India – Part 1

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I haven’t had the chance to write about my India experience! 4 months have already gone by since I came back, and yet I still frequently think about this amazing trip. The first time I had an idea that I might be traveling was when one of my inmates (fellow prisoner from work) got engaged (J and GM). She’s a special friend and both her and GM are simply incredible people. I felt, and still feel very honored to be invited to witness such a wonderful event. An Indian wedding — in India! It doesn’t get more real than that! We had a lot of preparations to do for this trip: VISA, vaccinations, medications, gathering all the plane tickets. Thankfully, J and GM planned it all out for us and reassured us that it was all under control. How did they manage to plan our trip along with hundred of other guests and with wedding preparations?! They are superheroes. I could say tons about this trip, but I will keep it as short as possible…

The wedding took place in a city called Cochin in Kerala. It’s situated South West of India. We arrived bright and early at 7 AM, 3 days before the wedding. The first thing we had to do was shop for a dress on the night of the wedding ceremony. One thing for sure that I never expected is that shopping in India is beyond difficult! At least for us, who aren’t accustomed to so many colours, and an infinite amount of choices. Everything was very beautiful and sharp and its hard to land your eyes on something that really pops out. Because everything pops out, and the differences can be very drastic in terms of colour combinations, or very subtle in terms of pattern. I think one of the most memorable thing from this journey was the shopping, both for clothing and souvenirs. The next thing I need to point out, which is very similar to China, is the driving! I should have expected it, but I don’t know why I didn’t. It completely traumatized me on the first few days.  There are so many vehicles on the road, with no regulation and I was constantly gasping out of fear. But I think I got used to it fairly fast, and when I got back to Montreal, I was fearless on the road! So much space to maneuver; so much space to cross. Too much space!

The wedding was a span of 2 days. The first day consisted of a bridal ceremony and the engagement party in the evening. The second day was the marriage event. SO many people! The venue was packed. All the women were wearing very beautiful and colourful sarees. J was absolutely beautiful! The bride actually had to change into about 5 different sarees, and from first hand experience, sarees are very difficult to put on and tiring to wear. The food was served on a banana leaf! This was particularly an experience I will never forget. The people at the wedding were very hospitable, especially the relatives. They made sure we felt comfortable and they took the time to explain their wedding traditions. We stood out completely as foreigners, but we felt very welcomed. They greeted us and everyone smiled at us. But I must say, I was completely exhausted after the wedding, and I was only a guest watching things unroll. I can’t even imagine the bride and groom.

Aside from the wedding, I really appreciated seeing the culture of Cochin. Simply touring the place was an eye-opener. They have a fantastic view of the sea. We went on a boat ride to see the sunset and to see the  islands around the city. We visited temples, restaurants, shops, markets, a hospital and homes. Everything we did and everywhere we went felt like an adventure on its own. To me, this was more than merely getting to experience another city. More importantly, I feel touched to have gotten the privilege to visit the place where my friend grew up, to have met her family members, to have been welcomed in their homes and especially to have been there for her wedding. This kind of experience is rare, but even rarer is coming across a friend who cares enough to make it happen :)

I’m not done yet. To be continued…

 

Regi

 

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