hathycol: (Default)
More India stuff! Contained herein is a bit of TMI - although with a bitter notice that IT WAS A LOT WORSE WHILE IT WAS HAPPENING - and the stuff that I did actually manage to do...

Delhi! )

So that was my visit to India! People have been asking me about it in work, and the best answer is generally '... a culture shock'. I have never been away from the West; I'm not very well travelled, I will be the first to admit. The furthest I'd been was America, and that doesn't really count, not culturally. I'm unbelieveably glad I went, mind you. The traffic, the occasional levels of quite shocking poverty (particularly in Agra) and the noise of the city was quite shocking to my mindset - since I've come back I listen to the silence and really enjoy it. But I liked that it was so different, though - I liked that the birds circling in the sky were so different, that the light filtered through the fog in a completely new way to me, and the people and the culture were different and yet similar to London, in a lot of ways. The terrifying but exhilerating tuk-tuk rides will be remembered for a long time, too...

Plus, it was really lovely to make some new friends. We spent a lot of time with Katy and Euan, who are friends of Shim - I was really glad to get to know then better, and we all ended up getting on really well. I also got to know other people better than I have previously, and that's a really good thing to do I feel.

When I first came back I was basically insensibly crying for my bed and some familiar food, but now I'm getting over the illness I'm able to think a little more about the overall experience. And as I said, I'm really glad I went and if someone can invent a way for me to not get ill every time I travel that would be lovely!

(And for anyone wondering about the tag for this posts - well, you need to see the Gap Yah video, in which a posh bloke goes to Tanzaniaaaaa and chunders everywaaaaah. We changed it to India. I laughed when not crying. Look, after you've been sick on your husband's best coat in public you need to take your laughs when you can get them.)

(Oh yes, and I am much on the mend. I'm still shattered quite a lot of time, but am back in work full time as long as you let me go to bed at about 9.30pm at the latest. Plus I'm eating again, which is bliss. Am listening to my body as well as I can and massively craving high calorie food more than usual, but it's all good. Hurrah for that.)
hathycol: (venice - thinkies)
More India stuff! Contained herein is a bit of TMI - although with a bitter notice that IT WAS A LOT WORSE WHILE IT WAS HAPPENING - and the stuff that I did actually manage to do...

Delhi! )

So that was my visit to India! People have been asking me about it in work, and the best answer is generally '... a culture shock'. I have never been away from the West; I'm not very well travelled, I will be the first to admit. The furthest I'd been was America, and that doesn't really count, not culturally. I'm unbelieveably glad I went, mind you. The traffic, the occasional levels of quite shocking poverty (particularly in Agra) and the noise of the city was quite shocking to my mindset - since I've come back I listen to the silence and really enjoy it. But I liked that it was so different, though - I liked that the birds circling in the sky were so different, that the light filtered through the fog in a completely new way to me, and the people and the culture were different and yet similar to London, in a lot of ways. The terrifying but exhilerating tuk-tuk rides will be remembered for a long time, too...

Plus, it was really lovely to make some new friends. We spent a lot of time with Katy and Euan, who are friends of Shim - I was really glad to get to know then better, and we all ended up getting on really well. I also got to know other people better than I have previously, and that's a really good thing to do I feel.

When I first came back I was basically insensibly crying for my bed and some familiar food, but now I'm getting over the illness I'm able to think a little more about the overall experience. And as I said, I'm really glad I went and if someone can invent a way for me to not get ill every time I travel that would be lovely!

(And for anyone wondering about the tag for this posts - well, you need to see the Gap Yah video, in which a posh bloke goes to Tanzaniaaaaa and chunders everywaaaaah. We changed it to India. I laughed when not crying. Look, after you've been sick on your husband's best coat in public you need to take your laughs when you can get them.)

