Friday, May 12
For all you lovely people who have patiently borne my crazy ramblings, especially the extremely prolonged weddings post series thats been goin on for the last few months.... here today, finally I bring you the final post. *phew!*
A quick recap for those who may/may not have had a chance to read the previous posts -
> Where our love story began....
"He's a kid - better leave him alone"...
"Look after 'My' Nupur".....
"We are too different, it will never work"....
> The desi wedding.....and Punjab darshan.
"Bhabhi, tussi ghar chheti chheti aao naa"...
"Mae inna makkhan aaj tak kade vi nahi khaaya"...
"Urgh!! That was so disgusting"....
> No place like 'home'....
"Arrival of a Bollywood star"....
"Even Mom was jealous"....
"we skipped the whole crying episode"....
Last post - "Little did I know that the change of water 3 times in 24 hrs (Kanpur + Delhi + Mumbai) was going to make me really really sick......."
Flying over Mumbai is an experience in itself!! The crowded metropolis and the crazy life that its inhabitants lead is a realisation that hits hard even at hunderds of metres up in the air. The hustling bustling streets and the honking horns tell you that no one has a single moment to waste...as there is so much to be achieved and time is running out....!
As soon as I stepped out of the plane, I was greeted by a strong gust of hot and humid air. Ah, Mumbai indeed!! Having never stepped foot in the Bollywood city ever in my life, this humidity in Feb was totally new to me. I nervously moved to the baggage lounge huddled by hubby dear as people hurriedly brushed past us.
As two of the four baggage carousels didnt seem to be running, there were crowds around the others. I waited with our hand luggage a bit away as M waited for our stuff to come through.
While waiting I see a very pretty girl with a baby sleeping in her arms walking towards me, but looking down at my hands/my hand bag. I kept looking at her and she kept looking at my hands. Don't know if she was looking at my Mehandi clad hands, or my Choora or my Chanel hand bag *:P* but we just kept looking as she came closer. Then she must have realised that I was looking at her as she was too, and she looked up - eyes met - and it was Karishma Kapoor with her baby daughter!! :) She lowered her eyes and walked past, to the end of the carousel and then later went past with her stuff again while I was still waiting - smiling slightly this time. *There, you go! my 5 seconds claim to fame!*
Met with M's Uncle out of the airport and we packed our stuff in his car and drove off to his place 2 hours out of the city! It was a long, hot and humid journey as the A/C of the car seemed to do no good against the agonising heat.
After 3.5 hrs of battling with peak hour traffic at various townships, we finally reached M's Bua's place. She waited for us with the very Mumbaiya, 'Wada Pao' for us to have!!! :D M absolutely loves wada pao...and was in cloud 9 when he saw it. I am sure, it must have tasted nice.... only trouble was a major cold had caught my throat and I couldn't smell/taste anything!!
Next day, I got a call from RA, one of my girl friend's in Banglore who was flying into Mumbai to catchup with me. It was fantastic to see her at last after 5 long years. And she hadn't changed a bit. The same skinny bubbly self.... talking about so many things, asking so many questions all at the same time!!
That night M was to be exiled out of our bedroom but she insisted he stayed and we chatted away into the night, giggling and laughing and hubby dear tried to catchup with what exactly we were talking about!
Next day, 26th Feb was a sunday, and NT, the other best friend of mine came to Mumbai from Pune. She silently stared at me all morning, looking at me up and down - making short observations like - "You've become fat!" "Your nails are very long!" "They look dirty!" "You seem tired." "M seems nice." and many more....
All of us went on a huge Mumbai Darshan tour.... going to the India gate, Hanging Garden, the Munna bhai stony beach *sorry cant remember its name*, the zoo among other places.... it was steaming hot and my nose wouldn't stop running. I almost fainted twice at the zoo, till finally everyone agreed that roaming around in the heat with me so sick was a bad idea.
