Friday, April 29

Last Weekend's Wedding

     Gahhhh.... sorry I haven't posted this (or anything else) in a while, it's not even like I've been that busy.
     Last weekend I drove with my dad and another doctor from the city about 6 and a half hours to a wedding in Guna. 
     We left around 11:30 on Saturday just as the hottest part of the day was starting which meant that sitting in the back where very little of the air conditioning every made it was little hard at times. I slept for most of the ride. Around 2 or 3 we stopped of lunch at one of the roadside "motels" that can be found scattered along almost every major road that goes through rural India. These stops originated in Punjab as a place for truck drivers to stop, rest, and eat in the heat of the day before continuing when it cooled down. There are woven rope beds for the drivers to sleep on and most of the stops still serve predominately Punjabi food. We had brought our own lunch from home and ordered hot daal and cold sodas as well. 
     When we arrived at our destination we went in and made the proper greetings and paid the proper respects to our hosts, which included sitting down for a cup of chai of course. We then had a few hours to rest and get ready for the wedding reception which we arrived at around 8. I had my own room in our hotel which was amazing because I haven't had my own room in what feels like a really, really long time. 
     We were only at this wedding for the reception but unlike when we go to wedding receptions in Indore, we didn't just come for dinner and leave. This time we arrived before the bride and groom and I stayed all the way to the ceremony at 3 in the morning. 
     The moment we had arrived at the reception area a man came up to me and asked if I was Kelsey. When I said yes he asked if I wanted to see Pragya, Pragya Dave who was my class teacher at Progressive. It turns out that he's her husband who is a very nice guy, it was fun to see him dance with Mrs. Dave. With my dad's permission he lead me up to the rooms where the wedding party was getting ready. Mrs. Dave was helping put the finishing touches on the bride's mother's outfit. It was really surprising and great for both of us. She was my favorite teacher at school and is very, very cool. I spent the rest of the evening with Mrs. Dave and her niece (on her husband's side). Mrs. Dave was sort of in charge of a lot of the bride's affair since she was the bride's "cousin-sister," the closest thing she had to a sister. While we were waiting for the bride to arrive at the reception we chatted and I was introduced to all of the bride's friends. Niki, the bride, had a close group of friends when she was in engineering school in Indore. The group consisted of about 10 engineers, only two others were girls, who had all since moved to different parts of the country. This was the first time in a while that they's all had a chance to get back together and you could tell that they were having a lot of fun, plus Niki is the first in their group to get married. I also learned that Mrs. Dave had resigned from school and now plans on being her husband's assistant. Mr. Dave is an astrologer which is a much bigger profession in India than it is in America. Astrology is very important to how you live your life.
    The bride arrived to the reception under a canopy held up by her close friends and family. While waiting for the groom's party to arrive on horse back there was a lot of dancing and joking around with the bride. Mrs. Dave had once told me that she loved to dance and I could tell. She also made me dance with her and the bride's friends. It was a lot of fun. Even if I hadn't danced I couldn't help but have fun watching everyone else dance because they clearly were having a great time. 

The bride with her father and uncle under the canopy that she arrived to the reception under. Her mother is behind her father holding the canopy up. 
My class teacher from Progressive, Mrs. Pragya Dave,  dancing with the bride's friends waiting for the the groom's party to arrive.
     When the groom's party arrived instead of stopping dancing they just included the groom's mother in their circle. Pretty soon the entryway was blocked with people dancing from both sides. After a while is calmed down enough to allow the groom to actually enter. There were traditional welcomes for him and his family. During this point we went to sit down in front of the stage because all of our feet were beginning to ache. On the stage where the bride and groom would sit in a little bit there was a group of little kids playing. It reminded me of almost every wedding like function I've ever attended. The kids all seems to get along without really knowing each other and loud, potentially dangerous games usually insure. In this case, there were several times that I thought that the large light set on precarious poles were going to come tumbling down. Of course as the evening progressed the games ended in tears. One of the boys was Mrs. Dave's son, he's 7 and acted exactly like you'd expect and overly tired, energetic 7 year-old boy to act like.
     Some of the elders started to get impatient because the wedding couple took a very long time getting to the stage because the kept stopping to dance with their friends. Before I go one I should stop and say that this was a love marriage in comparison to the arranged one I saw earlier. The bride is from Indore  (so most of the her side was also from Indore) and works with the groom. He proposed to her and her way of saying yes was to tell him to propose to her father. Luckily they are of the same caste so everything worked out well.

