India Trip, Day 54: shaadi

December 6 (Thu) - Day 54:  shaadi

Mahurat for phere was at 2 in the morning, and lasted until 6 am.  The parents of the bride sit together with the bride and groom.  The four of them follow all the procedures and customs the priest tells them to do.

It is after the phere that a couple is officially married in this traditional Hindu wedding.

India Trip, Day 53: marwadi wedding

December 5 (Wed) - Day 53:  marwadi wedding

Different customs take place during the day.  Then as per the mahurat, the baraat leaves from the groom's house to the bride's house.

India Trip, Day 52: manwaar

December 4 (Tue) - Day 52:  manwaar

Marwari weddings have a lot of food.  In fact, INDIAN weddings on the whole have a LOT of food.  Food for 100 people that could actually feed 300 people.

So we hire a cook at home, everyone addresses him as "maharaj", and he does all the cooking, for all the meals, for all the people, on all the days of the wedding.  THIS is maharaj's camp for four days:

India Trip, Day 51: sangeet function

December 3 (Mon) - Day 51:  sangeet function


The sangeet function that we had all been preparing for, the dances we all had been practicing, the steps we had been trying to remember - all of that finally ended today.  SO relaxed.  Feels like the wedding is half finished, half more to go.

India Trip, Day 50: wedding mehendi

December 2 (Sun) - Day 50:  wedding mehendi

Two professional mehendi artists were exclusively reserved for devar.  They are experts at 'wedding mehendi' - the kind of mehendi that is especially applied to bride and groom's hands.
professional mehendi artists applying henna on groom's hand and feet simultaneously

India Trip, Day 49: celebrations begin

December 1 (Sat) - Day 49:  celebrations begin

The long wooden sticks and metal poles are coming in.  Carpet, chairs, tables, are being carried.

India Trip, Day 48: parlor and boutique

November 30 (Fri) - Day 48: parlor and boutique

Nanand and I went for a haircut today.  The wedding functions begin tomorrow, close families will have started to come stay over, there is a lot of work at home, many preparations are left, but we went for a hair cut today.  Why?  I don't know.  Also, why risk (JUST IN CASE) into some disastrous haircut just days before the wedding?  I don't know.  Why are both of us crazy?  No idea.

My attire was ready at Ramneey Boutique, dropped by on the way home.  Last time I just chose the colors and left everything else on her.  Was SO nervous to see what it would turn out like, but I am pretty satisfied.  They tried out different styles of dupatta on me to give me ideas on how to wear this lehenga.  Now if I could also get ideas to reduce the number of zeros on the price tag...

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India Trip, Day 47: tailor trouble

November 29 (Thu) - Day 47: tailor trouble

Alok and I went for his kurta pyjama trial at a store today, where few days back he had selected a cloth material with his choice of color and pattern, and given his measurements to have them stitch it for him within a week.  He had selected some Indo-Western style that is in trend these days, but it kinda looked weird on him.  They also made it look so bland; not something glamorous one would wear on a sangeet function.  At least looked more bland to me when I compared it to how much it cost.  And the fitting was not that great either.

This is what happens when you leave things for the last minute.  My lecture to Alok made me feel superior.

India Trip, Day 46: sangeet practice

November 28 (Wed) - Day 46:  sangeet practice

Oh goodness gracious.  Organizing sangeet practice sessions, that too for the first time, is a pain in the ass.

To coordinate different groups, and different dances, of cousins and relatives at different places in the city, according to everyone's free time, and match to the choreographer's timings ... is NO JOKE.

Nanand and I are handling this and are going crazy.  She is doing most of the work - calling up everyone, scheduling the dances, carrying the laptops and speakers, arranging music system in the room upstairs, and bringing snacks from outside for everyone during the practice sessions.  Upstairs = climbing up and down three floors so many times must have reduced our weight by a kg, at least.