So we drove back hame, and as I showered at 5 in the evening, I remembered - "It was M's b'day today!" And in all the excitement of my friend's coming over, I had totally forgotten to even wish him!!! He was very sweet about it, said, "Shukar hai tumhe yaad raha! Koi nahi ab to shaadi ho gayi hai naa...." :P
I felt so bad and so guilty as the past 5 years I had always done something special for him, and religiously wished him at midnight with a cake and all!!! This year, I almost forget his b'day and I didn't have a cake....not even a pastry! :( I felt so horrible!!
Later I simply blamed it all on the fact that I was in a strange city totally out of the loop - how could I have possibly arranged anything!
Anyways.... once the bday blunder was done and dusted, we prepared for 2 days of major shopping! I was about to start on a new job here in Melbourne and hence needed a major revamp to my wardrobe. 2 days we hunted and hunted every mall we drove past looking for ladies business suits - but nothing! I had thought with all the MNC's in India, the corporate wardrobe of ladies in India must have grown as well, but - nada!
Finally when all hope was lost, we drove past this relatively new mall called "Pheonix" or something similar - where one of the departmental stores had only 1 brand that had only 4 styles/colors of ladies business suits on display! Mumbai had finally redeemed itself!! I had two colours of the four that were available, so I tried the other two and bought them immediately.
Packing my whole wedding trousseau was a major task as we were definately going over weight with the luggage and were running out of things that I was prepared to leave behind! I had already left our 19kg wedding album back in Kanpur and was not prepared to part with anything else. After much haggling and getting all the packing ideas from M's Uncle in to action, we were done.
We were lucky that the lady who checked our stuff in at the airport was nice as well. When she saw on the weight-reader that we had already gone almost 12kgs over weight, she was worried for a sec, and asked, "Do you have more?" and I gave her my sweetest smile possible and said, "Only my wedding dress!" (which was in a seperate little case by itself) - not counting our hand luggage which was *ahem* lets just say - a 'little' over the allowed weight limit and thankfully she didnt ask for it to be weighed. She smiled, winked and nodded at us to take the wedding dress with the hand luggage!
The flight back was long..... but exciting as I was coming to Australia after officially becoming Mrs. M!
And since the return, have caught up with all my friends here and shared the stories and some of the snaps that we luckily had with us. Work has been crazy to say the least. And its well, I wont say that I'm busy as I have merely started, but its a lot of pressure being new and all. There's heaps of training and just trying hard to prove your worth to a bunch of new people!
But I am enjoying it nonetheless!
Finally, I ask you today for a 'official' blog-break as compared to the unofficial that I have been on these past weeks. Thank you all for you continued love and your sweet wishes and lovely comments and your emails!!! You guys are absolute champs!!! I hope to return soon, once I have found some stability at work and the new life. It may be weeks or may be months...or may just be days.
But obviously I'll be dropping by your blogs every so often, and meeting up on orkut or YM. So......till then..... take care! Good Bless!
Saturday, April 8
Isn't it true to no matter where you go, and however long you go for - the smell of 'home' is always special and unique. No other place in the world can be like it - no one place feels like it - no other place can ever be 'home'!! =)
We took the express train from Ludhiana to Kanpur. Hoping to catch some sleep on the way, as it had been a hectic time - the wedding and then so many places that we visited after that! But that was not meant to be. While my brother-in-laws were busy putting away our luggage on the top berth, I had to wake up the two girls who were sleeping on the bottom berth - so that M and I could sit. And as we settled in our seats facing the two girls it dawned on me that they were both my school mates - one my senior and one my junior. What a small world..!! And once we got chatting, M and I continued till we got off at the Kanpur station!
It was a fantastic scene. 4 cars full of people to recieve the two of us!! =) Bouquets and garlands. Someone would have mistaken it for the arrival of a Bollywood star. ;)
The sweetest bit was that NA - one of the group of 5 best friends that we were at school, had come to the station to recieve me at 1am!!! I was soo happy to see her and ofcourse all my cousins - specially those who hadnt been able to make it to Punjab and hence were meeting M for the very first time.