(Oh yes, and I am much on the mend. I'm still shattered quite a lot of time, but am back in work full time as long as you let me go to bed at about 9.30pm at the latest. Plus I'm eating again, which is bliss. Am listening to my body as well as I can and massively craving high calorie food more than usual, but it's all good. Hurrah for that.)
hathycol: (Default)
So, we made it through the flight remarkably smoothly. It was certainly the poshest flight I've ever been on, with surprisingly good airline food and everything. The time difference messed me up a bit, and we arrived at about 3pm Delhi time. We had a bit of a faff that resulted in my phoning Shim at 4am - sorry again about that - but eventually we were on our way to the hotel, and experiencing our first view of Indian traffic. Blimey. I'm not going to complain about London traffic again, put it that way. Culture shock!

Anyway, we slept as much as we could, but Richie and I appeared to be sleeping under what was either the kitchen or the home of an elephant that enjoys bowling. EITHER WAY. When the elephant was quiet we slept pretty well, and the next day went to our first buffet lunch. We were treated amazingly well by all of Iona's family, who put on lunches for us every day! No complaints here, and I tried everything as best as I could - I was on a mission to Try All Of The Things. The afternoon was the Sangeet, which was a sort of hen do? I think? Basically, lots of women dancing, with accompaniment of drums and bells, I think. It was really good fun to watch, with all of the beautiful saris, but I didn't get involved - it was lovely just to watch, actually. Also, all of the ladies got bracelets with tiny bells on!

In the evening - and there were lots of naps breaking up the day to try and cope with the jetlag - we went to the/a Ghazal. (Again, please take all spelling with a pinch of salt. This entry is taking me hours to transcribe as I have to keep stopping for a little rest, spelling is frankly optional these days.) It was an Unexpected Outdoors Event, so we spent a lot of evening tucked around a gas heater and wrapped in the scarf I had fortunately brought with me. It was a lovely evening, though. We got talking with people, ate a lot more food (this will be a theme) and got to know Katy and Euan, who we ended up spending a lot of the holiday with. It was a lovely evening of socialising, though, in a beautiful venue. If it had been about ten degrees warmer it might have helped, but the lighting was lovely and surrounded by trees etc. Really lovely!

The next morning, Katy, Tali, Anwar and I all went shopping which was lovely. Picked up an extra sari - I AM OBSESSED YO - and we went to to a highly recommended bookshop called Full Circle, which had a lot of cheap books. I would have gone much more overboard if it wasn't for the cursed baggage restrictions!

We came back to catch the end of the Haldi, which is apparently a traditional 'cleansing' ceremony and mostly saw Iona and Shim having thousand yard stares whilst it went on almost around them. Iona and Shim, bless them, were very busy during the whole days we were there but I always managed to have quick chats with them - it was really nice and I hope we were slightly helpful?

I put on a sari for the mendhi and was immediately grabbed by an auntie to correct my terrible sari skills. This became something of a theme for the weekend, I must admit. The mendhi itself is when hands and feet are covered in these exquisite henna designs - mine are fading now but still just about there. They were beautiful when finished, even if the aftermath was a lot of women sitting with very, very still hands!

In the evening, we had a decidedly non-traditional event. Iona and Shim basically put their foot (feet?) down, and we all of the 'young ones' went out for dinner at an Italian place. With unlimited booze. There was a drinks and chat, and the place slowly morphed into a club with lots of dancing and general good times. It was a wonderful evening, although I did get slightly too drunk which to be fair is the story of my life.

Richie and I headed out the next morning to the Lodi Gardens. It had lots of ruins of mosques and tombs in them, as well as some gorgeous open space. The sun shone through the smog, and I enjoyed looking at the new trees and birds which I'd never seen before. Including vultures!

We headed back for another lunch - look, I'm not saying no to lunch - and then went to go and get another sari tied. This was the sari I'd bought in Leicester for the wedding and I'm very pleased it survived until them! Unfortunately I failed to say 'er, that's far too tight' to the various aunties which was a mistake as I ended up being pretty much cut out a few hours later, but such is life. (Thank goodness for Tali and Katy being in the bathroom and handy with a safety pin.)

The wedding itself was absolutely beautiful. Richie had his shirwani on and everyone looked smart and lovely. We waited with the 'Iona' party in order to throw petals over the groom to heard, rather than saw, his approach. From what I've been told, and the bits I saw, they approached with a lot of drums and music and had to dance (there was, I believe, a lot of awkwardness around this) before being blessed before coming into the main area. We threw rose petals over him, and he was being accompanied by Deepali, Iona's mother. The sun was starting to go down, and the lighting was just wonderful.

