Monday, February 25, 2013

Our Story-III

Moving ahead with the story then…

1st Feb

It was planned well ahead that this day would start with us visiting temples close to SDGH and that is what precisely happened. These visits are basically for untying (symbolically) that pink scarf, which you might remember from the previous part of ‘Our Story’, in front of the Gods and getting blessings from the priests. We left early in the morning and travelled to the 3 temples of His ‘family Gods’ (very much like ‘family doctors’). We were enjoying the GPS functionality of our phones via Nokia maps in the car. It was quite nice to see technology working seamlessly even in such dreary desert areas of Rajasthan. One could find directions to even those small villages around SDGH, which lie along run down State Highways! Here are the 3 temples we visited.


Punrasar Balaji Temple


Lakhasar Bhairav Temple


Tauliyasar Bhairav Temple

We returned back  to SDGH around noon and went to the guest house for lunch. One of His cousins was getting married the same day and so the guest house was still booked and the place to go to for food, otherwise today would have been the day when everyone started making their food at their own houses. We had been eating sweets in all the meals and this was no exception. We forced others to eat too [This is just Her because I don’t share sweets; at least not those that are on my plate! Smile] who laughed at us. They were thinking perhaps, ‘These people are hogging sweets like they haven’t seen sweets ever before in their lives’. [That’s true for me.] But who cares? They are sweets after all. [Yup!]

After lunch, He left to submit required documents for Aadhaar Card (Unique Identification Number for Indian Nationals) and returned after roughly an hour. He told me that there was a man just behind him in the queue, who was chewing paan (betel leaf) and spitting betel nuts every once in a while. This was happening inside that card office and one speck of it even bounced off His arm. How disgusting is that! And we think that our civic standards are rising. Really?

We were asked to participate in that ridiculous curd-pouring ceremony [He thinks that way, not me.] for my cousin so we went to the guest house again in the evening. But events in weddings strictly follow the Indian Standard Time, so we waited half an hour past the scheduled time and then started getting fidgety. She was with my mother and listening to similarities between Her and her (narrated by an old lady, as she puts it) while I roamed around the guest house. After a while, I had to ask my father why so much delay? He said that the groom hasn’t yet reached SDGH so the bride’s ceremony can’t start. I countered, “Her ceremony took place early in the morning before we reached SDSR! How the hell did that happen then?” He replied, “Because we phoned them that your ceremony is done and they can go ahead with Hers too. So ours was ‘computerized’ but for your cousin, it is going to be manual, sadly… Smile”. His wit takes me by surprise even now (for another example, read this)! So we were asked to go back home and prepare for departure.

She was advised on choosing appropriate colours for clothes [these are things that you start learning once you get married, which makes me wonder why did nobody talk about them before?]  and after doing that final bit of packing, we left for Bikaner with my father. Papa bought some Veg Patties and Kesar Kulfi (saffron-sprinkled ice-cream that did not melt till the last bite) for us and left as he was obligated to attend my cousin’s wedding. We savoured those snacks while chit-chatting at the station, specifically arguing about the shapes of the patties. I had seen only triangular & cylindrical ones whereas She had seen only rectangular & square ones. We also noticed the high level of cleanliness maintained at the railway station… quite an anomaly in India.

After we boarded the train and showed our tickets to the TT / TC (/whatever he is called), He fell asleep after a few minutes. I looked at Him a couple of times while He slept just to check if telepathy worked. Guess it works only in books with magical characters like Fairies or Angels.

2nd-5th Feb

We reached Delhi on time and after having something for ‘breakfast’ on the railway station, left for the domestic terminal 1D of IGI Airport via a tempo. It was an exhilarating feeling getting driven around the city in such a dense fog. But we reached well ahead of the departure time so we sat in one of the E-zones, where we could recharge our phones & laptops and work in dedicated cubicles too. I realized later that we could have used the internet for free for one whole hour inside the airport. Instead, He used his datacard and I used mine while also recharging my phone. He showed me a few of the homework problems that He would be teaching to the students in His classes next week.

