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Robert & Neha’s Wedding

My India Adventure (Part 4) – Delicious Food

By Adventures, Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Inspiration, TravelNo Comments
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Throughout the week I ate delicious food. But I only took photos of alcoholic drinks, LOL.

The food throughout my stay in Delhi was absolutely delicious. So tasty, that I tucked in and totally forgot to get any photos of the fantastic meals I ate. Indian food is mostly vegetarian with vibrant colours, is rich and spicy in taste. Meat dishes were those with chicken. When eating out Menus split dishes by North and South Indian food.

By far the best meals I had were those with Neha’s family at Neha’s parent’s apartment. They were exquisitely tasting dishes that amazed my tastebuds and were complemented by great company.

But there are three particular meals out that I’ll always remember. The first was a lunchtime treat with Neha’s sisters and brothers-in-law on my first full day in Delhi. The second was the Wedding meal. And the third was a meal in an Officers Mess at an Army Base arranged by and with the immediate family.

Food I Liked: Alu Matar (spiced potatoes with mixed veg), Butter Chicken
Chana Masala (chickpeas), Naan Bread, Garlic Naan Bread, Pulao Rice and many other dishes that I can’t remember the names of.

The desserts were like gifts from the divine. I enjoyed them all including RasMalai (which was my favourite), Gulab jambu (a sticky sweet deep fried dough), Sweet Milk Pudding, Payasam (sugar, milk and noodles) and other delectable desserts that I can’t remember the names of.

In the next blog post titled My India Adventure (Part 5) – Gandhi’s Grave & India Gate, I will be writing all about Gandhi and India Gate. It will be coming soon, so keep coming back to check for updates.

Write soon,

Antony



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My India Adventure (Part 3) – Shopping in Delhi

By Adventures, Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Love & Relationships, Money / Finances, Shopping, TravelNo Comments
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My spending money in Rupees.

If you enjoy shopping for clothes as I do, Delhi is the perfect place to visit with an empty suitcase. As Indian’s like their clothes.

I exchanged my money at the airport (see photo left). ₹500 (five hundred Rupee) is currently worth about £5 (five British Pounds).

My first shopping trip was on my first full day in Delhi. Robert, Michael, Neha, Neha’s sisters and brothers-in-law and I went shopping for an wedding outfit. Robert choose an attractive gold colour, Michael choose a grey and gold colour combination and I choose a fabulous purple colour.

Below is a photo of our wedding outfits, see my last blog post for photos of us in our outfits:

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Wedding outfit shopping.

Then we headed to an outdoor market where we bought some wedding shoes. These shoes were more about style than comfort and I named them The shoes of DEATH after they shredded my feet.

Prior to travelling to Delhi, I had been talking to a lovely guy named Eddie. I needed to buy Neha’s parents a thank you gift and was in need of a guide and shopping buddy. So I hired Eddie and a taxi for the day. Eddie was gorgeous, patient, kind and caring. We quickly connected and became more than friends. During my stay in Delhi I visited at least five Malls, two Bazaars and four outdoor market places.

On my first shopping trip with Eddie (there were a few) we went to Benetton where I bought a fleeced hoodie, a smart shirt, two plain t-shirts and two t-shirts with designs all for £55. On another occasion Eddie took me to an outdoor market and I got two pairs of smart work shoes for £8. I bought two real leather belts for £1.90. Delhi could be cheap or expensive depending on where you shopped and who you shopped with.

Eddie helped me buy some small gifts for close family and some of my friends. Believe it or not is where most of my money went – on other people. When Indian’s see foreigners they triple their prices. So having Eddie who spoke Hindi helped barter the prices down. I am extremely grateful to him for his language skills, superb company and for soo much more ;).

My favourite place to shop was Connaught Place. It had a good mix of shops, a Bazaar and an outdoor market place. Plus, it has plenty of places to buy good coffee. However most importantly for me, it was where Eddie and I created some amazing memories.

After much searching, Eddie and I found the perfect gift for Neha’s parents (to thank them for taking such good care of me). We found this lovely stylish mirror in the shape of the sun, which was the perfect gift for them.

Wherever you shop in Delhi there’s plenty of roadside stalls selling drinks and ice cream. There’s copious Tuk Tuk bikes and auto Rickshaws that you can use to get around. Or there’s always the Delhi Metro. The Delhi Metro is cheaper than Tuk Tuk bikes or auto Rickshaws and is quite an experience.

