India Trip, Day 33: rama sama

November 15 (Thu) - Day 33: rama sama

Diwali Day # 5.  It is Bhai Dooj today.

Today onward until the next week people start visiting their families for, as they call it here - 'rama sama' - meeting and wishing Diwali.  And since it is Bhai Dooj, brothers especially visit their sister's place first.  We first went to sasurji's elder sister's place for lunch.  I think she is 70 year old, but she cooked a grand and delicious meal for us (especially for her brother!).

Then we went to visit his eldest sister and could only have little space left in the tummy to have tea there.

When you visit friends and families (for rama sama) during/after Diwali, they serve you a LOT of snacks and sweets (a lot more than the regular days).  And I feel ... today I have eaten enough to last me until tomorrow's dinner.
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India Trip, Day 32: govardhan puja

November 14 (Wed) - Day 32:  govardhan puja

Diwali Day # 4.  It is Govardhan Puja today.

Though I don't know much about Indian mythology, festivals, customs and traditions, I do know Lord Krishna lifted the goverdhan parvat (a mountain named goverdhan) on his little finger to bring some sanjeevni booti.  And I assumed today we would be worshiping some rock to signify the 'goverdhan parvat'.  But I was wrong.

India Trip, Day 31: diwali

November 13 (Tue) - Day 31: diwali

Diwali Day # 3.  It is Badi Diwali/Laxmi Puja - the main day of Diwali today.

Laxmi Pujan

India Trip, Day 30: aftermath

November 12 (Mon) - Day 30:  aftermath

Diwali Day # 2.  It is Chhoti Diwali today.

A simple puja of diya and God is done today, a FEW crackers are burst (note sarcasm), and the women from the neighborhood visit each other's place to wish others and take blessings from the elders.  I went along with the neighborhood 'bhabhis'.  Saw a lot of small beautiful rangolis outside some homes.  I remember, 15 years back my mamijis in my nanihaal used to make gorgeous large scale rangoli on the verandah with a different theme every Diwali, not sure if they still do.

But some homes cannot afford to put  rangolis OUTSIDE their houses, because this is what people do to the roads after the whole day of playing with fire crackers...

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India Trip, Day 28: groom side gifts

November 10 (Sat) - Day 28:  groom side gifts

Similarly, the groom's side of the family sends clothes, sweets, etc for the honewali-bahu (the soon-to-be-daughter-in-law).  So nanand and I started packing some chocolates, saree, etc for my new devrani to send later in evening.  We had 3 hours in hand, no time to go shopping, and some packing and craft materials leftover from here and there.

India Trip, Day 27: bride side gifts

November 9 (Fri) - Day 27:  bride side gifts

Bride's side of the family sends a lot of Diwali gifts for the groom's side of the family.  Some clothes, some snacks, some sweets, some fire crackers, some chocolates, some decorative items, some chocolates, etc - that are packed beautifully and placed in an organized manner at the groom's house.  Look at all those gorgeous handmade trays and diyas!

The stuff is sometimes displayed to extended family members and close neighbors.  And of course, some nosy neighbors come by themselves to check what the family received.

India Trip, Day 26: me first

November 8 (Thu) - Day 26:  me first

one late evening...sitting on
someone's parked scooter, at least...
Nanand and I keep planning to go to the Public Gardens early morning by 5 so she can teach me to ride a two-wheeler (Honda Activa, precisely), but because of talking and discussing things until late and sleeping by 2 in the night every day, it looks impossible!

India Trip, Day 25: jalwa

November 7 (Wed) - Day 25:  jalwa

My cousin brother was blessed with a son a month and half back.  After delivery, the wife stayed at her parent's place for that entire period.  On the day # 40, the in-laws hosted a grand ceremony to welcome the bahu along with grandson, and name the baby boy.  This ceremony is called "jalwa" and I think it is a Rajasthani tradition ... not sure if other people do the same.

India Trip, Day 24: outing

November 6 (Tue) - Day 24: outing

In the morning I told Alok to email me his itinerary.  Just can't get over my suspicions until I see evidence.  His itinerary looked fine, departing on 19th and reaching on 21st Nov.  I guess my head's just messed up.

