Smita and Siddharth’s Hindu Wedding in Madras/Chennai: May 17-19

Before we headed to Madras, Shiva took us along with the Abreo girls and Nikolaj and Shalini to a very nice restaurant call the Jolly Nabob at the Windsor Sheraton Hotel. It was a hangout of the Brits during the Raj, and was very colonial, with wood paneling and antique phones and guns and swords mounted on the walls. The food there was very tasty. While there Tara showed me where the bathroom was and we noticed that the mens bathroom had a sign that said milord, and the womens said milady, so we took a picture by the signs and call each other milord and milady now for fun.

A few days later, the three of us headed to Madras with U. Cecil, A. Brinda, Tara, Alia, U. Alwyn and A. Anita, A. Sylvie, U Robin, A. Sheila , Rahul and A. Muriel. We had some dosas for breakfast on the train and then some biryani for lunch during the 5 hour trip. Going to Madras everyone warned us that it was brutally hot. When we got there it was pretty hot, but not really as bad as everyone made it out to be. Maybe this was because for the most part we were always in air conditioned places. At any rate, Smita’s husband-to-be Siddharth met us at the station and they had some cars for us to take to the hotel, which was all kindly arranged and paid for by U. Robin. I was to bunk with (U. ) Gerry but he was arriving later that night with A. Munnu and ended up staying with her, so I had an entire room to myself. We headed out to a jewelry store which Madras was apparently famous for, and while Uncle Cecil did his sudoku and I wandered aimlessly, the girls went nuts with the jewelry, so much so that we were quite late getting back to the hotel, and had to hurry so that we were not late by Commander Deans’ standards. We had a quick change and headed to Siddharth’s house. There we finally met Smita and got to know some of Siddharth’s family. The bar had no alcohol and our dinner had no meat, much to the chagrin of the Mangies present. Still, we got to eat a very tasty traditional Indian meal on a banana leaf which we had to eat with our hands. Tara taught me how to eat with my right hand properly. In India, the left hand is used for bathroom duties and so it is considered extremely rude to pretty much use it at all outside of the bathroom. Joanna sat on her left hand just make sure she didn’t unconsciously use it. After dinner, the party pretty much ended, unlike our Canadian dinner parties which typically go to all hours of the night (though they usually also have alcohol). So while most of the aunties and uncles went home, the younger crowd, along with (U.) Neil and U. Cecil went to a hotel lounge/bar for some drinks. We then headed back to the hotel so that we could get ready for the Hindu wedding the next morning.

The next day we got up reasonably early and got all decked out in our Indian gear for the Hindu wedding. We headed over to the hotel where it took place, and were quite early. Apparently there’s about a hundred ways to do a Hindu wedding, and I don’t quite know how to pronounce or spell the format that we saw that day. There was a woman who conducted the ceremony, and she was kind enough to explain what was going on and the significance of the different rites. It was pretty interesting, with a large pyre where things were occasionally tossed, and that Smita had to somewhat precariously walk around. After that there was a nice vegetarian brunch complete with dosa bar. For some reason we decided it would be a good idea to go straight to a non-air conditioned church for mass after that, still in our Indian gear. This was the one time where we felt the full extent of Madras’s heat, as we melted in the pews, and I was craving water. After mass we returned to the hotel and lazed about, watching Harry Potter on tv and napping. That night was the reception for the Hindu wedding, where we finally got to eat some meat and drink some alcohol, which we of course took advantage of. There was also some dancing, and all of us got on the dance floor and this was where Joanna decide that the Rebello’s party harder than the Mascy’s. I got to show of my adequate though not exceptional swing dancing moves, and U. Alwyn and A. Anita were quite impressed, though they hadn’t yet seen Shiva or Nayan’s moves so I think their bar was set relatively low. For some reason we left somewhat early, but not before Tara had secured a bottle of vodka and some cranberry juice to mix from the bar. We headed back to Tara’s hotel room where we played a truncated game of Kings since we didn’t have much booze, and then I tried unsuccessfully to wrestle with Tara. She let me think I was winning part of the time, but pretty much tired me out. Then she showed me some of the ninjitsu pressure points and moves she knows, and then I decided I wouldn’t mess with her any more. Alia still thought Tara was fair game though and attacked her next.

The next morning, everyone but us and U. Cecil’s family left early in the morning on the train back to Bangalore. All of us but Alia went on a bit of a tour of Madras which both U. Cecil and A. Brinda knew reasonably well. We also went by the church where St. Thomas the Doubter is buried. After that we headed back onto the train and returned to Bangalore.

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