Isn’t it amazing what life experiences you can have if you are open to it!
Today I wish to share a funny and poignant story of how an 87-year-old man “gatecrashed” a family wedding last weekend.
I say “gatecrashed” but as you will read below, he was actually “invited” by me.
Before I continue my story and the lessons in life for us, I wish to thank you and all the many other loyal readers who have been following me for a while.
I appreciate that you want more human stories and simple lessons in life, so from now onwards I will be writing once or twice a week and sharing more of my personal anecdotes.
Please also let me know – what else would you like from me?
Back to my story then – I was attending this family wedding just outside of London and couldn’t find any parking. Eventually, I parked in this quaint housing estate but wasn’t sure if it was okay to park there.
An old man was passing by and I asked him if it was okay to do so. He confirmed and then also wished me fun and enjoyment wherever I was going. I explained that I was off to a wedding in the hall nearby and he said how he had never been to an Indian wedding.
I half-jokingly invited him and said he should come along as everyone was welcome!
I never thought he would come – as I found out later on, he was 87 years old. He wore glasses, had hearing aids in both ears and was using a walking stick. He thanked me profusely for the invitation and then went off towards his home.
So imagine my surprise when about twenty minutes later he appeared at the wedding. Before I had a chance to talk to him, he was whisked off to the front row of chairs and given a prime seat as the wedding proceeded on the stage in front of him.
Halfway through the wedding he was introduced to the bride and met most of the family. He was made the chief guest of honour!
You have to remember that Indian weddings are big and brash affairs with a lot of colour, music, food and joviality. And here amongst the 400 plus guests, an 87-year-old man was having the time of his life!
Nothing on this earth compares to an Indian wedding. Drama, action and comedy all rolled into one with liberal sprinklings of love and laughter.
Everyone should experience an Indian wedding fun and frolics, and Indian hospitality at least once in their lives.
I thought it was very funny indeed when he turned up. If my “jokes” have such positive outcomes then I surely must joke around even more in the future. At the same time, I was worried about having “invited” him, but it was completely fine with all the other guests:-)
He stayed until the end of the wedding and watched the bride and groom leave. I wonder what he made of all the tears and crying – Indian weddings often end with tears as the bride is now seen to be leaving her parent’s home and starting a new life elsewhere.
I spoke to him later on and we had dinner together, though he found the food a bit too spicy. He said the wedding was like going to a West End (or Broadway depending on where you are) musical!
He was so chuffed and moved to be welcomed so openly. At such times, I am so proud to be of Indian heritage and of our cultural openness & warmth. Makes me really glad to be human:-)
It is also about respecting our elders – and treating all guests like kings.
Many other cultures also share similar traits about openness and hospitality, but clearly, I am most familiar with my Indian heritage. (Do share about your own culture below).
So what are the lessons we can learn from this funny story?
Firstly, when I shared my experience on Facebook, within a short time I had over 26 “comments” and “likes” to this story. This shows that people liked the funny side of this and even more importantly, they like human stories.
Secondly, it is about respect and openness towards others. People are open to new things and other cultures and experiences – we just have to give them a chance to experience it all for themselves.
Most importantly, the lesson I would like you to take away is that it takes very little to make someone’s day and to show kindness to others.
Ultimately, we are all one, and every little thing that you do brings us closer and makes a difference in the big scheme of things.
Go forth and find your own simple ways of making this world a better place.
Go on, make someone’s day.
By the way, this 87-year-old young man’s name was “Sid Nathan” – and you would have never believed it looking at him, but he was an ex-professional boxing referee!
In the ’70s and ’80s, he refereed world championships fights featuring the likes of John Conteh, Joe Bugner and Nigel Benn. He proudly said to check out his fight record on the internet.
And though I don’t agree with boxing, you can even see a young Sid Nathan in action.
Mr Nathan asked me what I did and when I explained and gave him my card, he said he would get his daughter to check out my blog. He explained that he was not internet savvy yet, but she was an expert. She was aged only 64!
There we are – there is a whippersnapper of a 64-year-old out there somewhere reading this blog post right now:-)
Now, please share below your own stories about how a simple and kind gesture resulted in an awesome experience for you and others
Also, what’s special and unique about your own culture. Please do share…
Nice post Arvind. It gives you reason to believe in humanity as some of us are too busy to smell the roses or see the beauty around us.
