Have you ever heard wild and crazy stories from your East Indian friend about a wedding that they attended that lasted a week long? If you have ever been curious about this rite of passage and marathon of celebration, fret not. A live theatre show put on by the South Asian Arts at the tranquil Italian Garden at the PNE is your ticket in.
It was presented as an experimental theatre piece, whereby approximately 50 audience members were shuttled around an opening with a cement picnic table and benches on each side. This is where we were treated to a delightful dance by three beautiful young South Asian ladies in green and blue saris. Suddenly a middle aged lady named Nimet Kanji in a long black vest and funky knee high boots came onto the scene announcing herself as the master of ceremony, in other words, our cultural interpreter of the procession that was about to commence. We, the audience, were very lucky indeed to witness not only the engagement party between the very shy scientist, Hanuman Singh to the good looking but materialistic Sunayna. Hanuman, an eternal romantic, seemed like a dorky professional.
He was being coached by his sleazy cousin, Bobby who, while already being married, was hitting on every single girl at the party. He was being cussed out by Hanuman’s sister, the bold and irreverent Twinky. She always said exactly what was on her mind, is completely herself, and is loved by her family. She is by far the most lovable character of the whole cast, from her envious hip jerking dance to her own Gangnam-style dance during the engagement party, as well as all of the wild and crazy things that came out of her mouth.
The MC kindly educated us on the two families. The groom’s father, Mr. Singh used to be a big time wrestler in India, where he met the bride’s father, Mr. Patel. The Singh family and the Patel family are of different religious background and cast, but through their years of friendship, have now come together to arrange their children to get married. At the engagement party, we meet all the members of the Singh family, where the mother proudly lists all her son’s good deeds like a proud salesman promoting his Fortune 500 company and its unlimited earning potential and growth yet to come. Mr. Singh seems to be a Santa Claus type of character, big and jolly, and easy to please. The Patel family consist of the bride, Sunayna, her equally pretty divorced sister, Amisha, a high-spirited sixteen-year-old younger brother name Janak, and their Swedish mother Ingaord Frieda Patel who spoke with the weirdest accent.
On this momentous occasion, the bride, who was full of hope to see her groom for the first time, almost began to cry when she saw Hanuman’s face. She immediately confronted her father as to why Hanuman looked different from the picture he showed her. Mr. Patel replied that at the time, he had not received Hanuman’s picture so he goggled him and gave her the picture. He was a TV broadcaster with CBC Canada. Sunayna was very disappointed that she would not be rolling in high style in New York but had ended up in Surrey, Canada with a man who she perceived as a country bumpkin. Hanuman was eager to please his new fiancé and played along with all the rituals, and tried to earn brownie points by smiling from ear to ear.
The show quickly proceeded onwards to all the wedding preparation, which included Hanuman being chased in his boxer as he avoided being cleansed in a special bath; and Sunayna’s bachelorette party with just the girls. Again, we were treated to energetic dancing by a troupe of girls in a rainbow of colours. Sunayna was still very upset while her whole family was trying to convince her that this was an excellent match. Sunayna’s mother told her that she shouldn’t fret over it, as she herself didn’t even have a wedding, never mind a bachelorette party, so Sunayna should be grateful. This saga continued when Janak spotted Hanuman hiding behind some bushes, nervously trying to win over Sunayna. Janak broke out into song about his version of romance only to be laughed at by Bobby. Amisha and Hanuman had some time alone and found a lot of common ground recounting Star Wars, but their tender moments didn’t last long, as Bobby immediately tried to charm Amisha away with cocktails and a rose. This act played out in a round-about with a bronze cow on top of a grassy mount.
The audience then viewed a ten minute Bollywood number with some very sexy dancing by three young ladies and three young men. The girl who was the main dancer had a lot of hip jiving moves that dazzled the crowd. She impressed us even more by dancing on a parking lot pole the size of a palm.
