In a span of three weeks, between two months, I've had the pleasure of attending two weddings, at two different locations, different states, cultures and traditions. What I was looking forward to other than attending the weddings were visiting the destinations themselves - both a photographers dream and delight, so you can imagine my excitement. The first wedding took place in the small quiet town of Chettinad. It was a wedding of a dear friend whom I've known since I was 17. We went to the same college of our undergraduate course. I knew we would be instant friends because if his personality and ability to make people comfortable, laugh and be laughed at. I will never forget the first day I met him; I was with my dad waiting outside the admissions office at college; dad and I sprung from our seats as soon as we heard his name - Veerappan Murugappan. We nearly fell off our chairs from laughing at him, we didn't even try and hide it; he looked on, untouched by our rowdy behaviour and went on to attend his interview. From then, we've gone through our share amount of relationships, parties, drunk nights, drunk calls, 3 am musings about nothing, trips to a mental institution we'll never forget, trip to Singapore I will never forget, laughing our eyes out talking about my imaginary wedding to my ex who - turned out to be this dog killer (don't ask how) and see ya! - stupid inside joke. BLACK! - another one.
As long as I've known him, he's full of love, he loves love, and loves to be in love. so I was the happiest when he announced his engagement to his beautiful wife - Valli. In all the grandeur of the wedding, whenever I saw him there was an air of calmness around him, he looked different - happiness was him. When it came to the day of the wedding, the alarm going off at 3am got me instantly off my feet and into my mothers 34 year old chutney green saree. The venue took place at Valli's home which was done very elegantly. All the ladies were dressed in their grand Kanchivarams, malli poos and diamonds, while the men looked sharp in their crisp white shirts and mundus - very south Indian posh I think. My mother and my friend who were also with me, too dressed ourselves in our best Kanchivarams. On the day of the wedding, the brides house was chockablocked with friends and relatives we found it hard to places our bums on the steps of the beautiful courtyard because it looked like every last inch was occupied. In all this crowd, I was afraid I wouldn't get to see the wedding happen at all. Trying keep these negative thoughts at bay, I looked forward to seeing my best friend make his entrance. We finally found a place in the corner and before I knew it, a happy Veeru appeared and walked through the courtyard and sat just a few meters away from where we sat. To our surprise we got to witness the wedding from a close view and as part of the family - we were sitting among the brides and grooms relatives, who were so kindly explaining all the customs and traditions to us whist it was happening in front of us. It felt so special and magical to witness. Yes, I cried - tears of happiness. From there we filled our bellies with a scrumptious south Indian breakfast, filter coffee and went on to explore this beautiful old town filled with grand old mansions, some palatial and some deserted. Another highlight of this trip was our visit to the 2000 year old Meenakshi temple at Madurai. After a the event planners knew our wish to see the temple, they made arrangements for us to be taken there. Never did my religious mother and friend think that they would pass all the queues, all the people who've been standing for hours to get a glimpse of the idol and go right inside this marvel of a temple. The event planners were well connected is all I can say. The people took us for tour inside, got us special darshans, mom stood in awe in front of the idol for as long as she wanted without any pushing, and this made her so happy. So all in all, my trip to this jewel of a town was beautiful and memorable.
The next wedding, a starch difference to the first, was set in Jaipur. It was my 3rd trip to this beautiful city and I knew there were still sights I was yet to see, and I couldn't wait to share this experience with the husband and sister-in-law who's first time it was. I was also very excited to document this trip using my brand new IphoneX Mr husband gifted for my 30th birthday. This was a family friend's sons wedding and these guys came to rip the dance floor. The wedding was a dance party right from the get go, the minute we landed at their house for the mehendi we danced; danced with people we didn't know, people who refused to see the husband not contributing to the dance floor - so lifted his hands and showed him how, people who at the end became like family, it was like a party that never ended. Although it must be said, us Bangaloreans couldn't keep up to their all-nighters, we often decided to call it quits after 11pm. Yes, we were those people. The ladies and men dressed in a new piece of colourful and carefully selected attire for the next couple of days, starting with the Mehandi - Sangeet - Reception and then the very same night the Wedding - which took place between 12am and 5am. Again, we weren't awake to see that part. I've never see a more colourful, big-hearted, full of life wedding that this one, everyone played a close and intimate part of the wedding and made us feel warm and loved at every step. The chai here was sensational and so were the sweets. My husband, sister-in-law and I also went with our A-game in the wardrobe department - our best kanchivaram sarees - South side represent! But in the midst of all this, there were moments that made my fragile heart give in to all the emotions - like the brides father giving an emotional speech at the Sangeet had everyone in tears, the morning after the wedding the brides family bidding farewell to the bride got me teary-eyed too. This open display of emotions I hardly see at weddings down south. I became so overcome with emotions too, as if I was a part of their family. I felt honored to be part of it all.
After three days of all this wedding madness and fun, the next three days we assigned to sightseeing and shopping. While the sights and sounds and taste of jaipur is absolutely spectacular and delicious - the last day wasn't all that much - not even close. After dining out at a popular Rajasthani vegetarian resturant, what happened after turned out to be a complete nightmare. Three hours after our dinner I started experiencing horrible stomach aches and frequent bathroom visits, soon after the thrid trip, I knew something terribly was wrong. My blood sugar started dropping from the loss of water, I soon started throwing up while on the pot - I knew this wasn't something I or anyone could fix; we had to go to the hospital. So my brother (who joined us on the last day), husband, sister-in-law and I rushed at 2am to Fortis, Jaipur. There too, the vomiting and trips to the bathroom didn't seem to stop. Finally after getting me on drips and liquids - it stopped. The hospital being extra cautious that I'm a kidney transplant ricipient - wanted to admit me, but my doctor back home, whom we were constantly in touch with, opposed, along with my husband and brother. At 6am we got back to the hotel - Hotel Jaipur - we were supposed to check out at 12pm, but we knew we would have to opt of the late check-out given my condition. The hotel management were kind enough to write that off and let us stay. Thank you, Hotel Jaipur. I was so weak after battling with the food poisoning the entire night, that I slept the entire day and when it came to getting to the airport and walking - I required a wheelchair. I don't want to blame the food for what happened to me that night, because I was the only one it had such an effect on. I have now come to realize and accept that these things are bound to happen to me because of my low immunity after the transplant and the many medicines I'm on. It's been a week since we've been back and a week since I've been on curd rice, bread, pongal - bland and boring food compared to the food fest I was having. Slowly things in my system are also getting back to normal and I'm getting back my energy.
What an incredible couple of weeks I've had, amazing experiences and incredible people. After another curve-ball life threw at me, I just feel incredibly grateful, blessed and happy to be alive.
Life lesson for me - be picky when it comes to food, be very very picky.