V and I just got back from a trip to Bangalore. His parents generously flew us out there to attend two weddings - one on each side of the family.
I discovered that by Indian standards our wedding was a very simple, short affair. These weddings are lavish, colourful and stretch for days. There are poojas (religious ceremonies), weddings, dinners, lunches...
I had taken two sarees with me, figuring that would be fine for at least the first occasion. But I discovered women are expected to have about 3 to 5 different outfits - each event provides a new opportunity to show off your finery. Luckily my mother-in-law was there to dress me. Gracefully wrapping metres of cloth around your body is not as easy as it might look. Thank goodness for safety pins!
Most of the clothes I brought to India didn't even get worn. When we weren't at we weren't at weddings we were often visiting my in-laws - and most of these visits involved gifts of sarees or other traditional Indian clothes - from us (V's parents, V and me) to our hosts, and from our hosts to us. And of course there was shopping.
I love wandering through the busy market areas - flower and fruit vendors, shops selling spices, textiles, jewelry, sarees... V bought some fabric for pants and a shirt. A tailor came to the shop and took his measurements. Two days later he had a custom-fit pair of pants and a shirt to match. Hard to beat that.
We found a great store - fabindia - stocked with great cottage industry products. I could have happily bought up half the store, but settled for a great, bright bedspread and some fun pillow covers.
We were able to do a little bit of sight seeing. V and I visited a few temples and gardens in the city and we went on a day trip to the nearby city of Mysore with his parents. Visiting something which has been standing for centuries certainly puts history in perspective.
Our trip to Mysore - stopping at a bird sanctuary, the temple shown in the photo, and a large palace - was the only really touristy thing we did. One of the few times I saw other white folk. For me, this holiday was a strange combination of the foreign and familiar - I had never been to Bangalore before, but in so many things there were reminders of my childhood in Nepal. Also, since much of the time was spent with V's parents and relatives, much of our time was spent visiting in living rooms.
All in all, it was quite interesting, but I'm glad to be back home. My back injury flared up during the trip - aggravated by the long flight out, the hours spent on plastic chairs for wedding events and the back seats of cars stuck in the permanent traffic-jams of Bangalore city streets. And as much as I enjoy the discovery of travel, I'm stubbornly independent enough to want to follow my own agenda. This trip was not about our agendas - it was about family. And that, as anyone knows, has both its blessings and its challenges.