Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A February Wedding!

Beautiful and serene, she sat waiting to be guided out to the groom. The crowd of relatives did not unnerve her. Composed and smiling she received each relative with warmth. Flashlights from cameras shone and I was hurrying up and down busy. But I couldn't help notice in the chaos, that she sat there as pretty as ever. That's my sister.

I look back at the time when the wedding took place and everything is still clear in my memory. The happy get togethers of relatives(ofcourse with the nosy ones playing spoilers at times), the stress, the emotions and the ceremonies. It was a quick affair but everything happened with utmost ease and perfection. I wish i was just a spectator at the wedding. I would've had more time to see all the ceremonies, and truly enjoy. I did, but I was kept busy throughout. However, the importance I got being the 'brides sister' was  unparalleled! Happily I went about the chores assigned, trying my best not to falter. An upset bride and sister is the last thing I wanted! And once Che (I call her that) gets upset about something..ahem...(I dint say anything Che)! ;)

The Wedding
I fell in love with the Manipuri style of weddings. It is simple and elegant. A pretty white mandap is set up in the courtyard of the girls house where the marriage ceremony takes place. The men are dressed in white phaijom (dhoti)  and Phi( a coth to cover the upper part of the body). The married women wear the traditional mayek naibi phaneks( something like a wrap)  and  white Rani Phi's. The unmarried girls wear the same phanek paired with dainty and pretty phi's  in varied colours.

Together for life!
My sister was wearing what is called the Poloi, the bridal dress of Manipur. The groom wears the Phaijom and Phi in white and a turban in white. The ceremony is held around the Tulsi plant unlike the rest of the Hindu cultures where it is solemnised around fire. The tulsi plant is considered sacred in our culture. We pray to the tulsi every morning. I think this is connected to the Vaishnavite ( beleivers in Lord Vishnu) culture. Manipuris are predominantly Vaishnavites. Amidst the traditional wedding songs sung by some artists, and the beats of the pung(dhol), the ceremony takes place. The groom is seated while the bride walks around him seven times. Everytime she reaches him she pours flowers on the groom. The flowers are tiny white ones, not sure of the name. My sister walked so beautifully, I felt like clapping! Everyone complimented her for the way she walked, so elegant. This is another feature of the Manipuri wedding. The bride is expected to be the epitome of elegance. In the end she offers the two garlands to the groom. These two garlands are made by the bride herself on the mornin gof the wedding day. It is yet again a simple string of the same white flowers. The groom in turn removes one garland and offers it to the bride. Ok, I missed this part!! And I was quite peeved that I missed one of the main parts of the wedding!
The marriage ceremony came to end at 6 pm . Yes, that early. It started at around 3. Every wedding has the emotional part where the parents see off the girl. Damn. I felt my eyes welling up. I tried not to blink. She was about to leave for her new home, new life and new experiences...
The brides family goes to drop her off. So we all piled into cars lined up in a procession, with a truck full of 'band baaja's' leading the way. I obviously had to sit with my sister (yay!). The car in which we were sitting has to have the lights on( another 'tradition' I guess). So, sniffing and sentimental we were driven by che's brother in law. My aunt and cousins too were there in the car..all teary eyed. Now, who doesn't like to see a bride pass by... 'Yam phazei ko, Iteima!'( looking very pretty, bhabhi) , a guy on a bike calls out from the road...umm....I hear a giggle, its my little cousin Sunaina. We all start laughing, including my sister!! I wouldn't blame that anonymous guy, Che did look very pretty!