I can say one thing - right from that moment till we left Kanpur - I think the only time I got time with my husband was when we'd finally retire to our room at some crazy hour of the night after my family/cousins would be sick of seeing us yawn - as we'd usually start at around 8-9pm (being past midnight down under!!) ----- And that was solely because I was in "my" hometown and I was "totally out of control" as hubby dear would say. ;)
And why not - I would retort! I mean.... this is my city - my house - my room!!! LOL!
*I must admit though - that I did kinda ignore M those three fabulous days. But I didnt think he minded a bit, as he was surrounded by his 'sis-in-laws' all the time. If it wasn't my cousins, it was my friends - NA and VD. And I took as much time as I could to spend with my Naani and all other cousins and the huge bunch of Mamas and Masis that I have!!*
*Even Mom was jealous!:P*
One tip for all overseas Desis - when visiting home after a long stint - Try and have a big function/celebration at your place or *better for the pocket* get home during someone's wedding (even your own! like me!! ;) ) or holidays when the majority of your "Khaandaan" is there in one spot.
==> This saves a LOT of time! You get through all your relies in one big blow and then you have time for the special ones and best mates etc.
The "Kirtan & Dinner" that Mom organised was great. I was kinda doubtful about how M would get through it as it was his first live Kirtan (with Krishna ji and all the old crowd going wild and dancing etc. - I know I know....I freak out about silliest of things!) - but he loved it!! =) So that was a + !
The three days were gone in no time as we entered the final leg of our trip.
Brother was returning to Melbourne early because of his uni, so Mom n Dad and the three of us left for Delhi. Then the same day M and I flew from Delhi to Mumbai - the final destination on Circuit India!
We were so silly that after checking out baggage in at Delhi airport - we forgot to go back to the Visitor's lounge to say Bye to Mummy and Papa. Poor Mum and Papa waited and waited.... and we just flew to Mumbai.... *It was a blessing in disguise I guess - Mummy and I skipped the whole crying episode!*
Being my first trip to Mumbai - I was bubbling with excitement!! "The Bollywood city" And the final two girl friends of mine RA and NT (yes her name is the same as me!) were coming from Banglore and Pune respectively to catchup with me! :)
Little did I know that the change of water 3 times in 24 hrs (Kanpur + Delhi + Mumbai) was going to make me really really sick.......
Sunday, March 19
With fluttering hearts and rhythm in our steps, we reached the Melbourne International Airport. Out of the six bags that we were carrying, five were M's!! *yes I know its hard to believe that my luggage was so less but* It was his first trip back home after he came to Australia in Nov 99. And since then tickets would be booked every year, gifts shopped for and then when the time came closer, something or the other would come up and his trip would be cancelled. But *obviously* not this time. =)
There were plenty of flowers and tears at the airport. My parents were surprised that the slim son-in-law that they had expected had arrived with bulging biceps and triceps. And my In-laws were expecting the chubby cheek girl they had seen in the photographs and found a slightly slender girl instead. *no chance of pulling my cheeks now...hehehe!*
The week after in Delhi came and went..... I just remember shop after shop and salesman after salesman.... I was like a little girl in a candyshop when I entered the gorgeous ladies designer stores. I loved every sari they showed me. And later choosing the lehanga took forever....!! Mummy got so sick and tired of the salesmen who were singing praises of pieces that didn't look that good at all that at one point she told him to shut up and let us make our own minds - just in not exactly that many words!
The good thing that I felt in this trip this time was that I didnt get pushed or shoved or rubbed against in Karol bagh like I remember from my previous trips years ago. There was a tape playing on loudspeakers all day about Delhi Police and how girls should not tolerate eve-teasing and inform the authorities if they felt that a guy was misbehaving. Thankfully I didnt have to bear a single sleazy brush from any guy that whole week. It may sound like a silly thing to mention here in this post - but it does make a huge difference to one's whole experience.
