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After all the pot-banging and sashaying, it was time to move out of the house and move on to his place for part one of the tea ceremony.

“It’s good business,” advised Ead when I complained a little. “All you do is serve tea and get money for it. When I get married, the more relatives we have, the better! We can serve tea the whole day!”

While the first part of the morning had been unruly and mad, the next part of the journey was a tad saner. The weather was brilliant (stupid, buggering weather, curses, curses!) and the sky was a vivid shade of blue. The dude decided to put the top of the Daihatsu Copen down and we braced ourselves for a breezy and bumpy (the suspension was the pits) ride. As the convoy of cars pulled out of the sleepy town I call home, I felt a little frisson of excitement and exhilaration. It just felt nice to see a whole row of cars following in our wake. Don’t ask me why, I can’t explain it either. Oh, and as I got into the car, I could almost hear Anthony muttering, in my head, “It’s like pushing a cream puff through a keyhole.

At the traffic light, another wedding car pulled up next to us and the occupants – the couple and their slaves – waved to us. As we waved up from our little car to their giant Volvo, all I could think of was, “Hah! We are much cooler than you!”

After the hilarious episode of door opening earlier, the one at his house was smoother in comparison. Two cute kiddos bearing oranges came down to welcome us and I thought that things were actually going quite well. Until we reached his floor and I saw the pot of fire waiting for me.

A pot of fire! Isn’t it usually reserved for prisoners who are released from jail (according to MyDearCorpse shows anyway)? How the heck am I supposed to cross over the threshold in my meringue dress? Nobody told me anything about a pot of fire! Okay, the dude might have but I had thought he was joking.

“I carry you,” volunteered the dude helpfully. I think I almost screeched in disbelief. “Can one,” he assured me, stepping forward to lift me up. He took another step towards the pot, and another and…

“My dress!” I screamed, desperately trying to gather as much tulle into my arms as I could so that I would still have a gown for the dinner. I could feel him heave under the sheer effort – and I don’t even weigh that much! – and then we were in. As he put me down, five layers of tulle and all, I said a prayer of thanks heavenward.

The tea ceremony was pretty routine and the best part of it, to me, was when we were all crowded in his spare bedroom eating lunch. The whole group of us, eating curry chicken and gasping over the roast pork. It just felt so easy and relaxed and as usual, everyone was cracking profoundly dumb jokes and acting stupid. It’s so us. Someone dripped curry on my skirt and I thought I would freak out but I didn’t. I just sat there, happily drinking my Ribena. Skunk shed a tear for his brethren, the roast pig, but was still able to chomp down the meat with much gusto.

The tea ceremony at my place was very relaxed and non-eventful (no fire). The matriarch gave a little speech as we were kneeling in front of her and choked up at one point. Simultaneously, my eyes welled up but I blinked away my tears and warned her not to cry or we will both be ugly boohoo babies (I might have wagged my finger at the mum and said fiercely, “don’t you dare cry!”. Yes, I am mean like that to mumsy). My cousins, on the other hand, were dying to be served tea and I got two gorgeous pendents from them. It’s rather amusing because just three days prior, they had been discussing their purchases blatantly in front of me.

So. Weather perfect. Tea ceremony done. We’ve only got the dinner left and it should go well, right?

Hardy har har.

Part i: The morning

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