Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hello Again




Well I'm back from my travels and feeling the post holiday blues. I had a brilliant time at my friend's wedding mostly because I caught up with good friends I haven't seen in years and was on my territory.


When it comes to getting dressed in Asia, I know exactly what I'm doing. I can make myself look absolutely spectacular because the clothes suit me so much better and I know the rules and tricks of the trade. It's double the impact with half the effort


Frankly speaking in comparison I feel ugly in the West. The clothes, the lighting, my skin colour, it's all wrong, wrong, wrong. Oh well, if it bothers me that much I guess I could just move back. Instead I think I will give myself more chances to feel beautiful by wearing all the amazing saris I bankrupted myself with on this holiday.


When I first got the invitation for my friend's wedding, I was already there. I spent days daydreaming about the music, the food, the clothes. Now that I'm back, I'm still there. Every now and then I get a flashback of me and my friends dancing our little hearts out on the dancefloor at any one of the five, yes five, wedding ceremonies.


Our schedule went something like this:


Wedding Day 1 am: Henna Party

Wedding Day 1 pm: Cocktail Masquerade

Wedding Day 2: Pre wedding ceremony

Wedding Day 3: Actual Wedding

Wedding Day 4: Reception


Five ceremonies in four days. I ate, drank, danced, got a tan, barely slept and reminded myself what it was I did with all those spare hours at uni - I was with my friends laughing until I cried.


India itself was a bit of a shock for Mr Zeus because it's so grindingly poor, and that's where the catch lies. I had a great time, but I have to admit that walking around the gigantic grounds of the wedding venue and past the servants who had been up all night stringing marigolds to trees, I felt ashamed in my multicoloured saris that cost more than what they might earn in a year. And that's despite having witnessed similar poverty in the Home Country. In comparison I found the poor of India much poorer and the gap between that haves and have nots much wider. It was a hopeless, desperate level of poverty that even I'd never seen before on such a scale.


The wedding was on a scale I've never seen in my life and I've been to hundreds of such weddings. On the final day, the Prime Minister of India himself turned up, talk about well connected!


In terms of the sights we saw, Agra and Jaipur were totally worth it. Delhi was a bit of a dump and I wasn't much impressed. The city I liked best was the up and coming Hyderabad. It was much cleaner, less touristic and more relaxed than any of the other places we went too, plus the world's number one Dj, DJ Tiesto, chose Hyderabad for his first ever trip to India so it's got to have something special.


As for those Incredible India adverts on TV, they could do with a bit more accuracy by showing the chaos that is Indira Ghandi International airport. It ain't all elephants and yoga out there. We landed at 6.45 am. I had already changed by internal flight once from 8.10 am to 9.25 am to avoid missing it. Between 6.45 am to 9.25 am should have been plenty of time, right? We got through immigration at 8.30 am only to be told that internal flights leave from a whole other terminal.


So we grabbed a taxi which can best be described as a bucket on wheels. At the internal flights terminal, I ran up and down counters, between ladies swathed in screaming babies and over suitcases to reach the check in desk exactly 5 minutes too late and had to rebook a whole other set of one way tickets at double the price of the original return set.


If you think that's a pain in the ass, imagine when on the return journey we got stranded in Doha because of snow in Athens. Snow. In Athens. Athens, which is in Greece, which is supposed to be sunny. My office must have thought it was the worst lie they'd ever heard when I got in touch to let them know I wouldn't be online as planned because my flight got cancelled because of snow in Athens.


The gods of global warming conspired to punish me for all the flying I do.


Oh and if you're wondering, none of us took malaria tablets, just some anti-mosquito cream. To be honest the drugs are so heavy that getting malaria and treating it is probably easier on your body. My own sister had it twice and came out unscathed.


We also escaped Delhi belly. Boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it. That's what Mr Zeus stuck to. Lucky for me I grew up in the Home Country which blessed me with a stomach and nerves of steel, hence my indulgence in food that would have been lethal for him and my steady pulse in traffic that is 1000 times worse than Athens. There really are no rules in India. You wanna drive on the other side of the road? You do it!


I'll leave you with a song that I heard a lot during all the dancing I did. Ignore the video, enjoy the song.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey,

I read your blog often, struck a chord the first time I came across it, been reading it regularly ever since.

My life's been somewhat similar to yours-except in my case the family moved back to India a couple of years ago, and I'm here in just another country in Europe, figuring my way around.

Glad you had fun (never been to an M wedding, but sounds pretty similar to the H weddings), the bride's family are definitely well-connected if the Prime Minister showed up! I'm not married, but when I do get married, I'd like for it to be simple.

Also, given that I know many people from Home Country, I think it's been very brave and strong of you to follow your head with what seems like your head being definitely in place!

Hope said...

Hi! Welcome back!

It sounds like you had such a great time! Can't wait to hear more about it.

xx

Marilyn said...

Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm glad you had a such a fantastic trip. I was living vicariously through you as I read it, haha. One of these days I WILL visit South Asia!

Says a lot that you chose to present the negative aspects as well. I'm sure everyone appreciates your conscientious observations and the lack of bias in your writing. Gracias BB!

[P.S. Probably won't be at Rhea's for a while - am rather broke and finding it difficult to find a tutoring or babysitting job!]

belledame222 said...

I know you don't know me from a hole in the wall, but I've been reading your blog for a bit: welcome back.

and: bless you for that song, that was exactly what I needed just now. -gets groove on-