India is such a special place. In just one year, it’s become another home to me. When I say we’re going to India for Christmas, people are usually amazed and excited and tell me how it’s such an adventure. And it is, but it’s also Anish’s home. And that makes it an adventure that has the feeling of home too. It’s familiar to me and completely normal that I spend my holidays on the other side of the world. Life is funny.
It was a phenomenal four weeks in this country that has become a second home for me. We spent time with Anish’s family, and all the relationships I started last year grew exponentially. I met more of his extended family and every single person was darling. We watched Anish’s dear cousin get married. It was a fulfilling trip.
Thinking back on it now… thinking about all those people — that wonderful family in that wild country, I realized that this time, it really felt like home.
See you soon Incredible India.
The week leading up to Divya and Abhijit’s wedding was a wild one. There was so much to do and so little time. But finally the big day arrived — after two family parties (one for the bride’s family, one for the groom’s), many trips to the tailors, a handful of family dinners, and millions of errands. We were all ready for it.
It was very similar to our weddings back in the U.S., except for the fact that it was a “small wedding” with about 500 people. 500 PEOPLE! Can you imagine what a big wedding is in India? Good gracious…
Their families are both Christian, so even though it was technically an Indian wedding, there were no elephants or henna tattoos or Hindu/Indian traditions–I hope to see those traditions one day! The service was in English and Malayalam (the native language of Kerala) and was hosted in Divya’s home church in Bangalore. Tea and snacks followed immediately afterwards, and the reception with a full dinner followed that.
Divya was beautiful. Anish’s entire immediate family on his Mama’s side was together for the occasion. We were all incredibly happy and thrilled to be there to witness the eldest grandchild get married. The first!
The entire day was gorgeous, the ceremony was lovely, and the reception was extravagantly decorated and fun for everyone! Poor Divya and Abhijit spent most of their time at the reception standing on the stage and receiving all the guests who had come from near and far to see their wedding.
It was a happy day! My words can’t do it justice, so I’ll let the photos speak for me instead.
Congratulations again to our sweet Divya and her new husband Abhijit!
Divya and Yohann getting ready!
My first time wearing a sari. 9 hours later – I was still enjoying it!
I love this handsome fellow.
Yohann, Divya, Mamachi, and Raju Uncle — ready to head to the church!
The gorgeous church filled with flowers.
Diya and Seb — dressed up and looking lovely!
Weddings are so special, aren’t they?
The bride, groom, and their bridal party.
Just look at the amazing reception decorations! I loved the look.
We arrived in Bangalore with one person on our minds — Divya! I met her last year and this year, she was GETTING MARRIED! We arrived on a Friday and the wedding was the following week. That meant preparations and last minute things were being finished and it would be a mad dash to wedding day! First thing on mine and Diya’s agenda: the bachelorette party.
Our initial plans fell through, but we rallied quickly and ran around like crazy getting everything set up for an afternoon/evening bachelorette bash! We sent Divya off to a local spa for a facial and massage, then ran errands to set up the party. It was only a small group — Diya, Divya, myself, and a few of Divya’s friends. We set everything up while Divya was getting pampered and then surprised her when she came home.
We ate cake, played games, sipped champagne, and enjoyed a fun afternoon together. Before we knew it, it was time to get dressed to head into town for a fancy dinner. We had a lovely time at a new restaurant in town and by the time we got back, the boys and their friends were all converging on Mamachi (Anish’s Aunt) and Raju Uncle’s house, so it was a big party.
Bachelorette party success!
Don’t you hate when you spend a good amount of time doing something or visiting somewhere and you forget to take photos? That’s precisely what happened to me when we got to Coimbatore. We arrived at Shubs and Manju Aunty’s house and I put down my camera and didn’t pick it back up for a week.
We had one whole week to stay in their small town in Tamil Nadu, and we had ZERO plans. That meant: family meals, visits to the mall, time to read a good book, and best of all, just relaxing with another part of Anish’s family we hadn’t seen for a year.
Shubs and Manju Aunty are some of the sweetest and most gracious hosts. They always make me feel so at home. They are also incredibly funny and entertaining, which makes for a good vacation week.
And then there’s Adithya, their son, and Anish’s youngest cousin on his Mama’s side. Adithu (a pet name of his) is like a brother to me. I adored him last time (the first time) I met him, and this visit sealed the deal. He and I get along just like Jesse and I do. Two peas in a pod. We irritate each other, joke with each other, laugh, and act the fool together. Something about him, man. He’s a great guy, and I am so happy to call him almost family.
All in all, it was a great week. Yohann, Anish’s cousin, surprised us and came for the week. We celebrated New Year’s together outside town at a friend’s cottage and the party got shut down by rangers who came in shouting, “Elephants! Elephants!” Apparently there were wild elephants in the area and that is dangerous (which we already knew from previous experience). Just the week before, the fence and tree in the backyard had gotten knocked over by elephants, so we all high-tailed it outta there at 2am after a great New Year’s Eve together.
It was good week. We all rested up before the next adventure — Bangalore. It was about to be another amazing week and this one was extra special: Divya, Anish’s eldest cousin on his Mama’s side, was getting MARRIED!
Anish and Adithya facing off at ping pong!
The crew on New Year’s Eve. (Left to right: Seb, Diya, Adithya, Yohann, Anish, me!)
Me and my Adithu!
Geez… I’m not doing so well with the consistent blogging, huh? No use for excuses — I’m just living right now, I guess, and doing my best. But finally, back to India.
We spent three days in Munnar. Fun-filled, adventurous, non-stop days. I heard story after story about the lives of Ammama, Appapa, and their kids when they lived in the tea estates. I sat around the table during meals in the High Range Club dining room with Anish’s family, listening to their chatter and laughter. It was warm — that’s the best way to describe it. It was a warm, good-hearted Christmas. Anish and I were so lucky to be there in the first place, and it was everything we needed and could have wanted.
We ate breakfast together on our last morning before packing up the cars to head home. Anish, his immediate family, and I were headed to Coimbatore to see his Mama’s brother, Subir, Manju Aunty, and Adithya.
Standing outside the High Range Club, we said our goodbyes. There were hugs all around. Pats on the back. Jokes and laughs before we parted. Though we were sad to leave, we all kept smiling and stayed cheerful. It wasn’t goodbye; it was ‘see you later.’
Anish and I were sad… though we didn’t show it. We had spent the last 8 days with Ammama and Appapa, and we were leaving them then — that would be the last time we would see them until our next visit to India. It’s never easy to say goodbye to family, much less to grandparents who are so dear to your heart.
It had been a Christmas to remember and we hugged Ammama, Appapa, and all the rest extra tight. Until next time…
Look at that goofball in front! What a character.