmel fire tragedy and was roped in to talk to the students. It was the first time (and only time till now) that I had seen/ heard a head of state live so I was pretty stoked. Enough to not get pissed off by being locked out of the venue for 45 minutes, not finding a place to sit and standing for about an hour for a 15 minute interaction. His visit fell on the seventh day of Hanukkah and he lit one of the candles before sitting down with the president on the uni (what is a group of Presidents called?). The questions were about increasing Antisemitism across campuses and the Carmel fire, and his answers went off on some really interesting and philosophical tangents. He wondered what we did our Facebooks and SMSs, advised us not to listen to our parents and teachers (this was well-received and widely appreciated by the audience), spoke about how talent is a process and we should work to not let it go waste, and try to have meaningful lives. He observed that if we eat three times a day, we become fat and if we read three times a day, we become wise so it is better to be wise than fat! 


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