Thursday, May 28, 2009

Weekend At The Beach

Last weekend was a long weekend for my husband (Monday was Memorial Day) and he knew I'd always wanted to go to a beach. This was a trip he'd planned a month or so before we got married.

This place, Cape Ann, is a little further north of Boston. Which means that it's a little colder out there. Daytime temperatures were in the low 70s, and nighttime temperatures in the low 50s. (Yes, I've become tuned to thinking of temperature in Fahrenheit, and distance in miles, and I am gradually tuning my brain to stop converting dollars to rupees when buying something.) That's low to mid 20s in the daytime, and between 10 and 12 in the night, if you think of the Celsius scale. So that's pretty cool weather for someone who has lived in Delhi all her life and was still there, less than a month ago. But it was quite pleasant in the daytime, when the sun was out, and since we were mostly indoors in the evenings, it was just fine.

We started our trip with an early morning whale watching cruise. There are lots of whale watch tours that begin at the harbour in the town of Gloucester. It was a slightly cold and very windy morning. I took my jacket along since I am not yet used to this weather, but Jatin did not. The lady at the ticket counter was considerate enough to point out that we should carry jackets, since it would be at least five degrees colder in the middle of the ocean. I think it was a lot colder than that! That was my first encounter with the sea. I never imagined that the first time I went near the sea, it would be the Atlantic Ocean, not the Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal.

We did see a lot of whales that morning, and pretty active ones at that too. We learnt a lot about them too, from the tour guide who told us how they identify individual whales and how they follow where a whale is going when it is travelling just below the surface.

After the tour, we made our way to our little inn. It was a cosy little cottage built in colonial times, as were most of the cottages in the town. It is owned and run by an eighty three year old lady, with help from her family. We met her grand daughter, and we were told that she was herself a mother of two. It's amazing, the way a woman that old takes care of herself.

We'd planned to try out as many sorts of seafood as we could on this trip. Not that you don't get seafood here, further away from the coast, but out there, just about every restaurant serves seafood. Primarily seafood. We had salmon for lunch that day and headed out for a small beach near our inn in the evening. It was still a little chilly and windy, but way better than how it was in the middle of the ocean. Jatin went to test the water and see if he wanted to enter it, and came back with his toes freezing. We enjoyed a nice, cool, peaceful walk by the water, watching people walking their dogs, and kids running around after each other. It was so quiet, with nothing but the occasional squawk of a seagull stirring the silence.

We had dinner at a Mexican place, where the waiter was quite interested in talking to us about India and the Sikh religion. Mexican food is actually pretty good, since it is not too greasy, is nutritious, and is pretty close in taste to Indian food. Almost everything comes with beans and rice, which is just like rajma-chawal, except for minor differences in the sauce in which they cook the beans.

On our second day, we made our way to Wingaersheek beach, one of the larger and more beautiful beaches in the area. This is a more commercial place (we paid twenty five dollars for the parking!) with food stalls and beach equipment rentals. The good thing about beaches in the area is that they have a strict carry in, carry out policy. You have to take with you whatever you brought in. You have to take your trash with you. Leave behind nothing but your footprints. And people do that. It keeps the beaches clean. There were lots of people there, kids burying themselves in the sand, kids looking for seashells, girls splashing around in the water in bikinis (even in fifty degree weather, and much colder water), and people just walking about or relaxing by the seaside in their beach chairs or on their beach blankets. It actually began to rain just a few minutes after we got there, and it rained quite heavily for about fifteen minutes. We were afraid our trip was going to be ruined, but it did stop soon enough and the sun was back. We had a nice, long, lazy afternoon at the beach.