We all went inside, and Shim was standing on a small raised platform surrounded by intricately arranged flowers. After a very short while, Iona was brought out by some of her cousins, herself sitting on a tray, covering her eyes with some leaves. They carried her around Shim five times, before they were finally allowed to see each other - apparently this traditionally would have been the first time the bride and groom would have seen each other at all.

They then went through to the main room and sat on a large sofa on a stage and lots of photos were taken - we went up in groups - before the religious ceremony started. I have to admit that I didn't see very much of this, but from what I could see there was a fire with various priests and Iona and Shim had to circle it several times. I have to confess that from my view it was marvellous, but that was because people kept bringing me canapes and cups of team and the gas heater was on full blast. Bliss!

When the religious ceremony was over, it turned it to more of a 'reception', so to speak. Lots more people arrived, and there was more food. So much food! ARE YOU SENSING A THEME? We sat and ate and gossiped, marvelled at Iona's unspeakably beautiful outfit (15kg!) and became gently more exhausted. There was then a 'go away' ceremony for Iona as she was ceremonially taken to her parent in law's house. This was, to be precise, a hotel but I do hope that they both got a bit of a rest that evening, the poor things!

We went back to the hotel, compared war wounds, and collapsed into bed.

The next day, we were taken on a tour of Delih which started frustratingly late due to the buses arriving late. Still, it was really interesting. We saw the Qutab Minar, which is the highest structure in Delhi, and we saw it at what was probably it's best - the sun was shining and to be honest I just enjoyed leaning back and getting a bit of sunshine before arriving back to wet and cold England! We also saw the Vijay Chowk (I think?) with all of the official buildings, and lots of monkeys! Yay monkeys!

After coming back and falling into bed for a nap, I was awoken with horror at the news the reception that evening was being put forward in time. I got vaguely dressed and headed out, and had to be repinned much tighter on arrival. The reception was probably my favourite event of the wedding, I think. There was loads of friends and family but not much pressure in terms of very important tradition, which I think was nice. Yet more nice drinks and canapes were circling, with speeches made by both sides of the family. Iona's cousin also did some beautiful traditional Indian dancing which was just so beautiful to watch - I was so impressed!

The evening circulated gently, with good food and good company, and what more can you ask for, really?

Well, not to get ill, and after that evening it was all downhill for me so I will put that into another post - as well as some of the genuinely fun things that happened between all of the Unpleasenteness. The wedding, though, was just lovely overall. I felt really glad and pleased that I was invited to be there, and that I was able to be there. All of Iona and Shim's friends and family were so loving and welcoming, and I couldn't have felt more involved. It was, well, very different, but it was also a wedding at the end of the day - happiness and love (and stress and food, but that is the nature of these things) prevailed throughout.
hathycol: (venice - thinkies)
So, we made it through the flight remarkably smoothly. It was certainly the poshest flight I've ever been on, with surprisingly good airline food and everything. The time difference messed me up a bit, and we arrived at about 3pm Delhi time. We had a bit of a faff that resulted in my phoning Shim at 4am - sorry again about that - but eventually we were on our way to the hotel, and experiencing our first view of Indian traffic. Blimey. I'm not going to complain about London traffic again, put it that way. Culture shock!

Anyway, we slept as much as we could, but Richie and I appeared to be sleeping under what was either the kitchen or the home of an elephant that enjoys bowling. EITHER WAY. When the elephant was quiet we slept pretty well, and the next day went to our first buffet lunch. We were treated amazingly well by all of Iona's family, who put on lunches for us every day! No complaints here, and I tried everything as best as I could - I was on a mission to Try All Of The Things. The afternoon was the Sangeet, which was a sort of hen do? I think? Basically, lots of women dancing, with accompaniment of drums and bells, I think. It was really good fun to watch, with all of the beautiful saris, but I didn't get involved - it was lovely just to watch, actually. Also, all of the ladies got bracelets with tiny bells on!

