|Beth, Shiv, Sarah, and David|
Back in December, we were invited to our friend Shiv's wedding. Well at first he told me he got engaged while he was recently back in India. Only after checking our calendar and saying we could make it up to Auckland for the event, we were informed it was going to be held in India. So there was only one option for us. That left us a few things to do: apply for visas, buy tickets, and sit on a plane for a long time. Our travel time from Auckland to Delhi was 18 hours including a couple hour layover in Sydney, otherwise it was about 15 hours on a plane. We were greeted by the hotel driver who navigated the streets of Delhi for us and dropped us off at The Met.
Driving in India was an experience by itself. First the painted lane lines are ignored. When you see 3 lanes along the pavement, there is somehow 7 lanes of cars, carts, bikes, trucks, tuk tuks, and animals executing the most intricate dance performance ever. All the while you have people playing the most intense game of Frogger. Where if you fail, you will most likely be going to the hospital. Second, you hear what I would expect to be the national anthem, the disjointed chorus of competing car horns. You may hear a single beep, a double tap, a long beep, or a melodic tune (novelty horns) to alert of you or others that there is a vehicle wanting to come past. At night this is replaced with flashing the high-beams from point blank as the following distance is more like cuddling than the recommend safe distance. However, we only saw 2 accidents while we were there. We were glad that we did not have to attempt to drive here as we had a driver, Jassi, to deliver us safely to each of our destinations. I could probably write more about just the driving behavior, but I'll leave you with this. On our first night, we saw a driver not on 1 but 2 phones while navigating what they call Office Hour, aka Rush Hour, Traffic. I'm a firm believer of wearing my seat belt regardless of the law.
|Entrance into the house|
Shiv booked us the driver and the hotels for the duration of the wedding. We stayed in a lot of places and all of them were concerned with security. We had to pass through gates, but prior to being allowed to pass we were examined by security. This included a mirror to examine the undercarriage of the car, opening the hood to examine the engine, and some times opening the trunk. Once past the gate, we would have to have our bags x-rays while we went through a metal detector, just like the airport. Then we were allowed to enter the hotel. The first hotel was the Met in Delhi. The 2nd hotel was the Noor Mahal in Karnal. The 3rd hotel was the Regent in Chandigarh. The 4th hotel was the Taj in Chandigarh. Then we stayed at his family's house. After that, we stayed in the hotels that Beth booked for our trip to Agra, Jaipur, and Delhi before heading back to New Zealand.
The wedding was amazing. It was quite the experience. It was several ceremonies over several days in 2 different cities. We started our journey in Delhi along with Dave and Sarah, another Kiwi connection. We were driven to Karnal by Jassi. Karnal is where Shiv's family lives. We were shown around the house and school, which his family runs. All the while there were lots of people running around. Some from the school, some from government, and some setting up for the festivities. Shiv's sister, Taran, and sister-in-law, Bani, took Beth and Sarah out shopping for wedding outfits. They came back with 5 outfits and Beth was even offered to get her ears pierced while on the shopping excursion. I ended up getting a pair of dress shoes during this time at a different shopping area.
|Wedding Reception and Wedding|
|Waiting for hands to dry|
We had a day off from ceremonies and we took a ride up into the hills to Kasauli. The road was under construction as the government is widening the road from 2 lanes to 4 lanes. This made for some very tight areas to weasel vehicles through. We went to the local market where we witnessed a monkey attack after being there for about 10 seconds. Beth picked up a few scarves to accompany her outfits. We also saw Christ Church and tried to see Monkey Point but it was closed. Upon returning to Chandigarh we went to the Rose Festival, which was across the street from our hotel.
|Monkey, my nemesis|
|Another temporary structure|
The next night was the wedding reception and the final ceremony. We walked through a series of rug covered hallways, past dressers with flowers, chandeliers hanging from the "ceiling", and a band welcoming the guests. The main reception area was a lavish arena separated into a few different areas. There was dinner tables set up, the stage for the couple, a DJ booth and dance floor, a bar area, a buffet, and several couches for lounging. All the wedding structures were temporary. They were metal scaffolding with colorful fabrics wrapped and draped over it. Then rugs were laid down, lighting ran, and even windows hung so the feeling of a permanent structure could be perceived. The night ended with only a partial first dance by the newly weds. I guess Shiv was wore out from the dancing a couple nights earlier.
|Courtyard at our hotel|
|Wheel of Death|