Later that evening, we went to a town called Rockport. This is a quaint little town, more like an eighteenth century English village, full of little gift shops, art galleries, ice cream parlours and ocean view restaurants. There was a place in there which had an amazing view of the sunset, in all its brightly coloured glory. It was a good place to spend an evening. We liked the place so much that we wanted to come back the next morning, to explore it properly in the daytime as well. And we did. We made a few purchases for our home from one of the art galleries, and tried to eat some lobster. After the first bite, I couldn't eat any more of it. Jatin tried to, and ended up feeling all weird afterwards. No more seafood for the trip, we decided. We had a chicken sandwich after that, and some fresh fruit.

We made our way to another place called Halibut State Park after lunchtime. This place has a beautiful quarry and a lovely view of the ocean. It's a great place to picnic with your family, or go fishing, or spend time taking pictures, or just walk about and relax by the water. We spent a couple of hours there before making our way back home.

We had a lovely trip, and we took a lot of pictures. As my mamaji pointed out, that way our parents always know what we are doing all the time. Taking pictures.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Random Things I Learnt About Myself

Since I am spending a lot of time by myself these days, there are some things that I have discovered (or re-discovered) about myself in recent times.
  • I should always have easy access to a variety of fruit, so that I can take good care of my random binges throughout the day, instead of giving in to the temptation for chocolate and all things chocolaty. We keep very limited amounts of such things around the house, but we make sure we have lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and beans.
  • I am so much happier when I am well rested. Since I am getting enough sleep these days, I am feeling so much less irritable and cranky. I'm sure it also has to do with the fact that I am not working and hence am under a lot less stress, but this is a major factor.
  • There is such a thing as too much shopping, even for a girl like me. These days, my husband feels like taking me out to shop, but I simply don't feel like it. After all the wedding shopping, I am a little tired of walking in and out of trial rooms or figuring out which earrings will look good on me.
  • Though I don't mind chicken and fish and stuff, I am generally happier eating vegetarian food. I can't seem to be able to enjoy meat for more than two or three consecutive meals. I'd rather live on just watermelons and lettuce, and maybe a sprouts salad thrown in for good measure.
  • I like being by myself. A lot.
  • I love sleeping.
  • I love long, warm showers in cool weather and cool ones in warm weather.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Sari Shop

After quite a while I finally got down to reading a novel all the way through. This one is called The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa. This is her debut work. It's a pretty accurate and realistic depiction of the life of people in various strata of society in smaller cities and towns in India. This one is set in Amritsar, about seven or eight years ago. You can tell the time frame from some of the little details, but it's hardly consequential. It could just as well have been set in the present.

In recent times, the contemporary Indian fiction that I happen to lay my hands on seems to have this way of not sticking to the traditional concept of a well-defined story with a beginning, a middle and an end. The other books I read which do that were not too much fun, but this one was. Well, maybe fun is not the right word here, but you get the drift.

This is actually a pretty serious book which talks of the nuances of everyday life in a city like Amritsar. Of the shallow lives that some people in the higher social strata live. The constant struggle that those less privileged have to undergo. The way some girls have to search for their own identity, while breaking away from conventional norms. Rupa Bajwa has described all of these with a fair amount of skill, with a lot of feeling. It's something that most of us can relate to having seen around us in our everyday lives. It doesn't have much thrill or romance or comedy in it, but it gives an insight into the everyday lives of people like those we see around us all the time.

On the whole, a fairly nice read. I'd rate it at about seven on ten. Do pick it up if you have the time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Brother-In-Law's Graduation

I know, of late, this blog has become more of a journal, a narrative of whatever is going on in my life, rather than the expression of opinions and thoughts that it used to be more often. But there is just so much going on in my life these days.

On Sunday morning, after the visit to my mamaji's place, we set out for Philadelphia where we were to attend Jatin's brother's graduation from Wharton Business School. We didn't know before hand if it was in an open air place or an auditorium. As it turned out, that particular day was especially windy and not too sunny. I was carrying a jacket, since I am not yet used to the weather in the area in general, but Jatin wasn't, and he did feel pretty chilly.