The wedding party making their way to the stage.
    When the party finally reached the stage the bride's friends wouldn't let them sit down on the couch so they had to remain standing. When the time came for them to place flower garlands around each other's neck the groom's friends picked him up and put him on their shoulders forcing the bride's side to do the same so that they could be at the same height. It was all very entertaining to watch especially when the groom was dropped right as the bride was about to place his garland around his neck. She was carefully put down to finish the exchange.

The bride and groom trying to exchange flower garlands on their friend's shoulders.
     After going on stage to give our congratulations and pose for a picture we went to eat. As I was eating my dad came over and told me not to waste my time eating real food when there was such and amazing spread of sweets. I don't really like Indian sweets. However, when I cam back from getting more food dad had brought me a plate full of one of each sweet to try. So I did. Some were very good while others I could barely swallow. It was however, a very filling dinner. By the time was had all finished dinner, dessert, after dessert ice cream and were sipping on soda the wedding party still hadn't eaten. The bride, groom, friends, and coworkers were all still on stage posing for pictures with each other. We sat around chatting with various people waiting for the main party to eat. Once they had finished we all went up to the rooms in the hotel that had been set aside for changing and preparations so that the people who needed to could change out of the obscenely heavy clothing into something more comfortable for the ceremony.
     I got to help the bride change out of her lehenga into a simpler sari. The wedding lehenga was extremely heavy and big and the bride was a very petit girl. I don't know how she managed to wear it for so long, not to mention all the jewelry she had on. At one point she turned to me and joked about Indian weddings saying that didn't is seem silly that one girl needed 5 others to help her undress. Despite the relatively quick change, considering the amount of clothing, jewelry, makeup, and hair that needed to be dealt with, many relatives started to get impatient. The bride's father, uncle, brothers, and friends frequently knocked on the door asking what was taking so long and harassing the bride and her "attendants" in a good natured way. Finally, around 3 in the morning the ceremony started. Many of the relatives had fallen asleep in one of the other rooms at this point. Some were woken up, others were left in peace.
     As per tradition, the brides brothers were allowed to try to steal the groom's shoes during the ceremony and hide them until he paid them off afterwards. Everyone removes their shoes before sitting down on the mattresses around the canopy. Traditionally, only the bride's brothers can do this in this case her close guy friends were considered brothers as well. Unfortunately for them the groom's family didn't make is easy. At one point, the boys sent Mrs. Dave's son to try to steal them. He got the wrong shoes...

The wedding ceremony (unfortunately the wedding photographer had a really bright light on his camera). I was sitting behind the bride with Mrs. Dave who sat directly behind her to assist if needed.
Mrs. Dave and her husband gave me a ride back to the hotel after because my dad had left earlier to go to bed. It was early morning by the time I got to bed and I had to get up at 6:30 to drive home the next day. Luckily I had a long drive to catch up on sleep on the way home. 

Friday, April 22

Good Friday

     All the schools had holidays today. I didn't realize that today was Good Friday or that Sunday is Easter until halfway through today when I made the connection. It's seems funny that in a city and country of so few Christians there should be a school holiday for something like Good Friday. Here, any religious holiday warrants a break from school whereas in America there is such separation of church and state that no school holidays are supposed to be based around religious ones.
    Even though there was no school today my school friends had an extra class at the junior school right by my house. I went over there right at the end to say hi to some people I hadn't seen since school ended. We chatted for a little bit until they all got picked up. Some of my friends are heading over to the USA on the 30th for two weeks with a group from the school. They'll be in Texas and Florida. We talked about their trip America for a little bit. I'm curious to hear what they think of it and will have to meet with them when they get home to see.
     Other than that I don't have much to write about. I'll away for the whole weekend at the wedding with my host dad. We leave tomorrow (Saturday) morning and we'll get back either Sunday night or Monday morning. 

