Last night I was invited to a Fat-ha or Islamic marriage ceremony, these events are usually attended by men only. I got ready on time, put on a suit and tie even though it was a hot day but looking smart in events like this is a must, I had to stand in front of a fan for a while to stop my self from sweating then ran to my car which luckily was serviced only few days ago and the air condition was working perfectly for a change! I left a bit early in case of heavy traffic even though it was a Sunday and I am glad I did, twice I got stuck in heavy traffic and instead of the journey taking me about 35 minutes, it took me one hour and 25 minutes to get to central London and to the hotel where the event was taking place. I found a parking space easily and walked to the hotel where I found younger members of the family that are celebrating the marriage, standing outside the front door of the luxury hotel, they were there to escort the guests to the hired hall, usually I am early at events like this but as soon as I walked in the hall I noticed that most guests were already there and seated, I found a chair at the front and sat down then used my eagle eyes to scan the place, almost everyone I know was there, I must say that us Libyan men are not usually the smartest dressed men in the world but it was nice last night to see that almost everyone made an effort to look their best.
Soon I saw some of my best friends that I have known since my days in Oxford over 25 years ago, they still live in Oxford and because of this we do not meet as much as we would like to, they really are some of the best men that you could have for friends, our eyes just light up when ever we meet and we always realise at these rare occasions that we do miss each others company so much, so it was hugs and kisses all round, so nice.
The grooms father then escorted the Muslim cleric into the hall with the bride's father and the 2 witnesses and after a short speech by the cleric on the advantages of getting married, the signing of the contract took place and within few minutes the marriage was official.
The event was a bit low key because of a recent death in the family, no dinner was served but instead a selection of beautiful cakes and deserts were served along side nicely presented sandwiches, juices, coffee and tea, it was a good change from big pieces of lamb fit for a lion and huge plates of rice and masareen (a type of Libyan sausage) there were waiters and waitresses serving everyone that needed it, the waitresses were young Portuguese girls that looked quite good in their smart uniforms, I had to laugh as suddenly I started to notice the flirting that was being poured on these girls, it was all harmless and fun, watching young and not so young Libyan men flirting but without being offensive and the waitresses seemed very happy with all the attention, they looked relaxed after looking quite tense at the beginning and were talking and laughing back, even some of the more strict men and more religious were doing some of the flirting, everyone was well behaved.
The groom and his younger brother were mingling with the guests and made sure that everyone was looked after, it was a good relaxed evening that was enjoyed I would say, by all that attended, first class event.
I wish the bride and groom a happy, healthy and prosperous marriage inshaAllah.
Haj. Rajab, Abdul-Salam, Sami and Yousef, it was a pleasure seeing you all last night and I hope we get to meet again soon :o)