....swades hai mera....
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..........