It's A Small, Small World Even Out Here in the Woods

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather

By Cam Mather

I live off the grid and try to be as
independent as possible. I don’t like having to depend on others for
things that are important to me. From my electricity to my heat to my
food, I like to be in control.

But having children has taught me
that you can never really be in control. There are forces at work out
there that are beyond your grasp that can have a real impact on your
life. Like sickness and hurricanes and droughts and… your children.

A
few years ago we began hearing about a young man named “Dhruva.” Our
youngest daughter had met him at university. We noticed that his name
became mentioned more and more often. Eventually Katie and Dhruva became
a “thing” and this past winter they got engaged. Dhruva was born in
India, lived some of his life in Dubai and came to Canada to complete an
Engineering Degree. He is now a Canadian citizen.

Dhruva is a
fine, wonderful young man, and Michelle and I are both thrilled that
he’s going to be our son-in-law. Dhruva’s family is also wonderful, and
our two families are becoming very close. Dhruva proposed to Katie in
front of the Taj Mahal in India last February when they were there for
Dhruva’s cousin’s wedding. He actually asked Michelle and me for
permission to propose to her before they left on their trip. Needless to
say, we were happy to agree.

A couple of weekends ago we
celebrated their engagement at a get together in Toronto. Indian people
love celebrations and this was no exception. There were a number of
cultural formalities. Dhruva’s mother Rashida explained that in India an
engagement party celebrates the joining of the two families, and that
the bride and groom don’t even have to attend. As it was, it was nice
that Katie and Dhruva did attend.

Michelle, Dhruva, Katie & Cam

There
was a ceremony in which the parents exchanged fruit as well as dried
fruit and nuts. Dhruva’s parents also presented Katie with many lovely
gifts.  Several years ago, Katie and Dhruva had given me a traditional
Indian outfit. I decided to wear it to the engagement party. The outfit
is called “Kurta Pajamas” and I’m never very confident about getting the
pronunciation correct and so I always say it very quickly, hoping that
no one will notice if I mess up. This is a technique I developed years
ago. As you can imagine from the name “pajama,” they are really
comfortable.

Rashida, Vikram, Dhruva, Katie, Michelle & Cam

Katie
and Dhruva plan on having one wedding celebration in India and one
here. No wedding date has been set yet but we’ve already told Katie that
we won’t be flying to India for her wedding. We believe that in our 50+
years we’ve had enough of an impact on the planet, and flying is one
thing we will not do. We haven’t flown in 20 years. Even if I didn’t
worry about the environmental impact of air travel, I also know that
about 15 minutes into the 18 hour flight I would have a massive panic
attack and demand that the jet be turned around. It wouldn’t be pretty.

I
love Indian food and I love Indian culture and I would love to be part
of a multi-day Indian wedding celebration, but I won’t be attending.
Dhruva mentioned that they will integrate some Canadian culture into the
wedding in India, and we will include some Indian traditions into the
celebration here in Canada as well.

These family matters are
always very delicate. Dhruva’s parents, Rashida and Vikram, are
wonderful people and we do not want to offend them. But we feel very
strongly about the negative environmental impact of air travel and we
don’t want to be hypocrites. And since we have so many friends and
family members here who will want to celebrate their wedding, we think
it’s only fair to have a celebration here too.

The joining of two families….

I
drone on endlessly in this blog about peak oil and how my life has been
impacted by the miracle of cheap and abundant fossil fuels. People can
live in countries a world away from where they were born. And they can
return often to visit their families and friends. They can be citizens
of the world. It’s quite amazing.

Luckily Dhruva is a very
tech-savvy engineer, so I have no doubt we can be involved with much of
the ceremony via Skype and other technologies. After the unbelievably
great “all you can eat” Indian buffet at their engagement party, I will
greatly miss not being there. Well, sort of. I still don’t like spicy
hot food. Katie, who grew up eating Indian food prepared for Canadian
taste buds, has had to ramp up her threshold for heat. I on the other,
at my age, have just accepted that I love Indian food and its spices,
but only when it’s kept wimpy. As Popeye said “I yam what I yam.”

This
multicultural world of ours has integrated itself into my quiet life
here in the woods far from the maddening crowd. I am overjoyed that my
daughter has found someone to spend the rest of her life with. I’m
thrilled he is such a fine and decent man. And I’m thrilled that family
celebrations will always involve my favorite Indian food. What more
could a father ask for?

Photos by Cam & Michelle Mather (and a self-timer.)

For more information about Cam Mather or his books please visit www.cammather.com or www.aztext.com