We reached Goa in the afternoon and the temperature was a bustling 34°C and it was a bit humid too. After getting to our booked hotel, we had lunch with the items Mummy gave us. It was unexpectedly hot at this time of the year. I wonder why do people say that Dec-Feb is the best time to visit Goa. Apparently, the carnival was also about to start in a few days. How do people survive such scorching heat? Guess what they buy most during the carnival is sunscreens. Anyway, we roamed around the resort, which had a beach right next to it and clicked a few pictures.

Beach Resort Rooms

Us and Beach

Waves Reaching Shore

The breakfast buffet was the most unexpected highlight of our stay in Goa. The food was great and sitting beside the beach while gulping it down, (esp. water melons) just felt awesome. Here is that soothing place:

Beach Resort Cafeteria

We visited Old Goa and saw the few historical churches and a Museum that it had to offer. The museum was a small one but had quite ‘interesting’ archaeological artefacts, stamps & coins and ‘not so interesting’ paintings & sculptures. It also showcased a few sketches / paintings done by children (maybe on an educational trip sponsored by their schools) and some really intriguing questions about the state of Old Goa as a heritage site around the exit.

Saint Catherine Church

Highly Saturated Colours

We also visited a few beaches but didn’t walk around much in that sort of heat.

Beach, Shoes, Camera

Instead, we were lazing around in a Café and taking funny pictures of each other.

Camera, Table, Pose

Table, Colours, Symmetry

The dog was pretty much doing the same: [She means lazing about; not taking our pictures. Smile]

Dreaming in Peace

While on the road, we also saw 4 casinos operating purely on ships anchored in water (maybe they move too, don’t know). We also went to a beach-point that was supposedly the point where one could climb up the stairs and enjoy the setting or the rising Sun. We didn’t wait for the sunset; instead, just treated ourselves to some water-body photography (interesting or not is for you to figure out).

A Yellow boat:

A Yellow Boat

A Blue boat:

A Blue Boat

Hmm… someone interesting in that blue boat:

Lost in Thoughts

Anyway, that is pretty much all the sight-seeing we did in Goa and we started back on the 5th. Since we hadn’t done any shopping during the past 3 days, we [again just Her] indulged ourselves in buying a few things right there at the Goa airport. The purchases were made quickly one after the other without any break such that it looked like everything was carefully planned.

We reached Delhi again on time and visited one of His cousin’s house to separate our stuff and put them in separate suitcases. Our suitcases were brought from SDGH and He got His ready for the trip to NY and I got mine ready later on at night. Since His flight to NY was scheduled at 1:35 AM on the 6th, He had to leave in the evening of 5th itself. We left the house around 8:30PM and dropped Him at Terminal 3 of the IGI airport around 10 PM.

It was a little painful to see Him standing there, smiling at us as we walked back to our vehicle. I smiled a bit too much and waved unnecessarily. Well, sometimes we need substitutes for words and I guess these little gestures work just fine Smile.

More Wedding Shots

More from Goa Trip

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our Story-II

Let’s continue with the most important day (She calls it D-day, don’t know why?):

30th Jan

This day at my place started with some in-house beautification. People from both the Paternal and Maternal sides – grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins were present and the young ones were particularly excited for too many reasons. One of them is this ceremony where turmeric mixed with gram flour is applied on the feet, hands and face after which curd is poured on the hair. Applying the yellow concoction is restricted to the aunts. However, everyone as in both the old and the young ones, get the opportunity to pour curd on the hair.   Here are two snapshots – one of the ceremony at my place and one at His.

