Returning to India after ten years...she's not used to wearing these clothes.

 It's been two weeks since I have returned from my month long trip to India and the jet lag is still lingering.  It's also taking me some time to readjust to the sleepiness and monochromatic color scheme (overcast skies, black down coats everywhere) of NYC.  I know, but seriously right now NYC seems tired (literally) compared to the vibrancy, noise, traffic, smells, and colors found in the cities of Hyderabad or Kolkata.  I was lucky enough to accompany my parents to their native land on the special occasion of my cousin Dipak's wedding in West Bengal. I have not travelled to India in ten years, and while so much has changed (everyone has a cell phone, women wear jeans and drive scooters) I was comforted by the visuals of beautiful women in their colorful saris, road side markets with fresh vegetables and fruits, and cows and goats roaming the streets in the middle of traffic jams filled with scooters, rickshaws, and Marutis.  Dipak's wedding to beautiful Sharmistha was also the first Indian wedding I have attended in India.  The Indian feasts, the various traditional wedding ceremonies spanning over four days, the wonderful extended family that came from all over the country, and the chance to share this special time with my parents made for a trip that I will never forget.  Although I can speak and understand a little Bengali, I chose broken English with a strong Indian accent to get me through most of my trip.  It worked well.   We traveled from West Bengal down south to Andrha Pradesh to see my mom's family in which they speak Telegu and English.  I have no idea how to speak Telegu and still enjoyed going to see a Telugu blockbuster film at the Cinemax Theater in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad called Ongole Gitta. My mom's family actually lives in Ongole, so that was a cool coincidence.  Everywhere we travelled in India, we were lucky to have generous family members and friends eager to show us a great time be it with fantastic tasty home cooked meals, gifts, shopping, scenic drives, applying mendhi to my hands (Susmita), or my favorite - sharing laughs.  

As for the exhausting and humorous aspects of this trip, throughout most of my trip I decided to stay in the same room if not bed with my parents.  That's right.    I have to say we managed quite well although I would often wake up in the middle of the night with a mosquito buzzing in my ear and giant welts on my forehead.  I did get sick the few times I ventured off the bottled water path, which is always awful.  I should have listened to the southern American gentleman  whom I overheard
on the plane to India advising a British couple,  "It's not a matter of IF you get sick, it's a matter of WHEN, so you may as well go ahead and start taking your Cipro now."  Needless to say, I started taking mine immediately after eating my first meal in India ( I was too shy to demand bottled water but that shyness ended immediately after meal one).  But still this was the first trip to India in which I was sick only a day at a time (on three occasions) which was a great success for me!  I did get some of the same questions I've received on past trips to India, "What type of meat do you eat?  Not cows right?", "Do you consider yourself American or Indian?", and "Why aren't you married?", but I have to admit I received them much less often than on trips in the past so that was nice.  Oh, and let's not forget the last night I was in India, I was riding on a van rickshaw (a bicycle rickshaw with a pallet attached) in my new chudidhar/salwar and my scarf got caught in the wheel.  Before I could stop the driver, the scarf tightened so tightly around my arm that it flipped me off the rickshaw on to the street.  I was not hurt and was laughing hysterically when everyone was stopping to help me. I am still laughing now thinking of it.  I just kept hearing my niece Rani telling the driver in Bengali "She's not used to wearing these clothes."  That made me laugh harder.  I've attached some of the images from my trip.  Hope you enjoy them.  




9 comments

  • Antonia
    Antonia
    What a wonderful summary! I love the pictures. Someday I will go to India, I love so much about the culture!! xoxox Antonia

    What a wonderful summary! I love the pictures. Someday I will go to India, I love so much about the culture!! xoxox

    Antonia

  • Ileen
    Ileen
    Love it!!

    Love it!!

  • L-train
    L-train
    Great description! Love your details!

    Great description! Love your details!

  • K Michelle D
    K Michelle D
    So Great!! I could picture the whole thing:)xo

    So Great!! I could picture the whole thingsmilexo

  • Dick Huey
    Dick Huey
    Beautiful pics Shonali, thanks for sharing. My brother has spent a lot of time in India, love seeing the photos.

    Beautiful pics Shonali, thanks for sharing. My brother has spent a lot of time in India, love seeing the photos.

  • Jeet
    Jeet
    First time i notice the pictures of Dipak's wedding. It's nice to observe that you have preserved the wonderful memories of india in your record.

    First time i notice the pictures of Dipak's wedding. It's nice to observe that you have preserved the wonderful memories of india in your record.

  • Punu Da
    Punu Da
    Whole families knew about your blog from Jeet. Feel satisfy to see that you are interested about indian rite and culture. Just carry on.

    Whole families knew about your blog from Jeet. Feel satisfy to see that you are interested about indian rite and culture. Just carry on.

  • Subhu Da
    Subhu Da
    Delighted to see your love for india which is reflected through your writings and accommoditing instinct with the change situation which is great lessons to others.

    Delighted to see your love for india which is reflected through your writings and accommoditing instinct with the change situation which is great lessons to others.

  • Pinki
    Pinki
    Nice summary. Happy to see that you enjoyed lot in india. Hope next time when you willl come, would enjoy lot more and would spend lot more time with us.

    Nice summary. Happy to see that you enjoyed lot in india. Hope next time when you willl come, would enjoy lot more and would spend lot more time with us.

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