We had all done eating the wedding feast at the groom’s home (his family hotel) and the wedding band had signalled that we should jump into a vehicle and join the convoy.
The cars, vans and backless trucks had taken off in one long procession at high speed and in reckless haste. It was a real case of hanging on to your hats and praying like mad that this was all going to work out alright.
We left Pamukkale behind in a trail of dust and committed ourselves to the long straight motorway between the village and Denizli. The band sat in the back of the open truck and tried to keep a tune going as the convoy bounced over humps and potholes, without losing their teeth on their reed instruments.
Many overexcited guests thought this was an excellent opportunity to test their cars performances and definitely a fair bit of testosterone was out driving the force.
At times, I really did wish that I had stayed behind in the hotel and help pack away the tables but actually, as I survived this, I realise this was a once in a million kind of opportunity to seize. Never had I been so close in participating in this incredibly deeply entrenched drama full of tradition.
Within half an hour we were winding our way through the very tight little village streets in the outskirts of Denizli, towards 2338 Street. No chance of getting lost this time.
The band and lead car which had the groom in it, came to a halt about a block away, around the corner from the bride’s house. The following 20 or 30 cars and vans just pulled up behind one another. There was no suggestion of trying to park them to the side of the road, in case others wanted to pass. It seemed perfectly acceptable that the whole district was completely blocked off and would remain that way until the groom chose to leave.
Everyone poured out of their cars and reconvened behind the groom. The band had climbed down from their backless truck and started playing once again. The groom and the best man (with the red flag attached to the back of his jacket) began to do a slow walking type dance down the street whilst men waved Turkish flags with a pair of pink Turkish village pants (shalvar) strung up with the flag and egged them on.
The men surrounded the groom and acted like guards and henchmen. This whole procedure felt like an orchestrated kidnapping was about to take place.
It took about half an hour to cover the distance of 200 metres to arrive in front of Mine’s house. The plastic chairs were all stacked outside their house from the Henna Party the night before and the older ladies started organising the men to set them up for the oldies. I was told… it’s could be a long wait.
So we sat.
And we sat.
And we sat.
Hundreds of people had now congregated outside Mine’s house and the band was playing extremely loudly and the groom was still dancing like a peacock out the front with his best man.
Eventually I asked Ismail the groom’s aunt what was going on. She explained that Mine was inside, saying her goodbyes to the family. Shedding the last tears before eventually Ismail could not stand it any longer and would drag her out. She suggested that I go in and see her in her wedding attire.
The house was overflowing with people and squeezing past about 40 people on the stairs leading into the house and lining the hallway, it was very hard to even get a glimpse. But I did, just a quick one. Mine had her red lace veil on. It completely covered her face and prevented us seeing at all what she was really thinking.
Mine the bride wailed and wailed and crocodile tears were produced as she acted as the unwanting bride and pretended she had a desperate need to stay forever in her family home.
Meanwhile the family and close friends remained very stern and sad. There was absolutely no smiles to be shown during this devastating time.
Eventually there was no one else left to say goodbye to. It was time for Ismail to lead her out to the crowd and eventually into the waiting car.
With great aplomb he gently dragged her down the stairs out into the open. Someone walked around the car with the flag and another pair of village pants had now joined the original pink pair. They hung together on the end of a bamboo pole. This was paraded around the car and later hung up beside the room where they would spend their first night. I later learnt that the mother of the groom had given the first pair and the mother of the bride had also given a pair. This showed that both families approved of the match.
As soon as Mine was in the car, red veil still in tact, everyone sprinted to their vehicles and the convoy raced off in a cloud of dust. Back we all went to the wedding venue.