Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 163: Chinese Hospitality

29 April, 2010

The Chinese hospitality continues to amaze me. I had been to Shanghai three years ago but the overall feel I got that time was that the people were, in general, not very pleased with my presence in their territory. But this time, both in Shanghai and Guangzhou, I was pleasantly surprised by their service! Be it the hotel staff or the cabbies or other shop keepers, they are all super sweet! Here's just one of the many instances that happened today.

I wouldn't have thought it was possible but Guangzhou was gloomier today. The smog was really really horrible and on top, it rained heavily the entire day. The traffic situation was bad and getting a taxi was a nightmare. So all plans to shop or go out for dinner were cancelled.

I decided to get some room service for dinner and proceeded to order Curry Laksa and Hot Chocolate. Firstly, the guy who brought the food looked as if it was the happiest thing he could possibly do in his life! He was all smiles, which in turn made me all smiles as well! And then, the food itself was awesome! Just as I finished that huge bowl of Curry Laksa and was watching "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (a film with Steve Martin and Michael Cains) while sipping my hot chocolate, a lady called me up just to ask me whether the food was upto my satisfaction and whether everything was enjoyable. I was like... "Awwww"! I, of course, replied that everything was very very enjoyable, thank you very much! The guy who later came to clear the dinner tray also looked happy enough to be breaking into a song and dance routine.

Once again, Chinese hospitality rocks!

837 more to go.

Day 162: Shanghai Cabbie

28 April, 2010

Interesting day. After some consumer research in Shanghai, I took a flight out to Guangzhou on China Southern Airlines. Like everything else in Shanghai, the domestic airport was also pretty fascinating. These guys have really spent an arm and a leg and a head to renovate everything thanks to the Expo! Anyway, it was the first time on any aircraft where the people were fed before takeoff. Because of air traffic congestion, the flight couldn't take off on time and to entertain us, they decided to feed us. Pretty good idea I thought. If only the food were a bit better.

Guangzhou isn't my favourite place on earth for sure. Even to get a cab from the airport, it's bloody confusing. There are no "Taxi" signs anywhere. But the most depressing part about Guangzhou is the grey atmosphere. Apparently it is always like that... thanks toyears of pollution. It makes a pretty bright person like myself feel rather gloomy. So this is one place am hoping P&G doesn't ever shift me to!

So then the question is what made the day beautiful. Well, well... that darling taxi driver from Shanghai who dropped me to the airport. When I got into his cab, he very excitedly gesticulated and said something in Chinese. I gave him my sweet smile and shrugged. He repeated it a couple of times and I continued to smile at his enthusiasm with no clue about what he was trying to communicate. Then he switched on the speaker in the cab and I got a message in English. It said "Welcome to my cab". He pointed at the speaker. Ah, he wanted me to feel welcomed in his cab. How cute was that!

Am touched by the Chinese hospitality!

838 more to go.

Day 161: Meeting Max and Walking Down the Bund

28 April, 2010

If you all think Max is this super handsome stud whom I met in Shanghai and fell in love with, you are absolutely right. Only detail to be noted is that he is a 7 year old Golden Retriever.

It was love at first sight. Really. He belongs to a consumer whose home we visited as part of our research in Shanghai. He was a big boy, was absolutely cuddly, adorably friendly, really good looking and seemed to think I was his best friend from last birth or something. He was all over me. Pouncing and licking and shaking his tail so furiously that he was hitting me all over in the process. I had always wanted a dog and meeting Max has absolutely rekindled the desire. They are simply the most wonderful creatures (while my hubby thinks that the world would be as bright and chirpy without them). Sigh. Someday. For Sure.

On a side note, I must also mention that I was highly ticked by the plastic shoe-covering bags my research lady offered me before entering the consumer's house. When she first offered me the plastic bag I almost got worried thinking maybe I look sick and she thinks I am gonna throw up, hence offering a bag in advance. But soon got to know the matter. Apparently in China, you are expected to remove your footwear when you enter someone's house. But if you don't want to remove your footwear (for e.g. if the floor is too cold), then you can just put plastic bags around your shoes. And there are custom made plastic bags for this! They look like fitted bed sheets with elastic on two ends that you can just put on and people seem to carry a few with them if they are expecting themselves to visit someone's house. Highly entertaining!

Anyway, so the afternoon was taken up in falling in love with Max and admiring shoe covering plastic bags. And I had to make plans for the evening. Apparently my colleagues who are on the same research team as me are all staying in a hotel far away from mine so I had no choice but to spend the evening on my own. Not that it mattered, for I made some awesome plans.

