#8 – The Somali Wedding

There are many different cultural aspects to weddings, so I am only going by what I have experienced and seen.

A Somali wedding tends to be segregated. The men will come to the venue during the afternoon for the ‘Meher’, also known as an engagement, which is the ceremony in which the bride’s father will speak to the groom & his family to give his daughter away. The bride must make it clear exactly what she wants from the groom, as he has to give her a dowry during this ceremony. The bride is not physically here for this. The dowry does not have to be paid straight away, but the groom should agree to give it to her eventually. There are sometimes a small number of women who are in a side room – in our case, the bar – and during the celebrations, they will chant as a way of celebration. Once the Meher has finished, they will chant as a way of celebrating the completion of the engagement.

2de3e522-e8bd-4182-ac29-c566504fe42c

Then come the women.

They will come along in the evening, dressed in beautiful, colourful outfits. In all my time here, I have only ever seen all Somali women look elegant & beautiful. I absolutely LOVE their attire! I tend not to take pictures of the guests during the event out of respect.

a5d4196a-cb51-4f96-97f4-e2040f0b57bb

During this particular occasion, they wanted a head table just in front of the dance floor.

05477f45-5c24-4713-8b8e-699853b892f0

Whenever I think ‘wedding’, the colour green never springs to mind. However, it does look beautiful.

170d77ff-1eb8-4691-a8c6-c7edfa11f659

A simple, green colour scheme with a half moon stage. There’s not a lot going on, but it still looks lovely.

Trying to serve food to 350 guests isn’t the simplest of tasks. You have to serve every table as quickly as possible so you need to have enough staff to be able to do so. During the majority of Somali functions, it tends to be easier to serve the starters, mains, rice, naan and salad all at once. This is because, if you tried to serve starters at around 9:30pm, you’d have nobody to serve it too. They tend to get to the hall at around 10:30pm, even though the invite says the event commences at 8.00pm. During this function, the food was served at 11:30pm. No that’s not a typo. You read that correctly. 1 1 : 3 0 p m.  That’s my bedtime (on non-event days).

8b1292f1-7164-46b4-994d-42c83141c6f9

As the food was served so late, this fruit display was demolished well in advance. The guests were hungry, as I’m sure you would be too.

A Somali function always works better on a Friday or Saturday night. On your average weekday, most licenses tend to finish at 11:30pm. However, on a weekend, you’re more likely to be able to stay in the venue till around 1:30am. For this type of event, you have no other option. There are temporary event notices that you can apply for, but that’s another post in itself.

There is a lot of hard work that goes into making a Somali wedding go off with a bang. Setting up the tables.. chair covers.. centre pieces.. the fruit display.. the folding of the napkins.. there’s so many little jobs that make the whole thing come together. But these functions are so much fun considering the fact that Somalians know how to partyyyy! When you hear the music, you just want to dance along with them.

ANYWAY! I hope you enjoyed this & it didn’t sound like too much of a ramble.

Till next time.. ☺

#7 – Bank Holiday Monday

I spent the majority of Easter bank holiday Monday with my boyfriend.

It started with us not really having any specific plans. We cleaned my (might as well say our) room and decided to go out for a pub lunch. We were going to go to a place close to home, but went for a drive instead & went wherever the roads took us.

We ended up going to a pub called The Gate.  Coincidentally, the original pub we were going to go to was also called The Gate. I decided to get jacket potato with cheese, beans & tuna. If you haven’t tried that combination, I’d HIGHLY recommend it. Even with some sweetcorn. And my boyfriend got a steak & ale pie.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 12.10.20 (1).jpegWhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 12.10.20 (2).jpegWhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 12.10.19.jpegI hadn’t had jacket potato in a very long time, so this went down a treat. Its well worth the price we paid. And it emulates such a cosy environment. We’d both give this place 10/10!

After building up some energy, we went to play golf. Not crazy golf, but a driving range. I haven’t ever been to a driving range & I haven’t played any type of golf in a loooong time. He started. Then it was my turn. I could barely hit the ball. After what felt like forever, I finally managed to hit it. There was a bit of sulking and I couldn’t help but get super angry because I just couldn’t do it. But then..

This happened. TWICE IN A ROW. And we managed to get it on camera.. I was incredibly surprised, hence the ‘WHAT!?’ at the end. I didn’t even look at where it went. After hitting 100 balls between us, we went back to his house and made biscoff & nutella milkshakes. And that’s my contribution to a chocolatey Easter monday!

For dinner, we decided to return home for mum’s pasta salad (you haven’t lived till you’ve tried it), some roast chicken, potatoes & veggies. We ate with the family while watching Fast 7.

