Saturday, August 15, 2009

June 8th- "The Real India" First time Meeting Uday's Whole Family

June 8th,

We get up very early around 5:00am and take a taxi to the airport. Uday is so excited and can't wait to see his family as it has been 4 years since he saw his bothers and father. He last saw his mother about 2 years ago when she visited us in America.

We are on the nicest plane I have ever been on called King Fisher Airlines. Inside the plane everything is red and the flight attendants are all female and beautiful. It is a short flight and in about two hours we land and take a bus from the airport to the bus station where we are picked up by Uday's younger brother Uttam, and his father Prem. It is not a very emotional reunion as I thought it would be, and I wonder if this related to the culture or if it is just a "guy" thing. Uday's father and brother give Uday and I a quick hello with a hug and a smile and we get in the car and Prem (Uday's father) is quick to go buy bananas and Mangoes as this is his way of showing love. Prem knows that when Uday was a kid he looked forward to his dad bringing mangoes home on his way from work during the summer season.

Before we know it we are Uday's parents' house. We see Uday's mom, Lalitha, and I feel nervous since she and I had some difficulty with each other in the past (to say the least) when she visited us in America, but to my surprise she is the most warm, more emotional, and excited to see us... I just hope this lasts.

We eat as she has made the best chicken curry I have tasted, a bit more spicy than I am used to, but I love it. She also made Lentil sauce, which I don't always like but I really liked hers as I found it less bitter than most that I have tried. Lalitha was sure to make Uday's favorite dish called "Kichidi" which is a mix of rice and lentils which is eaten with "Palli Chutney" (Peanut paste).

Slowly but surely we get everyone to sit around the table and we all eat lunch together and the whole family begins to slowly warm up as does the family dynamics and personalities of each person (in a good way). We learn that Uday's older brother Pradeep, will be coming tomorrow with his wife and that we have an engagement ceremony to go to this evening.

We rest a while and Uttam tells us we have plenty of time before the ceremony and no need to rush. We take some pictures of each other with different family members, relax and then get ready for the ceremony where they will be serving dinner for all guests.

Uday's dad decided to relax at home instead of going with us tonight. We are now ready to go and below is a picture of Uttam's favorite "dress up" wear and his mom is in a pretty Sari.

We get to the engagement ceremony on time but they are still working on setting up. Uttam says, "There's nothing but time in India". We decide to walk around the city area of Secunderabad and I of course take more pictures.

As we are walking around Uday and his brother decide they want some Chai (Indian Tea). I go in and sit down with them and notice that not only am I the only tourist but I am also the only female there. Uttam, laughs and says, "You are the first female ever in here and probably the last".

Uday and Uttam want to smoke a cigarette for fun and although I don't smoke, I decide to take a puff or two as well. As the saying goes "when in India do what the Indians do". Below is a short video clip of us smokin'...

We walk around the city a little more and then we go back to the engagement ceremony. Below is the entrance to a temple in the middle of the city.

We are back at the engagement ceremony and it is finally about to start. The couple that are engaged sit away from each other at the beginning of the ceremony and look shy and serious (Uttam says it is a sign of respect to their elders).

The ceremony last for hours and we are all very hungry and need to wait until the end and we all get to eat the food provided by the parents of this couple. Towards the end of the ceremony after the change of clothes and the "Bethrothal" ceremony (the girl's parents give the girl to the male along with some gifts) the couple get garnished with many leis of flowers and are allowed to sit next to each other.

When the ceremony is finished it is now more acceptable for the couple to smile and be less serious as they sit side by side. Finally it is time to eat Indian Buffet, yummy!

Uday's mom is happy about this too!

Looking forward to meeting Pradeep and his wife tomorrow...

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