India Trip, Day 23: practice

November 5 (Mon) - Day 23:  paint

I recently have been having those intuitions again that Alok might come early and give a surprise.  He said he's arriving on the 21st, but just like I sensed his surprise trip to Bangkok after engagement, my gut feeling says he might come earlier.  No one else at home feels this way.  May be I'm just going nuts staying away from him so long.  Keeping myself occupied here somehow.

India Trip, Day 22: fire crackers

November 4 (Sun) - Day 22:  fire crackers

Arrrghhh.  Unable to sleep peacefully at night, unable to hold things without a jerk during the day.  The kids are crazyyy in this city, bursting fire crackers from morning until the night.  Diwali is still a week away, people!!

Why do these adults buy so many fire crackers, in the first place?  Even if they do, why do they give so many to their kids each day?  And even if they give, why do they let the kids just play with the fire crackers without adult supervision, without covering nose and inhaling all that smell, and without washing their hands with soap before touching their face?

Alok always says "living in India makes you rough and tough" ... now I know how.
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India Trip, Day 21: mehendi

November 3 (Sat) - Day 21:  mehendi
Didn't have enough time on sinjaara to put mehendi for myself after applying on saasuji's hands, and had time to put mehendi only on the back of my hand yesterday ... so I finally applied my karwa chauth mehendi on my palm today.
mehendi on the back of my hand, yesterday...

India Trip, Day 20: karwa chauth

November 2 (Fri) - Day 20:  karwa chauth


Today is Karwa Chauth, the Indian festival celebrated by wives once a year to pray for long lives of their husband.  We fast all day while cooking good food and avoiding the temptation to eat any of that good food.  We can eat fruits, drink fruit juices and tea, but cannot eat anything that has grains or anything with salt.  We do the puja (worship) in the evening and only then have our dinner.  Nope, there is no festival for husbands to fast and pray for long lives of their wife. Not fair, I know.

India Trip, Day 19: sinjaara

November 1 (Thu) - Day 19:  sinjaara

Tomorrow is Karwa Chauth and I miss Texas suddenly.  Last year until I was in Texas, a group of women got together on the day before the festival (which is called sinjaara).  We applied mehendi on each other's hand, brought a snack pot luck, talked about our husband, cracked jokes, and planned what we'd all wear for the festival the next day.

But here...

India Trip, Day 18: ice cream loveeeee

October 31 (Wed) - Day 18:  ice cream loveeeee

We are buying a tub of ice cream almost once every other week.  All these Indianish flavors with kesar (saffron), pista (pistachio), and badaam (almond) that I loveeeeeee.  And the butterscotch ice cream in India that I am completely in loveeeeeeee with.  Custard Apple flavor is "in", this season, but I didn't quite like the ice cream form of it as much as I loveeeeed the custard apple shake.

This ice cream and "chaat" hangout place nearby called Temptations is spoiling me big time.  I am especially in loveeeeee with their Dry Fruit Temptation flavor.  Got 1 tub of Lychee and 1 tub of Dry Fruit Temptation ice cream today evening.

Ohhhh, just can't get enough of the ice cream loveeeeeee here.  Slurp.
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India Trip, Day 17: relaxing

October 30 (Tue) - Day 17:  relaxing

It is a pleasant afternoon in Hyderabad today.  The city is slowly approaching winters at a snail's speed.  While I am chilling out on the swing in our verandah, chit-chatting with nanand and saasuji.

There are very few such relaxing and peaceful moments in India.  Again, I fail to understand how other women in India manage their time.  But for me, especially before the wedding preparation and hullabaloo begins, I am going to cherish these relaxing moments while I can.
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India Trip, Day 16: india :: food

October 29 (Mon) - Day 16:  india :: food

Having some crispy puris with spicy pani, a little chana and aloo chaat, with tamarind chutney and curd at home.  Brought from the roadside stall (bandi); which I wonder why food tastes much better from there than the restaurants.