Eddie introduced me to the Metro and we used it together on about six journeys while I was in Delhi. The Metro in Delhi has been so popular that it is currently being extended. By 2020 they want 50% of people travelling on the Metro, which in the sky, and 50% of people using the roads. This will ease the current road congestion problem Delhi has, along with reducing air pollution. The Metro is exactly like the London Underground, just above ground rather than under it.

The first two Metro carriages of every Metro line are reserved for women, along with woman only seats in the other carriages. Getting on and off the Metro was a bit of a challenge at times, with a little fast-paced pushing and feet shuffling required.

I got plenty of stirs on the Metro because of my white skin. They were stirs of curiosity because most people hadn’t ever seen someone with white skin. After a while it did leave me feeling a bit awkward and unsure of how to respond. I wasn’t sure whether to stir back, smile or do a little dance. Luckily for the the other Metro users it was too cramped to allow me to do a little dance. On most journeys Eddie and I held-hands and no one stirred because of this or seemed to even notice it.

Whether you’re shopping or using the Metro there are many security check points. Where civilians in official, security, looking uniforms will ask you to walk through a metal detector and put your bags through an x-ray scanner. They then frisk you with a hand-held metal detector.

Eddie is gorgeous and looks so young. I want to reassure you that he is in fact twenty-two years old and I am twenty-nine years old. He is funny, kind, caring, intelligent and multi-talented. He has already had much success and many achievements. He seems to do well at anything he takes his hand to, which is no doubt due to lots of hard work and determination. I know that I’m a very lucky man. Here are some photos of the gorgeous Eddie and me:

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Eddie and I outside one of the many Malls we visited.

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Eddie & I on a Tuk Tuk Bike.

Can you recognise the brands photographed below?

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Starbucks Coffee :D.

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Me with a scary looking Ronald McDonald statue outside of a vegetarian McDonalds Restaurant.

Yep – Starbucks and McDonalds.

I was pleased to be able to get a decent coffee from Starbucks, but the prices where the same as in the UK making it an expensive luxury in India. Costa Coffee was much more reasonably priced. Coffee’s from both shops tasted the same as they would in the UK.

Other recognisable brands in Delhi, India included: Pizza Hut, Dominos, KFC, Burger King, Vans, Levis, Van Heusen, Nike, adidas and Marks & Spencer’s.

On the departure from London Heathrow my suitcase weighed 11KGS. On the way back home it weighed 20KGS, which just gives you an idea of how much I bought during my time in Delhi. And it didn’t cost me a fortune.

In next part blog post in the series titled My India Adventure (Part 4) – Delicious Food, I will be talking food. It will be coming soon, so don’t forget to check back for updates.

Write soon,

Antony

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My India Adventure (Part 2) – The Wedding

By Adventures, Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Inspiration, Love & Relationships, TravelNo Comments
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Robert & Neha’s Wedding 🙂

Robert and Neha got married on Saturday 25th July 2015. The day before the wedding we’d had henna done followed by great family meal at Neha’s parents apartment.

In this post I shall only write about the Wedding, aka main event and not any pre-marriage customs, rituals or traditions. I will write what I witnessed and my interpretation as a someone who has never attended a Hindu wedding and who doesn’t speak Hindi. So please forgive any misinterpretations or misunderstandings.

The invite had said an 8pm start. But when Robert, Michael and I hadn’t been picked up from the Guest House at 8pm Robert was understandably anxious. He was dressed in his fabulous outfit (see photos below) pacing back and forth.

I explained to Robert the concept of Indian time. Indian time means that for social events Indians are loose with their time keeping, so always arrive after the official start time. I explained to Robert that his and Neha’s Wedding invite had said it was due to start at 8pm, so most of the guests would probably arrive for 9:30-10pm.

But by the time 10pm had come and gone, even I was starting to get worried. Luckily, shortly afterwards one of Neha’s brother-in-law’s turned up. The brother-in-law explained that Hindu’s only get married on certain dates dictated by astrology.

Indian weddings the brother-in-law explained are big affairs, with around 300 guests on each side. Therefore Delhi’s already congested roads were practically grid locked with everyone trying to get to Hindu weddings at the same time. He added that a rain shower had also delayed the start of the wedding as the Hindu ceremony involves a fire outside.

After a short car journey, we arrived at the wedding venue the Marigold Banquet Hall. We were met by a camera man and photographer, who would continue to take video footage and photos throughout the night. Robert with Michael, myself and some of Neha’s borrowed family members behind him were welcomed at the threshold of the Banquet Hall by Neha’s mother and father.

Once over the threshold Robert, Michael and I were directed to a stage. Then Robert received greetings into the family, introduction to family members and envelopes with money in – which apparently is the traditional Hindu wedding gift. While all this is going on Robert was waiting for his bride.

