Apologies for the lack of posts, but I’ve been unbelievably busy with all things wedding and alcohol related. I’ve finally got some time now, sitting in the car while we drive to Pittsburgh for a family road trip to Niagara Falls.
This will most definitely be very Indian wedding heavy, and very different to the previous travel posts, so, be warned, and click away if you want!
The wedding. I really didn’t know what I was in for, as I haven’t been to an Indian wedding in a long, long time, and boy was there a lot involved!
This was a South [groom] and North [bride] Indian wedding [the amount of sweet, greasy, unbelievably good food I've had over the past week is enough to make my heart cry], so it started with Mehndi Night.
I have a lot of relatives o_o Many of whom I haven’t met in over a decade, if not longer, and it was fantastic getting to know them all over again, and on a much deeper level.
Even though I was coming here for a wedding, I didn’t think one of the most enjoyable parts of this trip would be spending time with these guys and gals, especially the many around my age.
On a somewhat related note, I did kinda feel like an outsider. I can’t imagine the number of gatherings like this over the years I’ve missed, because of the sheer distance that separates us, and as much as technology should bridge that gap [and maybe it will since I've actually met them now], it’s really not the same.
Even simple things like listening to Hindi music, Bollywood movies and Bhangra dancing at the drop of a hat, all things that I’m pretty much against. That first night I refused to take part in it, and probably came across as a little bitch, but it was a shock to my system to see everyone there just take these things as a given.
I don’t recall anything much happening for the first half of Day Seven, but we left to New Jersey in the arvo, and got to the Sheraton pretty late at night.
I thought it would be a quiet night, but we decided to check out the murmurings that some of the cousins were in a room with some alcohol, and well, yep, there sure was!
Sadly, the alcohol ran out by midnight, and apparently Jersey doesn’t serve alcohol past midnight, so we did the only logical thing that anyone could think of; getting in a minivan and driving past the Jersey / New York border to find a service station with some alcohol. Oh, and did I mention there were 12 of us in the minivan?!
We got our beer, all the time paranoid of the cop car that decided to park metres from us at the service station. The drive there and back was filled with raucous, drunken singing too! It truly was an experience I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
More fun ensued in the room until someone from the hotel came by and said we’re making way too much noise, but we were welcome to carry on in the lobby, and so we did for a few more hours!
Day Eight. Wedding day, and I was feeling most rusty. I put on my kurta [it's like a traditional Indian outfit] that had been bought for me for the first time, and we were on our way.
The wedding was at this huge temple that had a grand ballroom attached to it for the Reception. Oh, I should mention that I was Sound Guy for the ceremony! I had to certain tracks at certain parts of the ceremony, and at first I was like, “uhhh, help”, because, you know, how the hell am I supposed to identify these events and not do anything stupid to screw up the ceremony, but one of the uncles helped me out, and bar a few hiccups, it all went well.
One hiccup was the douchebag guy at the temple who wouldn’t let me test out the system, insisting that it works perfectly and there was no reason to test it. Of course, the bride and groom started arriving, I press play, and nada… The stooge sheepishly went and fixed it after I publicly humiliated him.
Then there was this background music that randomly, faintly started playing during an important moment of the ceremony, and pretty much everyone turned to me in irritation, and I was making all kinds of signals trying to indicate that I couldn’t control it >.< Someone else went into the control room and eventually turned it off, but douchebag guy was just sitting there doing nothing >.<
Crap, almost forgot about the Baraat [excuse the spelling of these terms as I'm very uncultured]. Rewind back a few hours, and before anyone enters the temple for the ceremony, the groom is guided to the entrance to the temple, where the bride waits, atop a blinged-up horse, while all the members of the groom’s side lead the way, dancing to music played by a Dohli [an Indian drummer]!
I decided to stop being the little bitch I was on Wednesday night, and just went with it, much to the delight of everyone there; it was a lot of fun!
The ceremony went really well, and then we had to get changed into suits and what not, before the lunch and Reception.
