Sunday, December 03, 2006

Raw silk, sweet jelabis and fluttering butterflies

Halal mutton and lamb; colourful rolls of raw silk and viscose; plastic mannequins swathed in embroidered saris; yellow gold or costume jewellery; crates of baby aubergines and tiny red chillies; window displays piled high with sweet yellow ladoos and milky white rossogollas... A wander down the tiny stretch of Turnpike Lane North is as much an assault on the senses as a walk down the much longer and much exhalted Brick Lane.

As we live just down the road from Harringay's own Little Bangladesh or Little India, we thought it couldn't hurt to see what was on offer in terms of wedding gear before we headed out to Brick Lane, Tooting or Wembley. We didn't expect to find just what we wanted right on our doorstep: raw silk blouses for my sari and jewelled bindis for my face; then we walked back home along Green Lanes peering in at the dazzling yellow gold and white gold displays in the windows of Turkish and Greek jewellery stores and found the perfect necklace, earring and bracelet set.

Having found what we wanted, it seemed a waste of time to visit Brick Lane as we had planned, but I hadn't visited East End's Little Bangladesh for a while and was craving genuine, home cooked samosas. So we took the 141 to Finsbury Circus and cut across Spitalfields Market, buying chocolate truffles with lime, chilli and vodka, and with rose cream fillings from Montezuma's on the way. Brick Lane is half shut on a Saturday and is grossly over-rated in terms of "Indian" food, but there is one place that is worth a special trip - Sweet & Spicy: a cheap East Bengali cafeteria with steel utensils, formica tables and posters of short, stocky Bangladeshi wrestlers. We ate large spicy plates of delicious vegetable samosas, fish curry and chickpea curry, followed by bright orange, and very sweet jelabis.

Our bellies satisfied, we went to Kings Cross and took the train to St Albans where our friend J was sharing and celebrating her birthday with her 1 year old daughter S. We played and drank and ate and chatted away until everyone had gone home. J's partner D is my witness at the wedding and so the four of us chatted wedding logistics: how much alcohol we will need (lots), from where (most likely Calais) and what types (red, white and cava); the different types of music we are having (live Indian classical band plus a mixture of our favourite music from Wong Kar-Wai soundtracks to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground); who would be making the speeches (my dad, M, and D) and when (during dinner, between courses); and lighting (white fairy lights outside, but we need to revisit the venue to see if the existing indoor lighting needs augmenting).

The closer we get to the big day, the greater my relief and anxiety. We've already checked many of the major things off our list (venue, dress, photographer, music, food, invitations...), but there are still so many minor but necessary things to do (hotels for the guests, table decorations and favours, shoes and makeup...), plus there's the possibility things may go wrong (the key thing today, for example, being our wedding cake)... so the butterflies keep fluttering away.

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