Monday, June 29, 2009

The Big Fat Indian Wedding

I can't believe that it has taken over a two and a half years before we got an opportunity to attend a traditional Indian wedding. The son of our landlord got married last week and Mona and I were invited for the wedding. The marriage was on a Thursday morning followed by a lunch. A large wedding reception was scheduled for Friday. We were leaving for Hong Kong on Friday and decided to attend the lunch on Thursday.

The wedding turned out to be a traditional south Indian wedding. The actual wedding ceremony started at 7:30am in the morning on Thursday and lasted about 4 hours. During this time, there were several different poojas (prayers) and rituals. Lunch service started at 11:30am. By then, there were about 3000 guests. No, I did not add a zero by mistake. I do mean three thousand guests. So naturally, lunch had to be served in shifts. This was quite an experience.

The dining hall consisted of long tables with folks sitting on one side of the table. Each table could accomodate about 20 people and there were at least 20 tables. So about 400 people were being fed in one sitting. We took our seats after one group of people had completed their lunch. An army of waiters and servers worked with speed to clean the tables, cover them with white sheets of thick paper and place a huge banana leaf on the table in front of each guest. The etiquette is to sprinkle a bit of water from your glass and wash the leaf clean with your hands.

The vegetarian meal consisted of nearly 20 courses and included a few different vegetable curries, roti, poori, pulao, plain rice, bhajiyas and a couple of different sweets and desserts. Servers made their way down each row serving each person. The food was delicious but the experience was truly unique.

We missed the wedding reception the following day but passed by the venue on our way to the airport! This one also looked like a grand affair with lights and decorations and probably a similar number of guests!

Now that is a big fat wedding.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Back in my favorite city

In case I have not mentioned this before, London is on the top of my favorite city list. If I have already told you this earlier, then this is to let you know that nothing has changed. I still love the place and wish that some day I can spend 3-6 months living here.

Perhaps it is the international feel of the city that appeals to me. Earlier this afternoon, I was sitting on a bench in Kensington garden. In a period of about 15 minutes, at least 40-50 people walked by speaking in over a dozen languages! I like the crowds here - people are walking everywhere, there is hustle and bustle around the place. The underground tube (train) system is fabulous and makes getting around the city a breeze. Well ... today was an exception. There is a strike and the underground is not functional. So I got a feel for London traffic as I drove in a taxi from one end of the town to the other.

I have been quite fortunate with the weather. With the exception of one or two trips to this city, the weather has generally been perfect every time I have been here.

The only bad thing about my recent trips here has been the fact that I keep traveling alone for work. I need to come back soon with Mona, Aanish and Ayaana. Plus I have promised Aanish that we will come to London and take him to an Arsenals football match! Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.