The older generation have vast stores of knowledge and experience that we all can learn from. Some of the old folk I have met just want someone to talk to and they are so pleased if you show an interest in their lives and experience.
Indian hospitality is renowned and is similar amongst the Black people of South Africa. They all stand together and help one another especially in the rural areas. The poor are even more honored to have someone visit with them and share a meal. They have a deep respect for the elderly and you will rarely find a Black person in an old age home. Wedding are elaborate affairs with many guests and speeches. The bride is also seen as leaving her family and there are many rituals that are enacted showing this before the wedding.
I think you hit it with respecting our elders. Something that our youth today seem to have lost..
Andre, welcome to my blog again.
As you say, it gives us reason to believe in humanity again when we experience such simple yet profound events.
Thanks for sharing about your cultural experiences from South Africa. It does sadden me that here in the UK, more and more of Indian elderly people are now “discarded” is homes for the elderly. We are in danger of losing some of the greatness of our culture.
But we will be okay as long we don’t lose our ability to respect our elders – and indeed respect all other people, regardless of age, colour or creed.
What a great story. I carry bottled water in my car and when I see homeless people or people asking for help I have something to offer. Often people stand outside with a sign in all kinds of weather. It’s a simple gesture that’s well-received.
Tess, it is a great story – and I still think its really funny how he actually came to the wedding!
My mother, who wasn’t at the wedding, was also really chuffed when we told her this story. I half expected to be reprimanded for inviting strangers to a wedding but she was really glad I did. So watch out for the next wedding:-)
Oh, I just LOVE this!
What a beautiful, fun story.
It is amazing what happens when we invite others into our world, even when we joking spurt out the invitation.
Aileen, glad you like this story!
As someone said, I should be more careful in future about joking around but if it gets a result like this one, then maybe I should joke around a lot more:-)
A very unlikely story Arvind and I admire your culture especially on being respectful and hospitable even to strangers. I’m afraid I can’t share a story as unexpected as yours but I truly enjoy the surprises that come along with your sharing.
This is the kind of stuff worth reading. 🙂
Walter, as you say these are the kind of human stories that people like reading:-)
I have a few more human stories coming up soon, so look out for those.
This is very touching story of 87 year old guy and I am glad you invited him and he enjoyed it. I hope his 64 young daughter checks out this post 🙂
I love indian weddings, they are so similar to my fat greek wedding with too many relatives and too much great food, and always fun. Thanks for sharing.
Preeti, I too really hope his 64 year old daughter checks out this post!
I wish I had taken Mr Nathan’s phone number so I could call him up and mention this article. Maybe I shall visit the area where he lives and hope to bump into him again.
And yes Indian weddings are so much like the wedding in “My Fat Greek Wedding” – rioutous fun!
Awesome story Arvind. It’s a perfect example of how a small act of kindness can go such a long way. I’m sure it’s something he will remember for many years to come! 🙂
Amit, yes – yet another example of how a small act of kindness can change the world for the better.
Let’s hope he remembers the day forever.
Arvind, I so so so enjoyed this post AND the video link to the bride. When are you going to invite ME to the next Indian wedding?
Persian weddings are huge feasts – I did not get to have one quite like that for my wedding, although my American husband did well to welcome very warmly the traditions that we did bring to the wedding. Group dancing – usually Kurdish dancing – lots of singing and celebration as you would expect but the ceremony itself is pretty serious – and my favorite: The bride & groom are seated as they get married by the officiant and the married women hold a white beautiful sheet over there heads and then you get two large sugar canes and rub them together to get sugar bits to fall out – and thus to bring SWEETNESS to their marriage….I did get to do that for my cousin’s wedding :)!!!
Traditions are WONDERFUL!!!!
Farnoosh, I am so glad we share so many cultural traditions.
Compared to our cultures, others seem quite drab but I am sure they are not. Or maybe they are!
YOU are invited anytime to the next family wedding we have. You know, everyone is invited:-)
Maybe I can get my brother, who is a wedding photographer in Atlanta, to invite you next time he is in your area.
And I have yet to go to a Persian wedding – hint!