The wedding proceeded into a disaster when Hanuman stood up during the vows and stopped the proceedings to say that he was not interested in the mean spirited Sunayna but instead in the kind hearted Amisha. He didn’t mind that she was divorced and would want to be with her. Sunayna was the first to celebrate this decision and put Amisha’s hands in Hanuman’s. Both families were dumbfounded. That led to some hurtful words, resulting in a wrestle between Mr. Singh and Mr. Patel for both families’ honour. This was facilitated by the MC Nimet Kanji until Grandmother stepped in and stopped everyone, saying this was a celebration and they were all a big family. The show ended by Mr. Patel using the wedding as an opportunity to give Mrs. Patel a proper wedding to which she tearfully accepted. This was outdone by Janak who proclaimed that he was completely in love with Twinky and wanted to marry her, to which Twinky replied in perfect comedic timing, “I am only twelve,” garnering lots of laughter from the audience.
It was a real riot to sit through the various stages and celebrations, admiring the costumes, watching the dynamics between the families and characters, and listening to live sitar and various other ethnic instruments. We were able to interview one of the show’s creators, Gurpreet Sian after the show. When asked if the crazy outlandish characters and the spectacle had any bearing on real life, Gurp told us that he has been the MC or dance performer at several East Indian weddings. The storyline as well as the characters are not too far from reality. These dramas do happen to colourful characters in real life.
Burning Man….a global village without money, only acceptance for people as they are. A dream landscape filled with the manifestation of human expression. I had been there once in the summer of 2008, and it left such an impression that it made me feel like the tribal home that I had always searched for. I had promised myself then that I will try to go every year but things came up. I was really happy to manifest going this year and having five friends on the playa was a delight, even though most of time we went on our own individual adventures.
I had shared rides to and from Burning Man and they of themselves is a huge life lesson of patience, cooperation and the human condition. I left with two female friends thinking this will be a fun Thelma and Louise style road trip. However it turned into a constant negotiation of how much to bring, how much longer we have to shop and when will we exactly get there. Staying on time and being organized is a foreign concept to some people! I now know what it’s like to be plastered to the window during a road trip. I can assure you, there is no amount of money that I will accept to ever let it happen again.
This year I was very fortunate to be apart of a live music camp with close to 200 people called Reverbia right on the Esplanade and 6:45. It’s very central and I met a lot of amazing people, and musicians. We had quite a few international bands come play, including a reggae band from Jamaica. Our camp provided three meals a day, electricity, shower, water and shading to house our tents. We had people from France, Italy, Asia, US and more than 50% were Canadians, the majority from Vancouver. It felt like a big family, where most of us hangout for hours in the common eating area. Here, people shared about their adventures of the night before, discuss which DJ or parties to check out later that night or the various camps or workshops happening then. It made me realize actually how lonely I have been working by myself….the joy derived from joking around and storytelling by a group of people is immeasurable.
We met a young couple that just graduated from UBC, with intentions of going onto medical school. The girl’s family are Canadian ex-pats who now lives in Saudi Arabia. One of the most memorable nights I spent on the playa was biking out to the outskirts of Burning Man with this lovely couple, and bumping into two very funny Italian guys at an unattended zip line. The Italian was complaining about how his camp was promised their own toilet, water, nice food and electricity. In the end they’ve barely had any edible food, and it’s just an old German guy running around. They’re biking around looking for free pancakes then trying to find the movie theatre. I remember biking by a camp that offered viewing of vintage porn, so I asked him if that’s the theatre he’s looking for. He looked confused and asked “why would I want vintage pork? I want fresh pork!”….we had a great laugh over that.
I also joined my camp mates biking across the playa to some phenomenal parties, the sheer scope and gorgeous design of the venue and their stellar line up of fire performer and dancer were top notch. Sadly though the music was less than satisfactory in my mind, too much dubstep for my liking.
Burning Man this year brings up so many memories, I find it hard to put it into words my experience. I saw multi-layered complex and thought provoking art! I was especially impressed with Android Jones work, you can check out his master pieces at his site: www.androidjones.com
There are many great art installations out on the playa, that are fun and intriguing such as the woman. At the bottom of her there is a sign that asks the question, what will happen to women when they are no longer afraid?
One of the first days I went out during the day exploring, I saw a guy doing back flips on a giant trampoline. I decided to follow suit and landed upside down on my neck, putting it out of alignment. The next day sharing my tale, a camp mate suggested we hit up the chiropractor for an adjustment, so we did, and we got a reiki session, and a spiritual alignment all around the same area. I then went to the Heebee Jeebee for a massage and relaxed in their comfortable lounge for half a day! It was heavenly.