Curd Massage

Symbolic Massage

Notice the stark difference in the two photographs? Yes, while She was getting curd poured over her head, I was making sure no one did anything funny to my hair. Even then, someone put a few drops in and when I ‘threatened’ to stage a walk-out, no one else bothered touching that bowl anymore. Smile

Some interesting facts connected to this small event. The clothes worn during this time are to be given to the assistant who is wiping curd and paste off of the face, hands and feet. At the end, you are asked to change clothes and wear new ones of a specific colour. [I only ‘half-complied’. –D] These coloured ones come from two places: Mother’s house and the in-law’s house. [The second place is true only for Her.] So, after getting into this specific attire, I was asked to sit before my hand impressions in mehndi and turmeric (as shown in the photo below) and made to wear red and white bangles. They are supposed to be kept for 1.25 months and at the end of that time period, they should be saved for wearing during important events in the future.

Hand Impressions

After I got into my attire, someone (I later found out he was one of the drivers) came to fit the head-gear (saafa) on my head. It was an ordeal to say the least because that thing is wrapped around too tight around the head and I was supposed to wear it till the next day when I’d come back from SDSR! Obviously, that was not going to happen as you’ll read later. Anyway, long story short, I put on a pseudo-wedding dress brought by my brother-in-law that made everyone (including me… and it seems She was shocked but pleasantly surprised) happy [I was planning to wear a normal suit, which made everyone (excluding me) sad.] and left for SDSR around 3PM after a light lunch.

Got Ready

I was then set free after the morning’s messy ritual for the next couple of hours. Free as in, given time for socializing. Almost everyone asked me the colour of the dress I would be wearing in the evening. They didn’t stop at that; I was also supposed to let them know as to what He would be wearing in the evening, from where is it purchased, does it resemble someone else’s, what are the additional accessories with it, etc. And as we know by now whatever I told them turned out to be completely wrong because he didn’t keep his word of wearing a suit! Sad smile

As I was roaming around the house answering such questions, there came a call that we are running late and I’m to start getting ready for the evening. I have a private room but that didn’t remain private during these days. People kept flocking in and checking my status of ‘getting ready’ and comments / advices / opinions / suggestions (whatever you want to call them) flowed freely. On top of that, I was asked to follow as many orders as possible or rather, as much as I could hear.

While She was getting ready, I was ready and in a car travelling from SDGH to SDSR with my Didi & Jijaji (elder sister & b-i-l). (The first thing I did when we got to SDGH outskirts was to take the saafa off of my head.) Here they briefed me about what all customs & rituals are awaiting me and also what all pranks Her family members will play on me and advised me how to avoid them. I listened to them and told them: I’ll decide as & when needed whether to follow their advice or not. We reached SDSR (around 5PM) and I had to put the saafa back on my head for a minor custom at the entrance of Her house. (My right ear started aching pretty bad after this and it didn’t feel right for the next 2 days.) We were then taken to a hotel booked for this occasion. The only friend who could make it to our wedding (that ‘only’ includes both of us… none of Her friends could show up) reached SDSR before me and we both laughed at each other’s get-up for being on completely opposite ends of the sartorial spectrum!

Shantanu, Me

Back to my side: After I was ready I was made to worship the Gods and Goddesses in the house and then asked to sit in one corner of the house till some other rituals were performed. He and people accompanying him were served high tea (I still wonder why this name when tea is just one item of the too many in the list).

High Tea

Around 8PM, we moved out of the hotel and started walking towards Her house. A small ritual was performed at a pseudo-crossroad (Think about this seriously. The road was completely blocked for traffic during those ~15 minutes. I guess such things can happen only in an Indian village!) just before our final destination and then we were allowed to move further. We reached at their door and a small pedestal / stool was put there for me to stand. And Jijaji asked me to take out a handkerchief…

I’m aware of some of the the rituals that are performed when the Groom arrives at the Bride’s house. Let me highlight some of them. A few senior ladies [Her aunts] put kumkum on His forehead and try to pull his nose Smile. He was supposed to save his nose by using a handkerchief and the aunts standing there kept wondering as to why he did nothing to save his nose. And yes, He did nothing even after taking out a handkerchief… I guess so that it could get over as soon as possible. After that, a custom is performed with a scarf kind of a thing where my aunts try to make him fall off the pedestal and his companions try to save him. But after the pulling-nose-thingy, I guess nobody was enthusiastic anymore so the scarf was put around his waist, tugged slightly and removed, just like that!