I had always wanted to do something that Krisflyer (Singapore Airlines Magazine) recommended. They always have great stories about great places, (which I sometimes take note of on a scrap of paper and readily lose it by the time I reach my destination) and I have always wanted to do at least one of the super cool things that they recommend. It so happened that one of the recommendations in this month's Krisflyer is to go to the restaurant called "M on the Bund" in Shanghai. Since I was in Shanghai and I had a whole evening to do whatever I desired, I made a reservation there.

I made my way to the Bund in the evening. The Bund technically is the riverside in Shanghai with some architectural wonders (both old and new) lining up both the sides. They have recently renovated it for the upcoming World Expo and the place looked spectacular. I enjoyed the strong, cold winds and the visual treat for a while before proceeding to a sumptuous meal of Iranian Duck Stew from 'M on the Bund'. The food was pretty good I must say, even though the stew along costed my S$47! But then again, it's not everyday you get to do a Krisflyer recommended activity. So here's to Shanghai.

839 more to go.

Day 160: Shanghai!

26 April, 2010

Well, well, well. I knew that Facebook and Twitter might be out-of-reach in China but I didn't expect the same about blogs as well! The only thing that seems to work in China is gmail. How annoying! So now I have to update all the psots for the days am in China in one go once I get back to Singapore! Ugh.

So yes, I am in China and I feel the lack of access to my favourite websites have tainted the otherwise beautiful day a bit. But let us focus back on what makes the day beautiful. Well, it is my kickass hotel room here in Shanghai. I am staying at the Sheraton Four Points Pudong Hotel and I have been upgraded to a Superior "Double Double" room as they call it. It has one of those funky setups where the only thing that separates the bedroom and washroom is a glass panel. Am not quite sure about the functionality of the set up yet, but it does look pretty funky. And I have a nice view of the Bund from here. So basically am loving it!

840 more to go.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 159: Truly "Fascinated"!

Today was a good day. Like a really good one. Yesterday I had written about how I was not completely "fascinated" yet, but had overcome my frustration to a large extent. Today, I think I finally reached the fascination stage.

Firstly, hubby and I were fascinated by the horrendous service and resulting drama at Murugan Idly, where we had lunch. They were getting the orders all messed up until the customers were throwing a fuss, the waiters were throwing a fuss, a 1 year old kid was throwing a fuss (not about the order, but about a baby chair that she desired). It was chaos redefined. And then they took the service to a new low by giving us filter coffee in plastic cups vs. the usual steel tumblers, which broke my hubby's heart. Then much to my hubby's utter horror, I started laughing out aloud at a joke that the loud-speaking idly-eating fellow customer two tables down cracked. In short, it was one pleasurable meal.

Dinner was also pretty fascinating. Hubby and I ate at "Tent", a Mongolian place at Clarke Quay. The funky thing about the place is that you can choose all your ingredients yourself, including the sauces and the guys will put them all together and cook for you. I am always fascinated here, particularly about their cut-throat rates but we went there in spite of the price today, since we are making a big deal about me not being around for next 5 days (business trip to China). Super romantic, I know.

Then I finally managed to complete the entire shot breakdown for the scenes to be shot in May. I am feeling really good about them!

Now for the most fascinating bit. Since morning I had been getting one email after the other from my film's cast showing their support to the project, which was really great after the fiasco yesterday. After coming back from dinner, I saw the email from the last remaining cast member. So looks like my entire cast is with me on this. Feels good. Truly fascinating.

Tomorrow, Shanghai.

841 more to go.

Day 158: From Frustration to "Fascination"

24 April, 2010

With a lot of pomp and show, yesterday I wrote about how I feel great support from a strong team and how I feel we are ready to roll with the film etc. Apparently the universe didn't quite agree with me there. I had a lot of things planned today for the film with my team - costume sessions, rehearsals, publicity discussions, props listing etc. all of which had to be cancelled because of some rather unexpected challenges. I don't want to get into the details of what exactly happened but in a nutshell, suddenly the project looks as if it doesn't have all the adequate support it needs and deserves.

Needless to say, it left me upset the whole morning. The roadblocks were not things within my own individual control, so I couldn't think of anything other than just watch helplessly when things just fell apart. After moping around for a while, I decided to just make the best out of the situation and took an afternoon nap. I never take afternoon naps as I find them a complete waste of time, but today was different. Today if I had stayed up those hours, they would have been totally unproductive or even counterproductive because I would have spent that time thinking about everthing that's wrong with the world.

