At the weekend, I attended a friend’s Sikh wedding. I spent a beautiful couple of days filled with love and laughter among good people. Everything worked so smoothly. Back home this evening I talked to Karaj, Shona and Serena about my observations and about the warmth, hospitality, faith, pride and respect of the people I met:
- As soon as we arrived at the house I was invited to sit down and have some lunch. Chiran introduced me to Satwant, a Kenyan Sikh with great presence. He was quiet yet powerful. The food was delicious and I felt right at home as I watched the Sikhs around me greet each other in ways which are so familiar to me.
- The evening continued in the main garden. The women prepared the food and served. The men congregated outside, chatted and drank. It quickly became apparent to me that every member of the family was imbued with the spirit of hospitality which is characteristic of Indian culture.
- The women were having a different night to the men. There was a definite split between the sexes; a natural partition which allowed each group to do what they do best. The men talked and had fun; while the women cooked, served and had fun. It was the women who started the dancing off with a ceremony of their own. It brought light to the occasion. I watched how much the older women enjoyed it all, throwing themselves into a tradition with which they were so familiar. By the end, the men and women were all dancing together, as the joy of the day reached its peak.
- At the reception the next day, people milled around, chatting with each other before the bride and groom were welcomed ceremoniously into the main room. I was in admiration of what I saw. The men were proud, the women beautiful, and I felt welcomed and at home.
- The men I have talked to this weekend have all had an air of humility about them. Even when Satwant told me tonight he knows everything, there was humility about his statement. He was merely telling me how it is rather than showing off. He has no need to show off. He is the best man at his job and is respected by all who know him. When I asked him how he knows so much, he simply said: ‘I just talk to my customers.’
- Later, I sat for a while with an older man called Gundip. He told me that, ‘If you are good to people they cannot help but be good back.‘ He also talked to me about the five aspects of relationships: Trust, Tolerance, Acceptance, Togetherness, Respect.
I shared my learning points with Karaj, Shona and Serena:
- My friends choose a more positive route through conversations and situations. I seem to have a door to a negative path which is always open to me.
- I am better off being myself. When I try to be someone else I fuck it up. Be myself and be happy with that.
- Go along with the behaviour of others and keep my own integrity to myself. Satwant does exactly this. Chiran told me that because he doesn’t drink and all his colleagues and friends are big whiskey drinkers, he drinks coke diluted with water because it looks like whiskey and they leave him alone.
- I see now what Karaj has been saying to the likes of Simran, Dev and Priya. They have no pride and no idea how to serve and be hospitable. I have learnt more about the hospitality of Indian culture from 50 hours in Leeds than I have from 3½ years in the company of the Sikhs at the house.