In the evening - and there were lots of naps breaking up the day to try and cope with the jetlag - we went to the/a Ghazal. (Again, please take all spelling with a pinch of salt. This entry is taking me hours to transcribe as I have to keep stopping for a little rest, spelling is frankly optional these days.) It was an Unexpected Outdoors Event, so we spent a lot of evening tucked around a gas heater and wrapped in the scarf I had fortunately brought with me. It was a lovely evening, though. We got talking with people, ate a lot more food (this will be a theme) and got to know Katy and Euan, who we ended up spending a lot of the holiday with. It was a lovely evening of socialising, though, in a beautiful venue. If it had been about ten degrees warmer it might have helped, but the lighting was lovely and surrounded by trees etc. Really lovely!

The next morning, Katy, Tali, Anwar and I all went shopping which was lovely. Picked up an extra sari - I AM OBSESSED YO - and we went to to a highly recommended bookshop called Full Circle, which had a lot of cheap books. I would have gone much more overboard if it wasn't for the cursed baggage restrictions!

We came back to catch the end of the Haldi, which is apparently a traditional 'cleansing' ceremony and mostly saw Iona and Shim having thousand yard stares whilst it went on almost around them. Iona and Shim, bless them, were very busy during the whole days we were there but I always managed to have quick chats with them - it was really nice and I hope we were slightly helpful?

I put on a sari for the mendhi and was immediately grabbed by an auntie to correct my terrible sari skills. This became something of a theme for the weekend, I must admit. The mendhi itself is when hands and feet are covered in these exquisite henna designs - mine are fading now but still just about there. They were beautiful when finished, even if the aftermath was a lot of women sitting with very, very still hands!

In the evening, we had a decidedly non-traditional event. Iona and Shim basically put their foot (feet?) down, and we all of the 'young ones' went out for dinner at an Italian place. With unlimited booze. There was a drinks and chat, and the place slowly morphed into a club with lots of dancing and general good times. It was a wonderful evening, although I did get slightly too drunk which to be fair is the story of my life.

Richie and I headed out the next morning to the Lodi Gardens. It had lots of ruins of mosques and tombs in them, as well as some gorgeous open space. The sun shone through the smog, and I enjoyed looking at the new trees and birds which I'd never seen before. Including vultures!

We headed back for another lunch - look, I'm not saying no to lunch - and then went to go and get another sari tied. This was the sari I'd bought in Leicester for the wedding and I'm very pleased it survived until them! Unfortunately I failed to say 'er, that's far too tight' to the various aunties which was a mistake as I ended up being pretty much cut out a few hours later, but such is life. (Thank goodness for Tali and Katy being in the bathroom and handy with a safety pin.)

The wedding itself was absolutely beautiful. Richie had his shirwani on and everyone looked smart and lovely. We waited with the 'Iona' party in order to throw petals over the groom to heard, rather than saw, his approach. From what I've been told, and the bits I saw, they approached with a lot of drums and music and had to dance (there was, I believe, a lot of awkwardness around this) before being blessed before coming into the main area. We threw rose petals over him, and he was being accompanied by Deepali, Iona's mother. The sun was starting to go down, and the lighting was just wonderful.

We all went inside, and Shim was standing on a small raised platform surrounded by intricately arranged flowers. After a very short while, Iona was brought out by some of her cousins, herself sitting on a tray, covering her eyes with some leaves. They carried her around Shim five times, before they were finally allowed to see each other - apparently this traditionally would have been the first time the bride and groom would have seen each other at all.

They then went through to the main room and sat on a large sofa on a stage and lots of photos were taken - we went up in groups - before the religious ceremony started. I have to admit that I didn't see very much of this, but from what I could see there was a fire with various priests and Iona and Shim had to circle it several times. I have to confess that from my view it was marvellous, but that was because people kept bringing me canapes and cups of team and the gas heater was on full blast. Bliss!