After a couple of hours of very deep sleep (even deeper than what I usually get in the nights!), I sat at the computer for a short while. Now the universe might not have agreed with what I wrote here yesterday, but looks like it still didn't want me to be upset. Because a blog I happened to read was talking about exactly what would help me to deal with the situation. It was talking about how one should not go "Oh..No!" at every given challenge but should go "Ah... that's interesting" and how one needs to be fascinated and not frustrated with roadblocks.

Now I found that pretty amusing. It's like everytime I have a doubt in my mind, someone, somewhere sends me a message that clears it up. So I decided to heed to that someone and have a good time instead of thinking about this anymore.

And how does one have a good time? By having good food, but of course! So I promptly set off to Swadishth with hubby and a friend and had an awesome dinner of puttu, kadala, egg podimas, thalassery chicken biriyani, fish fry, chettinadi mutton curry and soda lime. I felt fulfilled.

Then I came back home and finished up the final detailed shot breakdowns for 28 out of the 31 scenes we are shooting in May, with the remaining 3 to be given some final touches tomorrow. In spite of whatever else happens, I want to make sure that I personally am still doing my best for this film.

I still am not too "fascinated" about the challenge I faced today, but at least I have gotten over the crushing feel it had brought with it.

842 more to go.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 157: The Team Kicks Off

The film shoot will begin in just two weeks' time and things are really beginning to roll now. Over the past few months we've been having photoshoots and rehearsals with the cast members, but for a long time on the production side, I had been the only or most active one in the team. That is, I was the only sending out all the emails with instructions on rehearsals, schedules, props, scripts, shot breakdowns, music requirements, publicity materials etc. etc. Then slowly others joined in - the cinematographers, the still photographer, the music director. And most recently, I also got a costume manager, a production manager and a publicity manager. So the team was complete.

And today for the first time, it felt as if the team was operating in full swing! I had shot breakdown discussion with the cinematographer, a publicity material feedback session with the still photographer and a soundtrack brainstorming with the music director. On top of these, my costume manager sent out a list of costumes for scenes to be shot in May, and the production manager sent out a lot of props for scenes to be shot in May. In short, there was a lot of activity by all the production crew members and suddenly it feels that the team has kicked off!

It's like suddenly there are so many brains and hands working to make 'Mausams' happen and I feel that we are ready to roll! Am almost bursting with the excitment!

843 more to go.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 156: Being Expressive

I am not a very expressive person when it comes to telling people what I feel about them. So for e.g. if I felt that someone is really nice or I had a great time with someone, especially someone quite close, I find it difficult to go up and say "I had such a lovely time with you" or "You are such a great person and I am so happy to know you" or "This is so incredibly sweet, I am speechless" and stuff like that. It might be obvious from my actions that I like this person and I appreciate what he/she is doing for me, but I usually don't really express these things in so many words. It's a personality trait.

So when others tell me such things, that too in writing, I am usually overwhelmed. I had received an email like that last week that I wrote about here. Today too, I received such an email from a person close to me, and I was once again overwhelmed and absolutely speechless. For a long while I thought that I can't even get myself to write a worthwhile reply, so I will skip that and instead just mention the email on this blog. Then I realized that it won't be fair. When someone takes the trouble to write something like that you, you need to take the effort to open up a bit more and express your feeligns in the same manner. No matter how "non-expressive" you think you are.

So I did that. I poured my heart out into an email and sent it back. It's probably not the most articulate piece of work in the world, but hope it serves its purpose.

844 more to go.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 155: Being Pampered

Today my mom went back home to Kerala. She had been visiting quite frequently since last December and we had been spending a lot of time together. So when she finally left today I felt a bit blue. On top of that I had a lot of work the whole day and now am getting into a research call from Argentina which will go all the way until midnight. So in short, things weren't really looking up.

Until hubby came home and realized that I am not feeling all rosy about the world. So he has decided to become quite the darling (which is a very rare occassion, mind you) and went out to buy food and cold coffee for me! It is a big deal because on normal days he would have made quite a fuss about these things. On top of that he actually let me watch a channel on TV that I want to watch and not his cricket channel, which is like high quality pampering really. So am not feeling all that blue now and am ready to take my research call.

