A Bride and Groom in the Box of a Fire Engine

Last Saturday, 6 June 2009 at noon time, I traveled from Wien to Baden, about 26 kilometers south of Vienna. The weather was warm, pleasant and cloudy. I was walking in the streets with my camera, looking at everything around me, but 000_8569without a specific objective. The face of my mother and the memories of my homeland occupied my thoughts and feelings. For six years and 10 months I have not seen my mother, my brothers and my sisters, or practiced my work as a journalist in my homeland Palestine. The government of Israel has divided between me and my peaceful life, family, journalistic work, homeland, hopes, peace and even love. It’s very difficult to express my feelings when these memories move through my thoughts and my mind.

“Hello Kawther, What are you doing?”, a voice interrupted my thoughts in Baden. 000_7974Somebody greeted me, and politely invited me to drink something in his coffee house. A few minutes later, a troop of men wearing black pants, brown jackets and hats passed before me. “They are not the Israeli Golani psychopaths, they are not carrying machine guns, or destroying the shops and harassing and provoking the people, or …” I told myself, and stood up.

Traditional Marriage  of the Austrian  Firefighter

They were the people from the Austrian volunteer Fire Brigade of Baden, headed 000_7953by the Chef Mag. Gerald Peter walking before a fire engine in the middle of the crowded shopping street in the center of Baden. They were celebrating a colleague’s wedding in a beautiful and traditional way. The bride Michaela was dressed a beautiful white marriage gown, standing proudly next to the groom, Markus Prendinger, the vice-leader of the fire brigade youth, inside the box of the fire engine; they stood tall and proud like a queen and her prince.  Behind the fire engine and on both sides were the families and friends of the couple, and some people who had decided to join this cultured celebration of wedding and happiness.

This was the first time that I saw the wedding of Austrian firefighters. In Vienna, 000_79621the traditional marriages of the Firefighter seem to have ben lost, or at least I have never seen one. But in countryside, the Austrians protect their beautiful culture, of which  they are proud. I fixed my finger on the button of my camera and started making photos. The fire engine stopped and the couple raised hands to welcome me with very big smiles, they had noticed me shooting pictures. Their warm and friendly smiles encouraged me to forget the memories to my exile. I too join their wedding procession. I continued making pictures and, I saw another two photographers making photos too.

000_8026At the fire fighters building of Baden, the fire-engine dropped the couple from the box. The ceremony of dropping them scared me. I saw the box where the couple stood raised highly in the air over the building of the fire brigade, and slowly the Telescopic Ladder of the fire engine turned into a stair, and the box came to the ground.
The difficult part of ceremony of the wedding was after the couple stood on the ground. The groom put goggles covered with paper on his eyes. He carried two glasses filled with water on a tablet, following 000_8081the instructions of fire brigade Chief, Mag. Gerald Peter, who told him that he should make a tour around an obstacle course while carrying the water and relying on instructions from his bride to safely complete it, a symbolic exercise rooted in tradition.

On the floor were laid metal stairs and an obstacle of wood, which Markus should 000_8065pass safely. Michaela, the bride, guided him through the obstacles with commands. In the folklore this is meant as a symbolic test of the ability of the bride to guide her future husband through life. She held her white dress in her hands, fixed her eyes on Markus feet, and gave him the right commands until he passed through the metal stairs and the wood safely, then she celebrated her win with a big laugh and a beautiful smile, and prepared herself for the second exam.

000_8117She stood before Chef Mag. Gerald Peter, who told her that she should choose the right answers to his questions. Thirteen questions which were about the work of the fire brigade. Michaela answered all of them, she won bag of coins for each correct answer, which was given to her husband, and she lost four bags after she gave the wrong answers to two questions: “two bags she did not win, and two were taken from the already awarded prizes”.

The couple, Michaela and Markus, were very happy and ready to pass the 000_8190third exam of their marriage ceremony. The couple carried rolled water hoses normally used by the fire fighters, hanged on two connected metal pipes, and made a tour around the ground. The instructions of brigade Chef Mag. Gerald Peter were that the couple should not the connection between the two pieces of metal during their tour. The couple passed the final test peacefully, and they celebrated their win with a romantic kiss. Then Michaela drank a half glass of champagne, and gave the other half to Markus, and afterwards they stood, receiving greetings and presents from their families and friends.

Everybody present was happy because of the wedding of 000_8259Michaela and Markus. I wish to congratulate the couple and say thanks to their families and friends, who did not interrupt my photographing, but instead invited me to have a drink with them and continue taking pictures. Thanks to Markus, who allowed me to the publish about his wedding ceremony photos, thanks to Chef Mag. Gerald Peter for his friendliness.  A special thank to the couple and all the guests of the wedding, who made me forget my dark memories for a while. Best wishes to all of you.


Not: copying the photos of this marriage is not allowed without permission of Mr. Markus Prendinger.

1 comment to A Bride and Groom in the Box of a Fire Engine

  • Salaam al-Maseeh

    Assalaamu alaykum,

    Dear Ms. Salam,

    It is very good that you were able to enjoy witnessing a truly wonderful wedding like that.

    May all weddings be that joyous.

    May God bless the bride and groom.

    BarakAllah fiik,

    Steve in Vista

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