Red Sarees and White Tigers

Just imagine… a big fat Indian wedding in an exotic destination.  Now imagine… the lush green Chiang Mai (Thailand) under an umbrella of hundreds of Chinese lanterns soaring high above 300 or so mesmerized guests.  The glow from these lanterns lit up the night sky to a dancing orange hue.  Pretty picture isn’t it?

The wedding was replete with a musical evening of family performances, Dandiya, after parties, lazy brunches followed by a grand baraat.

“Did you see the flowers by the fountain this morning?” asked my dearest friend.

“I did, but for the love of me, I can’t imagine naming them.”

“Can’t wait to see tomorrow’s decor.”

“I can’t wait to eat the exotic fruits,” added another friend.

“I heard that the garden venue for the wedding tomorrow night is exquisite.”

After 2 days of partying and getting pampered, the night of the actual wedding was a solemn and beautiful affair. The bride and groom dressed to the T, seemed almost divine with the famed Thai flora serving as the perfect backdrop.

“It’s going to be another 2 hours, we’re getting out of here,” announced my friend.

“Are you sure, won’t we be missed?”

“Look around, everyone’s so involved. Let’s take our chance.”

And so the 8(4 couples) of us, packed into one of the over-sized luxury vans and left the dazzling wedding.

When I think about it today, it seems like such an unusual choice that we made that night. But we did.  Dressed in our finest silks and Zegnas, laden with emeralds and rubies, floating on our Pradas and Jimmies, we entered the Chiang Mai Night Safari.

“Oh God, everyone’s staring at us!”

“The animals will be happy to see glammed up visitors, c’mon stop thinking and live in the moment,” exclaimed the most enthusiastic of my friends.

Well, watching these magnificent beasts is always exhilarating. Add to it, the element of night time and the whole spectacle gets a horror-movie effect.  The low grumble of the animals, their glowing eyes, the nip in the cool forest air, in short it was absolutely thrilling.

“Let’s go feed the white tiger cubs.”

“Count me out,” said one.

“A no from me too,” added another.

Sensing my hesitance, my husband nudged me forward, pushing the small of my back, “We’re in it together, don’t worry.”

So, in two groups of three each, we literally entered the tigers lair.  I was terrified to say the least. Transfixed by the cub’s bewitching eyes my reluctant feet moved of their own accord towards it. It seemed as if the cub and I shared a common secret.  The majestic beast with snow-white fur had enraptured me.  We were so close, that I could see the scarlet of my saree reflecting in his eyes.

And then….

My friend winked at me as he made his bone-chilling revelation that made my blood run cold.

“You know that tigers pounce on red, right?”

picture credit; Atoms photography