Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mumbai and Goa, Goa almost Gone!

After leaving Sankat's home town we then journeyed by night train to Mumbai (formally know as Bombay).  We went to sleep just outside of Ahmanabad and woke up in Mumbai.  A nice old couple shared our compartment and asked if we could switch beds with them so I then slept on the top bunk!! 
We got off the train at CST (it has a much longer Indian name but they just abbreviated it for all of us who can't handle the long Indian names)  After reading in the LP (Lonely Planet) how it was a heritage spot and how amazing it was, we looked around and and it was really dumpy and lackluster.  We then got in a cab that was three times the amount stated in the LP (but after I made Jen sit on the side of the road with the smell of rotting dog in the air in Thailand I just maned up and got in!!)  I find out later that day it turns out we got off at about three stops early!!!!
We found a hotel just down the road from the the Gateway to India (a large stone structure very simular to other gates in Prauge and Berlin) and the Taj hotel.  We then spent the next two days seeing all of the sites of Mumbai!  We saw a  huge Ganeesh temple, where Sankat and I went separate because they didn't allow camaras. I ended up in theVIP line and got a chandlo (the third eye in the middle of my forehead,) from a temple worker standing next to Ganeesh, then went to the temple of the Goddness of Wealth (we should be very blessed in our time to come!). 
After all of our religious duties were done we went to the historical museum and saw the history of money, the university of Mumbai, and a huge place where all of Mumbai's clothes washing is done in one place.  It has over 1200 baths it was amazing to see everything was sorted by colors (I wondered how all the clothes got back to their rightful owners?).  We also made it to the real CST and it was beautiful with tons of people, it is Asia's busiest train station over 2.5 million people pass through each day!
Of course we took in a Bollywood movie to beat the heat!  (It was terrilbe political flim but Sankat did an awesome job of translating because it was all done in Hindi.)
After two days of sightseeing we took the night train to Goa.  We arrived at Alcove Resort in northern Goa, it sits above the most beautiful stretch of beach in Goa!!! (we know, we've looked at them all now!!)  We talked to the hotel manager and booked bungalows for our wedding guests, they are cute rustic cabins (they are super clean and have hot water!)
We have now spent the past few days seeing all of North Goa and met with our wedding cordinator to settle our Western Style wedding!!!
We are spending the last few days here at a nice resort relaxing before we fly out on Saturday!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How to Plan an Indian Wedding in 5 days or less

After 28 hours of traveling we finally landed in Ahmedabad!  Sankat's cousins came to meet us and we headed off to the only cousin's house who does not live on the family compound.  On the streets there is every type of vehicle you could imagine. From bikes, motorcycles, scooters, cars, rickshaws, and carts.  We even saw a camel pulling a cart of bricks.  To add to  the confusion there is always roaming dogs, people and cows. 
We first headed to the Ahmedabad's version of the East Bank Club where those of you coming to the wedding will be staying!  It has a large cricket field, sand volleyball and of course a pool. 
We then went to visit Sankat's aunt in the hospital on the way walking down the street was an elephant led by members of the temple.  We quickly pulled over and feed it a watermelon.  The elephant grabbed the watermelon with his trunk and ate it in one bite!!!
That evening we crashed a wedding just so we could see what ours would look like.  There were over 2000 people there in colorful saris and stations set up around the grounds serving all types of food ranging from Chinese to Italian (and of course the chefs were repping hats from the various genres!)
The next day we went to look at three wedding venues.  The one we selected looks like the grounds of a castle!  Then we headed out to select the wedding outfits.  Yes the s is not a typo.  Here in India the wedding involves several outfits and because our immediate families are not here it begins a terrific spectacle.  Every cousin, aunt, uncle and random people in the store have an opinion!  Men and women are equally excited about the clothing of this event.  The amount of clothing required also changes from person to person.  (You also cannot wear any outfit that I have been seen in public before. and the outfits must vary significantly so that people do not mistake them for another outfit)
You walk into the store and sit on a sofa the store is run only by men.  In front of you is a large cushion covered in white sheet.  You tell them what you are looking for and then they bring out all kinds of dresses.  After selecting several that you like you begin to try them on.  Meanwhile all the people you brought with you are being served water, hot and cold coffee, soda or anything you desire.  When you try on stuff there is no shortage of people to tell you what looks good and what does not.  (and of course me the Westerner has significantly different tastes than those of the east!)  You also cannot just go to one store you must go to your friends store, or the more expensive store or the store where you have a hook up.  And at the end of the day (or in this case day 4 and we are still not done shopping) you go to a tailor and just have him make what you want. 
Yesterday we went to the Hindu temple (called a Mandhir) it is an ornate brightly painted building that houses all of the gods brightly dressed and behind bars.  There are separate areas for men and women.  In the women's area there are women who live there full time.  They each have their own room where all of their needs are met.  They wear red saris and never leave.  The Mandhir is located in the winding streets of Ahhmedabad.  The buildings are three stories tall and the narrow streets are filled with vegetable carts and cows!  We also visited Gandhi's childhood home which also houses an orphanage and school. 
I am so excited for you guys to come here and have these experiences.  Sankat's family is sooooooo wonderful and do everything possible to spoil me.