When the religious ceremony was over, it turned it to more of a 'reception', so to speak. Lots more people arrived, and there was more food. So much food! ARE YOU SENSING A THEME? We sat and ate and gossiped, marvelled at Iona's unspeakably beautiful outfit (15kg!) and became gently more exhausted. There was then a 'go away' ceremony for Iona as she was ceremonially taken to her parent in law's house. This was, to be precise, a hotel but I do hope that they both got a bit of a rest that evening, the poor things!

We went back to the hotel, compared war wounds, and collapsed into bed.

The next day, we were taken on a tour of Delih which started frustratingly late due to the buses arriving late. Still, it was really interesting. We saw the Qutab Minar, which is the highest structure in Delhi, and we saw it at what was probably it's best - the sun was shining and to be honest I just enjoyed leaning back and getting a bit of sunshine before arriving back to wet and cold England! We also saw the Vijay Chowk (I think?) with all of the official buildings, and lots of monkeys! Yay monkeys!

After coming back and falling into bed for a nap, I was awoken with horror at the news the reception that evening was being put forward in time. I got vaguely dressed and headed out, and had to be repinned much tighter on arrival. The reception was probably my favourite event of the wedding, I think. There was loads of friends and family but not much pressure in terms of very important tradition, which I think was nice. Yet more nice drinks and canapes were circling, with speeches made by both sides of the family. Iona's cousin also did some beautiful traditional Indian dancing which was just so beautiful to watch - I was so impressed!

The evening circulated gently, with good food and good company, and what more can you ask for, really?

Well, not to get ill, and after that evening it was all downhill for me so I will put that into another post - as well as some of the genuinely fun things that happened between all of the Unpleasenteness. The wedding, though, was just lovely overall. I felt really glad and pleased that I was invited to be there, and that I was able to be there. All of Iona and Shim's friends and family were so loving and welcoming, and I couldn't have felt more involved. It was, well, very different, but it was also a wedding at the end of the day - happiness and love (and stress and food, but that is the nature of these things) prevailed throughout.
hathycol: (Default)
I am going to proceed in writing up a series of small posts about Christmas! The wedding! India in general! We can then discuss Exciting Medical Issues later on, i.e. when I'm better or at least have some test results back. PLAN.

So. Christmas!!

I finished work at about 12.30pm. Very few people were in due to storms and general Christmas Eve, and it was with horror that A, who I work closely with, realised she was the closest thing we had to senior management. She came over to me and said "Do you have anything to do?" and I cheerfully went "NOPE!" and danced out of the door. Bliss.

I came home and sorted out the last little bits that needed doing for Christmas, and settled in to wait for Tali and Anwar. They were running a little late, so we lit some candles and watched Carols at Kings before they arrived and we cracked into some fizzy wine, party food and lots of laughter and talking. What more can you want?

We got up late the next day - well, ish! As Anwar doesn't really like vegetables, and I was absolutely dedicated to give everyone the best day they could have, we had bought a joint of beef (larger than we were expected) and a wee bit of turkey. It turned out the beef needed rather a lot of time, so I crawled out of bed to put the oven on, and realised I had turned into my parents. Ah well!

Still, after that it was a lazy morning. Breakfast was eaten, coffee and tea was drank and we opened presents. I had a great haul! Lots of lovely little things, like nail varnish and bubble bath and books from my parents, a zombie gnome (terrifying the neighbours as we speak) from Katie, and Richie got me another charm on my braceletI got when we got engaged, this time one of Big Ben to commemorate our year so far in London.

Then I got down to cooking. Apart from the meat we had two types of stuffing, roast and mashed potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, sprouts, pigs in blankets and Yorkshire puddings. Oh, and two types of gravy. Tali very kindly helped with peeling the potatoes which was brilliant as that's my least favourite job, but other than that it was all me! And other than the mash being a bit cold, and the turkey not being brilliant (I think I should have got a whole turkey rather than a crown, but then I wouldn't have nearly been able to eat it all!) it was actually rather good. Hurrah!