So anyway, there were about nine hundred people in the graduating Class of 2009 and it did seem like a huge number when they filled up a huge stadium. It was a little overwhelming for me, and also for Jatin to an extent, since Jatin's graduating class had only about eighty people in it. There were a lot of Asians in there. The number of Indians was definitely more than ten percent. And lots of Chinese and Japanese folks. According to the awards lists and my general perception, those are the most hard working folks of the whole lot.

They invited Nobel Laureate Mohammad Younis to address the students. He talked of how he has been a banker for the poor, especially for the women who had always been brought up to believe that they should not touch money, and if somebody should handle money, it should be their husbands. It's pretty remarkable, how he has made women in rural Bangladesh more independent, financially and otherwise.

One of the students who spoke on behalf of the others mentioned how none of them thought, when they left their jobs two years ago, that a lot of them would leave this platform with a degree but no full time job. It's quite hard hitting but true. I'm amazed at the courage that guy had, to say something like that on that stage, in front of the graduating class and their families.

Speaking of families, when the Dean came to address the students, he asked them to take a moment to thank their families for their support and sacrifice. He asked them to stand up and face their families. This is something so basic, so fundamental, and yet we forget these things along the way.

We took a good look around the campus after the ceremony. University campuses in this country are generally quite large and beautiful. The University of Pennsylvania is no exception.

This was the first time that I attended a significant event in my new family. It felt good, I felt more connected to the family.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Month Down!

Wow! It's been a month since we got married. Life has been a roller coaster ride along the super fast expressway (I don't know how much sense that makes to you, but it makes a lot of sense to me!). So much has changed for both of us. We've come to understand each other so much better. We've come to love each other so much more deeply. We've discovered each other's idiosyncrasies and other random traits. We've learnt to put each other before everything and everyone else. We've learnt that time with family and friends is always great, but a quiet evening at home with each other with some soft music is the best. This is the first time in my life that I've found something for which I would give up my blogging time, my novels (the reading. I've just managed to begin reading one. I'm trying to get down to writing pretty soon.), my favourite soap on TV. I didn't really know I could do that.

Life is beautiful. Here's to a lifetime of caring and sharing.

Visiting The Family I Barely Knew I Had

My mamaji has been in the States for about as long as I've been around. He's been to India a few times since then, including last month when he flew down for our wedding, but I've never met my mamiji or their kids, except my sister Kiran who visited India last summer. Her mom and two brothers always existed only in a virtual world for me. So it was quite an experience for me, driving down to their place for a short visit. It was not too long a drive, but I guess it was a little tiring for Jatin since he decided to drive down himself, and we did get delayed by about an hour because of some trouble with the GPS. But when we got there, it was all worth it. Allentown is a lovely place, just as beautiful as Boston suburbs, only with bigger houses and bigger lawns, and a more peaceful and vast countryside. Apparently they have all kinds of wildlife there, from groundhogs to deer to foxes. They have three pets of their own - Maggie and Poncho, their two German Shepherds, and their cat, Muffin. The two dogs are pretty large, and scary to some people (including Jatin) at first. He told me to enter the house first and make sure the dogs were well out of the way before he came in. I told him not to worry, because if the dogs didn't scare my dad when he was there a couple of years ago, they wouldn't scare him either. My dad is really terrified of dogs. All dogs. Jatin likes regular sized dogs, but is scared of the super sized ones.

They have a huge yard where they grow just about everything, from tomatoes to raspberries to mint to cherries. There's also a little fish pond with goldfish and water lilies. And the view of the countryside is just lovely.

The family is extremely warm. My youngest cousin, Ajay, has the same interests and the same weird sense of humor as my my brother Nikhil. And Kiran is especially sweet and friendly.

As it happens, my mamaji is an excellent chef. He made some dal which was just like what my mom makes. He grilled some lamb and chicken in an outdoor grill which was also great. Apparently all three kids like stuff like palak paneer (I'm not too fond of that, you know) and dal roti (which I also like). I felt quite at home with family pretty quickly, as did Jatin. It's a pity the trip was that short, because we had to leave for Philadelphia the next morning, since we had to attend my brother-in-law's graduation ceremony in the afternoon. But the good thing is that now we're that close to this part of the family, and can visit them often.