It was a lovely – much better than sitting at home debating whether we should go out or stay in or watch a movie or sleep. This was one of our final days off together in a while. And even though I got a bit stroppy – doesn’t every girlfriend at some point? – it was really nice to do something different and, although all pub grub is the same, trying out new places is always a delight.

Lots of love my friendly faced readers.

Till next time ☺

#6 – The Sagai & Mendhi

Before I talk about this day, let me explain what a Sagai is. A Sagai, pronounced suh-gai, is a pre-Wedding ceremony. It is essentially an engagement. Back in the day, a Sagai would take place at home. It involves the grooms family visiting the bride’s home and telling her family that they are willing to accept their daughter & have acknowledged that they will be responsible for her future well being.

In this case, the Sagai rituals were performed at a banqueting suite. The night before the event, at around 5.30pm, the clients came in to drop off a few things. They hadn’t taken anything from us – no chair covers & no table covers, so the venue was set up without any decoration. However, they decided that they DID want them because they didn’t realise the state of the chairs. We obviously couldn’t disappoint our clients, so we had to hire it all in last minute.

They were extremely happy with how the venue looked in the end.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 13.25.31

There were 15 tables set up for 150 guests as you can comfortably seat 10 guests to a table. The rest of the chairs were set up theatre style.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 13.25.29 (1)

With the theatre style seating, there were 270 chairs. Overall, we catered for 420 guests for the Sagai.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 13.25.31 (1)

The reason that the hall was set up this way is because there were rituals performed on stage with both the families, so it wouldn’t have made sense to have tables & chairs around the whole venue. Theatre style seating allows all attention to be focused to one key area, which in this case, was the stage.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 13.25.34 (1)WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 13.25.32 (1)

So what’s the point of the tables & chairs? This ceremony started at around 10:00am. By midday, you’re going to have some hungry guests.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 13.25.36

There was a buffet set up in the bar area, and instead of having one single line, it was split in two which helps the queue move quicker. There was constantly someone running in & out of the kitchen, making sure each bowl was full and refilling the ones that were almost empty or cold. As long as you have enough staff to cater to that event, you should have no issues.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 13.25.37 (1)

It was lovely.

After lunch, there was a 2 hour break where all the guests went home and got changed. During this time, we had the chance to redress the venue and transform it into a Mendhi night. We had to bring out 3 extra tables and remove 240 chairs. There was an outside decorator who came in to dress up the stage to a Mendhi set up. We were catering for 180 guests in the evening.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 13.25.38

It’s a lot more colourful & bright compared to the earlier stage. The guests that attend the Mendhi night sit on the gaardlas which are the sofa looking strips in front of the stage. There were two Mendhi artists sitting on the stage, on the left and right hand side. From 8pm – 10pm, they were pretty much continuously doing Mendhi on all the girls.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-19 at 13.25.39

It was a really nice day, especially due to the fact that the bride & groom & families & caterers & decorators all kept to their times. Nobody was late so nothing got delayed.

When clients walk out of your venue extremely satisfied with everything we had done for them; with all the help that they had received throughout the day to make sure the day ran smoothly; with all the last minute changes and services we provided so as not to disappoint them; it is such a heartwarming feeling. They all left saying ‘thank you’ and that it was an amazing day.

It’s times like this that make the long shifts & hard times bearable.

If you’ve made it this far through, I salute you.

I look forward to writing more event-based posts.. I’ve got quite a few different things lined up.

Till next time ☺

#5 – Its Me Time

So now we’re a few posts in, I think I should tell you a bit about myself.

Lets go.

