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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Da Nupchals

In which Lila and I get hitched

Photo by Jesse

I and my sweetie, Ms Eloisa Malubag Jose, also known by her secret identity Lila Devi Dasi, tied the knot on Sunday, April 29, at 12:30 p.m.

But that moment was just the kernel of several days of activity.

It all started on the internet…[imagine wavy hands and "doodle-ee-doo, doodle-ee-doo, doodle-ee-doo" for a Wayne's-World-type flashback...]

Back in early 2005, I was searching the net for information on a place called Nanshe Ancient Village in the city of Dongguan. My search brought me to the Virtual Tourist page of one “Zephyrgurl108,” whose profile indicated that she was a vegetarian who sometimes visited Shenzhen with her carnivorous friends.

Swell guy that I am, I wrote and offered to show her and her friends around SZ some time, including a temple visit and some veg food. (You may think you see a flaw here, but meat-eaters can eat veg.)

She (and she alone) came and met me on Chinese New Years. We went to Hong Fa Temple, and by the time dinner was over, it was late. She slept on my sofa, and headed home the next morning.

For the next several weeks, she came to see me every weekend and followed me around in my various activities. (Don't think this sounds pathetic or anything; I lead a truly fascinating life.)

Long story short: In less than two months we were a couple.

Oh yeah: Nanshe, the place that I was searching for when I found her? I've never been. But she went, with my friends, during the summer of 2005, while I was in L.A. See her pics and an account of her trip here.) [2023: Still never been!] [Virtual Tourist, where here pics and account were, is itself gone.]

Fast forward to earlier this year:

The job in Yangzhou was becoming more of a reality; it would take me away from her for a month or two at a time. Knowing that I had found the love of my life, and that I couldn't bear to let her slip away, I asked her to marry me before I went. Fortunately, she said yes.

The timing depended on two factors:

  1. When could we get an appointment at the Hong Kong Marriage Registry? (Two foreigners cannot get married in the PRC, but HK is pretty easy).
  2. When would our friend Alan, the clear choice for Best Man, be available?

All factors pointed to April 29. So that's what we did. I went over to HK a couple of times in the weeks before the wedding to pay the fees and do the preliminary paperwork. Then the Big Weekend arrived.

In order to get married, we had to register Lila's presence in HK during regular Registry office hours. Had we been getting married Monday-Saturday this would have been no problem. But since our date was a Sunday, we had to come over a day ahead, on Saturday before 11:30 a.m., to show the entry stamp in her visa before the office closed. After that, we checked into a hotel near the Marriage Registry in Shatin, and headed off for our "rehearsal dinner" with our "wedding party"--actually just lunch with a couple of friends.

Now, a funny thing: The clear choice for Maid of Honor, our friend Angel, was studying in Guangzhou on our wedding day. The next obvious choice was a recently-met friend who spent every weekend with us. But Adam, as the name would indicate, is a guy.

So we had a Best Person and a Person of Honor, as you can see here:

Alan (l) and Adam (r); Photo by Jesse

Adam and Alan came over on Saturday. We had a great lunch at one of Hong Kong's finer vegetarian restaurants. After a walk around Kowloon, Adam and Alan returned to SZ, and Lila and I returned to the hotel near the Marriage Registry. We had a shower and a nap, and ordered room service for dinner--like a honeymoon before the wedding!

The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, and then took a cab to the Marriage Registry. (It was near, but we were in our wedding clothes and had our suitcases with us.) We did some final paper work, and greeted arriving friends. As usual when we gather friends, over a half-dozen countries were represented.

Photo by Jesse

Hong Kong is a fairly stiff-upper-lip-conservative place when it comes to such things as weddings; a pamphlet in the Marriage Registry discussed appropriate dress and behavior for the ceremony. So the ceremony itself was meant to be solemn; the Justice of the Peace certainly had no sense of humor. But as you can see in our friend Jesse's picture, Lila and I were cracking each other up as usual. (The unsmiling lady J.O.P. is just visible in the top-right corner.)

Photo by Jesse

After the ceremony, most of the guests stuck around for lunch at the Ruby Tuesday's in Shatin New Town Plaza. Then the P.R.C.-side gang (minus the Hong Kongers) went back to Shenzhen and relaxed for a bit before the evening's party.

A few weeks earlier, Lila and I had been dining with friends at Spice Circle, one of our favorite Indian restaurants. When Sunny, the manager, stopped by our table, I asked if he knew where we could get Indian-style clothing for our wedding. He called his wife Vinnie, who came and picked us up after dinner. She took us to their home, where Lila tried on several salwar kameez, and I tried on a kurta. Lila was set; the following weekend, Vinnie took us to Luohu Commercial City to have my kurta "let out" a little. The money we spent on that tailoring was the only money we spent on the clothes; Vinnie and Sunny graciously supplied them to us for free.

It was natural, then, that we chose Spice Circle for our party. On top of all of the other kindnesses shown, another manager, Inder, gave us a per-head price for the party that was so low that he swore me to secrecy--I couldn't even tell Sunny!

The party was a blast. We had great fun and, afterward, when just a small group remained, our friend John Krieger pulled out a small accordion and serenaded us with folk music! What a night.

We'll break off the wedding account here; next up: Da Honeymoon.

Check out some pictures online:

(Jesse is a pro who shot around our events for free. Number 20 (below), with a bunch of kids who happened to be outside the Marriage Registry, is one of my faves. All of the pictures in this post are his. Thanks, Jesse!)

Photo by Jesse

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