Caressed, Adored

After all that, I was called outside to face him and both of us were handed a garland each, which were not made of flowers [They had sandalwood, most probably]. The bride is asked first to garland the groom’s neck and people (in general) lift the groom so that it becomes difficult for the bride to do the job. But it did not happen that way in our case. He was courteous enough to bend his neck and I was stunned enough to garland him while smiling a little too much. He repeated the same over my bent neck. A photograph showing the same. [She bending Her neck doesn’t affect much. But what I don’t understand is why would Her family be so ‘cruel’ to not give her own pedestal? Winking smile]

Garland Exchange-I

We were then asked to walk together towards the place where the main ritual was to be performed. In the mid-way, another small ritual reared its ridiculous head. One of my Maternal uncles was to lift me up and orbit around Him. He was again made to stand on the pedestal. I was asked to pick up some rose petals at the start of the orbit and throw them right at His face as the orbit ended. After 4 such orbits and people clapping their hands, I felt that He was feeling on top of the world. He was definitely smiling a lot. [That was because of this being such a ridiculous practice! Her uncle was staggering in the 3rd orbit and almost collided with me in the 4th orbit. She herself warned him that she’s not as light as she looks, on top of which, she’s wearing a 10Kg dress! Open-mouthed smile]

Petal Shower

I was put back on the ground and one of the triangular pieces tied to his saafa was then tied to my head. So funny it was to realize later that something was tied to one of my legs at the same time too. I was too pre-occupied that I failed to notice the thread that was tied to my right leg till He was asked to untie it using only one hand the next day. But that is another story in itself and you can imagine what he would have done! Winking smile Anyway, here we were asked to garland each other again and this time the one with flowers were used:

Garland Exchange-II

We finally got to the place where a fire was arranged for taking the marriage vows and the Priest to recite the mantras. My uncle (father’s immediate elder brother) and his wife sat opposite to us and were the ones who performed the ‘kanyadaan’ (‘to send off the bride’). The chants started and I was given something [a silver coin and a ball of mehndi] on my right hand. He was asked to place His right hand on top of mine and our hands were tied with a long, pink scarf.

Tangled up

Tied Hands

There were more mantras, more chants and we walked around the fire four times, after which He filled sindoor (vermillion) in the mid-partition of my head. This is when we were pronounced ‘Married’ I guess [at ~10PM].

Filling Sindoor

Family members came to wish us at that point and showered their blessings. The knot around our hands was removed after this and I was asked to keep that long, pink scarf with me all the time till we reached SDGH. Then, we were asked to remove our shoes to pray before the hand impressions (shown above). All my sisters [incl. cousins] (I’m happy that at least all of them were present during the wedding) took that opportunity to hide His shoes and then demanded some cash from Him in case He wanted them back. When He handed them a box of chocolates and few packets of chewing gums, everyone started laughing their hearts out. [I haven't seen or heard any sister being gifted such items and frankly, was happily amused.] However, He didn't like (it was visible from his face) the incessant cash demand my sisters were making but His b-i-l did shell out some cash (more than He agreed to) at the end on His behalf. I personally think that this is the only occasion when the sisters get an opportunity to ask for things from their b-i-l and so I'm happy that their demands were fulfilled [though not as smoothly as they would have expected!].

After that, we went to have dinner, which was arranged in a guest house just opposite to our house. Dinner, of course, had to start with sweets:

Sharing Sweets

We came back to the house having finished dinner and after a few more photographs and small talks, we were left alone to rest [around 12AM]. Since we had to leave SDSR around 4AM, we couldn’t rest much and instead, spent most of the time talking and laughing about all the idiosyncratic rituals that had transpired during the last few days.

