Bonding with Thai colleagues at an Indian Wedding

Thai Colleagues in salwar kameez at Jaipur wedding.
  • Six Thai girls were invited to Jaipur for a wedding. Aparna helped give them an Indian look and shares lots of tit-bits of what fun it was doing so.

A few months ago, I got to be associated with an Indian organisation for a long term assignment. During the familiarization program, I visited the company’s factory in Thailand. The three day short visit was eventful, in the sense that I could get to meet a number of Thai & few Indian colleagues who worked in the plant.

Having worked in the Philippines earlier, I could relate to them easily. Thai culture, though different was something I could associate with quickly because of the long cultural relations between Thailand and India.

A month or so after I returned, I got a message from one of the Thai colleagues that they were coming to attend the wedding of their boss’s sister at Jaipur. I was happy because it would give me a chance to meet them and re-connect again. 

The interesting part of the wedding were the three themes for individual events namely Traditional Indian, Formal Indian, and Indo-Western. Being her first visit to India and being unaware of Indian clothing styles, my Thai colleague asked for guidance on what to wear. To save her the hassle of buying clothes, I told her that would share some of my clothing, hoping it would fit. She was only too happy.

A few days later, I was both surprised and happy to know that instead of one, six lady colleagues were coming. And guess what - they all wanted Indian clothing for the various events. Given their last minute arrival and tight schedules, buying in Jaipur was not possible.

In the run up to the wedding, I was travelling extensively so had little time to breathe or think about how to organise for this. Nevertheless, assured them that they would be our guest in India and I would do everything possible to help them look their best.

Each lady needed two sets of clothing. What was I to do? I was excited with the thought of helping but the challenge of selecting from my wardrobe or buying twelve sets and taking them to Jaipur seemed daunting to say the least.

I opened my wardrobe, turned it upside down to select the following. I selected 8 Salwar-Kameez with Dupattas (for Traditional Indian wear), 6 Saris with petticoats and blouses for all (for Formal Indian wear) with enough glitter to be worn during different functions over two days. Having done so, the next challenge was packing it. The bag was just so heavy. Luckily, the overweight was only 15 kgs.

Group in Salwar Kameez. 

On reaching Jaipur, I immediately proceeded to the hotel where the Thai team were put up. They were eagerly waiting for me….however, since it was getting late…they were already dressed in Traditional Thai dress. I showed them all the clothes and said now select. 

Thereafter, I helped them get dressed up and make-up with creative Bindis. Lots of interesting tit bits. One lady wore the blouse in the reverse direction, another did not know how to wear the salwar and a few wore the dupatta like a tie. For some, my clothes were so loose that we used numerous safety pins to make it appear normal.

In sari, a Thai colleague and me.

Next I checked into my hotel, a ten minute drive, only to realize that my bags had not reached the hotel yet. After a bit of running around, found it.

The dressing up and bag misplacement made me late for the first function. All through the function, other guests were pleasantly admiring this group of Thai ladies in Indian clothing. JJJ. Actually, most of them carried it off very well & appeared very comfortable in them.

The next day was the wedding. The ladies wore saris, ably assisted by the hotel parlour staff. Unfortunately, the sari of one colleague tore, so she wore a traditional Thai dress. All of them looked so beautiful in a sari and attracted curious glances from other guests. Whilst dancing, some covered their heads with the sari to emulate what others were doing.

With covered heads.

Food in a new country is always a challenge. I helped by guiding what to eat and sharing options.

Looking back, realize that I would not have enjoyed the marriage as much had it not been for these lovely Thai colleagues. They added a twist to the wedding. As an Indian, I was very happy to help them adjust to and enjoy the wedding.

Before I knew, it was time for them to leave. We exchanged smiles and hoped to see each other soon.

Little did I know that I would be visiting the Thailand plant within weeks of the wedding? The Thai lady colleagues came to the hotel, took me out for dinner and helped me in shopping as well.

The bonds built during the two days of wedding are now as strong as Fevicol, a very popular adhesive in India.

In a deeper sense, this experience is about helping colleagues and moreso, in a cross-cultural context. When I see their pictures, makes me smile too and recall the great time that we had. I know that I now have friends for life in them in Thailand, even though miles away. In short, a recipe for infinite happiness.

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