Welcome to my first attempt at a blog! I figured now is as good a time as any, having moved halfway around the world to Hubli. While I didn't know anyone on day one, I've since met many wonderful people, both those who have come from out of the country as I have as well as those who are native to India and have been teaching me a lot.

The plan is to update the blog somewhat regularly so that none of the posts get too lengthy (which is the case with the first several, as they were originally mass emails). We'll see how well I do at keeping up. Miss you guys!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wedding Weekend

On Friday morning Desh Deshpande spoke, and I was informed that he is the second richest Indian in the world. News to me, as he is so down to earth, but it soon became clear…

The Sandbox fellows were all invited to his son’s wedding this weekend, which was quite the party. The first night I wore my salwar kameez, the one I had tried to pick up on at least three separate occasions. Fortunately, on the night before the wedding, I went to the store with one of the Indian staff members, because when I tried picking it up the tailor wasn't there. Since I didn't have my receipt they didn't want to give it to me, but thankfully Golden talked them into it. On Friday evening we arrived around 6 for snacks, which might as well have been the meal. I tried all kinds of delicious snacks and sweets, but unfortunately could not figure out the names for half the stuff. No one ever seems to know. Whenever I ask they just say, “it’s a sweet,” or, “it’s a curry.” Makes it difficult to order the next time I’m out. The buffet was set up in a huge lawn area. As that wound down, the groom entered the scene amidst a gaggle of dancing men and a band of women throwing flower petals. The groom was sitting in a large vehicle with a woman who we first assumed to be his wife, but it was actually a female cousin, as well as with a couple of small children – we never did figure out who they were. The whole scene was vibrantly colorful and quite loud.

From there we moved into a large room and waited for the groom to arrive, and when he did, he came in on the shoulders of his family and friends. From our seats it was difficult to really observe what was going on the ceremony, plus the religious leader was speaking Kannada, so we could only pick up the parts that were translated for us, which didn’t occur often. The people on stage included the family of the groom and the family of the bride (but no bride – she never did appear during the ceremony), and they were being “introduced” to one another. They partook in a variety of Indian foods and engaged in various religious rituals. While I'm certain they knew what they were doing, the ceremony appeared to be haphazard and chaotic, with at least 30 people milling about on stage, photographers and videographers blocking our view, and people running around plastic store bags, dropping things off here and there.

Afterward we headed back outside for a traditional South Indian meal – my first meal served on a banana leaf! At this point the bride finally showed up, although she didn’t come to eat. The groom and his family sat for the meal (with the groom still sitting by his cousin, which was really throwing us for a loop), and the bride simply came to greet them. After dinner there was a sanjeet that lasted until about 11, where a couple men sat on stage playing a sitar and singing.

The next morning the marriage ceremony was at 7:25am, but there was no way I was feeling up to that, as I knew I had a long day/night ahead. I made it there shortly before noon for the reception, where we again had lunch (they like to eat here possibly more than I do) and then went to yet another space where we stood in a long line to pay our respect s to the newly married couple. This day I wore my saree. Preeti (one of my apartment-mates) put it on for me in the morning while the housekeeper watched and made suggestions on the best way to tie it. Everyone at the wedding and at the dinner later that night kept telling all of us girls how great we looked in our sarees, that our sarees were beautiful, which was much appreciated since none of us really knew what we were doing or how to wear them. Someone told me I looked very comfortable in mine and asked if I'd worn one before; I think I was just too busy thinking about the rest of the day and the stuff I had to do that evening to dwell too much on what I was wearing. (My supervisor had called me that morning to tell me my co-worker was sick, so I was in charge of the event for the night - fantastic.)

I stayed until about 3 and then started running errands for the events in the evening. The night turned out fairly well. First we had presentations by a couple of the nonprofits who partner with the DF, followed by brief introductions of the fellowship programs by two of the DF fellows and two of the Sandbox fellows. We had a question and answer period where a lot of connections were made, which was a larger part of the point of the evening, with one of the nonprofits receiving a promise of assistance from NM Murthy. Afterward, as the buffet got set up, we invited the guests to view the posters created by the DF fellows about themselves and the work they had done in the past. Conversation was no problem, and we eventually had to actually kick everyone out of the place. One of the DF fellows told me that this was “one of the best nights of his life;” he felt that he had networked with some very successful and well-connected people who could help him to start his social enterprise.

1 comment:

Chris Johnson said...

Wow, I am tired just reading all of the things that have done so far! Sounds like you have had some really good experiences in a short period of time. I look forward to reading about more of the interesting things that you end up experiencing over there!