Anyways, returning back to the wedding preps. We reached Ludhiana on the 7th - 5 days before the wedding day. Thankfully one of Papa's close friend's lives there and we stayed at his place and his lovely wife helped us with all the remaining shopping. What a relief to have a local show you around and guide you and to do all the haggling for bargains! *what a girl wont do for a bargain!!*
My three brother-in-laws are so cute. It was so funny to see them, how they looked at me from top to bottom - everytime we met. A strange expression of awe in their eyes. They are all in their late teens and thought it was amazing that someone from so far off could have so much in common with them. I laughed at every joke, endorsed every prank, cheered every antic.... it was amazing and I had a great time...never a dull moment with those boys. They religiously came to see me everyday at Uncle's place and would pull me aside to say, "Bhabhi, tussi ghar chheti chheti aao naa. Hor jaldi nahi aa sakde tussi?" (Bhabhi, please hurry up and come home. Cant you hurry things a bit more?) :)
As tradition would have it - the bride and the groom aren't allowed to see each other before the wedding....for about a week atleast. But we had to cut it short to two days as a week was just out of question. So when we finally locked eyes as I walked to the stage on the evening of our ring ceremony - sparks flew! :) It was so strange.... as if I was seeing him for the first time. He just stared, with a small smile dancing on his lips. And when I went up and sat next to him, he just whispered, "Stunning!"
The only thing I remember of those two and a half days that constituted my wedding was -- the Beauty Parlour!! I spent probably more than half of the two days in there... getting all sorts of treatments and makeup done to my hair and myself. But the pictures came good - so I'm not complaining. =)
Then the next day was gone smiling shyly at all his relative's that had come to see the new "Nu"! I was trying my utmost to remember every name and every relation... because after the initial intros at the wedding reception - they were actually asking me, "Haanji, saanu pehchaana?" :] (Do you recongise me?) "Sada naa ki aa?" (What is my name?) -- how silly of me, how could I forget to keep a taperecorder or something to record their names. So disorganised!
Gurdwara Saahib (Golden Temple at Amritsar) was amazing! It was everything it is showed to be in the paintings and the pictures and so much more. I hadn't seen Rang de Basanti before visiting the Golden Temple or I'm sure I would have been singing the Ik Omkar in my head that day......
Traditionally the newly weds have to bathe in the lake and then visit the Gurudwara together. And so I was escorted to the ladies bathing area to take the dip. To be honest, walking around bikini clad ladies on the beaches of Melbourne is not the same as the scene of the ladies bathing quarters in these temples and gurudwara kind of places. This is way waaaay more agonizing and awkward than anything else imaginable. And then the huge gold fish like creatures in the water...... I think I'll stop right here... you get the picture.
The next day after our return from Amritsar, we went to his 'pind' (village). It is about 2 hours drive from Ludhiana on the banks of Satluj and is the most beautiful place I saw in the trip. I had specially asked for the swaying fields of Sarso (mustard) - the gorgeously blooming yellow flowers dancing side to side in the cool wind. I had to get my DDLJ pictures.... and this was my chance!! =) I ran around like the Bollywood actors and pulled out fresh white radish from the fields, playing with the village kids. One girl in particular grew such a liking for me in that one afternoon - that she wouldn't let me go when we were leaving....
The lunch in his 'pind' was extremely tasty with all the fresh ingredients - cool lassi (buttermilk) and oodles of makkhan (butter) in everything! The bowl of daal that they gave me was half full of daal and half makkhan - and no matter how tempting it looked I had to say - "No thanks! Mae inna makkhan aaj tak kade vi nahi khaaya" (I have never eaten so much butter in my life) and I pushed it towards M and he ate it with extreme delight.
The next evening we visited the much acclaimed 'Haveli' restuarant in the outskirts of Jalandhar. The restuarant is setup in the midst of a mock-village. Full with a potter, a puppeteer, balloon men, tailor, jeweller and all sorts of arts and crafts and things one would expect to see in a typical Punjabi village. The camel ride around the village that I took with M was the best and funniest bit. My shrieks are recorded in the handycam as proof!