The Chakouba

Five days after the wedding Che came back with my brother-in-law(itei) and her new family for the chakouba. She looked beautiful. Chakouba is a feast that is held at the girls home and a variety of dishes are prepared by the bamons (brahmins who used to cook for the kings). The feast had two- three varieties of fish, like row, saireng, dals, eromba( typical spicy dish), fried fish, rice and a lot of other things. All superbly delicious. The banana leaves were laid out on the courtyard and we took our places, my sister flanked by my little cousins and myself. A mound of rice adorned my 'plate'. Th bamon came by and served the fish, followed by the rest of the preparations. I gorged and asked for more rice, unaware of the video/photographs being taken. Wow!  I could feel my tummy expanding, but i couldn't care less. The food was too yummy to be not had! I'll handle my guilt pangs later.. Che on the other hand was 'elegance eating' (!) with her pretty fingers. How do you do it Che??!! I don't think I can ever do that!
Satisfied with the aromas and variety we then had the kwa(beetle nut and leaf). The end of of the sumptuous meal!
It had rained for a couple of days after the wedding and Manipur became a beauty I had never seen and I took out my light cardigans. It had become cold. The perfect weather.
Everyone had begun missing Che after the wedding. The children went quiet and I was missing all the things we shared..including the conditioner, nail polish remover etc!! :P

The two weeks came to an end..relatives started leaving and we left Manipur, back to Delhi. My sister came back a few days later..and for the first time she did not come straight home...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Tea Cozy!

Who uses a tea cozy today..? I remember my mother had a tea cozy embroidered set way back in the 90's. She even had a beautiful tea set. We used tea cozy's back then. Some days when we would go visiting an 'aunty' in the neighborhood, they would serve tea with the teapot covered with a dainty tea cozy. Then slowly it disappeared from households. The one we owned went through the wearing out phase, collecting stains of tea and soon of rust. And it vanished from my memory.
Recently, my sister got married. In the run up to the wedding my mother would surprise us with little little things that she had collected over the years in a trunk, to be given to us when we got married. A bed cover from Fatehgarh, a small town in U.P, with its patchwork of very English prints, a hand embroidered table cover set (with napkins and place-mats) from Pune etc etc. The beauty of these simple treasures cannot be matched by the modern upholstery anyday, though no doubt they too look very good. So along with these, out came the Tea Cozy set with Kashmiri embroidery! Our eyes lit up with girlish joy! The word 'Pretty' just doesn't do justice. With its rosy pink embroidery and delicate looking napkins, we held it and I could see my sister loved it. I loved it too. 

In the excitement of the wedding preparations, I wanted to get married too! And I love my mother for collecting these simple joys. Its a great idea! So I began making of list of things that I should collect from across the Indian states, apart from the ones mama had already bought! Be it a particular type of saree, curtains etc, and guess what topped the list..The Kashmiri Tea Cozy set! So what if we don't use them anymore? 
Wherever there was a possibility of finding one I would search, Dilli Haat, Emporiums etc. I did not find the same one that my sister got. Sadly, some of them were 'modernized' and had lost the charm...
Finally, I got just the one(or two!) I wanted at Jammu!We visited Jammu recently and I bought myself not one but two Tea Cozy Sets...'for later'! It may be a stupid indulgence but one cannot resist these pretty girly things with the most simple yet alluring embroidery. So I liked two and couldn't let go of either! It is now tucked away somewhere in the same trunk from where my love affair with the Tea cozy began!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

When Flowers Bloom

The April sun is warm and fuzzy. We are being driven through the road that is winding its way through the mountains. As we ascend the heights of the mountain and geographically move upwards the sun becomes brighter and stares through the window of the car. As usual, I'm on the sunny side. I like to believe that I am the Sun's favorite child. I was born in the hot month of June(I love the name!). I emerged from my mother's womb as the sun was rising at 4:30 am in Manipur and I always land up closer to the it in buses, cars, autos or even up in the skies. And like in any emotional bond, I  get irritated with the sun, when it shines too bright giving me headaches.
I shield my self from the sun, which is becoming more notorious as we approach noon time. I give in, I say Hi! The journey is dull with three sleepy people, old melodious(with sleep inducing properties) Hindi classics and a comfortable car. I am awed by the driver, driving for 4 hours with a 20 minute break, not on straight roads mind you and with the car completely silent with an occasional snore from my mother and a  one minute chuckle from me as I find something like a snore extremely hilarious in such a strikingly monotonous journey. The head of the person in the front seat keeps jerking sideways, 90 degrees, then it jerks back and then again its back to 90degrees right.. the acrobatics continues till he is never really knows. Maybe my stifled giggling..? The driver drives on unaffected by these events in the car. I wonder if he finds the snoring and head bobbing funny. Will he giggle if he does..?