Your description of the sugar cane and the white cloth reminds me of that part in the Indian ceremony when the bride first enters the mandap (wedding hall). The groom is already seated and they put a cloth in front of him so he doesn’t see the bride until she is seating down and facing him. In the olden days, that monent of the cloth being removed would actually be the first time EVER that they set eyes on each other.
I really do wonder what Mr Nathan made of the wedding!
To each their own. Drab may be the way we see other cultures but perhaps noisy and crazy is how they see ours ;)!
And I am all for going to an Indian wedding and happy to wear the Indian custom clothes if need be!!! I have pulled off many nationalities in my day ;)!
Yes, people from other cultures probably see our weddings as noisy and totally crazy. A French friend of mine went to an Indian wedding last weekend and he said it was really boring! So as you say, each to their own.
Right, let’s see if we can arrange for you to go to an Indian wedding soon. Just email me where you live exactly and we’ll make it happen!
You can then blog about it on my blog:-)
Funny. 😀 Just the title of this post was enough to send me laughing down the floor!! Okay, i am exaggerating the floor thing… but the laugh was for real.
Thanks Am….eh I almost said Amit!! Lol… Arvind 😀
Christopher, I am so glad that thanks the miracle of this technology, I was able to make you laugh more than half way across Africa in Zambia.
Be well, my friend.
PS I too often get confused between me and Amit:-)
I like reading the personal stories. You write great posts.
I’m always fascinated with the idea of inviting others to my events. I attend a small spirtual gathering on Sunday evenings, and I always think about the leftover food. It gets eaten or taken home by someone, but why couldn’t we find someone else to come by and eat with us?
When we used to meet in a more public place, we did have visitors sometimes. Often, they were people thinking we were the owners of the building (a church) and wanting money. Being offered a fresh-cooked meal instead surprised them. Some appreciated it and others didn’t.
Gip, thanks for your kind feedback – I shall be writing more personal stories in the future.
People are often surprised when you offer them something with no strings attached. I have had some friends in the past almost overwhelmed and disbelieving when I have done things for them such as cooking a meal or inviting them home to my mum’s.
Always better to share leftover food rather than seeing it go to waste. On Sunday I had another family wedding event, and I was given a tub of cooked Indian vegetables at the end as they had so much left over:-)
Arvind you certainly meet some interesting people. Beyond your excellent true story is the fact that you reach out to others, not shying away from from sparking conversation, introducing yourself and finding amazing people like Sid. It just shows that we should all open up and talk to others more. Not only could you discover phenomenal people at every turn you could also make their day like you did with something simple as a smile, a joke or an invite. There are millions of 87 year olds out there every day just waiting to give us all something of a lifetime. Brilliant feel good story Arvind.
John, I used to think that everyone was like me, reaching out and talking to strangers. But clearly not many people are as foolhardy and thick-skinned like me!
Joking aside, I do make an extra effort to reach out and talk to people, even if some of my friends find this amusing and sometimes even disconcerting. But as a result, my life is never boring – indeed my life is much richer.
Best of all, I get to meet and connect with some amazing people. Here’s to meeting many more 87 year olds:-)
I so love this story! I receive your posts via email and I couldn’t stop reading…I wanted more! I just had to stop by and let you know that I really enjoyed this post. All I can say is WOW! I thought Sid would have been told to leave, but to my surprise he was allowed to stay and enjoy the wedding. So cool!!
I do have a quick story about my own wedding. During my ceremony I sang to my husband “I Believe in You and Me” by Whitney Houston. Well, after I finished singing, I received a standing ovation. I wanted to scream out to the audience…”You are not suppose to clap like this at a wedding.” But I couldn’t say anything, I had to hold l peace.
Evelyn, welcome to my blog. And I take it, you liked this post:-)
I am so glad you liked this post – and just so you know, I will be writing more personal and human stories like this in the future.
As for your wedding, I can see why the audience would have applauded you! Must have been a very moving and personal moment – only to be followed by a crescendo of clapping and a standing ovation. At least it would have broken the seriousness of the event and made it more lighthearted.
I bet you have a great voice – even better than Whitney. And your husband must have been chuffed with the words of that song – I just listened to it on YouTube. He is one lucky guy:-)
Arvind – what a delightful post. I really had a good laugh about the whole exercise. It says much about you, but a whole lot more about the inclusive Indian community. The ripple effect of this would have been that you made one old man so happy for a day, and who knows, he may still be basking in the joy of inclusion. There are so many lonely people out there.