31st Jan

We made our way to SDGH in the early morning and people were there to welcome us. There was this ritual where He was supposed to move the plates sideways and I was supposed to lift them up without making any noise. He was moving them so far away and when asked by one of his aunts, He said, ‘Let her do some work’! Winking smile [Hey, I didn’t do it intentionally! And that’s what Jijaji said after which I realized I’d fallen in their trap. That’s why I didn’t move the remaining 2-3 plates with that much force.]

Flinging Plates

After this,  we were made to sit before the hand impressions at his place. I was asked to un-tie knots in the threads around his wrists. And He was asked to untie the one around my leg. For now, the ‘home-coming’ rituals were over and He slept. He Slept, Just Like That and nobody told Him anything. Well, I didn’t have such luck as I prepared for more customs.

There was a small ceremony where I touched His family members’ feet and they gave me gifts (again Smile) and blessings. The young ones (His cousins and nephews) sat on my lap, I pulled their ears and gave them gifts in return. A funny picture where I’m doing that:

Ear Pulling

His youngest nephew sat on my lap too and I like this picture very much. [Though, he seems to be pretty bored!]

Cute People

He was sleeping while I was doing all the above and around lunch-time, He was woken up to pour ghee on the food in my plate. He went straight back to sleep in another room. How much can this guy sleep, man? [Jet-lag, man!]

Pouring Ghee

We went back to SDSR in the evening to get blessings at my parents’ and maternal family’s house. We visited a couple of temples while we were there:

Behind Bars

One really important thing we accomplished while there was to complete all formalities for getting a Marriage Certificate. The Marriage Registrar came to collect our signatures, thumb prints, face identification, etc. needed for the certificate at our house. A couple of hours later, he handed over the certificate to my father. Thankfully, without any spelling mistakes! But by then, we were already headed towards SDGH.

Let’s continue on to the ‘last’ part of this hexology and see how it all ends:

Part III

Monday, February 18, 2013

Our Story-I

It was inevitable that after writing His Story and Her Story, we had to write something like ‘Our Story’ and so here it is. A hexology in 3 parts – something off of Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy, which is a trilogy in 4 parts!

So we begin at the beginning and that was on 27th, when we both reached our intermediate destination of New Delhi. She reached her final destination of Sardarshahar (SDSR) on 27th itself but I reached my final destination of SriDungargarh (SDGH) on early morning of 28th. (A bit of asymmetry there but then nature is not particularly fond of perfect symmetries, anyway!)

28th Jan

Here’s my welcoming party around 6AM:


A needed welcome is what I would say, after all He was there on the 28th and did not postpone it till 30th to attend His own wedding! Smile

After a light breakfast and some meetings with crucial (or rather, close) family members, I napped for 2 or so hours and around 10AM, the gravity of the situation finally hit me:


Seems like everyone is ready, including the Pundit (priest). Even His seat is ready but empty and we all know the reason. That’s why the womenfolk are singing trying to both wake Him up and welcome Him aboard.

Wow… so many people! Anyway, I got over the shock and took my seat in the center after which some half-an-hour ritual goes through. I was told to keep one of the red threads tied for 1.25 months on my right wrist and hold on to a silver cane (sort-of-like-this) till 30th when the next guy (in our family) wanting to get married would take it! A snapshot of the on-going ritual:


Then I had to get ready in a formal suit and was handed a red cloth pouch. A hilarious custom where people (I was guessing kids but NO! It could be any person) ask the groom (he is recognized by his attire obviously; in my case, by the red tilak on my forehead) to give them ‘something’. My pouch contained dry fruits (salted almonds, cashew nuts, and dried apricots) and candies. I handed them to whoever crossed my path till I reached the guest house in the evening (My father took the pouch when I started having dinner at night and I heard later that he was enjoying distributing stuff from the pouch! I got the pouch next day again.):


