Friday, September 7, 2007

Ivan and Natasha's wedding

In Ukraine it is normal to get married in your early twenties and so did Ivan and Natasha. Ivan I know through Kyryl. Like Kyryl and many people at the wedding party they are both system developers. The wedding was held at the house of Ivan's parents which is a lot like the dachas I visited, but it is situated almost at the city centre.

Wedding band rehearsals at the house of Ivan's parents. For some Sundays we had entertained the neighbours, trying to get some songs together. It was quite hard to organize anything and a week before the wedding the group I played with did not have a drummer or even some songs that we could all play. They all took it very calmly though, I guess stuff like this is not enough to worry Ukrainians.

Preparations. To the left is Alex who told me a lot of interesting stuff. He is a games designer and he has been working for big distributors like EA and Infogrames and he also writes books and drinks a lot. To the right is his wife Olga and just behind him Natasha, Ivan's wife-to-be.

The big day. Ivan and Natasha are not religious so they got married at the Palace of Wedding to the music of Elvis Presley, played by two violins and a piano. The palace has four rooms which work like a sort of assembly line, every time one company goes to the next room a new company will fill the room they left. Very efficient, actually, but the palace people messed up the wedding contract and wrote the wrong year. Then they made a new contract and wrote the wrong month.

After the ceremony the couple and some other unlucky people had to drive around the city for five hours in the baking heat and make photos by all Kharkov's war monuments. This is when they got home and we 'surprised' them with some champagne and some bread.

Some bread. According to tradition the bride and groom will take a piece each, dip it in the salt and eat.

Ivan's sister and two other girls were dressed up as angels when they walked around to all the guests. People had to make a speech about their presents and I let Kyryl use his lyrical skills. We came with some knives and according to some traditional illogic they had to give us one 1 grivna, something about presenting a weapon and not being enemies.

One more toast. After each toast some people would start shouting GORKY, GORKY, GORKY, .. and the couple would be tongue kissing until they stopped, or maybe opposite. 'Gorky' means bitter and it refers to the vodka that a lot of people were drinking, the point being that sweet kisses should be able to take away the bitterness. I am sure they could not taste anything after an hour of toasting and kissing. The people to the right are Ivan's parents and best man Alex.

When the music started the couple had the first dance alone, a very beautiful moment. Ann was screaming 'Still got the blues'. That 'scene' I saw Ivan's father build some weeks before.

After that all other people started dancing, including many elderly people. We played some terrible music but it was just perfect. They were dancing through some sloppy jams and even when we were not playing anything.

This is the tradition of kidnapping the bride and/or her shoes. To get her back the groom usually has to make some bribes, but I don't think Ivan gave in to their enormous demands. Instead the best man and best woman had to do 'something extraordinary'.

Unfortunately it was the best man who had to make a strip tease, the best woman sang an extraordinary song.

Wedding cake with smoked prunes. Ivan told us to play 'Rape me' by Nirvana, I guess he also does not like smoked prunes.

The party continued the day after at the 'Hydro Park'. We had some shashlik and went swimming in the river. I think collectively we must have had around 300 mosquito bites, I got at least 20.

At the shashlik party I also got to talk with Ivan's uncle who had a big scar around the top of his head because someone tried to take his scalp. He told me that 15 years ago Kharkov had two gangs of around 300 teenagers who used to try to kill each other every weekend. He said it started in the Soviet times because they thought they had nothing to do because they were not allowed to drink alcohol or have sex.


C said...

hey i guess i know this uncle ))

ps> your writing style is pretty good, i've read all of your posts already )

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