Sunday, August 31, 2008

The wedding

I am writing from a toilet stall at an old sugar mill where the wedding reception is being held. I needed to find a place to write and this was the only area that I knew I wouldn't be disturbed. This place is beautiful. From the exterior it looks like a run down mill with broken windows and peeling paint. The interior is covered
with elaborate decorations and rows of tables with white table clothes. The ceiling has tiny lights that illuminate the dim setting. It looks like little stars sparkling in a big Midwestern sky. It is amazing to think that this mill used to supply sugar to Serbia and now it is catering the wedding of my cousin and his high powered friends from Chicago. Most of them are helping with the Barak Obama campaign team.

As for the ceremony, it was held in a Greek Orthodox church located in the city center. Driving to the church we went passed a half standing Serbian government building that Clinton bombed. At the church there was a tribe of Romes or Gypsies begging for money. We walked inside for the 10 minute ceremony. The priest did a chant like call that was responded by a guy with a baritone voice in a Hawaiian shirt. That was the first oddity I noticed. The second was a loud brass horn gypsy band playing outside. They were really good too. The sound of this Gregorian sounding chant with brass horns was bizarre combination.

Joe does not understand Serbian. His best man, Vladamir whispered the vowels to him. The priest placed a crown in front of Joe. He wasn't sure what to do then finally kissed it. Vladana did the same to her tiara. The priest placed the crowns on top of their heads and tied their hands together tightly with a white cloth. When the cloth was removed both Vladana and Joe flexed their hands to shake out the pain. The ceremony was sealed by a small kiss and everyone walked outside. Joe and Vladana were showered by rose petals while people threw coins out to the wedding party. The only ones going for the coins were the gypsies. The gypsy kids were wearing rags and dirt was visible on their limbs and faces. One of the little boys started to yell and hit another boy. A small boy lifted his shirt to reveal a perfectly visible skeleton. The boy was about eight or nine and looked really unstable. His eyes were glazed and wild as if he was on drugs. The little girls looked even worse. They were covered in dirt and holding tiny emotionless infants in their arms. The babies they were carrying looked like dolls. They kept repeating Money, Money with one arm extended out. The girls were ruthless to get money. They asked everyone several times pushing their hands in front of the people in the wedding party. When someone would give them 100 din *equivalent to a dollar, all the gypsies would swarm around the person like bees to honey. There were about 100 people in the wedding party and these 10 to 12 girls hounded us and even knocked on the windows of our cars while we were driving away. I noticed from the car window that the adult Gypsies were watching their children beg while they were sitting back behind the church. One little boy jumped in front of our car and did a little spastic dance flipping us off and ran to the side of the car to beg for money. It is really sad to think that these children will grow up to teach their children how to beg like this.

More to come about the reception. I have to get my laundry from the laundromat.