As a member of a camp, everyone had to volunteer two shifts. Most people volunteered in the kitchen unless they have stage or sound experience. Our camp had a proper stage for the public and had live music at night, and it often turned into a great little concert area. We also had live music inside the half circle music tents, and some open mike time. There was a variety of styles of music playing, and a wider range of musical instruments use. From the standard flutes, drums, acoustic guitars to even lawn equipment turned into musical instrument! Music really had no boundaries and connected outside of language. Every morning, someone opened the day with a two hour yoga session, followed by stretching or meditation class. I attended a few taught by the famous Buckman Coe, who was a very talented and funny yoga instructor. The yoga sessions were much needed after all that biking! Your body must be fit to survive the harsh conditions, and endless exploring on bicycles and endurance for the long hours as the playa really comes alive at night with all the fire shows and LED neon lights. I will always remember the time our camp had to pull together biking around the playa looking for sewage pump trucks to get rid of our gray water infestation. Or sharing the little bits of food among all of us on the last day when we’re all hungry and tired from quickly taking down our whole camp due to severe windstorm. I finally understand the magic that was the village camp fire and the lure of a group of people sitting around swapping stories. That is the essence of community, sharing our lives with laughter, and exchange of ideas, emotions and that common experience of being together. A whole ten days without cell phones and internet made me realize I need to get off of social media and see my friends face to face, so that’s what I did. I called up friends and asked them for coffee, dinner, movie, play and walks. I hope you too will come up and connect, share and open your heart to those you value. I really lucked out getting rides, securing my camp and buying a ticket last minute, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my community! It’s an extremely resilient and resourceful platform. It made me think of the Wizard of Oz.
Sex at Dawn, The Prehistoric origins of modern sexuality
On the way back from Burning Man, I hitched a ride share with a camp mate, and he found two other riders to join us. One of them is a super happy young lady from New Zealand who’s coming to Vancouver to attend UBC. She was reading this book which I tried to read and got car sick along the way. It’s a fascinating by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha that turns the tide on what mainstream society teaches us about sexuality.
The book begins with the best story ever! The tale of a wild monkey attack for peanuts in Malaysia inciting a grown man to do his own defence growl. In case you’re wondering, it’s a personal tale from Christopher’s youth.
· Humans share ancestors with two types of apes – bonobos and chimps, who are hyper-sexual and only 1.6% different from us genetically. Bonobos live in groups and have frequent and promiscuous sex besides procreation to promote cohesiveness and lessening of aggression among the group. Total number of monogamous primate species in large social groups is zero.
· In 2000, under the headline “Wall Street Meets Pornography”, The New York Times reported that General Motors sold more graphic sex films than Larry Flynt, owner of the Hustler empire. Over eight million American subscribers to DirectTV, A General Motors subsidiary, were spending about $200 million a year on pay-per-view sex films from satellite providers. Similarly, Rupert Murdock, owner of the Fox News Network and the nation’s leading conservative newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, was pulling in more porn money through a satellite company than Playboy made with its magazine, cable, and internet business combined. AT & T, also a supporter of conservative values, sells hard-core porn to over a million hotel rooms throughout the country via its Hot Network.
· Monogamy and concentration of power in the hands of man only came about after agricultural revolution. Before then most humans lived in small groups of 50-100 with what anthropologist calls “Fierce Egalitarianism”, which means food, work, hunting, child-raring, and sex is all shared communally. It is less risky this way. Man and women were equal in their access to resource, hiding or hoarding resources was deeply shameful unforgivable behaviour. We can see some of that still in hunting and gathering and foraging cultures still in today’s indigenous people of Australian outback, he Kung San of Botswana, and tribes in remote pockets of the Amazon rainforest.
· Scientists observed “mixed strategy” for men and women in evolutionary terms. Women want to marry a nice, rich, predictable, sincere guy likely to pay the mortgage, change the diapers, and take out the trash. But she will cheat on him with wild, sexy, dangerous dudes, especially around the time she’s ovulating. Whereas men would like to have a long term mate, who is chaste so he can protect his male parental investment (children that are his), while having casual sex with as many other women as possible. According to this view, both males and females are, by nature, liars, whores, and cheats.