It reminds me of a colleague of mine who enjoys a few glasses of wine (or more!). She had a special birthday recently and invited a large nuumber of people for the weekend to help her celebrate. The night before, however, a group of them went to a local restaurant for dinner. There they met a couple who were visiting the area to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
The weather was a little bleak so she insisted that they not be alone, and that they attend her birthday party the next night. Of course she didn’t expect them to turn up – but they did, armed with a beautiful gift.
Like your guest, they had the honour of sitting at the birthday girl’s table, Everyone there made a fuss of them and I really believe it helped to make the couple’s celebration more memorable.
Since then, my friend and her husband have been guests at the home of the couple and their friendship has blossomed to the point where they are in touch on a weekly basis.
Arvind – I have the link to Blog Magic, given to me by another member, but it doean’t work. Could you please send me the correct link? Thankyou!
Maria, as you say we just don’t what widespreading ripple effects we could have after this simple act of kindness for an old man.
Thanks for sharing yuor wonderful story of the couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary – it sure made their weekend even more special.
And look out for an email from me about the Blog Magic offer. Let’s make a new blog happen for you!
What a heart warming story. I love how this visitor was treated like royalty. How wonderful to be part of such a welcoming culture.
I’m a Greek American – and we definitely share that warm welcoming aspect. We’ll also stuff you like a grapeleaf. No one ever leaves hungry.
Angela, I have been to a Greek wedding once in Athens – and I did get stuffed like a grapeleaf!
And as you say, it’s wonderful to be part of such a welcoming culture.
I love hearing about the personal experiences you create Arvind. It’s so simple to make Someone’s day so much of the time. It just takes that switch in thinking to overcome the inertia of looking at events through your own eyes instead of those of others. It adds so much to life to get others involved!
Great to hear you’ll be writing more often too!
Scott, I shall be writing more and more about my personal experiences. This is much more to come from me:-)
As you say, its so simple to make someone’s day.
What a wonderful story and the best part – it was not a ‘made for Hollywood’ type of story, it was all true and you lived every moment of it.
How wonderful for Mr. Nathan to cross your path that day and how gracious of you to invite him and even more so that the entire wedding guest list included him. You sound like a fabulous group of individuals!
I hope I can run into you on the street one day too! Bravo!!!
Thanks Jan for your kind feedback – and welcome to my blog!
Yes, it was all true and it just flowed! I must admit I had a job keeping a straight face when Mr Nathan walked into the wedding hall! Also I didn’t want to be found out as the one who had invited this “gate-crasher” – but I need not have worried. My family did my proud:-)
Well, Jan you are invited anytime to my home – when are you visiting London?!
I have now read through your article about the evening that you met my father. I do know that dad is a very outgoing person and has always been able to make friends easily. He was delighted to have met up with you and told me everything about the wedding; that he had explained it was a surprise invite! He really had been thrilled about it and told how he had been made extremely welcome by everyone.
Dad was pleased to know that I could receive any information and able to find it on the internet. He hadn’t thought that I would be able to do that. I will contact him tomorrow evening and read out all that you have written.
I haven’t been able to use my printer for some time otherwise I would have obviously printed it all out for him.
I will be interested in looking through some of your pages to morrow.
Thank you once again for your kindness and hospitality to my father.
Very Best Wishes,
I’m with my father on the telephone after having read out all these lovely comments. These are Dads words now given to me over the telephone.
Every word Arvind has said is perfectly true. I wasn’t sure how I would be received but all I can say is – thankfully I was.
Sid Nathan (the old man)
It’s so wonderful to hear from you, Mr Nathan!
I am so glad you got to “read” my blog post about you, through your daughter. You probably have no idea how much joy you brought to the people at the wedding that day, and also to all the people who have read this article about you.
Wishing you all the best – I hope we can get to meet again soon:-)
Brilliant 🙂 xx
Thanks Kate – and welcome to my blog:-)
What a great feel-good story. And I gotta get myself invited to an Indian wedding one day.
Henway, yes one day you must experience an Indian wedding!