At our reception, when I was feeling a little emotional all over again, my mamaji told me to look at it this way - "You're losing your mom and dad, but you're getting us. That's not a bad deal at all. I would take that deal any day" It isn't. It certainly isn't.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Back To The Gym

Today I went to the gym after what, I realised, was a period of almost three months. I'd not been going since about the time my wedding was fixed. On my last day at work, I wanted to go for just a couple of minutes to say my farewell to the gym that had helped me knock six inches off my waist. (I never measured my weight. I know the tape measure because I had to buy smaller jeans.) But somehow I never got the opportunity to do that. I guess I was busier saying my goodbyes to the people who'd made my stay in the company memorable.

After I moved to Boston with my husband, I found that the weather out here is pleasant and the air is clean and the surroundings are green. So none of the reasons I had for not going for a walk in the park in Delhi held true. I preferred taking a walk in the courtyard, in the fresh air, rather than working out in a cramped gym. Although the gym in our apartment complex is a lot larger than the one I used to go to in my office, it still doesn't match up to the green trees and fresh air, now, does it?

But today was a little rainy and windy, which would also imply that it was rather chilly for a creature just out of Delhi. And I do need some sort of physical exercise. So I hit the gym today. The equipment here is a lot more complicated and fancy (the treadmills are fitted with TV monitors) and the place is a lot bigger and neatly organized. And, since I have the option, I went at a time when there were very few people. So I liked it a lot. I realise that I need to get back to my routine in a couple of weeks, because I couldn't work out with the same kind of intensity today. But that does happen when you take a break that long, doesn't it? Well, from here on in, I'm going to be regular. And those who know me know that I mean it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Aside from the stuff I've been talking about in the last few posts, there are some major changes that I've seen after moving to Boston suburbs.

There's no public transport in this part of the country. Everyone has their own car, and couples like us have two of them. I need to get my Massachusetts license made soon, so I can drive about on my own. There's a Walmart that's about a five minutes walk from where we live, but people still drive from our apartment complex to that place, as does my husband.

My husband took me to his office to show me around. It was about nine in the evening, and the office was deserted, save for the housekeeping staff doing the vacuuming. If I ever needed to stay at my workplace, there were quite a few souls in sight at nine or even ten. Also, their work area has a pretty dull color scheme (which would appear all the duller to someone like me who is used to orange, green and yellow cubicle separators!) and the cubicle separators are about six feet high. I can't imagine what it would have been like if the ones in my office had been like that. I mean, you can work in peace, but hey, I never wanted to work in peace! I wanted some amount of interaction with my neighbours. I wanted to see Bhatti's weird expressions every time I got up from my chair, and Anuranjan's lost looks whenever I was in Bhavna's cubicle and happened to look at him.

All the shops and restaurants here are pretty big and well organised. There are just so many things to buy, but in every retail outlet there's a place for everything and everything is in its place. You can find exactly what you need. You'll barely find a store that sells only one kind of item, like a store that sells just stationery or just medicines or just fruits and vegetables or just books.

Life has changed in many ways. It seems it's all for the better. Life is good.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Top Five Things I Like About Being Married

  • Having someone who cares for you in a way he cares for nobody else, and the way nobody else cares for you. It feels good to care for that person in the same way.
  • Having someone in your life with whom you share at least one meal a day.
  • Knowing that your life is no longer all yours, and that someone else's life is sort of yours now.
  • Having romance in your life, with the security blanket of a strong commitment.
  • Being responsible for and being in charge of your own house and also being responsible for a lot of things in someone else's life.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Settling Down

On my last day at work in India, a friend asked me what I would miss the most about India. I didn't really know the answer then. I don't know it now. Because there isn't anything that I'm actually missing. My husband said that he generally feels homesick for a couple of days each time he comes here. His brother said that, in his case, it's generally a couple of weeks. I was prepared for that. But I guess it makes a lot of difference whether you come here all by yourself, or with your husband. I think that helped a lot, coupled with the fact that Jatin and I had already developed a pretty good rapport, even before we got married.

