Do you recall the first time you watched the first “Incredible India” advertisement, broadcasted some time ago in 2006? I certainly do, and I remember thinking that it was possibly the best advertisement I had ever seen for tourism – I really wanted, needed to visit India after watching that. But the opportunity never arose – I always felt like a country as vast as this deserved a decent amount of my time, at least one week, ideally two.
Fast forward 7 years and I was one of the privileged ones invited to the Indian wedding of a lifetime. Congratulations to the gorgeous couple, to my friends S & A – may love, happiness, respect and understanding be yours forever and always! If you have never been to an Indian wedding, let me tell you, it is an assault on the senses! Smells, sights, sounds, and tastes swirl around you in colourful opulence, and never have I heard so many resonating “WOW”s as I did during those 4 days.
My first Indian adventure was to take place in New Delhi, a hectic, dusty and sprawling city, whose tagline should be “organised chaos”. There were a few things that I was a bit wary of prior to the trip, namely the gang rapes that had occurred recently – into my suitcase went all of the long maxi dresses and light cardigans I have, in an effort to keep covered as much as possible.
The other main concern was “Delhi Belly” – I didn’t want at any point have to miss out of any part of the 4 day celebration. Some of my friends brought their own bottled water from Hong Kong, using it to brush their teeth and wash their faces. We wouldn’t eat any peeled fruit (for some reason, all the fruit wallas insisted on peeling everything, from oranges to carrots). Ice was to be avoided at all times. Fortunately, the hotel provided plenty of complimentary bottled water – the TATA brand of Himalayan water was particularly amusing.
We had a wonderful first experience of India, and have come away with lasting memories, new friendships, and a desire to see more of the country. That is not to say that we didn’t have some less-than-savoury or peculiar experiences. Having to pass through a security scanner when we entered the majority of establishments, witnessing a grown adult (even a women in a beautiful sari) squatting and taking a dump by the side of the road. Watching cars reverse back down highway ramps. Dragging along a car with our tour bus as we drove the narrow streets of Old Delhi, watching as 5 men gather to lift the car to the side so that the bus could pass (this is after our bus had chopped off the cars side mirror and dented the rear end of the drivers side). Our tour guide, who said, “Sometimes bad things happen, like rapes and all, but at least there are very few kidnappings!”.
Hey, I guess it is all part of experiencing a new country, and one is always bound to come away with stories, good, bad or peculiar.
♥ (STREET) FOOD ♥
Being cautious about not eating or drinking anything that could have made us sick unfortunately meant not being able to eat the array of street foods that Delhi had to offer. But thankfully the Bride and her mother organised the most AMAZING catered spread of street foods for the Mehindi luncheon! Those who warned me that I’ll be eating a lot at an Indian wedding were 200% correct – there was food, all the time, in substantial amounts, and at this wedding to such a high calibre (if this can be said about food). In fact, all of the food that we were treated to during this 4 day celebration was out of this world – I have never eaten such outstanding Indian food before.