· Male usually reaches orgasm in 10 minutes, whereas the average time for a woman is 1.5 hours. Women likes sex just as much as men, and can have multiple orgasm and can last longer so she derives more pleasure from it.
· Overall human health took a severe hit when it switched to agricultural society. Less variety of food, and deadly diseases from domesticated animals means less longevity.
· If you hunt or gather just enough low-fat food to forestall serious hunger pangs, and spend the rest of your time in low-stress activities. Such as telling stories by the fire, taking extended hammock-embraced naps, and playing with children, you’d be engaged in the optimal lifestyle for human longevity.
· Sperm competition is active when there is multiple male sperm competing for that one egg in the uterus. Human male’s large penis and testicle size, along with the mating call during a women’s orgasm is historic evidence of our promiscuous multi-male multi-female group sex past. Adult male humans have the longest, thickest, and most flexible penises of any living primate.
· The first ejaculate is designed to kill other semen, while the second ejaculation send its fastest swimmers farthest. The penis is designed to create suction during the thrust to suck out 90% of previous semen.
· There has been a dramatic reduction in human sperm production and testicular volume in recent times. A team of Australian researchers, found that men who had ejaculated more than five times per week between the ages of twenty and fifty were one third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life. A different team from Sydney University reported in 2007 that daily ejaculation dramatically reduced DNA damage to men’s sperm cells, thereby increasing male fertility. Frequent orgasm leads to better cardiac health.
· One in twenty men suffers from sperm dysfunction.
· Asian men had combined testes weights at 24 grams, 29-33 grams for Caucasians, and 50 grams for Africans. Various estimates conclude that Caucasians produce about twice the number of spermatozoa per day than do Chinese.
· Vibrators were invented by medical doctors to cure female “hysteria” which really is sexual frustration. Doctors from the time of Hippocrates to the 1920’s treated their female patients with massage until they achieved orgasm. In 1873, estimated 75% of female patients needed this therapeutic service. The Hamilton Beach company patented the first home use vibrator in 1902 and sold more of it than toasters by 1917 to Americans.
· Genital echo theory states that female breast is designed to resemble the buttocks to display and advertise fertility.
· The female body will reject some sperm while helping others. Not every “high quality” male would be a good match for any specific female-even on a purely biological level. Her body might be better than her mind in choosing the right man to mate with.
· 1995 Swiss biological researcher Claus Wedekind published the results of the “Sweaty T-shirt Experiment” which showed that women on birth control pills lose the ability to use their scent, so they chose men randomly or showed a preference for men with similar immunity to their own.
· Men need variety in sexual partner to keep interest, or else he will lose his libido and testosterone. The interest is lost due to over familiarity. It’s important to understand this process has nothing to do with the attractiveness of the man’s long-term partner or the depth and sincerity of his love for her. Twenty million American marriages can be categorized as no-sex or low-sex due to the man’s loss of sexual interest. 15-20% of American couples have sex less than 10 times a year.
· Masturbation is normal yet has been condemned by religious and medical community. Male circumcision were sold as a solution to cure masturbation. Today, there 40% American male are circumcised as a legacy of that belief system.
· First swingers in America were crew cut World War II air force pilots and their wives. There was a tacit understanding that the two thirds of husbands who survived would look after the widows. This lifestyle then spread from air bases to the surrounding suburbs among straight, white collar professionals noted by journalist Joan and Dwight Dixon.
Changemakers’ Night Out Volume III: Meshworking the Networks
Vancouver is home to a great many business and social networks, many of them dedicated to promoting collaboration among like-minded people and businesses to create positive change.
Imagine what new forces could be unleashed by bringing these networks together for just one evening, forming a powerful meshwork of friends and allies working together to build a better world. Add food, drink and entertainment into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for one fantastic evening with lasting impact.
Tickets available here 50% off code for you “butterfly”: https://meshworking.eventbrite.ca/
Changemakers’ Night Out Volume III: Meshworking the Networks is part of Living the New Economy (October 15-20), a 6-day confluence of events, people and ideas to connect the dots, meld minds, build bridges and cross disciplines in order to accelerate the transition to a new economy in which people and the planet come first.
Check out the amazing line-up of workshops and events at vancouver.neweconomy.ca.