24th - 27th March: Mumbai - Nags & Swati's wedding ceremony & reception
27th - 1st March: Chennai - Wedding reception
1st - 4th March: Kerala - Munnar, Alleppey, Kumarakom
I have SO many photos from this trip - we almost filled up our 4GB memory card - but here's a sampling of some of my favourites.
Day 1 - Saturday 24th March
Arrive in Mumbai dazed and confused after taking a 7.30am flight - not sure what possessed me to attempt such an early flight!
Kisu's already at the Leela (the hotel we're staying at) because he arrived 2 days earlier to attend the groom's THIRD bachelor party (BTW, Kisu also attended the 1st bachelor party, which was held in Tokyo, where Nags works)
Matt, who also flew in for the Bachelor party is staying at the nearby ITC Maratha Sheraton - he comes over to meet us and we take a car downtown to hit the touristy stretch of Colaba. Nothing much there - couple of shops selling touristy things like antiques, etc and storeowners pimping their wares. Beggers abound, little kids will run alongside you asking for money. And beggers will knock on your car window. Matt, being the big white guy, is the prime target of course! It's not my first visit to Mumbai or India (this is my 4th time back), so I'm pretty much used to this.
The Victoria Train Station downtown
Macdonald's in India
Have to get the yummy briyani at Brittania coffeeshop at Ballard Estate.
Matt & Kisu, waiting for food!
Don't see coke bottles around anymore
Unfortunately, since it was around 4pm when we got there, they had sold out all the briyani. So I got egg berry pulav instead. It's similar, but has these dried red berries (reminded me of cranberries) in the dish which gave it a tangy flavour. Still really yummy.
The proud owner of Brittania - this place has been around for a loooong time!
Day 2 - Sunday 25th March
Yun-jo arrives! We meet for breakfast at the Leela, and then proceed to the Ring Exchange ceremony. It's a small ceremony, usually reserved for family and close relatives, but since we're overseas guests we get the privilege of attending :)
We missed doing the mehendi, but Leona, one of Nags' friends showed us hers.
The happy groom
We meet the bride, Swati for the first time.
Ahem...yes, the wedding band. Notice Nags' new rolex too, a gift from the bride's family.
An appropriate pose given these guys will be living in Tokyo!
Swati, Nags, his Dad & Mum
After the ceremony, Amol & MJ bring us shopping - Matt picks up some jewellery for his wife Kumi, and we drop by Shopper's Stop (an India mall) before heading to Locking Road which is like an openair market. It's too hot so we take shelter at the nearby KFC. I have to say, KFC Extra Crispy in India is fabulous!
These guys posed when they saw me with my camera; the guy on the right even rearranged his hair for the picture!
Dinner is at (according to most people who have visited Mumbai) the best Indian restaurant there is, Peshwari at the Sheraton. Me, I'm not really one for Indian food, so it was OK for me. Although, I have to say it's probably the best lamb I've ever tasted - really tender, not fatty and none of the gamey smell that puts me off mutton.
Day 3 - 26th March Monday
Day of the Wedding Ceremony!! The wedding was held at a fancy wedding hall in Mumbai. According to Amol, it's a really posh place and some of its clientele include Bollywood stars!
Gosh, we got so many beautiful pictures - the official photographers had set up some really dramatic lighting on stage so the resulting pictures came out gorgeous. The colours were fabulous - rich oranges, pinks and yellows. Such colours, details, elaborateness of the ceremony, etc are all things that I don't get to see very often. Kisu and I went mad taking photos. I even managed to squeeze myself onto the stage (which is usually only for the couple, family, and the priest) at one point to catch some closeup shots! It was quite a sight - me in my sari, with the bulky DSLR strap round my neck taking photos!
Check out Nags & his official ceremonial outfit (and the chest hairs too)!
This is what he as a brahmin has to wear for weddings. We kept reminding him to sit properly lest he risk any "wardrobe malfunction". For such functions, we noticed that all the women were in saris. No one is in Western garb - Yun-jo and I had bought our saris several years earlier - for another friend's wedding which was also in Mumbai.
Swati on stage - Swati looked so fabulous!!!
Indian brides look really resplendent in all their finery - I loved all her saris, they were SO gorgeous - the rich silk, elaborate embroidery, beading etc. Just the most amazing details and intricate handiwork.
Swati getting her headpiece on. Nags is wearing the same thing in the above picture. This is supposed to be part of the Western Indian wedding tradition. Although Nags is from South India (Chennai), he follows this custom since the wedding is held in Western India (Mumbai) and also because Swati is from Mumbai. That's Swati's sister on her right, and her mum on her left.
Swati's dad is next to her
One of my favourite pictures of the wedding
The "Fire" ceremony
Posing for pictures after the wedding. There was a makeshift photostudio right next to the stage, so after the ceremony, the bride and groom go and get their photos taken
Dinner reception at the same place - Indian wedding receptions consist of the bride and groom standing on stage, while their hundreds and possibly thousands of guests arrive, line up and take turns to take photos with the new couple. After that, the guests move on to have their meal at a buffet spread, but the poor couple has to stand there the entire evening!
Here's Amol & MJ and their parents on stage with the newlyweds
Day 4 - 27th March Tues
Yun-jo and I catch the flight to Chennai after hanging out with Kisu and Matt, who leave for Singapore.
We arrive and check in at the Park Sheraton. Nags and Swati, who get in slightly after us bring us for a very nice South Indian dinner. We tried the coffee too - apparently coffee is more popular than tea in Chennai. I must say, I felt much more at home in Chennai. There were tamil words everywhere and we had pratas and thosais for dinner - much more my style!
Day 5 - 28th March Wednesday
Yun-jo and I meet at Nags' home for lunch. Amol, Dhruv and his wife are there, as are Swati's family. Post lunch, Nags sends us off with a car to Spencer Plaza, one of the local malls - we spend more than an hour here. It's pretty huge and full of small shops selling jewellery, bags and other knick knacks.
Our driver brings us to a temple which is pretty amazing - looks like a much grander version of the Sri Mariamman temple on South Bridge Road. We didn't visit because it was still too early; the temples open at 4pm.
We stopped to buy plastic bangles on the street - it was great that we could shop without being disturbed - in Mumbai we would have been accosted by beggers, for sure. But we had a nice quiet peaceful time walking the streets here.
At Nags suggestion, we visited the beach - which is the 2nd longest beach in the world. He didn't mention how wide it was either! It took us like forever to walk to the edge of the water!
6pm - back to the hotel to change for the reception. Thankfully no more travelling for us as the reception is held in the hotel that we're at! At the reception, wehang around with Dhruv & his wife, Amol and Ganesh (Nags' childhood friend who now lives in Canada). We're the last ones on stage for pictures so we're all really hungry by the time we hit the dinner buffet. Dhruv has 8 thosais!
The bunch of us left have some drinks with Nags & Swati, before we say goodbye. Then we oly have time for a couple hours sleep before we have to wake up at 5am the next day to catch our 630 flight to Cochin (Kerala)!