  1. I love food. I’m pretty much always hungry. The way to my heart is through my belly – this phrase doesn’t only apply to men. I’m the type of person who will get extremely hangry if not fed on time. I get it from my dad.
  2. I studied in Finland for my second year of University. Potentially one of the best experiences of my life. I learnt independence & got my first real taste of freedom.
  3. I . LOVE . ANIMALS . Dogs in particular. Everytime I walk past one, my heart explodes just a little bit.
  4. I’m not vegan. I don’t plan on it any time soon either. I love eating fruits & veges though – very satisfying.
  5. Music is a passion. I’ve been fairly obsessed with music ever since I was little.
  6. I can play the violin. I’m a grade 5 violinist but haven’t played in a few years.. I’d like to pick it up again at some point in the near future.
  7. I can drive. Had my license for just under 6 years.. I feel like that really shows my age.
  8. I am an event planner. That’s the job title. Looks like I can actually put my degree to use.
  9. I was a secretary for an all boys camp in America over Summer 2015. Was honestly a life changing experience. Absolutely incredible.
  10. I was a cheerleader during University. Once a mermaid, always a mermaid.
  11. I’ve been to St Petersburg, Russia. Can’t believe I can actually say that. Almost didn’t get through border control but that’s another story in itself.
  12. I love star gazing. It’s so peaceful looking up at a clear night sky, with the moon shining down on you with hundreds of stars.
  13. I own a kindle. Only recently bought it.. Can’t wait to explore all those books!
  14. I’m not an only child. I have one younger sister but people always seem to think she’s older than me. We both don’t really understand why.
  15. Justin Bieber. I used to be o b s e s s e d with him. He was my favourite singer when I was younger during the ‘Baby’ and ‘OLLG’ times.. Still love him but I’ve matured a bit since then.
  16. I want to travel. After my year abroad in Finland & America, I’ve had ants in my pants to go travelling. I still hope I can, one day, fulfil this desire.
  17. (occasionally) go to the gym. I love the feeling of my muscles burning.
  18. This is my fifth job. I’ve worked in retail and have done some waitressing here & there.
  19. I like make-up. I don’t love it, I always tell myself to wake up earlier to do my face up but I’m never really bothered. Kudos to all you beauty gurus who manage to make themselves look pretty every single day.
  20. I visited an orphanage for deaf and blind children in India when I was 13 years old & helped build them a school. At the time, I didn’t realise how big a deal it was. Looking back at it now, I feel so blessed to have helped all those children. What a rewarding experience.

There’s a few random facts about me. Wanna tell me something weird & wonderful about yourself?

Till next time ☺

#4 – Thank You

Recently, I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed with my job. The hours are SO long. It’s Easter bank holiday weekend and no, I won’t be enjoying myself every night going out. Instead, I’ll be working for 50 hours (minimum) over the span of 3 days. Sounds delightful, right?

It’s quite a disheartening thought thinking about working all these hours, knowing your friends are out enjoying themselves; having to open up at 8.00am on a bank holiday (which honestly feels like any other normal day – I also don’t remember the last time I woke up at 6.00am); being alone in the office while the rest of your family is at home.

I’m not telling you this so you feel sorry for me. It’s all part and package of working in the events industry. It’s difficult. Especially when you’re just starting out. Like my boss told me when I first started, “you’ll get out exactly what you put in.” And it’s true. I might be working the most unsociable hours I’ve ever worked in my life, and it might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done; even more difficult than my Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition which, if you know Duke of Edinburgh, is TOUGH. But I know that I have to put in all these hours now so I can gain the most valuable experience possible.

Now, onto the more positive part of this post.

I have the best support system around me that I could ever ask for. My boyfriend for starters. He’s the one who has to deal with me the most. He always ends up on the receiving end when I get angry & upset. I can’t thank him enough for being there for me through it all. My mum, dad & sister who are the most understanding people I know, who are there for me no matter what I tell them. My closest friends (you guys are going to stay anonymous but you know who you are) who deal with everything I throw their way. I have a number of people in my life who are ALWAYS there for me.. I honestly don’t know what I would do without them.

So thank you all for doing everything in your power to keep me sane AND keep yourselves sane during my rants. I love you all more than you could ever imagine. So here’s a little advice.. If you’re ever feeling down, no matter what it is, you should always talk about it. If you ever need a friend or a stranger, I’ll be here. An embrace, a peck on the cheek, just a smile.. It all goes a long way. Maybe I should learn to take my own advice.

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter bank holiday weekend. I may not be partying all weekend, but the venue I work at will be hosting two huge parties (bashment/dancehall night on Saturday and afrobeats night on Sunday) so I’ll still be able to enjoy some reaaaaaal good music. I guess thats a perk, right?

Till next time ☺

#3 – Mendhi Night

Within my line of work, and due to the type of venue I work in, I get to be a part of a variety of different event types.

The other evening, we had a Mendhi night. Dhol players, food stalls & 180 hungry guests. It was a colourful event with a lot of happy faces.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-10 at 12.59.01WhatsApp Image 2017-04-10 at 12.59.04

A Mendhi night happens for many reasons; it brings the family together for some pre-wedding fun, it is said to calm the bride’s nerves when applied to her hands & feet, and it is this particular event that tends to kick off all the wedding celebrations.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-10 at 12.59.10 (2)WhatsApp Image 2017-04-10 at 12.59.00

Food always plays a crucial part in any event. Yes, the brides dress is a focal point & the guests will remember how the venue was dressed up. But the number one thing that each & every guest will remember is this: the food.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-09 at 11.56.08The chicken tikka & butter chicken.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-09 at 11.56.08 (4)

The chilli paneer.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-09 at 11.56.08 (2)

The sheikh kebabs.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-09 at 11.56.08 (3)

All the aromatic & flavoursome food that is served. For a Mendhi night, the setup is a bit different to your normal buffet just due to the nature of the event. A normal buffet is a bit more ‘boring’ and conservative compared to the food stalls used here. Food stalls look nicer &

A Mendhi night is always very colourful, which you can see from the variety of colours used for the stage backdrop and the sash’s around each chair. Even the centre pieces have been filled with alternatively coloured water. It’s all about attention to detail.

