I was woken by chants in stereo coming from nearby mosques. I rolled over to the other side, moaned, having forgotten that on the other side I had a broken collarbone, rolled back to the first side and covered my head with a pillow with medium to low soundproofing properties.
The nearest mosque was just two buildings away and it was its slightly screeching speaker that woke me up every day 15 minutes before sunrise, with the very screeching man calling for prayer. Years ago a friend of mine, who was then studying to become a priest, was getting prepared for an exam in liturgical singing. Every morning I regretted that the man from the speaker had not taken such an exam.
I calculated quickly that after the end of prayers I had almost 10 minutes until the first rooster would wake up, and along with him – the rest of the neighborhood. I closed my eyes tightly and pressed the pillow firmly against my ear.
I did not manage to fall back asleep. Bryndza, sprinting down the corridor of the blue house on stilts, in escape from the white tomcat known in the kampung (Malay village) by the fluffy pet name Grandpa Rapist, let me know that morning had arrived inevitably.
I had no intention of eating anything for breakfast. We were going to a wedding today, and you do not go to a Malay wedding with a full stomach. I only left to have a cup of kopi tarik – coffee mixed with condensed milk using a rather spectacular technique that resembles stretching fudge (that’s a guess – I have never seen fudge being stretched). I passed by fruit stands tempting me with the aroma of coconut and repelling with the reek of durian, and a bench on which a twenty-something-year-old Malay, wrapped carefully around with a colorful hijab, was breastfeeding her baby.
How did we get invited to a wedding? A few days earlier Bono came to announce that his friend’s sister was getting married and we would please her very much if we came. We knew neither the sister, nor the friend, and we had only met Bono three times before. On our way we passed four signs informing about other weddings that were taking place that day. We quickly established that Bono had no idea what the bride and the groom were called, so blissfully ignorant we could have well accepted the hospitality of each of those four wedding receptions.
Only after getting to the (correct) wedding did we understand the essence of our invitation. In the main hall, together with the bride and the groom, there were a hundred of relatives. However, in front of the entrance the tables were collapsing under heaps of food and the asphalt was collapsing under the heaps of guests. On average, Malay weddings serve 500-1000 people, from what Bono said, the more exotic the guests, the greater the respect in the kampung.
You come to have loads of traditional dishes, very sweet desserts and very colourful beverages, listen to the local groups sing, have a picture taken with the bride and the groom (obligatory!) and go back home. Alternatively, you could have a walk around Chinatown, so as not to allow the wedding calories settle around your hip area. I went for option number one. Together with the other overeaten wedding guests I lay down on the couch. My sight followed Bryndza. She had just reached the ceiling in pursuit of a gecko, which had already lost his tail in panic, and there was nothing else that could save him. I envied her energy.
We’ll go to Chinatown next week.