I was all set to go, and then realised my shoes were missing. So, there’s this weird North Indian custom where members of the bride’s party have to hide the shoes of the groom and then the groom has to pay them to get it back… or something very strange like that. Maybe Naman or Varun can clarify.
Anyway, my shoes got taken instead of the groom’s for some reason, and it ended up delaying the entrance of the wedding party to the Reception [which I was a part of], while my shoes were being found -_-
We walked into the giant hall to flashing lights and applause from everyone already seated, witnessed the first dance and then a slideshow.
The slideshow was nothing extraordinary in terms of the concept [pictures of both the bride and groom from when they were young], but it got pretty emotional when the bride’s father, who passed away, was in many of the photos. Likewise, some of the speeches made mention of how proud he would’ve been; it was a sad, but joyous occasion.
The food was glorious [paneer galore], and likewise the gigantic, canoli-heavy cake. More dancing [i think I was dragged to the dance floor by five people], a lot of packing / cleaning up and a long drive back to New York later, we headed into the city.
Sidebar. The wedding form. Overall, disappointing, but the bride’s sister; good. god. Quite possibly the hawtest Indian woman I have ever seen.
Sidebar #2. So much pressure on me from nearly everyone there to get married, and for it to be an Indian woman. This was another thing that most of the guys there seemed to take as a given, and after arguing about it a few times, I just gave up and smiled and nodded. It was the one thing that really annoyed me.
Back to the city, and after a lot of bar hopping, a welcome stop at an impressive falafel sandwich place, we got home around 7am, and woke up a couple of hours later to watch Germany whoop Argentina.
Oh, also, there’s this random, public piano near The Village, and while walking to the subway, we see these those dudes playing the intro to ‘Viva La Vida’. We stood there for about 10 minutes and asked what the hell they were doing. Five minutes later, a bunch of drunk girls come along and start cheering and dancing, with one of them recording the tune to use as a ringtone. I randomly said something and they’re like, “Hey! Australia! Does everyone learn to play the didgeridoo in school there?!” -_-
There was also a hippie couple with a dog and rainbow coloured, flea-ridden couch that were “busking” by letting people sit on the couch with them. We didn’t sit there, but they seemed to be making a decent amount of money!
Moving on. I still hadn’t done any shopping, so I headed out into the city, and maybe I was just too tired, but all I came out with three hours later was a scarf -_-
Met up with Arvind and had some glorious white pizza, after which we headed to 230 Fifth Avenue, home to a wonderful rooftop bar that overlooks the city. This is where the night got messy.
Now, I should mention that the bartenders here are VERY generous when it comes to pouring spirits. There is none of this, measure 30 ml accurately in a shot glass and pour it; there is at least 50 ml in each rum on the rocks. Of course, I was drinking Old Fashioneds all night.
The wedding form may have been disappointing overall, but this place had a most impressive congregation of hawtness, and I literally gasped in amazement every couple of minutes for the first hour.
At some point in the early hours of Sunday morning, I fell on my face. Literally. Now, I can’t really remember it, but I think I was sitting down somewhere, and due to the lack of sleep building up, I leaned too much to one side and just fell over on my face.
My right shoulder kills, I have a few small cuts on my face and right hand, a disgustingly blue bruise on my right hip [ideally located so that my pants constantly press against it], a very sore right knee, and I keep having to adjust my glasses every few minutes, as they slide down my nose. Either I fell in the most idiotic way possible, or, well, I don’t know. Yet again, we got home at 7am…
Day Ten, another wedding related gathering, and there were a bunch of dudes that came along with a dosa grill and made custom dosas for everyone. Most of the day was spent lounging and eating, and then we headed out to Jersey City to the groom’s apartment on the water for more white pizza and 4th of July fireworks. The fireworks were meh, but the pizza was great. I’m really not looking forward to the crap they call pizza in Sydney.
And so comes to end yet another long rant. I also got my first night of 3+ hours sleep in the past week last night!