Neha walked into the room and all eyes turned to her. She lit up the room, which you’d have thought impossible to do at a colourful Indian wedding. She looked stunning and incredibly beautiful (see photos below). As she walked towards the stage, music playing in the background, I thought: Robert is a very lucky man.

Once Neha reached the stage, Robert greeted her. They posed for many, many photos. They were photographed together and then with immediate and extended family members. While this was going on, food was available for extended family to get as they wanted. Then there was some dancing. Indian’s know how to party and without the aid of alcohol.

Then the immediate and close family came together around a big centre table for a family meal. The food was truly scrumptious food. The company was great, I met many fascinating family members.

By this point I’d realised two things. Firstly that I get a little anxiety about meeting and interacting with large groups of new people. Hence the cigarette breaks. Secondly that my shoes were more about show and style than comfort. The shoes were already doing a great job of shredding my feet.

Here are some photos from this part of the wedding:

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Robert in his Wedding outfit.

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Me in my Wedding outfit.

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Robert and Michael (his father) at the Banquet Hall.

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Robert & Neha posing for many wedding photos (1).

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Robert & Neha posing for many wedding photos (2).

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Robert & Neha posing for many wedding photos (3).

After food was a traditional Hindu marriage ceremony, which took place outside. Neha had been up at 4am that day, gone to a local template and undertaken some pre-marriage rituals. The ceremony started with the Archaka and Neha’s parents. Then Robert joined them and after a short time Neha joined the trio. I didn’t take any photos of the ceremony, as I would have felt rude to do.

I felt honoured and privileged to be invited to share Robert & Neha’s special evening and for being allowed to witness the beautiful Hindu marriage ceremony. I can’t thank them enough for their friendship and love. It is something I hugely appreciate.

The ceremony was completely in Hindi and Neha’s sisters kindly took it in turns to translate for Robert. The ceremony was approximately an hour and a half (which had been shortened) with family members, Michael and I sitting to watch. During the ceremony Robert made seven vows to Neha, which were:

The Seven Vows made by Indian Grooms to Their Wives

1. In the first vow, the groom makes a vow to his bride that he will, for his part, provide the money and means to run a happy household and family. He also promises to avoid any of the things that were likely to harm his wife and family.

2. The second vow that the groom makes to his bride is to remain committed to her forever. He promises he will love her forever and provide courage and strength.

3. The groom then makes the third vow to his prospective wife, and in this vow he prays to God and asks that the be blessed with prosperity, wealth and the ability and means to take care of their children, educate them and look after all their needs.

4. The fourth vow has the groom thanking his bride. He thanks her for bringing love, happiness, auspiciousness and sacredness in his life. He thanks for all the good things she brings to his life.

5. The couple then prays together in the fifth vow. They pray to Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, to grant them with prosperity and her blessings for the rest of their lives.

6. The groom makes the sixth vow to his wife, and promises that he will keep her happy forever. He also tells her that he promises to make her joyful and provide her with peace time and time again.

7. Finally, only the seventh vow remains, and the groom now tells the wife that with this last vow and walk around the fire, our relationship is firm and we’re inseparable. He also tells his wife that now you are mine forever and I am yours and may we live happily together.

(From: BollywoodShaddis.com, Last Accessed: Friday 7th August 2015)

The ceremony ended with Neha’s head dress tied to a scarf given to Robert. Probably symbolising this last promise, being inseparable forever.

The ceremony ended in the early hours on the morning, by this point I was exhausted. While we waited for taxis to the final event of the evening Neha’s father explained that Hindu’s worship the sun. That fire is the purest of all the elements as it has the ability to give life through growing of crops, but also the ability to destroy life too. I didn’t realise this at the time, but the sun would become a permanent symbol of my adventure in India.

The final event was at Neha’s parent’s apartment. The women of the family blessed the couple, some gave more envelopes with gifts of money and then waved them off. Here’s some photos of the wave off:

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Neha’s parents apartment lit up to celebrate the marriage.

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Close female relatives wishing the couple well as they leave Neha’s parents home.

Neha, Robert, Michael and I then headed home to the Guest House where I slept exceptionally well.

The Wedding was an exceptionally good time. Everything was about love, kindness and hope for the future. Which is exactly what a wedding should be about. I wish them many happy and healthy years together.

I have deliberately excluded photos of the family and extended family in this blog post, as I haven’t asked their permission to post the photos of them here.

In the next blog post of the series titled My India Adventure (Part 3) – Shopping, it will be all about how I got on shopping in Delhi. Keep checking back for updates as it will be published soon.

Write soon,

Antony



I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


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