Our journey across the Pacific, and over the Indian Ocean was inspired by a wedding invitation. In July, a former class mate of mine sent an email, inviting me to his wedding in Delhi and Nagpur in October.
At first, I wasn't sure if I would accept the invitation. India wasn't on my bucket list, after discussing the invite with those close to me, it became apparent that I HAD TO GO.
Friends confessed, "it's a dream to attend an Indian wedding," "You'll never see anything like it again," "it's a wild and indulgent party!!"
Culturally, Indian weddings are a chance to show off ones wealth, and to reconnect with family members. The multiday event, is extravagant. The families hosting go all out. This particular wedding, was a four day party spanning two cities. The festivities started in Delhi, and traveled to Ram's hometown of Nagpur.
For Delhi, the groom had booked us into the Nanuk Residence. We had three nights in Delhi. The hotel, was interesting…
Prior to arriving in India, I asked the groom what to wear. His response, "anything you'd like."
"How helpful," I thought to myself.
Ram invited a professor of ours, his work mentor, and myself. In total their were six of us westerners who stood out, as we tried to learn the customs.
Day one of the wedding, was the ring ceremony. I wore a western style cocktail dress. Within minutes of arriving at the venue and meeting Ram's family members, I was quick to realize just how underdressed I was. The women wore dazzling jewelry and traditional outfits. The men wore a mix of traditional "Kurta Pajama's" and western suits. Myself and the other white woman were the only two, out of 300 or so guests, showing leg. Feeling a little overwhelmed, we asked the barman for a stiff cocktail. Only to learn that we were at a dry wedding.
We waited, and ate, and waited for the bride to make her entrance. At weddings, its customary to assign "jobs" for family members. We met Uncle JK, who had been assigned the task of making sure the westerners eat. He brought us plate after plate of Punjabi cuisine.
Indian's operate on what is known as "Indian Stretchable Time." If you're told to be ready for noon, the host is hoping you'll be ready for 2pm or 3. An Indian minute can stretch upwards of half an hour.
As we waited for the bride to make her entrance T made a run for beer. When she did arrive it was with a giant entourage. She wore a sparkling red gown. With her arrival, the kids lined up to perform for the audience. There was dancing, singing, and more dancing.
Outside, the westerns gathered to have a beer. We drank on the street. I later learned, the stealth Indian drinkers, hide in their cars as the sip their poisons.
The ring ceremony wrapped up with a giant (very late) lunch. It took a full minute to walk the length of the buffet. At 5pm, T and I found ourself headed back to the hotel with Uncle JK and his wife. Who spent the entire cab ride, inviting us the their sons wedding next summer in Bombay. When I asked if they like their daughter in law to be, Auntie Jk replied, "we haven't choose her yet, we've only picked a date. We have three girls to interview.
Back at hotel, Ram and his family packed for their night train to Nagpur. Around 9pm a convey of cars and luggage left the hotel. Ram and his family had two full train cars booked for their journey.
The six of us, hesitant to ride (another night train) drank beer and chatted in the hotel's restaurant. We'd all be flying to Nagpur in the morning.