I did, however, cook enough for us all to eat the meal again (and there was too much food to begin with!!) so we packed as many up into sensible leftovers as we could. After an epic joint effort to clean up the kitchen, we all enjoyed a nap and then settled down with a lot of wine, a lot of snacks, and a lot of good company. This isn't the right sphere to talk about Doctor Who - I want to watch it again but I did cry my eyes out - but we watched a few other bits and bobs and generally chilled out. It was just... lovely. Tali also introduced us to alcoholic cream on desserts, which was AMAZING and I need that in my life again.

Alas, we all needed to nip to bed early as on Boxing Day we had a rather early start in order to go to INDIA! Woke up, hasty shower, last minute packing and trundled out of the house to the airport. Anwar very kindly drove us over to Heathrow, and we assumed we had loads of time to spare so grabbed a rather nice (and confusing) breakfast. Imagine our horror when we came out of the restuarant to find that our flight was closing AN HOUR before the flight time. An hour!!

Still, we made it on to the plane which I suppose is the part that counts...

In the next post: a plane journey! Roads! Sari shopping, sari tying, well-meaning aunties! And lots and lots of wedding ceremonies...
hathycol: (venice - thinkies)
I am going to proceed in writing up a series of small posts about Christmas! The wedding! India in general! We can then discuss Exciting Medical Issues later on, i.e. when I'm better or at least have some test results back. PLAN.

So. Christmas!!

I finished work at about 12.30pm. Very few people were in due to storms and general Christmas Eve, and it was with horror that A, who I work closely with, realised she was the closest thing we had to senior management. She came over to me and said "Do you have anything to do?" and I cheerfully went "NOPE!" and danced out of the door. Bliss.

I came home and sorted out the last little bits that needed doing for Christmas, and settled in to wait for Tali and Anwar. They were running a little late, so we lit some candles and watched Carols at Kings before they arrived and we cracked into some fizzy wine, party food and lots of laughter and talking. What more can you want?

We got up late the next day - well, ish! As Anwar doesn't really like vegetables, and I was absolutely dedicated to give everyone the best day they could have, we had bought a joint of beef (larger than we were expected) and a wee bit of turkey. It turned out the beef needed rather a lot of time, so I crawled out of bed to put the oven on, and realised I had turned into my parents. Ah well!

Still, after that it was a lazy morning. Breakfast was eaten, coffee and tea was drank and we opened presents. I had a great haul! Lots of lovely little things, like nail varnish and bubble bath and books from my parents, a zombie gnome (terrifying the neighbours as we speak) from Katie, and Richie got me another charm on my braceletI got when we got engaged, this time one of Big Ben to commemorate our year so far in London.

Then I got down to cooking. Apart from the meat we had two types of stuffing, roast and mashed potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, sprouts, pigs in blankets and Yorkshire puddings. Oh, and two types of gravy. Tali very kindly helped with peeling the potatoes which was brilliant as that's my least favourite job, but other than that it was all me! And other than the mash being a bit cold, and the turkey not being brilliant (I think I should have got a whole turkey rather than a crown, but then I wouldn't have nearly been able to eat it all!) it was actually rather good. Hurrah!

I did, however, cook enough for us all to eat the meal again (and there was too much food to begin with!!) so we packed as many up into sensible leftovers as we could. After an epic joint effort to clean up the kitchen, we all enjoyed a nap and then settled down with a lot of wine, a lot of snacks, and a lot of good company. This isn't the right sphere to talk about Doctor Who - I want to watch it again but I did cry my eyes out - but we watched a few other bits and bobs and generally chilled out. It was just... lovely. Tali also introduced us to alcoholic cream on desserts, which was AMAZING and I need that in my life again.

Alas, we all needed to nip to bed early as on Boxing Day we had a rather early start in order to go to INDIA! Woke up, hasty shower, last minute packing and trundled out of the house to the airport. Anwar very kindly drove us over to Heathrow, and we assumed we had loads of time to spare so grabbed a rather nice (and confusing) breakfast. Imagine our horror when we came out of the restuarant to find that our flight was closing AN HOUR before the flight time. An hour!!

Still, we made it on to the plane which I suppose is the part that counts...

In the next post: a plane journey! Roads! Sari shopping, sari tying, well-meaning aunties! And lots and lots of wedding ceremonies...

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