As you have food stalls for the Mendhi night, you’re able to add more styles of food, such as a chocolate fountain, a candy floss machine & even a waffle stand. This will add more of a Western touch to the event – and who do you know that will actually say no to a few sweet stalls around the venue?

A photobooth & even adding a Snapchat filter can help your event take off. With the photobooth, you can add the printed pictures to a photobook & your guests can write their messages in there. Using a Snapchat filter (which only costs around £5.00!) can help you capture moments of your Mendhi night through your guests eyes & you’ll also have tonnes of videos to look back on.

I don’t really know how to end a post so till next time.. ☺

#2 – Bournemouth

On the 3rd of April, I came to the realisation that I had a day off the next day. It turns out, so did a friend of mine. So we planned a little impromptu trip to Bournemouth.

I finished work at 6.00pm. We met at my house around 6.20pm. By 6.40pm, we were out. It took us just over 2 hours to get to our destination. The sun set was beautiful but I have no photo evidence to prove it. I learnt on this little ‘trip’ that I’m not very good at taking pictures for blog purposes… something I’ll have to work on.

Anyway, we arrived and decided to create our own little den in the living room & order Chinese because, of course, that’s what you go to Bournemouth for. All jokes aside, that was most probably the best Chinese takeaway we had ever had. We ordered from Dragon Inn – 10/10 for e v e r y t h i n g. It was a nice & relaxing evening.

Then came the 4th of April. We woke up, the weather was a bit grim but we just lounged around for a bit. Chinese leftovers for breakfast is obviously one of the greatest ideas ever thought of. *insert Boomerang*

Yes I took this in the morning. Its a mix of sweet & sour chicken, egg fried rice & some Indonesian style chicken. My friend had the chicken chow mein. Scrumptious.

We went for a walk through the Alum Chine which is beautiful. There’s a forest that surrounds the pathway and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Highly recommend roaming around this area for a day.

IMG_8903

I admit this isn’t actually part of the Alum Chine but it is something very close to it.

Later on in the day, we decided to go for a drive thru McDonalds. We tried one, couldn’t find it. Tried a second, couldn’t find that either. On our drive to the third, we came across a pub, The Kings Arms, and decided to go there instead. It was faaaaar more satisfying than McDonalds.

IMG_8905I got a beet burger (can’t believe I didn’t get any MEAT, there’s something happening to me) & he got a chicken burger. It was delightful.

But we still ended up driving thru the McDonald’s, claiming a free sundae & getting a banana milkshake that should have been chocolate and a caramel chocolate McFlurry.

It was a quaint little trip & I know I’ll be back very soon. It’s nice to be able to just get away from the rollercoaster that is life every now and then. I wish it was just as easy to pick up and go to somewhere else around Europe just as easily. Maybe next time we can plan it a little better and get a little further away.

Anyway,

Till next time..

#1 – The Beginning

First things first, a huge warm welcome to you. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to read this. If you’re curious about what this blog is going to be made up of, look no further. You’ll find a short insight here (just follow that link).

And now for the slightly longer version.

I am a twenty something year old who graduated from the University of Greenwich in the Summer of 2016.

13724103_10210468478216684_7557769226564984343_o.jpg

Graduation, 2016

I worked in Sainsbury’s for a few months after graduation to give myself a well earned break before starting “real” life.

Now, here I am. I work for a Banqueting suite in North West London. We cater to a variety of events which include Afghan weddings, Bar Mitzvahs & Bat Mitzvahs, Gujarati weddings, Civil weddings and more.

I’ve been here for nearly 6 months and have already felt my cultural horizons broaden. It’s one thing learning about ‘when cultures collide’ in University; putting it into practice is the hard bit!

With this blog, I’m hoping to write about the variety of requirements clients want; the do’s and don’ts of wedding planning; the extensive planning behind a Bar/Bat Mitzvah (did you even know there was such thing as a Bat Mitzvah?); budgeting & keeping within your financial limits and the list goes on.

With all these events, why am I not already blogging about them? There is so much hard work & dedication that goes into creating the perfect event.. It’s about time I started documenting it.

Aside from writing about events, there will be other posts to do with life in general, music & gigs, and other not-so-dull topics.

Instead of rambling on, it’s about time I signed off. There’s a lot of goodness to come & I look forward to making this work.

Till the next one, Trushna