In Christmas Geoff and I were invited to a attend a friend’s wedding in Punjab, India. Going to India had always been a dream for mine, especially since I started practising yoga a few years ago. It is a place that I felt deep inside that I had to visit in this lifetime. Actually, when I went to Spain in May I told my parents that the next trip in my wish list was India, and only 6 months later I was there! See? The power of manifesting wishes! Next will be winning the lotto.
However, this trip was not the typical trip that you would expect when going to India because we only had 10 days left after the wedding and we did not want to be in crowded and very expensive places, given it was Christmas time.
So we visited Chandigarh (where the wedding took place), we spent a few days at a yoga retreat at a paradise on Earth (that will be my next blog post) and we also travel through the Goan and Maharashtra coast up to Mumbai. We were to very remote areas where we were the only caucasians. It felt so different feeling different.
Anyway, this is what we did during our holiday in India:
We arrive to Delhi on the 15th December and we took a bus straight to Chandigarh, the capital of the State of Punjab (north west from Delhi, border with Pakistan). Only 243 kms, but 7 hour bus trip. First lesson learnt. Don’t underestimate distances and timings in India.
Chandigarh is a modern city planned by Le Corbusier. But be aware that the modern-ness is not what you would expect as in flashy skyscrapers and neon lights. It is a modern city in the context of other cities. Streets are wide and mostly paved, there are parks in the city, designated areas for markets and in general, a sense of wealth compared to other Indian cities. In this State, the Sikh religion is wide spread, which is also the religion of our friends who got married.
The wedding was so much. It went for 6 days of celebrations. We had a blast! It was completely different to any wedding I had ever attended. Every celebration has a mean rooted in an ancient tradition. The groom and his family are the protagonists in the ceremony. The extended family (parents, siblings, uncles and aunts, cousins) play a very important role in the celebration. Their job is to help the groom and the bride transition into a new stage in life in a spiritual way.
This made me reflect a lot about marriage and family, weddings and rites these days. How much it is getting lost and the importance of focusing on what really matters. The celebration of love and the creation of a new family. Anyway, back to the wedding.Meals where vegetarian and non alcoholic. And in general, this is the mainstream rule across all India, except for Goa. We had a great holiday without hangovers!
The food was amazing. A M A Z I N G.
I am still dreaming with those masala chickpeas and dahls.
There’s a lot of dancing in every celebration, men included.
Women dresses were so beautiful! I bought myself a gown that I liked, and I borrowed this beautiful outfits from my friend and her cousins. They had a whole suitcase to choose from!
Geoff got a turban matching my dress, as it is the tradition. He nailed it! More than 20 people in the street asked him for selfies thinking he was a cricket player! He had a big celebrity moment in India, and I think he secretly loved it.
I borrowed this one above
And I bought this one
Things I learnt in India to this point.
- Traffic is a mess, but you get used to it. Honks replace indicators. You can find any type of vehicle, cow or goat in any road. As an example, at some stage the bus to Chandigarh missed the exit in the highway, so it just reversed and continued backwards for 1 km or so. Driving a few kilometres can take hours in cities like Mumbai.
- Have no expectations of any type. Places or food that I thought I would not particularly enjoy, I loved them and vice versa. You will be surprised.
- Related to 1 and 2 above, be patient. Everything takes very long in India.
- Leave any type of gluten -free/ sugar-free/dairy-free/Paleo/Weight Watchers/ whatever your thing is (if any) diet at home and embrace the deliciousness of the food.
- If you love tea as I do, welcome home. During this holiday in India I developed an addiction for Chai Masala that was out of control. They brew it in the street, as in people set up a gas mini kitchen and brew tea that are sold for something like 10cents. It is brewed in milk, has fresh ginger, cardamon, black tea and sugar. Quite a lot of sugar and so, so good. I am sure if I lived in India I would develop a diabetes just because of tea.
- Contrary to my own expectation (See point 2), I did not get sick in India at all and I ate a lot. However I took some precautions: I did not eat any meat or chicken, I stuck to vegetarian meals all the time (which was very easy). I only drank bottled water and silly amounts of boiling chai masala, and I took probiotics and health support pills every day. I did not eat from street stalls except for boiling tea.
Finally, if you love crafts, you will love India.The craftsmanship is so many arts is unbelivable. I was mesmerised with the intricate embroidery in women dresses, the professional turban tiers who can create a turban style for every occasion, the henna artists, the silver and copper smithing, the authentic Pashminas woven in Kashmir, also known as “liquid silk”. Not to mention the shrines and holy places, some of them with Hindu, Islamic and Christian influences. So interesting.
My friend’s hands done for her wedding.
In the next blog post I will talk about the yoga retreat, Mumbai, the trip through the Arabic Sea coast and other reflections. If you want to see a sneak peek of all this, have a look to this video that I put together about the second part of the trip (no wedding footage as a respect for my friends’ family’s privacy).