845 more to go.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 154: Marathon Thrissur Updates

Tomorrow my mom is returning back to India after her 1-week stint in Singapore. The past few days had been so busy, I hardly had a chance to sit down and talk to her. Usually we have nice, long conversations where-in she updates me on everything happening in our hometown Thrissur. There is somehow always plenty of updates to talk about.

Since she is leaving tomorrow and we didn't really have a chance to catch up, I consciously made an effort to free up some time today and have a conversation with her. And then I got my marathon updates about all the people in Thrissur that I could possibly know. Onlookers might call it "gossiping" but I call it being simply updated. After almost 3 hours of the chat, I feel pretty updated and enlightened. Now gotta wait for her next visit for the next round.

846 more to go.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 153: Toe Nail is Back!

Phew!!! I can't express how relieved I am!

You see, after my historic 10km run, I had injured both my big toes. The one on my right foot especially, had a major blood clot and the nail on it was beginning to peel off. During the wedding last week, several people in all their excitement stepped on that very toe during various occassions. As such by the last day in India, I had my toe nail coming off from two edges and just clinging on to the third edge a bit. It was a horrible sight, so I put a few plasters on top of it and pretended to readily ignore the crisis.

But I had a big fear that I will be left nail-less on my right toe. Under usual circumstances I would not have minded that much. I have gotten a pedicure only once in my entire life and that was during my wedding. So the beauty of my feet is not the most important thing in my life. However the thought of having no nail on a toe had left me petrified recently.

I had written here about a dream project that I would be acting in (if all goes well, of course). Shots of my feet and as a result my toes, are very important for this project and not having a toe-nail would have meant complete disaster.

But thanks to our darling God, today while changing the band-aids on the toe, I realized that the old nail has finally fallen off and beneath is a brand new super cool nail! It's only half grown yet but still, I am sooooo relieved! It took more than two whole months and it was getting a bit worrying. Now I cant stop gazing fondly at my toe. Ah. At least my dream project will not be hindered by the absence of a toe-nail!

847 more to go.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 152: Cracking the Character

One of the essential skills for a director, even if an amateur one, is the ability to articulate exactly what he/she wants to the cast members so that they are crystal clear with the requirements of a character. For the film I am making, I had been having rehearsals with my cast members for a couple of months now with the objective of ensuring that they are easily able to be in their respective characters when the shoot starts.

While seven out of the eight key characters were pretty much ready to roll, I was struggling with just one character. Maybe I myself wasn't too clear how it must be played or maybe I wasn't communicating it properly but it was one of the roles that was simply not working out. There was "something wrong" every time it was being rehearsed. And the fault was honestly not the actors' but mine since I think I confused him thoroughly with unclear explanations.

Before I left for my holiday, I spent some time to think through the role in further detail and articulate the exact adjectives that could be used to describe this character. I had a meeting with the actor and went through the revised character profile. He seemed to have got what I meant, but we didn't have time to rehearse then.

Today, we had the rehearsal and I am very pleased because the character has finally been cracked. The role came out exactly the way that I had imagined it to and consistently so. Now my entire key cast is ready to go for shoot!

848 more to go.

Day 151: Rehearsal, Photoshoot and Darshan

Looks like it is completely back to the grind now. Post the holiday, I had been working on some shoot schedules etc. but today things got really back to the pre-holiday mode with complete immersion in film work. We started off with about 5 hours of rehearsals followed by an outdoor photoshoot. The photoshoot was a casual one mainly meant for a couple of pics that are referred to and shown in the film itself. But getting that done was not as easy as one would have expected. Apparently my cast who are all otherwise very fun people, finds it the utmost difficult thing to give me a fun-looking pose for a photograph. After much effort but with loads of fun as well, we did get a few really nice shots. So it's all good.

Later in the evening hubby, mom and I visited spiritual guru Mata Amritanandamayi about whom I had written here yesteryday. Today was the last day of her annual visit to Singapore and it meant an elaborate discourse, meditation session, night-long bhajans and "darshan" which basically meant that we can meet her individually for a few seconds. So all the tens of thousands of people gathered there get their less than a minutes personal time with her. All three of us got that after waiting for a few hours and felt pretty good about it.

849 more to go.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 150: When the Universe Speaks

16 April, 2010

It's interesting how when you have all these doubts in your mind, answers seem to come out of nowhere. The last couple of days I was in "fear" mode, something that I seem to get into every now and then. After my fun holiday, I came back and realized that my film's shoot is indeed beginning in a very short time. So a range of questions flitted through my mind "Do I know what I am doing?" "Will I be able to pull this off?" "What if this turns out to be one shitty film?" "Are people gonna laugh at me?" "Will it be waste of resources - time, money and effort?" "Why on earth do I have to take such projects up when I have the absolutely sane alternative of just sitting back and relax like others?" etc. etc. In other words, I felt that I was being nothing but a moron in wanting to make a film. Like, "what am I thinking?!" kinda feel.