Wednesday, April 20

Potential Mehendi Classes and Wedding Plans

     This morning I met with Hannah, Reba and a friend of Reba's at the friends house. Reba's friend is also a Rotarian and was once the owner or the first beauty salon in Indore. Now she has a room off of the side of her house where she cuts hair as more of a hobby than anything. Uma, the friend of Reba's had arranged for us to meet with a girl who can teach us mehendi, the art of applying henna paste. We had a short lesson today and are going to work out later timings once the session of cooking classes ends. Mehendi is a lot harder than it looks. We were just drawing on paper and even then it was difficult to make the designs and shapes look like the teacher's. After class we spent some time chatting before walking back to Hannah's house to eat lunch and the walk over to cooking class. Today we learned different kinds of dals (also spelled daal). After class we went back to Hannah's and spent the afternoon fooling around.
     This weekend I might be attending a wedding with my host father outside of the city. My mom couldn't get leave from her job and my sister has exams starting tomorrow. The family who's getting married is very close to mine so at least one member of ours needs to attend but to be polite my mom wants to send at least half of the family which would be my dad and I. 

Sunday, April 17

     I'm running out of ideas of things to write about now that I'm done posting on the tour and I have a basic day to day routine that doesn't change much. Today, for example all I did was stay at home with my family since it's a Sunday. I did some small things that I've been meaning to get done but for most of the day ti was too hot in the house to do much. It was a lazy day for all of us because of the heat there was a lot of napping and lying around going on. I did start a new book called "The Twentieth Wife" by Indu Sundaresan which Amanda recommended to me. It's about the Mogul Empire and focuses on Emperor Akbar and his oldest son Salim (later Emperor Jahangir), the third and forth emperors of the Mogul Empire. Half of the book also focuses on Mehrunnisa, the daughter of a member of Akbar's court who is also a Persian refugee and her relationship with the court and Prince Salim.
     I feel like I haven't been reading as much this year as I usually do but when I think about it I spent a lot of time in the school library during my free times reading when I didn't have studying to do during study halls. At school most of the books I read were re-reads but some of the books I've read for the first time are:
-Pride and Prejudice (I liked it better than I thought I was going to)
- Great Gatsby
- My Sister's Keeper (I've been meaning to read it for a long time)
-Raising My Voice  by Malalai Joya (She was the most outspoken member of the Afghan parliament until she was forced to leave, she's run a school for girls under the Taliban. Her book isn't really about her life and achievements as it is about exposing what western countries esp. America have done to Afghanistan and its people.)
-The Kept Woman and Other Short Stories by Kamala Das
- Room by Emma Donoghue (I was up past 3 am the other night finishing this one. I highly recommend checking it out.)
-The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (and the two other books in the trilogy)
-I even read the Eragon series at school as well as Inkheats
-The Picture of Dorian Gray
-The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
And many others that were repeats during school... like all the Harry Potters, The Thief Lord, Song of the Dolphins, Twelfth Night, all of the Chronicles of Narnia, etc.

If you have any ideas for blog topics or questions about India, my life here, my exchange, ect. write a comment or send me and email.

Thursday, April 14

Some people (Mom) have told me I don't put enough pictures of me on the blog so here are a series of pictures of me (a totally random selection) in absolutely no order what so ever that other people have taken. I wanted to title this blog post "Kelsey in India" but these pictures are of me in India with a group of other foreigners, in mostly tourist destinations thus, it's not really me in India in the way that I am most of the time. If I had them I would have pictures of me in cooking class, at the gurdwara, at home eating dinner or watching TV with my family, in my room with my sister, at the mall with friends, or in an auto rickshaw going somewhere.

Day 1 of the tour in Jaipur in front of our bus, this was our first set of group pictures.

In front of Amber Fort in Jaipur ( I'm pretty sure)

Kelsey and Nisha. There are many, many pictures in which at least one of us is making a face. A large percentage of my pictures are not normal, happy, smiling pictures.

Olivia's birthday dinner in Calcutta.

At the winter recreational base in Manali.

Long hours on the bus and early mornings and late nights meant that we had to be good at sleeping on buses (not an easy thing to do). People had to get comfortable however possible (notice the foot by Amanda's head)

Waiting for the bus in Jaipur Jordan took my camera and took really bad pictures of people this is us laughing at them.

Not my favorite picture of me. Nisha and I waiting outside of the Golden Temple.

"The Indore Kids"

I was the first one to climb on boulders up in the mountains near Gangtok when we were by the China border.

The group by the lake by the China border.

Wasting time in Agra Fort just before the monkey's attacked....

The group in Agra Fort.