All the members of my extended family were invited to this guest house for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the 4 days of the wedding (28-31 Jan). Forgot to mention earlier but along with that cane, I was asked to keep a plastic zipper bag containing salt & rye seeds to ward off any evil omens. Evil omens like this compliment: “He is looking great with the silver tie though.” Smile

Nothing as complicated as above happened at SDSR. Well… I wasn’t offered that warm welcome Winking smile and I was surrounded by women singers on the 27th. I think they sang about my connection with important family members and how they would miss me when I would leave the house on the 30th. I put on Mehndi on the morning of 28th:


All the cousins surrounded and giggled besides me. They made the long and boring Mehndi-application process quite a fun experience. On the evening of 28th, we left for SDGH and after some delay arrived at the guest house where the Reception was planned.


We were first taken to one of the guest house rooms where refreshments of all kinds were served. And then we were asked to shift to another room, which was when I caught a glimpse of Him for the first time this year, after our last meeting in June’12. [I caught a ‘glimpse’ of Her already when She entered the guest house. I was standing directly in Her line of sight when She was coming up the stairs just after which the photograph above was taken! How the hell did She miss me then? I was not expecting Him there, thought he would be hiding inside some room escaping the photographers! Winking smile] He was standing with a few other people holding that red pouch. He nodded without saying anything and smiled for nearly 10s (quite an achievement for Him) without moving an inch. [My current plan of action is to make Him show His teeth for nearly 10s while smiling.] Some important conversations happened between our family members in the other room and we were then asked to move to the Reception ground.

A stage was created in the open ground, besides the guest house, where the Reception was held. Quite an elaborate set-up I think. I had wanted things to be as subdued as possible but some things just don’t change given the familial ‘peer pressure’ surrounding these events.


Anyway, we somehow made it to the stage. Why the hell is one asked to walk slowly on these days? Maybe for all these photographers trying to capture some good shots (with bright lights set up all over the place). So you got to walk slowly and have bright flashes shoved up your nostrils and still these so-called photographers have guts to ask for re-poses because they missed the moments! So here we are trying to appear calm:


All the family members present during the Reception came and wished  us. We touched their feet and got blessings along with some gifts (mostly cash, though). In the meantime, some exchanges of gifts happened between the family members from His and my side, too. A picture of us when we found some time to sit and chat a bit.


We were called for dinner after most of the guests were done with theirs. And it started with a “kuch meetha ho jaye (let’s have some sweets)” moment. There were different kinds of sweets but I relished the “hot and sweet” badam (almond) milk that was served to us in the end.


Well, I liked all the sweets and had trouble trying to gulp down all the varieties (who knows when I’ll get to eat them again)! Not just sweets, there were exotic snack items too apart from the usual traditional dinner. Sadly, couldn’t taste everything! Sad smile I think he made it on 28th here (His REAL intention was) just to taste as many sweets as He could. But it seems like, even then the days were short and the sweets too abundant.

29th Jan

Two small events happened during this day both at SDSR and SDGH. The first one where His mother visited her brother’s house and invited him & other cousins ‘formally’ for her son’s wedding. In my case, I visited my Maternal Grandmom’s house and was given gifts. The second one where His mother’s brother & cousins visited her in their house (the guest house, actually) and showered gifts on her. At SDSR, everyone from my Maternal family – grandmoms, uncles, aunts, cousins, acquaintances and friends visited and traditional gifts were exchanged. Pictures from SDSR for these events are not available but below is a snapshot showing Mummy being given a gift of a saree by her Brother.

A token photo from 29th

So, that marks the end of 29th… I wonder what was He doing while Mummy and I were busy the whole day. He was getting over his jet-lag I presume or the worst thing to do at this point of time (He would call it ‘the best thing’) would be solving his research problems. Smile

Well, it was true that I didn’t have much to do but I did need to perform some minor customs around lunch-time and then in the evening when I was free (after taking a nap) I did do some research. That’s a respectable way of saying I edited some bits of my latest paper! Winking smile

Now, let’s move on to the important event of 30th which is coming up in

Part II