A couple of friends and my hubby did put in words of encouragement which cheered me up a lot and did bring back the confidence in me over the last couple of days, but today I feel really really good because I feel that the universe has indeed spoken to me and wants me to go ahead with the film.

You see, the closest person to a spiritual guru that I have is Mata Amritanandamayi. She is a spiritual leader from Kerala whom I have met quite a number of times before. She is in Singapore currently and today I went to visit her. I believe there were about 20,000 others also paying her a visit at the same time.

When she began her discourse, the first thing she said was "The biggest problem with people is 'fear'. Everyone is afraid." My ears, which were already pretty perked up, perked up even further. I felt that she was talking for my own individual benefit. And whatever she said after that was like the answer to all my questions. I will not go into all the details of the discourse here but I can tell you that I feel a lot more at peace now. She even narrated a story of which the moral was that you should not simply start something, but should see it to completion no matter what happens on the way. Yes, they are all simple messages but were highly relevant to my mental state at that point in time.

It is indeed like the Universe has spoken. It has asked me to stop being a sissy and get my act together. And I shall do exactly that. This film needs to be made and shall be made. Ishallah. Tomorrow the rehearsals start again and on May 9th we shall start the shoot.

850 more to go.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 149: Vishu and Amma Arrive

Today is Vishu, the Malayali new year. If I were at home, this would have meant waking up early in the morning and looking first at the Vishukani - a small shrine arranged with a Lord Krishna idol, some yellow flowers, money, new cloth, jewellery, vegetables etc. Basically the idea is that you start the new year with a good sight - that of abundance and prosperity. Later on, there would be the vishukaineettam - when the elders in the family bless the younger ones by giving them some money (used to be the highlight of the festival when we were young), then bursting the fire crackers and last but not the least, enjoying the sumptious vishusadya (feast).

But well, I am not at home in Kerala. Instead am spending my 12th consecutive Vishu here in Singapore away from home. But no worries, it was still a rocking one. Instead of the vishukani, the first thing I saw this morning was my mom's face. She was at the door, back again for a week's visit to get some formalities done for her visa. So there, that was a good enough start to the new year.

The vishukaineettam and fire crackers also didn't quite happen but there was no missing the vishu sadya! My foodie hubby even cancelled one of his meetigns for the sake of the sadya, he claims. So the three of us - hubby, mom and I, went to our favourite Kerala restaurant Swaadishth and had the 24-item Vishusadya. Yummy.

I feel satisfied. Not quite the Kerala Vishu, still not a bad one at all!

Vishu Ashamsakal (Happy New Year) everyone!

851 more to go.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 148: Gestures

Today I was still recovering from post-wedding fatigue. Apparently going to work yesterday and then the walk in the rain later at night didn't quite help in an earlier recovery. So today I stayed at home. After a while of doing absolutely nothing, I started thinking about the wedding and all the people I met there whom I was now missing. Then I was overcome with the desire to do something small for one of my most favourite people in the world, Nani. Nani is the hubby's maternal grandmother who was also at the wedding. I see her for only a few days every year but she is such a darling and we have gotten really close over the years. And I wanted to make some sort of a small gesture to express my feelings for her. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to do up her sketch. I had made one about 3 years ago for my own maternal grandmom in Kerala and since then I had not sketched anyone at all and decided to go back to the drawing board for Nani today.

Just when I was feeling pretty good about the gesture I was making, I received a beautiful email from one of hubby's cousins. We had spent a short time together at the wedding and the email was her way of expressing what she felt about me and the time we spent together. I am not a very emotional person and not many things move me but this email really touched me and will remain close to my heart for a long time to come.

So there, today was a day of gestures. I tried to make one and another one was made to me.

852 more to go.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 147: Police, Rain and Yeh Rishta

Pretty interesting day.

I had lost my phone in end Feb. My best guess is that I left it in a cab and when I figured that I no longer had it with me, I called it only to realize that it has been switched off. And we all know that a lost and switched-off mobile phone is gone forever as it clearly indicates that the dude (or dudette) who would have found it has no intention of returning it to you. Now, the good thing about this particular phone was that it had a built-in tracking system which can be pretty useful under such circumstances. If the sim card is changed in the phone, the phone automatically sends a SMS from the new number to some pre-fed contacts. So I was expecting such a SMS from the "new user" of the phone pretty soon. The SMS came a few days ago when I was in India.