The last two days in Ludhiana were our 'Maintenance Days'. We went to the Dentist, the Optometrist and the Ear Doctor. He eyesight had impaired a bit spending all those hours in front of the monitor while I still enjoy a perfect vision! *touchwood!!*
The solution that the dentist used to scrub my teeth with was the most sickening, horrible tasting thing ever! And being my very first trip to the Dentist of my life, probably made it worse. When he was finished with it and allowed me to gargle I couldn't resist and exclaimed, "Urgh! That was so disgusting!!" And his sharp assistant retorted, "You dont brush you teeth properly naa thats why we had to do it for you!" *grrrrr!*
Finally.... the morning came when we were leaving for Kanpur. My hometown. My first visit since Jan 01 and M's first visit ever..........
Saturday, March 11
.........mere des mein nikla hoga chaand.
As I finally find my feet in this new life...... with a new life partner and a completely new take on life - I struggle to find the words. The thoughts are clamouring to be poured out... but everytime I find a few minutes to come here and attempt to type something up, I am faced with a strange *blank*.
I don't know where to begin.... how to begin..... to document this strange transition =>
- from bare hands to those scrawled with henna
- from empty wrists to those brimming with bangles red and white - the bridal 'churaa'
- from a barren forehead to one marked with the deep red of the sindoor and the glistening bindi
- from vacant toes to those circled with toerings
- from a younger daughter to the eldest daughter-in-law
- from 'Didi' and 'Beta' to 'Bhabhi' and 'Nu'(Bahu)
- from being my parents 'little Princess' to *his* 'Queen'
- from ......
.......being so much to being so much more!!!
If I started today from where it all started, from where 'we' started, then we all are going to be sitting here for a long long time. As my dear mates and girlfriends know already how I love to tell each and every story without omitting the smallest of details....... so lets just do a quick recap.....
This story starts when I had just celebrated my 18th birthday in Nov and was the *bholi-bhaali* kudi like Juhi in QSQT. =)
Nov/early Dec 00 => Me visits A's *friend* home as A is helping Me and my sister to shop for gifts for the first trip back to India. A mentions a family friend "M" who is a 'young 16 year old who works almost every night and goes to uni in the day'.
Dec 00 => Me meets M at A's party. M is shy, just plays romantic Boyzone songs on the music system all evening. Me thinks, "He's a kid - probably just intimidated by me - better leave him alone".
mid Dec 00 => Me meets M at A's again. Chats. Compliments M for being such a hardworking 16 year old. M is shocked!! He claims to be 18, becoming 19 in 2 months. OK. Continue chat. M interrupts, he insists that he'll show his passport next time as proof. OK. Continue chat. M interrupts again, still cant believe that Me had thought he was 16. OK. Continue chat. M interrupts yet again, he will definitely get his passport next time to show Me. OK - FINE. Me thinks, "What the....." *rolls her eyes*.
end Dec 00 => M helps A, sister and Me during shopping. He carries bags as the girls shop frantically during the Christmas/New Year Sale. All this time - he only gets a Nike cap with the "N" and Me foolishly exclaims, "Thats like 'N' in Nupur" and M smiles and nods knowingly! Me blushes and walks away.
early Jan 01 => Sister and Me fly to India. Sister gave A and M a contact no. for India just incase.
mid Jan 01 => My friends come home to see her and giggle and catchup with all the goss that everyone has missed in the past months. M calls. Sister gives phone to Me and Me in her naïveté give the phone to one of her girl friends - who just giggles on the phone. M says to them, "Look after *my* Nupur". They giggle some more. Me has no idea why they are laughing!!
12 Feb 01 => Sister and Me return to Aus. Me smses M from Sydney that she's coming. M comes with G *friend* to pick Sister and Me at the Melbourne Airport. On the drive home M confesses to Me in a whisper that he missed her terribly. Me smiles and looks away.