It's sometimes strange, adjusting to the little cultural changes. One lady here asked us if we got married here or in India. When we told her, she asked if the celebration was a month long. That's how some people perceive our culture. I guess that does still happen in some parts of the country, but certainly not in the bigger cities.

When we went to get our marriage registered in India, we had to wait a couple of hours at the court. And it seemed pretty normal. This weekend, we went to the bank here. The lady told us that they had new software which she was not familiar with, because of which things took some fifteen minutes extra. She apologised for that a number of times over.

Over here it's mandatory for manufacturers to print nutritional information about every food item on the package. I've already become accustomed to checking fat and sodium content on everything I buy, and everything I eat. It's a good thing. Okay, there are exceptions to the rule, like when I tried out my first doughnut at Dunkin' Donuts. For the uninitiated, that's a doughnut and coffee shop you find at about every half mile or so here.

There's a gym in the apartment complex where we live, and we do have a membership, but the weather is so pleasant (when it's not raining) and there's no dust and pollution, so I like walking or jogging in the courtyard. In Delhi, I could never really walk in the open because of the heat and dust, so I would stick to the gym routine. I guess I will need to revert to that when it's winter here, because then it will be too cold for me to walk out in the open.

In Delhi, I would sometimes find the drive home from work more tiring than work. Here, driving is so peaceful and a lot of the roads are so scenic that driving would actually relax me. Although I'll find that out for myself once I get my US license and start driving here.

I came home to an empty apartment, and we were sleeping on an air mattress for about a week until the bedroom stuff was delivered. It didn't really feel strange, but it feels a lot more like home now, with the bed and the couch in place.

Jatin tells me that it doesn't really seem like I've come here from a different country. It seems like I've always been living here. One of his friends, whom we met over dinner on Saturday, also said the same thing. That's how it feels.

Friday, May 8, 2009

First Impressions Of Boston

Boston has got to be the most beautiful city I have ever seen. And the surrounding suburbs are even more breathtaking. The place is full of green grass and trees, and nineteenth century English style architecture. The cottages in the suburbs are just so lovely. From the color of the trees and the grass, you can tell that there's no pollution here. There are shades of green I never saw in Delhi, even in the years when my mom used to keep lots of potted plants and I used to water and wash the plants myself.

There are so many things I liked about this place in the first go. People here don't just pass by you. They smile and ask how you are. When you walk into a store, the salespeople greet you the same way and ask if they can be of any help, but stay out of your way if you want them to.

The roads and parking lots over here are so very organized. People don't break traffic rules even if nobody's watching them. They respect the other person's right of way.

Malls, grocery stores, pharmacies and other stores over here are really large, but not overwhelming. They are pretty organised and you can find exactly what you're looking for. Everything comes in pretty large sizes here. A Toyota Corolla or Camry is a pretty small car by the norms here. It is quite commonplace to see a single person drive to work in an SUV. There's not much of a public transport system here, once you move out of the main city, and everyone needs at least one car. Every mile or so along the expressway, I can spot a huge car dealership. Coming back to the large sizes, just about everything, from strawberries to melons comes in much larger sizes than I was used to. Cookies at StarBucks were a little larger (and a lot thicker) than the chapatis at the cafeteria at my office.

On my first weekend here, we went to the city and met some of Jatin's friends. In between, we went for a walk by the Charles riverside. It was quite a scenic place to take a walk. You don't get to see such a clear, blue sky in Delhi. And you don't get to see such clear water in the Yamuna! It was nice to see people walking, running, jogging, cycling or walking their dogs in that place. One thing I like about this place is that you can wear whatever you want to wear and nobody minds. Nobody treats you any different for it.