Today I filed an online police complaint with all the details about my phone and the SMS I received. In the super efficient manner of the Singapore Police, they contacted me within a couple of hours and asked me to go down to "give a statement". I was so super excited! I love the Singapore Police dudes. They are all pretty friendly and on an average, pretty nice to look at as well. My previous experience with them was in university when I went down to file a complaint about a lost CD player. The story behind that is that the Indian Dance group (of which I happened to be the vice President at that time) had lost its CD player about 8 months ago and was surviving on borrowed players from other dance groups. When finally the other groups asked us to stop bugging them and go get a new one ourselves, we approached the management with sweet smiles and a request for a new CD player. Those guys fell for the sweet smiles but still asked for a police report as some sorta proof that the player was indeed lost. So I went to the police station and filed a report on a CD player that went missing 8 months prior. The kind officer tried his best to hide his amusement and didn't give me a "Seriously, what are you thinking?" look, which is what I myself would have done under such circumstances. Since then I love the Singapore Policemen.

Anyway after successfully giving my police statement and feeling pretty adventurous about it, hubby (who had by then joined me at the police post) and I walked to Little India for dinner. Today was a wonderful rainy day in Singapore and there was a drizzle as we walked down. The road from Tanglin police HQ to Little India is not crowded and I was inspired to sing in appreciation of the rain. Since I didn't know any songs about rain, I just decided to sing "Yeh Rishta" from "Meenaxi, tale of 3 cities" which has gotto be THE favourite song of all time for me. So I started to sing at the top of my voice and the hubby walked about 10-15 feet ahead, pretending that he had nothing to do with me. But I just sang and sang and sang, enjoying the beautiful rain and the wonderful walk in it. Lovely!

853 more to go.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 146: Am Back

So am finally back in Singapore after the the big, fat, supersized Indian wedding. I was totally pooped and plonked into bed as soon as I got back home. When I woke up 5 hours later, I decided that I had to be back on track. I was away for only about 11 days but it feels like ages. The film, Prajwala, P&G, this blog, everything was waiting. I had to get my life back into order and had to feel productive. So this is what I did

a) Finished unpacking
b) Did laundry
c) Uploaded all the wedding pics complete with captions
d) Worked on some updates for Prajwala
e) Drew up a list of things for the film's pre-production work
f) Completed 9 pending blog entries, including this one.

Today was special because am back and I feel pretty good about everything. Not just with all the memories that have accompanied me back but also with the sense of purpose I feel in moving forward. Now I can go to bed peacefully because I feel am set to tackle the world starting from tomorrow.

854 more to go.

Day 145: Pack ups and Memories

11 April, 2010

Now that the wedding has come to an end, it was time for goodbyes and packing up. The guests started to leave one after the other. Before each one leaves, a bit of time was spent on going through all the fun times in our heads once again. Hubby and I went full swing into our own packing as well. We made our way from Kanpur towards Delhi at 4:30pm and then took the flight to Singapore at 11:30 pm. We kept talking over and over about all the funny, little incidents that took place during the wedding. Even though the wedding had ended, the conversation hadn't! For a very long time to come, that's what's gonna stay with us!

855 more to go.

Day 144: The Last Leg

10 April, 2010

Today was the final day of the wedding festivities. After the wedding ended at 2am, we had to pack up and leave Delhi at 4 am. After we got back to Kanpur, there were quite a few customs where the bride, who is entering her husband's house for the first time, had to perform some prayers, go to the temple, etc. There was also the "Moonh Dikhaayi" where the bride "reveals her face" to the members of the family. In the past, the bride would have covered her face under a veil until this point and moonh dikkaayi time is when the members of the groom's family would take a peek at her face under the veil and then shower her with gifts.

After all the rituals, I got some quality time to catch up with the bride, who shall now onwards be referred to as the sis-in-law!

Then we got ready for the final final leg of the festivities, which is the dinner reception at Kanpur. That too was fun. Got to meet a lot of people and also have some awesome food! And then the wedding officially came to an end. All of us were neck deep in fatigue but were all feeling pretty good otherwise.

856 more to go.