Yum.  To me, 'chaat' is like the father of all cuisines.  Quick to make, delicious, incomplete without a little spice and a lot of tang, addictive, and super mouth-watering even when I think about any 'chaat' item.  Ah, the bliss of being in India - AMAZINGLY GREAT FOOD.  One of the MANY blisses, actually.

But food and the cost of food in India is the only reason I would ever settle down in India, I swear.
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India Trip, Day 15: let me sleep

Nanand clicked when I was sleeping & she was studying..
October 28 (Sun) - Day 15:  let me sleep

I think around 5:30 in the morning EVERY DAY there's a procession of some 20 people who go around the streets of our house, chanting God's name on a LOUDSPEAKER they carry along.  Nanand tells me a family nearby showers flowers on them every Sunday when they pass their house, to appreciate the people doing this good deed every morning.

India Trip, Day 14: custard apple shake

October 27 (Sat) - Day 14:  custard apple shake

Devar drove me around the city today.  First we went to this men's tailor he found at some underground place (!!!) of a building, gave some of the cloth pieces for his shirt and trousers.  On the way home we bought fruits from the stalls we saw on road.  Since neither of us had any idea how to buy fruits and how much they'd cost, after reaching home I realized that it is safe to say we were ripped.  Oops.

India Trip, Day 13: damn electricity

October 26 (Fri) - Day 13:  damn electricity

Living in India teaches you a lot of things.  How to keep emotions under control, how to deal with difficult people, how to respond to sarcasm... and to live in different conditions.  Like, getting used to electricity cut for a few hours every day.  Was speaking to a friend today and she said this 7-9 am and 2-4 pm electricity cut in Hyderabad this year at her husband's factory causes so much problem in the production.  The client does not care about the power cuts, just wants his goods on time.  But with the electricity outage for couple of hours every day, it is slowing down the production at the factory and they just can't help it.  It sucks.

India Trip, Day 12: peeen peeeen

October 25 (Thu) - Day 12:  peeen peeeen

Nanand is driving me around on her two-wheeler, and we are loving wandering aimlessly.  I asked her what do people here mean when they honk, because everyone continuously honks peeeen peeeen peeeeen while on the road.  The honk could mean anything from... move; I am taking a turn; I am right behind you; drive faster dude; to... get out of my way; I am coming for you; or you are going to die.  And may be that is why the peeeen peeeen noise all over the city does not really matter as people have turned a deaf ear to it.  I wonder, if people in Bangkok and America can reach until their destination without honking even once, why can't people in India?

India Trip, Day 11: cleaning session

October 24 (Wed) - Day 11:  cleaning session

It is Dusshera today.  Indians wash, clean, polish, and do puja of their vehicles today by drawing a swastik with vermillion (kuku), lighting up incense sticks (agarbatti), and putting a garland (phool ki maala).  The puja here is not literally "worshiping" the vehicle, but more like asking God to protect it, I think.  If you go around the city, you see a garland of flowers hanging in front of almost every other vehicle.

In 15 days it will be Diwali.  Indians also clean their house before Diwali to throw away old and useless stuff, and to invite the goddess of money, Goddess Laxmi in their clean house to enter and fill their home and their life with prosperity.  Diwali, called the "festival of lights", is one of the biggest festivals celebrated and observed by Hindus.  The cleaning sessions for Diwali have begun at our place today.

India Trip, Day 10: pav bhaji

October 23 (Tue) - Day 10:  pav bhaji

No one at home liked the sarees yesterday, oops.  Returned them, and dropped by for some food on the way home.  Sharmaji's Pav Bhaji is known to be fingerlicking good in Hyderabad.

India Trip, Day 9: saree shopping

October 22 (Mon) - Day 9:  saree shopping

Tried out sarees at someone's shop today.  The helpers have learned to drape the saree (over whatever clothes you wear; I had a salwar suit underneath!) real quick for the customers to see how it looks like on them.  The last time I bought sarees for myself was for my wedding over 2 years back.  But buying new clothes for someone else's wedding is even more exciting.  The worst part?  Good sarees to wear at weddings these days are no less than Rs. 5,000 ... that's like $100!  And more designer-wear sarees?  Only above Rs.10,000 ($200).  Looks like reasonable amounts when compared to Express clothes and Louis Vuitton bags, but the prices of sarees these days are increasing like crazy.

