dimanche 6 septembre 2015

Baraats & Goodbyes

On the way to dinner, we started to see lots of action up above the road. We drove right past a baraat! I was posted to the window like one of those little Garfields. If you are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, a baraat is an Indian wedding procession. The groom, dressed in white, rides a (white) horse to the wedding venue. In modern times, they don't have to ride a horse the entire way. They can ride a white car for a portion of the journey but still arrive on the horse (cause tradition, duh). He is accompanied by what I assume are friends and family plus a band. It was really exciting to see, especially cause I am a total creep for Indian weddings. We passed another baraat, this one bigger than the last. I was so excited. Well it goes without saying that the dinner was delicious as usual. Our tour guide, B, sat next to me just like he had the entire trip and literally forced me to taste all of the food offered. India was blessing my tastebuds so hard. The best was yet to come, though. 

On the way back to our hotel, I lamented that I flew all the way to India and did not try the Maharaja Mac at McDonald's. No, this is not a joke. Anyway, we passed another baraat-- this one bigger than the last! I was really excited to be in such a lively setting. The lights were the brightest I have ever seen and I could feel the drums from far away. It was a total spectacle. Please forgive the potato quality photos. I'm not a photographer by any stretch and I mean, it's not like I knew this was gonna happen.

At this point, it was almost midnight as we pulled onto our hotel property and I, along with a few of my comrades, ran all the way down the drive to wait for the parade and catch it as it went by. It was the dead of night and I was leading the pack. All you could hear was my squeaky little voice greeting the guards (yes, our hotel had guards!!!). Like, I swear "namassssteeee" hung in the air as I ran past them. They had seen us coming and held the gates open for us. They shared our enthusiasm, I mean this was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. It was such incredible experience. Little did we know that the wedding party would be so welcoming. Before I knew it, I was swept up into this pandemonium. A wave of music, colors, people and FIREWORKS totally engulfed me.  Holy shit, India really doesn't play. Pictures, because my words fail me:

This was literally a production. The next morning, we all headed out for the eternal drive to Gurgaon/Delhi. It was a long ass drive! Once in our lovely hotel, we split off into shared rooms to freshen up for dinner. We passed a sheet of paper around and posted our contact information. Some people left before dinner and it was hard to say goodbye. It was really over, you know?

All of my life, I had a fascination about India as this magical, mysterious, and spiritual country. From the books I read and the movies I saw, India always meant so much more to me than any other place. Indeed, all of the architecture is truly beautiful — the arches, the inlays, the towers — but I have to say that what really captivated me was the organized chaos. As our final dinner came to an end, we all sort of lingered around the lobby and hoped the night would never end. India had far exceeded my expectations and those of my mates. To the naysayers who tried to talk me out of the trip: you were so incredibly wrong

The memories I made here-- drinking Kingfisher on dirty street corners, seeing an elephant in the middle of a city, the life changing dinner where we played show and tell with our passports-- were fucking priceless. I have never felt such immense joy in my life. I really knew then what a heart full of joy was. From my bff the plastic surgeon, to the tough-as-nails solo explorer; the first class couple, to the group of engineers from Seattle, it was laughs from beginning to end. Halfway around the globe, we all became a family. I could not have chosen a better group of misfits to share this incredible adventure with. Our trip had finally come to a close and it was ridiculously hard to say goodbye. When we got to the airport, we hugged each other so tight I felt like my bones would break. In the blink of an eye, we split off to various gates to catch our flights back home. Just like that, it was all over. Sometimes I lay awake and can't believe it actually happened. I am the luckiest person in the world. I miss y'all, wherever you are. 

For my blog readers: Thank you for following along and please visit India! I hope you fall in love with it as much as I have. Better yet, find your own India and make your dreams come true. You won't regret it. If you're still in the mood for my shenanigans abroad, have I got the story for you. 6 weeks after leaving India, I jump back across the pond with my trusty sidekick. Double trouble, indeed...

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