When we first visited a furniture store here, the sales lady told us that we looked like newlyweds and that we looked so cute together. I found that really sweet. In another store, the sales lady pointed to my mangalsutra and told me that she liked my necklace and that it was pretty. I was slightly amused. The point I'm making here is that, I never received anything remotely in the vicinity of a compliment from a sales person in India. These guys are pretty warm and friendly when you think about it.

I know, this is the honeymoon period, but hey, I do really like the place and the people out here. It feels right. It feels like home.

Growing Up

Ever notice how we're in a tearing hurry to grow up when we're little kids, and, once we're all grown up, we wish we could rewind life a few years? A kid who's seven and about to turn eight will insist that she's almost eight, a teenager who's about to be sixteen will eagerly look forward to her sixteenth birthday. But once you're approaching thirty, you suddenly start wishing you could go back to your school or college years. You wish you could be that young, carefree person who didn't have to worry about groceries and pay cheques and utility bills.

There's really nothing you can do here, you can't stop time. But you know what you can do? You can wake up and realize that this, here, right now, is the best time of your life and that it will never come back, so you should enjoy it the best you can and live life to the fullest. Live with no regrets.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hopping Between Airports

So it was just about one whole day since we took a flight from Udaipur to Delhi and it was already time to go to the airport again, and take another flight to the place that's going to be my home for a significant, but uncertain, period of time.

Some friends of mine from work planned to surprise me by showing up at the airport. Naturally they needed to know the exact time and terminal where they could catch us, so they had to let Jatin in on their plan. What they didn't know is that my husband is really bad with surprises. He plans a surprise, but cannot keep it to himself and lets me in soon enough. As he did that evening. So it wasn't a surprise, but it still felt really, really great that so many people would drive all the way from Noida to the airport, just to spend ten minutes with me. It says a lot about how much these people care for me. It felt wonderful to see all of them again that evening.

Once the goodbyes were said and we were inside the airport, it was a series of routine security checks, followed by a not so routine one. Apparently one of the X-Ray scanners wasn't working, and they were checking everybody's carry-ons manually. That put an hour long delay on the flight.

Now most of the people who know me well know that I cannot fall asleep while travelling. But I thought that a fifteen hour flight with comfortable seats would be different. But no, I could only manage to catch fifteen minute naps every so often. I refrained from watching an in-flight movie so I could sleep, but it didn't help, and eventually I did switch on a movie and pretty soon, lost all interest in it. Add to that the fact that my husband is a little too accustomed to sleeping on planes, and that he needed to go to work the morning we landed, so he slept all through and I didn't feel like disturbing him. So you can imagine, I was a little frazzled and, given my normal tendencies, desperately wanting to take a bath, by the time we were ready for landing. But I don't really know what happened when we did land. We were at Newark airport, and the flight from Delhi had just landed, and we were in the queue for customs. There were about a ton of Indians who'd taken that flight. So the airport looked just like Indira Gandhi International, look of the airport and general crowd wise. But there was a weird feeling. A wonderful, weird feeling. I felt really happy after landing. Because of the delay at Delhi, we missed our connecting flight to Boston. And the next flight was full. They put us on the one after that. It was a little tight for Jatin, but we were somehow really happy, both of us.

We spent some time walking about the airport and exploring the area in general. The first thing I ate in the States was a fruit cup, from which Jatin picked out a piece of watermelon for me. Yup, he already knows my three big obsessions in food - chocolate, rajma, and watermelons. He makes sure that I stay away from the first one and have enough of the other two.

After much delay, we did land in Boston, and took a bus from the airport to the suburbs, from where Jatin's former landlord came to pick us up. He's a really nice and helpful fellow. Once we were home, Jatin took a quick shower and headed off to work, and I did what I'd been dying to do - take a nice, long shower and a nice, long nap. Felt really good to be sleeping so peacefully in my own home. Somehow I never felt anything like jet lag or homesickness once I was here. It feels good, feels natural, feels right.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trip To The City Of Lakes

Jatin and I took a two-day trip to Udaipur a week after our wedding. It was a much needed respite from all the adulation and attention we were getting from friends and family, an opportunity to spend quality time with just each other, getting to know each other and understanding the whole relationship that we'd just got ourselves into.