India Trip, Day 8: grabz and creamstone

October 21 (Sun) - Day 8:  grabz and creamstone

Hanging out with nanand and devar today was fun.  We went to Grabz, which lately has become quite popular in Hyderabad for their pizza, garlic bread, pasta, etc.

India Trip, Day 7: dandiya

October 20 (Sat) - Day 7:  dandiya

Devar and nanand took me to play dandiya for the first time in life at Imperial Gardens, a hugeeeeee ground.  I was recommended not to carry my DSLR because the place was going to be packed with people and it would be difficult to take care of the camera while dancing.  And thank goodness I did not.  After clicking a few pictures of us at home, we left for Imperial Gardens along with my soon-to-be devrani and her sister.

India Trip, Day 6: two-faced people

October 19 (Fri) - Day 6:  two-faced people

So pissed off today. Hate it when a person puts the blame on me to save his own face. Some people are so cunning, gosh.  Some man who had to come pick up his stuff from me could not find the directions to this house (even after the written address and verbal explanations) told my sasurji that I gave random and strange directions that's why he couldn't figure out.  The man even said to sasurji that I told him the color of our gate to search the house, when in fact HE asked me what the color of our house gate was, and while I said "blue", in the back of my mind I was thinking how in the world will he go around looking for blue gates.  Moreover, he was a localite from this city, not me!  Bloody hell.

Also turned out that he is related to this family, a far, far, far relation.  Of course.

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India Trip, Day 5: cafe coffee day

October 18 (Thu) - Day 5:  cafe coffee day

Hanging out with nanand, and enjoying milk shakes, smoothies, and brownies at Cafe Coffee Day (fondly called by Indians as CCD).

India Trip, Day 4: goodbye, saree

October 17 (Wed) - Day 4:  goodbye, saree

I am allowed to wear salwar suit at home.  Finally.  HURRAY.  Thanks to my nanand who insisted for this to happen.  I hated wearing saree all day.  And the 'pallu' on head used to piss me off.  As a newly married bahu, I had to wear a saree, keep the pallu on my head, put the sindoor on the crown of my hair, a bindi on my forehead, mangalsutra in my neck, bangles on my hand, ring (angoothi) on my finger, anklet (payal) on my feet, and toe rings (bichudi) on second toe of both feet.  Every day.

the first month after marriage...2 years back

India Trip, Day 3: busy, busy

October 16 (Tue) - Day 3:  busy, busy

Oh my God, where does the time fly away in India?  It's been just 3 days here and already feels like 3 weeks.  I did not even get the chance to come up to my room almost all day ever since I went downstairs in the morning.  Mostly I have been chit-chatting with nanand and saasuji and catching up, but I don't understand how life just gets so busy and tiring here.  But now I know why so many of my married cousins and aunts in India don't get much time to even surf Facebook or come online regularly.  But that is completely opposite to the thousands of food bloggers in India who get time to cook, photograph food, write blog posts everyday, and still have their individual time, and manage their family, social life, travel, and kids.

I am confused.

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India Trip, Day 2: different life

October 15 (Mon) - Day 2:  different life

There is so much luggage to unpack and closets to be rearranged in this room that was shut past two years.  Devar and nanand already finished most of the cleaning and fixing to have the room ready for me.  As I replaced the dusty newspapers and organized Alok's clothes today, I started to miss him.  Didn't think about him much when I was in Indonesia and Thailand with family.  But it feels different here.

India Trip, Day 1: arrived

October 14 (Sun) - Day 1:  arrived

1 am: After a very short week with my family in Bangkok, I flew to India tonight.  Have left my heart back in Bangkok though.  Don't know how these 2 months in India will pass.  I am a little nervous, will be staying with the in-laws for so long, after so long.