Sunday 25 July 2010

Nuptials in Raguhn

A journey to Raguhn
To the countryside of East-Germany just about 150 kilometres from Berlin to the South was the event for the day yesterday. Borne from the significance of blogging a friendship has developed for the good, in my view.
Raguhn is almost a non-descript town, if not village in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt and its Category 6 station was not open for rail traffic for 3 weeks of July and that meant looking for alternative means of getting there.
A train to Bitterfeld passing through Lutherstadt-Wittenberg – sounds familiar, that was the city where the Christian reformation movement started almost 500 years ago by Martin Luther, worth a visit on my next sojourn to Berlin, I would think - and then a 40-minute bus-ride.
Buses for trains
At Bitterfeld I met other fellow travellers to the wedding, one of whom was uncannily from Amsterdam and hardly a kilometre from where I live who flew in on the same flight from Amsterdam and was flying back on the same scheduled flight – one would have thought the bridegroom would have been mindful of what was more than a mere coincidence.
Unfortunately, when we got to Raguhn my mobilephone-based Google Maps failed to bring up any maps, that is becoming an issue and needs resolution, I have been to a few places with the hope that my mobile GPS would be of help, only to be disappointed.
Thankfully, my co-travellers had printed out the directions and one of whom was a doctoral student of architecture and well, his map-reading skills were evidently not leading us in the right direction until we got some help from a local gardener.
It is the countryside
When we retraced our steps, we needed to cross the railway line that was being upgraded, a sign was put up stopping pedestrians from crossing at that point but there was no pavement or sidewalk (American English) for us to ply – I felt that was dangerous but the rule-bound and recently liberated from Easterm German Communism workmen could not see the sense of our hop-scotch over the railway lines when we could be run over by vehicles that definitely had all right of way.
In the end, a bus came by, drove us up the temporarily abandoned Raguhn Station giving us the safety of a present pavement but no shorter distance to walk, disillusionment was about to set in with the all too familiar countryside fragrance of cattle dung.
We finally found the location, a road badly in need of serious upkeep, with potholes and undulations that could cripple the able if not careful and there we were a large expanse of land, more of a park than a garden, with a tennis court, swimming pool, a number of out-houses, sheds and more.
The ceremony begins
The countryside ideas of the bijoux gave way to the concept of space and lots of it, only if the wind would put on the brakes and the weather would move on for some sun to shine.
The introductions were numerous, relations, families, friends, acquaintances and more, I probably was the only one with the toddler daughter of the couple who hadn’t commenced a PhD programme – it was full of doctors but probably none that could administer basic first-aid services.
The couple then came out dressed in traditional Nigerian dress, the bride with a professional tied headwrap called gele in Yoruba and the ceremony or party began – no fuss or outrageous ostentation beyond sense of typical Nigerian parties but a sensible and well-organised series of events centred around food and entertainment.
Joy of parents expressed
There was a lot of that, the father of the bride, an accomplished choir master and violin virtuoso performed with a small orchestra a number of popular classical pieces and we started off with drinks and cakes.
The mother of the bride lead a few folk dances that were as entertaining as they were almost clownish too and then we had a Powerpoint presentation that gave us a story about the couple, their forebears and the expectations for the future.
A barbecue with more entertainment closed the evening with music from a university band and discussions between the bride’s mother and the groom’s aunts through an interpreter – interesting questions, more interesting answers and well multi-cultural unions are just things opportunities for a wonderful learning experience between the relations of the couple.
Wishes and departures
We were given helium-filled balloons and cards on which to write wishes for the newly married couple, the views varied between the stridently religious and the generally pragmatic but in all most balloons lifted off with the best of wishes and goodwill from all.
The quest to return to Berlin began with wondering how and where to get a bus for the connection to Dessau, a stopover and a journey set to last almost 3 hours. Eventually, a family offered me a lift to the West of Berlin, Spandau, it was then that I realised how far out of Berlin we were.
I got back to my hotel by 23:30 hours, that was just about the time I would have had to catch a train from Dessau for a 2 hour journey to Berlin – a wonderful, pleasant and beautiful day out and my very best wishes for a long life together of happiness, joy, love, health, wealth and prosperity for the couple and all their children, starting with the first.
Raguhn? Well, I know where it is now.

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