This year I had the privilege of traveling quite a bit. I visited Cupertino, California for work purposes, and let's just say - it was truly one of the greatest geek adventures till date. It was so epic, words and photo's cannot describe them. I'll just leave it at that. This photo sums it all up! -
However, towards the end of the year, which is right now - I was invited to a good friend, Sonal's wedding in India. The last wedding I attended in India was of my cousin, Sujata Misra, back in 2001. I've attended weddings since then, but all in Canada. While weddings are in general a blast to be a part of - weddings in India mean a whole different ball game. The experience in a nut shell is 'ethereal'.
[caption id="attachment_518" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Sagan - Taken by Rahul Chawla[/caption]
But I'd just gotten back from my work trip, so I was only allowed a total of 7 days off. Yes - that much time to visit India and come back. A journey of 12,500kms. I had to make the most of it. I had to attend every event of the wedding, but I also had to meet my family back in Mumbai. So I charted a course, pushing my body to it's limits - but given the adrenaline that rushes thru you during a wedding and just visiting India alone, I knew I'd be okay.
(I apologize for the camera phone shots - they were taken with haste, and the proper wedding photo's will arrive a few weeks from now, at which point I will update these photos!)
I departed from Toronto at 10pm, via Emirates A380 aircraft. It's basically the biggest plane in our aviation history. That worked for my advantage because I wanted a pleasant 14 hour flight! I passed via Dubai and had a chance to see the Burj Khalifa from the plane (probably a strategic decision by the pilot to fly very close to it and see it's awesomeness). I then arrived in Delhi, India. For the first time in my life, I was entering India and it wasn't thru Mumbai. A completely different experience arriving the smog-filled Delhi.
[caption id="attachment_515" align="aligncenter" width="300"] View from 39,00 ft![/caption]
So, 4am on 9th Nov - the groom himself comes to pick me up. He's excited beyond bounds for the engagement he has to be ready for in the next few hours but sleep is for the weak. We reach our bachelor pad in Faridabad. The place treated us like kings. In the most literal sense.
[caption id="attachment_520" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Prepping for the wedding, and then detoxing in the Jacuzzi![/caption]
Thus began the wedding festivities. Once Rahul got me my Vodafone data plan (I'm a slave to technology) I knew I could live-blog Sonals wedding like a keynote event. Rahul and I both unintentionally ended up doing that on Facebook. It inadvertently helped the friends and family back in Canada vicariously be a part of the wedding.
[caption id="attachment_519" align="aligncenter" width="538"] Sagan night![/caption]
The four major functions that I was part of - The engagement on the 9th, the Mehendi that I visited on the 10th and the cocktail at home on the 10th night and the wedding on the 11th night were four days full of nothing but bliss. Even though I was running around Delhi with Sunny Bhaiya, popularly known as Jack, it was truly a blast. I ended up meeting folks in Delhi that turned out to be relatives of Neeru, a good friend from Canada. It made me realize how small the world really is - and man, good times were had. Especially crashing the wedding room at 6am! Those are life-long memories and I'm glad Sonal and Ankita were a good sport about the whole ordeal and didn't just kick our asses out of the room!
[caption id="attachment_521" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Just before Sera Bandi![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_535" align="aligncenter" width="576"] The newly-weds - Taken by Rahul Chawla![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_522" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Crashing the newly-weds room![/caption]
Once the wedding was over, I had to move to the next major stop, my home town, Amchi Mumbai. My ‘langotiya yaar’, Varun was in town, and had just finished his last exam, and a family member I hadn't seen since 2005 was in Mumbai as well. It was also the most auspicious day to be in Mumbai, as it was the festival of lights - Diwali. Even if I tried to actually plan my trip around these odds I wouldn't have had a more successful trip, which truly fell in place for me, allowing me to meet everyone in Mumbai that is near and dear to me.
[caption id="attachment_523" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Happy Diwali![/caption]
Having a wedding in India is one thing, celebrating Diwali in India is another - and my last Diwali in India was also in the same year I attended a wedding last, 2001. And the simplest way to explain how it feels to be a part of Diwali, as my cousin Vidur put - It's like being in a Call of Duty map, with explosions everywhere and with certain firecrackers emulating the sounds of an AC-130 in the air! And he was spot on!
[caption id="attachment_524" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Varun and me[/caption]
What we didn't imagine, or well I didn't - was that we’d end up putting out two fires as well. Fire number one was in Varun’s residential complex itself, and was extinguished using a proper fire extinguisher utilizing Varun’s sailor skills and the fact that he’s certified due to his job on oil tankers also helped minimize any damage. Fire# 2 was in a random park where kids were lighting up fire crackers and goodness did I feel scared for their lives when some of them were lighting up some powerful crackers without any adult supervision!
[caption id="attachment_526" align="aligncenter" width="538"] Crackers - up in the air. Polluting of course.[/caption]
I truly wish I could describe in a better detail how much more awesome the festival is celebrated in India - but this clip/pic will have to suffice.
Once Diwali came to an end, I had to pack up and proceed to the airport, to begin my journey back to Canada.
Not much can be said about the mundane flight except the inflight wifi kept me entertained and I took some pretty cloud shots!
[caption id="attachment_527" align="aligncenter" width="645"] Cloud shots at 38,000ft! - thank god for inflight wifi![/caption]
I'm still reminiscing over the memories I created by being part of Sonal and Ankita's wedding. The amazing people I met in India, and how I truly enjoyed being given a warm welcome by Sonal's family and treating me like one of their own!
My family in Mumbai made sure I had the best pav bhaji once I arrived and I think this post has made me realize a trip in 2013 will have to happen, except this time I'll have to take my brother along as well!
I truly wish I could take my close friends and family on such an epic trip! Hopefully this post can illustrate how awesome it is to simply travel, attend a wedding, make new and meet old friends and be a part of an epic festival all in a span of just seven days. SEVEN.
[caption id="attachment_532" align="aligncenter" width="614"] 10 years in Canada, and this is the one and only thing I cannot find here from India![/caption]