Day 143: Baraat and the Wedding

9 April, 2010

The wedding was in Delhi and we were in Kanpur. So early in the morning (and I mean like 4am-early), we left the house to catch a train to Delhi. After a 5 hour fun train ride, where we had a booked an entire coach for the wedding party, we reached Delhi. The whole day was hectic but was fun with the wedding festivities. The wedding was in farm house and they had some fabulous accomodation arranged for us. The wedding venue was a humungous outdoor lawn decorated lavishly all around.

In north Indian weddings, there is a custom of the baraat, which means that the groom's family goes in an elaborate procession to the bride's side, where the wedding would then take place. The groom would be seated on a decorated horse carriage and there will be songs and dances as the procession moves towards the bride's place. For my own wedding, my entire family had ditched me, the bride, to go join the baraat which is usually strictly a groom-side custom. But it being their first north Indian wedding then, they joined in the procession and later told me that I had completely missed out on the fun. So this time, I was part of the groom's side and was totally looking forward to be part of the baraat! And how I enjoyed it! The singing and the dancing was really really fun!

The rest of the wedding mainly meant mingling around, eating and drinking non -stop (I believe there were like some 200 food items served... it was mind boggling) and general chilling out. The wedding wound up at around 2am. We were dead tired but felt really good about everything!

857 more to go.

Day 142: Mehendi, Haldi, Dandia

8 April, 2010

Another fun day. First the ladies of the house got henna designs done on their hands, in the function of Mehendi. After that there was a Haldi function. In olden days, instead of getting facials from salons people used to put turmeric paste on the faces, arms and legs to beautify the bride and the groom. The tradition still continues and the Haldi function ensures that the groom (in our case), gets a fair dose of turmeric beautification. However, in the process of dabbing turmeric on him, the rest of us also were smeared with Haldi all over, thanks to hubby's enthusiastic aunt. Then she proceeded to take a pair of dandia sticks and then we had some time of dandia dance (a Gujarati folk dance). Even my dad joined in and was doing some funky moves, kneeling down on the floor! Fun!

858 more to go.

Day 141: Tilak, Sangeet and finally the Dances!

7 April, 2010

Today, we were to have two major events - the Tilak, where the bride's family members come over and have some kinda ritual done and the Sangeet, which is basically the evening of songs and dances and general merriment. For Tilak, we had 35 guests from the bride's family coming over which included 3 of the bride's stunning female cousins from Austria and their 11 Austrian equally stunning female friends. Needless to say, it was a field day for the boys and men in our family. My own dear hubby darling who picked up from the railway station, came back super excited and blurted out, "There are SO many girls... so beautiful!", upon which I asked him to control himself. Anyway, it was really fun having them around. They did add quite a bit of colour to wedding festivities!

Later was the Sangeet night and it was super fun. I had written quite a few times here about the dances that my hubby and I were working on to be performed at the wedding. Today, we finally performed the dances. I had a super fun time performing them and they were well accepted which made it all the more enjoyable. Hubby too gave a very good performance and was quite the hero among the crowd after that. Sure, the presence of the 14 stunning girls might have contributed to his enthusiasm but in any case, he did a good job. So did my in-laws whom I had choreographed a small piece for. So all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable day!

859 more to go.

Day 140: Singing... publicly.

6 April, 2010

The wedding celebrations kickstarted today. The guests arrived and the first function was the Bhajan Sandhya, which basically means an evening of prayers which involves singing of several devotional songs. There was a nice seating arrangement made in the courtyard of the house with a shrine and a group of professionals were called for the singing. It was pretty nice... they sang beautifully and then my mom-in-law too sang one song. She is a very good singer and everything was going off smoothly until my dad-in-law turned around and suggested that it was my turn to contribute to the Bhajan Sandhya. I stared at him in pure horror. This meant that he wanted me to sing. That too publicly. There were at least a 100-odd guests present plus all the people on road who get to hear the songs thanks to the loud sound systems. After a few minutes of pushing back and turning down the kind offer, I was persuaded to give it a go. I am a fighter after all. So I shut my eyes tight as if to block out the universe when this historic event is happening and then I sang a short shloka. It lasted for about a couple of minutes and I was SO relieved when it was done. The feedback to the attempt was surprisingly positive but the most important thing is that I sang, for the first time ever, publicily over a mic. Yeah, baby!

860 more to go.

Day 139: Preps, Preps and more Preps.