13 Feb 01 evening => Sister and Me unpacking. Me in her room, with handsfree - talking to M. Talking about anything and everything. Clock strikes midnight. M pops the question. Me replies, "I don't know". M says that he wont hang up or let Me go to sleep till he gets an answer. They talk some more. The question again, and topic change and the circle continues. Around 5.30am (free talk time ends at 6am) M cant take it anymore. M wants an answer - NOW. Sleepy Me whispers "Yes". M happily hangs up and lets her sleep - plans of the day ahead already swimming in his mind.
19 Feb 01 => Me is worried. She admits to M that they are culturally very different and they are very young and are just being naive and silly and it'll never work blah blah. M is heart broken and so is Me. They stop calling each other - day and night like they had been. Only Hi's and Hello's.
26 Feb 01 => M's birthday. He invites Sister and Me to his party. He greets Me with a heartbroken and gloomy face. They eye each other all evening. M takes Me to the beach behind his house and talks. He says it will all be okay - they will make things work - together.
end Feb 01 => Silent pact - M and Me will be *close* friends and will talk to their families once they are on their feet.
Jul 01 => Sister and Me move to a new place and Sister talks to M if he wants to be their housemate as he is looking for a place to stay as well. M is thrilled and agrees immediately. Sister and Me's parents in India, agree reluctantly only because they have spoken to M over a phone quite a few times and Sister claims that he is a great guy. M calls Me's Mom religiously once every fortnight, God knows what the two talk about!!!!
Aug 01 onwards => Happy times. Bad times. M and Me find each others queer and annoying habbits. Laughter. Fights.
Dec/Jan 03 => Me goes on a study exchange to Washington DC and then visits Canada and England on her way back to Australia. Meets some long lost family friends that her parents insist she meet to help/guide her around the *foreign* countries. An *Aunty* in Leeds, UK, with a 25yr old son, particularly likes Me. She introduces Me to all her relatives/friends etc.
Feb 03 => Call from Me's Mom in the middle of the night. The *Aunty* from Leeds is visiting India the following month and she had some very excited conversations with Me's parents. Me's Mom asks her if she likes Leeds!! Me tells M - he panics. He calls Me's Mom and tells her his intentions. She laughs - she knew!
April 03 => Sister and Me go to India for Sister's wedding. Me returns to Australia and moves in with a girlfriend from her uni and M with his mates. Phone bills skyrocket again. Hard times. Strange times. Laughter. Fights.
early Nov 04 => Me's Brother is about to come to Australia. Me and M are excited. They decide to move back together like before except this time its Brother instead of Sister.
Dec 04 => Brother comes to Australia. Happy times. Hard times.
Early 05 => M and Me's families in India finally meet. *Fingers Crossed*!! All goes well. Only confusion is - where will the wedding be? Kanpur? or Ludhiana?
May 05 => M's cousin comes to Australia. House is now packed to capacity. Happy times. Hard times.
Late 05 => Ludhiana is chosen as the venue for the wedding with a function later in Kanpur as well. Wedding preparations in full swing!
1 Feb 06 => M flies back to India for the first time after coming to Australia in Nov 99.........
(TO BE CONTD..)
Wednesday, January 11
So while I sort things out - here's a joke I found at work in the engineering department wall stuck by the only Indian/SriLankan guy in the department for the rest of the white fellas to see. Some may have read it elsewhere.... but its here today - just for laughs!
Couple of things you oughta know
Firstly, when I'm born, I'm black!!
When I grow up, I'm black
When I get sick, I'm black
When I go out in the sun, I'm black
When I'm cold, I'm black
And when I get scared,
Gee, I'm black
And When I die, I'm still black
But you white fella...
When you born, you pink
When you grow up, you white
When you get sick, you green
When you go out in the sun, you red
When you get cold, you go blue
When you get scared, you yellow
And when you die, you purple
And YOU got the cheek to call ME coloured??!!