Really, what is the best way to organize a successful sangeet function?  To think of it, there is enough work for the directly related members in the family, so either we could have delegated some part of the work to another person (because there are like more than 60 people altogether in this and the extended family).  OR, we could have made an outline each week with the dance groups, choreographers, and suitable timings for each day, sent out copies to each one participating in the dances, and have them responsible to come for their respective dance practices.

OR, wait a minute, why didn't anyone take the initiative?
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India Trip, Day 45: shopping again

November 27 (Tue) - Day 45:  shopping again

Nanand and I were on a shopping spree today for my soon-to-be devrani.  Took my devrani's reception lehenga (attire) along with us to buy a matching bangle set.  The groom's side of the family gifts the wedding trousseau mainly for the reception to the new bahu.

India Trip, Day 44: tulsi vivah

November 26 (Mon) - Day 44:  tulsi vivah

"Tulsi", the holy basil is worshiped in India and a lot of homes keep a tulsi plant and pour water over the tulsi pot in the morning.  My mom did the same in Bangkok.  She even put a leaf or two of tulsi in the food she offered to God (prasad).  My saasuji keeps a stock of dried tulsi leaves and puts a couple of them in the first meal cooked for the day (lunch) EVERY DAY.

Some days back was Tulsi Vivaah, the Goddess Tulsi's wedding.  I don't remember mom performing this puja, but I guess I may have not paid attention.

puja preparation for Tulsiji ki shaadi

India Trip, Day 43: mangodi

November 25 (Sun) - Day 43:  mangodi

I was in Chennai for the first time in life and wanted to stay just a day or two longer to take a break and see around, but Alok just HAD to take this early morning flight to Hyderabad.  He said there was not much to do or visit in this part of Chennai, and he rather spend time with his family in Hyd.  Arrgghhh.  ONE more day's vacation is asking for too much, Alok????  Grrrr.

10 in the morning, we were already back at home in Hyd, afternoon we were practicing our dance routine for the sangeet function, and late at night nanand and I were piping out mangodi.

India Trip, Day 42: in chennai

November 24 (Sat) - Day 42: in chennai

Left from Hyderabad at 7 in the morning and arrived at Chennai by 8 to attend Alok's friend's younger brother's wedding.

After a good lunch at the venue, we sat down to enjoy the sangeet function.

India Trip, Day 41: house help

November 23 (Sat) - Day 41:  house help
That's me, doing the dishes.
This one's from Nanand's phone, again.

Not wanting to let saasuji wash the whole day's utensils, I have been doing the dishes every other day past three weeks, because our 'help' did not want to come...and gives a new excuse each time.  Nanand and I even went to the maid's house today to ask why she was not coming, when she will come again, and tell her how it gets difficult leaving the utensils all day only to realize she's not coming for the day.  At the end of the day - five people in the family, three meals per day, and two tea times do create a LOT of dishes piled up in the sink.

Until few years ago, I knew that if you made decent money in India, life was very luxurious.  You could hire part-time maid servants to come twice in the day to do the dishes, wipe and put them in place, wash and hang dry the clothes, as well as sweep and mop the house - all for under Rs. 2,000 ($37) a month.  Cheap labor, after all, that India is so popular for?

India Trip, Day 40: my devar

November 22 (Thu) - Day 40:  my devar

Devar keeps planning and trying to scare me in different ways - whether it was two years ago after my marriage, or since the last month that I have been here.  Once he sat in my room covering himself with a white bed sheet acting like a ghost; when I entered the room instead of getting scared I went "WHAT are you doing?!".  One time, he knocked my door and hid, I went out to see who it was, saw no one, and shut the door.  He knocked again and hid, this time I did not open and said, "I know it is you!  Give up already!" ... he still would not give up.  Once he hid behind a stack of mattresses in the study room, and nanand came along with me to search something there (they both were partners in crime).  As soon as I was supposed to enter he was going to scream loud, but I switched on the lights before that.  One time, nanand knocked my door and hid; when I opened the door, I saw legs hanging from the top - devar sat on the little slab above my door and tried to scare me; attempt failed again.