5 April, 2010

Today was the only lean day we were to get before the wedding starts in full swing. And that means today was a whirlwind of preparations. This included making sure all the clothes are ready and figuring out what to wear when (I had about 15 sets of new saris, salwars etc.!), the matching jewellery is all arranged, the dances are rehearsed for one last time, having lotsa cups of masala chai to keep ourselves energized and of course, the inevitable shopping. And then we were all set for 5 days of wedding celebrations that begin tomorrow.

861 more to go.

Day 138: Dhol!

4 April, 2010

The best part about north Indian weddings is the Dhol, I think! Dhol is a type of drums that they play during the weddings and the guests dance to it. My first experience with the Dhol was during my own wedding three years ago. That time I was very fascinated by the exciting beats and how everyone danced to it. It is like soooo energetic that you can't help but dance to it. I used to itch join the others and dance with them as well but in an attempt to look like a poised bride and not a mad one, I used to restrain myself.

Today, the groom arrived for the wedding and to celebrate his arrival, the Dhol players were called too. And I got to realize a dream of the past three years. I danced and danced and danced to the dhol until I was sweating in a manner that would easily beat 4 sessions of hot yoga. Fun!

862 more to go.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 137: Teaching In-Laws Dance!

Brother-in-law's wedding preps are going on in full swing. One of the tasks I took up was teaching my in-laws dance for the Sangeet (pre-wedding celebration with songs and dances among friends and family). We just wound up the choreography after a super fun-filled couple of hours. Totally looking forward to the actual Sangeet day now!

863 more to go.

Day 136: Roadside Paanipuri

2 April, 2010

We are in Kanpur - hubby's hometown. Hubby and I are always at loggerheads over which place is better, Kanpur or Kerala. While I can find a lot of arguments in Kerala's favour, one thing I must admit is that food in Kanpur R.O.C.K.S. I already am looking at least 3 kilos heavier over the last couple of days.

Particularly chaat items from Kanpur are just to die for! I believe I have tried quite a lot of things already in my previous visits but today I got to eat a new item and in a new way! I usually don't like the chaat dish called paanipuri. Whatever paanipuri I have had so far was sweet and am not a fan of the taste. But my hubby and in-laws raved about the paanipuri at a particular chaat shop. In response, I said I don't like paanipuri cos it is sweet.

Hubby: But it is not sweet. You can choose it to be not sweet.
Me: Really?!
Hubby: Of course, see the syrup here? If that is not added, it won't be sweet!
Me: Really?!
Hubby: You can just ask for paanipuri without syrup.
Me: Really?!
Hubby: You mean you didn't know?!

I didn't quite respond to that since my lack of knowldge was obviously evident by now and I didn't want to dig my own grave further. Now that was not the most fascinating part. The way the paanipuri was served was interesting! They have a set up outside the shop on the roadside where the paanipuri dude dishes out syrup and non-syrup paanipuri. The customers are given a container made of dried leaves. They look like small cupped plates. You can extend this leafy plate towards the paanipuri dude who will then quickly put the paanipuri together and place it in plate. You then quickly swallow the whole paanipuri in one go and then extend your leafy plate for the next one where he puts the next paanipuri. It just goes on and on and on. I was pretty fascinated. There were lots of people extending their cupped plates and he was flinging paanipuris in all directions. Then you see these people literally gobbling up the paanipuris and making slurpy noises. Then their hands would extend again like clockwork. Fascinating, really.

And then it was my change to try the non-syrup paanipuri. And by lord, it was amazing! Spicy and tangy and absolutely heavenly.

So there. Standing on the roadside, with a leafy plate, enjoying my new love: Paanipuri without syrup - Bliss!

864 more to go.

Day 135: Hydraulic pumps and India!

1 April, 2010

Going to India is always fun but today I had one of the best journeys to India. Today, hubby and I made our way to India for his brother's wedding. The journey to Delhi, our first stop in India, was pretty exciting. The flight we were in, moved away from the gate and was just about to take off, when the pilot announced that we are going back to the gate because the "hydraulic pumps" were not working. Just something one might have overlooked any earlier, I am sure. Once at the gate, he announced that the engineer is checking whether they can be repaired. After about another 15 minutes, he said that the engineer has expressed the likelihood of having to change to another aircraft. Then after a few more minutes, the likelihood became a confirmation and we disembarked. Hubby and I were in high spirits and found the whole episode highly amusing than annoying. We were even more pleased when they provided some excellent food back at the gate. That and another excellent meal on flight accompanied by "Kunfu Panda" on the flight's TV, made me very happy. We reached India about 2.5 hours later than what was planned but really had no complaints.

865 more to go.