Day 3 Wednesday
This is the first day listed in the wedding invitations. Tonight’s celebration is cocktail attire and your closest 600-800 family and friends in a hotel ballroom mixing it up. The day started with 2 of Aeshna’s school friends (Sonya & Liad) and myself going to her Aunt’s home to possibly pick out some 3-piece outfits or saris for the next few days. Neena is a clothing designer and her boutique is in her home. I figured I would go and if I saw something I really liked I would get it. Hema had mentioned a good sari would run somewhere between $200-$300 (10,000-15,000 Rupees) but that I should really get a 3-piece out fit since saris are so complicated to wear. FYI, there is a famous designer named Ritu Kumar whose boutiques are everywhere and her clothes are beautiful.
So the 3 of us get into a car with a driver and head over to Neena’s. I was very pleased to have found a beautiful kaftan (picture under Day 4) to wear Thursday and I even found a sari to wear for the wedding. I had brought other clothes of course, but I figured, when in Rome and why not? I expressed my concern over not having a petticoat or knowing how to put a sari together and she said not to worry and she would make it Pret a Porter aka “ready to wear”. The other girls managed to find 4 outfits each.
I am always sensitive to the generosity of others especially at a wedding when people are going out of their way to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. I asked that Neena make certain to let me know how much my items were. She said not to worry and everything would be fine. Just as a note here when dealing with people you don’t know well, it is always wise to insist on at least a rough estimate because their idea of a fine price may not be your idea of a fine price.
The evening was held at the Eros Hotel. The celebration included 3 mega buffets of Indian and Chinese food and a super stage for performances and dancing. This is what the girls and boys were rehearsing the other night. Of course, girls were practicing at the bride’s home and the boys at the groom’s. They had a choreographer pull together several different dances expressing different feelings and ideas of relationships and marriage. It was terrific. Cliff and I managed to meet a lovely couple who were long time friends of Navnit’s and they were very sweet in explaining the meanings behind all the songs and dances.
We ended up calling it a night around 12:30am. The party did not stop until 4 or 4:30am. For many of the family, this was probably already their 4th or 5th day of festivities.
Day 4 Thursday
Incredibly enough, a lot of the party goers were up bright and early to go to the 12:00 event at the Bride’s home. Today was a more casual gathering and the day for Mehndi and Bloody Marys and more dancing. I also got to wear my beautiful kaftan:
Day was gorgeous and the house was gorgeous. I loved all the incredible textures and fabrics of the Indian culture. My kaftan is actually Rajasthani. I had purchased white leggings and beautiful silver wedge shoes to go with. Today was also the first time we had a chance to see the neighborhood in the daylight. We knew Navnit lived in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Delhi and very affluent-looking mansions were everywhere, but just as noticeable was the lack of landscaping. It was really shocking:
Coming from two countries (Japan & USA) where curb appeal and landscaping are incredibly important, I was amazed to see such rubbish (literally). I was later informed that in India, when you purchase the house, it doesn’t necessarily include the land around it. So at any point without any notice the government can come in and do as they please with that land. Therefore, many Indians put money in their homes, but not in their lawns.
Back to Bride’s house.
The entire outside was beautifully decorated with bright festive colors. There were 3 sections to the outside area. In this “room” people greeted one another and you could select bangles to go with your outfits from the cart. Further in there were 2 sections. One section was completely under a tent, where the bride was getting her Mehndi applied:
and there were 2 singers singing Punjabi music behind a dance floor and another open area where tables were set up so you could sit and eat. The singer on stage acted as Master of Ceremonies and she kept calling out to family members to dance. Lots of pressure to dance at Punjabi get-togethers. I decided to get my Mehndi early since it takes about 2 hours to dry and flake off:
After a few hours, we were ready to head back. I needed a nap. There was talk of reconvening at the house for dinner and talk, but I knew I was done. Cliff and I went back and got into bed, munched on hotel snacks and watched TV and chilled. It was so nice just to do that. Plus, as buttoned up as Cliff is, it is nice to see him chasing a potato chip in bed. Funny thing about naps, as soon as you get up, you want to drink or eat again. Navnit called and invited us over, but I’m a “do-my-face-once-a-day” girl. Once that make-up comes off, if I have to put it back on, you gotta pay for the whole night. I could tell Cliff was feeling thirsty so I told him to go ahead without me.
Day 5 Friday
Day 5, and despite Indian food breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no Delhi Belly for either of us. Cliff is not having diarrhea but he is incredibly gassy. He avoids any type of gas-producing food in the real world so he had no tolerance. Coming to a country where the food is pretty much based on beans/lentils he didn’t have a prayer. We decided to do our souvenir shopping during the first half of the day. I would have liked going to an outdoor bazaar, but we didn’t have the time so we went where the quality of goods would be higher, but so would the prices. In Japan, it is considered polite to bring back a gift or souvenir from the place you have just been for your friends. Its called omiyage. Since scarves are so handy and fabrics are so wonderful here in India I thought these would make perfect gifts for my new friends. Can’t wait to distribute!
We get back to the hotel and rest a little, pack a little and wait a lot. Cliff gets his tuxedo on and now all we have left is my sari. It finally shows up and it is gorgeous! I absolutely love it. The colors remind me of Korea.
5:30pm Leave Hotel with bags
7:00pm Arrive at Former home of the Vice President’s for wedding.
I apologize for the picture not being in color, but the color photograph came out all red because of the lighting.
Once the groom has been marked and accepted into the bride’s family, he walks down the path between the guests holding his mom’s hand. I got a little choked up during this part. It was all so solemn and festive at the same time. I kept thinking to myself, it really is a big deal when families are joined together. In America, marriages seem to be about loss. Losing your freedom, losing your money, losing a son. Even in Korea, I can’t tell you the number of times my mom tried to pressure me into another child saying “Chase is going to leave you one day!” Here in India, it was really about bringing two people and two peoples together.
10:45pm Cliff and I dash to the Airport for 1:30am flight to Hong Kong and then Tokyo.
I feel like I learned so much being in India. There are lots of similarities between India and Korea. India is probably the exact opposite of Japan. I learned there are 27 or 28 States within India and hundreds of different languages. Everyone kept telling me about the diversity of the food, but I gotta be real here: It all tasted “Indian” if you catch my drift. The Indians I met are incredibly passionate, generous, warm-hearted people. I’m glad I went, and I’m so happy to share it with you all.
Until next time…