Udaipur was certainly no respite from Delhi's heat, however. But we had a beautiful room in a beautiful hotel. There was a lake, a garden overlooking the lake, and a hotel room overlooking both of them. The hotel itself resembled a palace of the kind that Maharajas in Udaipur used to live in. So it was a great place to spend the day in, and the evenings were good for going out, exploring the palaces and the lakes all around the place.

I think all the ancient cities in India have these forts built atop hills, from where you can get a view of the entire city. The monsoon palace or Sajjangarh fort was just such a fort. There is not much of the fort itself that remains for one to see, but the view from up there is spectacular.

We also visited a vintage car collection, which houses cars owned by three generations of rulers. We clicked pictures with cars in which visitors like Queen Elizabeth and Jacqueline Kennedy had ridden. Apparently all of them are pretty well maintained and are taken out for a spin in a large courtyard every couple of weeks or so.

There's also a trolley ride along a rope way from where you can see a great view of the city from a vantage point. Now forts are not safe for visiting after dark, but this is something that lets you see the whole city lit up with the evening lights.

We also visited the City Palace Museum which is a place where the life and heritage of the Maharajas has been preserved.

When we were returning to Delhi, I got to see Delhi from the sky in the night time for the first time. I'd always taken day time flights before this. Delhi looks like a beautiful collection of jewels when you look at it like that. When we were a little nearer the ground and I could make out the roads and the cars, even from up there I could see how rash people sometimes are and how haphazardly they overtake each other on the roads.

Anyway, beautiful city, good trip. Left the airport with a happy feeling, from the aftertaste of the trip, and from the knowledge that, in about twenty four hours, we'd be back to the other side of the airport, heading off towards home.

First Experiences With The In-Laws

I knew I had only about five days to spend at my in-laws' place before taking off for Udaipur and then, for Boston. But I am happy to say that those few days passed quite happily. I have a really affectionate mom-in-law. She actually made it a point on the wedding day to ask my cousin sister what I liked to eat for breakfast and lunch, and then make sure I got to eat stuff that I liked. Both parents were very sweet to me and let us lead our own life, and make our own decisions on where we wanted to go and whom we didn't want to visit. It was my father-in-law who suggested that we should take a trip away from Delhi over the weekend. I think that was really nice and thoughtful of him, considering the fact that their son was in the country only for a few days and that that was the only time they could spend with him. In the few days I spent with them in the house, I never really felt like an outsider in the family. The transition was quite seamlessly smooth for me. And to add to that, the paperwork for registering the marriage and that for the visa also went pretty smoothly. A happy beginning to a new life.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Big Fat Indian Wedding

So it seems rather logical to begin at the beginning - from where it all started. For the uninitiated, or for those people who, like my husband, haven't seen a North Indian Hindu wedding in a significant amount of time, let me just remind you, this sort of wedding is a big event with lots of fanfare. It's generally not just a single ceremony either. In cities like Delhi, it's generally two or three major ceremonies interspersed with a ton of little ones. We had three of them.

I think what I'll always remember about my wedding is that, as everybody could see, unlike the usual, demure Indian brides, I was this bubbly girl who actually enjoyed her own wedding to the fullest.

At the venue of the ring ceremony, I was the first to arrive. Accompanied by a couple of my friends, I arrived before my family and my groom. That's apparently pretty unusual for an Indian bride. But once the panditji started off with the religious bits, for which I was not required to be present, I had a fair amount of time to spend with my friends in the bridal room.