India Trip, Day 39: chai ka chaska

November 21 (Tue) - Day 39:  chai ka chaska

The "dophaari" (afternoon tea time) with tea and snacks around 3-4 PM with the family every day has got me drinking chai (Indian Tea) every day.  Despite drinking tea and coffee in the day time it affects my sleep very badly at night, but I am not able to avoid it.

"Chaska" as called in Hindi, if translated in English would mean a "liking" for something in a fond way.  You can use 'chaska' to express liking for a person or place...but it is mostly used for food.  And that is what I am developing: chai ka chaska - a fondness for tea.

The 'chocolate milk girl' in me since 27 years is transforming into a 'tea lady'.  But really, now I know why the whole of India drinks chai all the time.  It IS addictive.
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India Trip, Day 38: brats

November 20 (Tue) - Day 38:  brats

Some boys in India are too pampered by their mother.  And boys that turn into men are still pampered, by their mother AND their wife.  In some homes, a mother will still stay up until 11 in the night until her son comes back home from work.  Will heat up food and heat each dish again on the gas stove instead of microwave, especially for him.  And will not sleep until he is finished eating.  In some houses, a husband will call out the wife (no matter what she may be busy in the kitchen with) to serve him a glass of water, instead of getting up and taking it himself.  He will finish eating his food and leave the utensils there on the table for his wife to pick up and put in sink.

I am sure there may be many homes that are not like this, but I think most boys in India should be sent to America to learn to do things on their own.  Thank goodness Alok does not have such habits.  The day he does....

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India Trip, Day 37: my two sense

November 19 (Mon) - Day 37:  my two sense

Devar called up on nanand's mobile at 4 in the morning, scolding her and asking where she kept some keys to some door.  She went downstairs to show him where.

After 5 minutes I got worried, so got up to go downstairs too.  When I opened the door, devar, nanand, and saasuji were standing on the staircase.  And along with them was Alok, just outside the room, waiting to enter the door to surprise me.

I hugged him sooooo tight and screamed "SEEEEEE!  I KNEW ITTT!!!!!"

He came two days before.  He gave everyone a surprise.  My sixth sense works.

But later in the day I asked Alok how did he change the dates on the itinerary he mailed me?  I know my smartypants has zero idea how to use Photoshop.  He said he just tried whatever ways he could to modify the dates, but forgot to change the 'DAYS', and hoped I would not figure out and ruin his surprise.

I saw the itinerary again.  21 Nov was not on Monday.  My sixth sense may work, but my common sense sure does not.
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India Trip, Day 36: black magic

November 18 (Sun) - Day 36:  black magic

I am getting freaked out by all the black magic stories I have been hearing.  And it appears Hyderabad is very notorious for it.  I did not believe in all this before, but the examples and stories I heard make me feel like these things happen for real.  And it is scary.

India Trip, Day 35:

November 17 (Sat) - Day 35:

Cousin sisters-in-law (nanads & bhabhis) and brothers-in-law (jijajis and bhaiyas) planned a post-Diwali get together at the Village restaurant in Inorbit Mall at Hitech City.

Village Restaurant, Inorbit Mall, Hitech City, Hyderabad

In the last decade, of all the restaurants I have visited anywhere, Village Restaurant fascinated me like no other (apart from Rainforest Cafe).  Right from the entrance, I started to feel like I was walking into a completely different city - oops, I mean a village. The ambiance of this "theme restaurant" left me flabbergasted.

India Trip, Day 34: boutique

November 16 (Fri) - Day 34:  boutique

I'm at a designer's boutique - Ramneey in Ghasi Bazaar, Hyderabad.  She is known to be one of the few who can design and deliver the clothes within a short time period, and charge twice.  But I have no other option.  I was sleeping since one month in India and just woke up from my hibernation to realize there is very little time left for my devar's wedding and I still DON'T HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR for one of the main functions.