Once we were done with the actual ring ceremony, Jatin and I were beginning to get a little restless and wanted to go to the dance floor. It took a while before all the relatives left us alone on the stage for a few minutes and we were actually able to go to the floor. My brother's friend Abhinav came to us at one point of time to invite us on to the dance floor. Once we were there, we completely forgot about the rest of the world and danced away like nobody was watching. Abhinav and the others were a little surprised, but happy. My friend Akash pointed out that we should be dancing like it is our own wedding, not as if we've come to dance at somebody's wedding. But we didn't really care for what people thought. We had a good time, and that's what mattered. That's when I actually got to see the true Punjabi that my husband is at heart. My mamaji, who'd flown in from Pennsylvania for my wedding, and who hadn't seen an Indian wedding since my parents', had a great time too.

At dinner that evening, when Jatin and I shared the first bite of food, my mom was so completely overcome with joy at the realization that the responsibility of looking after my meals was now off her shoulders. That was a beautiful moment.

On my wedding day, we had a few small rituals at home in the morning, and after a light brunch, I was off to get ready for the big evening. That day, I made it a point to check with my family and see that they arrived significantly before I did. Apparently I arrived just a little ahead of the baaraat. Tulika had already called me to tell me that the decorations were just great. The wedding venue was a farmhouse with a huge cottage in the middle of it. My wedding planner took me to the first floor of the cottage to see the decoration and the baaraat.

I was supposed to walk down a marble staircase leading out from the cottage and stop halfway down, on a landing, and Jatin was supposed to come halfway up, and we had our varmaala on the landing. I think it was all very beautiful.

We didn't get too much time on the stage, since the pheras were scheduled for eleven in the night. We were rushed off for dinner, where I managed to eat only two platefuls of watermelons (what with the heat, and the seventeen ton lehenga, and the open air venue!). We were both beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with all the adulation at this point of time. Jatin was rushed to the mandap for some sort of puja, and I had some free time on my hands. I wandered off on my own to spend some time with my friends. A few people were a little taken aback at the sight of a bride wandering about so comfortably all by herself at her own wedding, but I certainly enjoyed myself.

Abhinav came to check on me a couple of times. He wanted to know how I would get to know when I was supposed to go and join Jatin. Would there be a phone call, or an SMS, or would he be sent running to look for me? I guess everybody knows the answer, as both of us did then.

When the time came for the actual pheras, my mamaji and Abhinav came looking for me and Abhinav was amazed at the fact that I walked in step with my mamaji, who is a bit of an athletic guy and walks rather fast. I guess I was used to the weight of the lehenga by then.

The pheras proceeded uneventfully, except that the panditji and everybody else forgot all about the mangalsutra, which Jatin put around my neck later, at home, after I reminded him on the way. After a pretty emotional goodbye to my family members, I was on my way to what would be my home for the next few days. We were home by about half past two in the night, which meant that we got a fair amount of rest that very night, which is not seen too often in Indian weddings.

We also had a wedding reception on the day immediately after the wedding. By then I was a little too exhausted to get up and to get dressed for the evening. But I did somehow manage to get through that evening as well.

That evening, my mamaji pointed out that I was losing my mom and dad, but I was getting them. (I am now geographically so much closer to him and his family) That's not a bad deal at all, he said.

Well, things change, people change, situations change, and it's often for the better. I feel a lot happier now than I ever did in my life. Life after marriage is treating me well, as is my husband. More on that later.

Be Back Soon

Now that my wedding is over, and I am in Boston with my husband, soon enough I'll find time to resume blogging with my regular frequency.

Boston is the most beautiful place I've ever seen. Lovely countryside, beautiful cottages, and from the colour of the tree leaves you can tell that there's no pollution out here. And the best thing is that there's this lovely, spacious apartment that's just our own private space. I like the idea of having a place to call my own and being able to do things my own way.

I've been around the place a little bit now, and I've had a bit of time to settle in. There's just so much to write about that is in the pipeline, and I may end up writing it all down in random order or maybe in some sort of random order. Right now I'm just trying to figure out where to start from. Stay tuned.