Our stomachs are growling by now. I am extremely hungry. But the thought of food awaiting us at home helps me be patient and not open the kurkure packet kept in the car. I gaze out looking at the valley below, the river accompanying us till our destination, I am  a stranger to its adventures beyond. The river is gushing, clear and  fresh in its personality. How lucky are the people who live close to the river. There is a particular point in its course ,where a few big dark rocks are perched at the one side of the river,here it slows down, almost looking still. I have often times imagined myself sitting on the flat rock..reading and just sitting. It is shaded..I made sure of that before I imagined me sitting there. Talk about practical imagination..
The river, the roads the people were familiar sights on every visit. This time I was 'blooming' with joy as I began to spot colourful and dainty flowers sprouting on the once dried out trees. Angelic whites, blushing pinks, and alluring reds! Such beauty along the roadside, my heart was filled with joy. I soaked in the colours and the elegance and felt the glow of beauty within..! It was spring time and in a place like Delhi I had almost forgotten the romance associated with the word- Spring.

Standing under the burst of pinks, whites and purples...only love could match that feeling..

My 'flowery' experience was enhanced as I stepped into the lush green garden surrounded by pansies, snowflowers, calandulas,poppy, flocks and many more. Each one smiling and chirpy, lending a timeless bliss to the admirer...

I cannot fathom what about flowers brings me so much joy but I don't delve into it (as I do with any other incomprehensible thought/emotion)  and let the feeling remain.
I remember these lines from a poem by John Keats "A thing of beauty  is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness..."    

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Wish List..Contd...

So I had to come back to writing about my remaining 'dream destinations' as I had a horrible start to the day. I drove someone mad and feeling the lowest of my lows.... :(

My mind then wandered (more like I let my mind wander)to Yvoire, France. I had read about Yvoire in a food magazine. The quaint little town, filled with flowers and tiny cafes, very romantic! There is a restaurant that I read about, the La Rabeouf( not sure of the spelling

now) Restaurant. The picture of the place is what caught my fancy. My imagination centre (in my head) instantly imagined my self there at the restaurant with 'the one'..hehe..sounds funny (by the way 'the one' is mad at me these days..can't blame the one though!). Well anyway, thinking about Yvoire, I cheer up! Why do some places make me feel all happy, even though I am not there? How do they make me feel at peace? So, how would this place be..? I am imagining a lazy afternoon sun, a slight nip in the air, the subtle fragrance of the fresh flowers, shrubs, quiet and peaceful, friendly and cheese..!
It just struck me that for the first time in my blog i am writing about something in the far all i have written about have been things that happened in the past. Soon when these places also go down into the beautiful treasure trove of my memory I will keep true to the name of the blog. For now, a little deviance is accepted, my blog, my rules it is!

Next up on my list is Ireland. The name itself has a country'ish feel. The movie P.S I Love You, makes it even more desirable..! Gerry, the perfect lover; him belonging to a place like Ireland, even more perfect; the way they meet,at the national park, better than fairy tales i'd say. Ireland has been a 'place to visit before I die' since my days as a fan of 'Westlife', a boy band not popular with the true music lovers, but my sis and I liked them anyway, and they were from Ireland.
So the pretty boys of Westlife had my sis and I wanting to go to Ireland atleast once. The beauty of the place did not help matters much..Ireland was stunning! Just the kind of place I would like to visit. I haven't read much about Ireland yet so don't know what i'd be looking forward to but I believe in surprising myself and discovering...
If there were a travel personality I would come in the 'serene, calm, exotic countryside lover' category. There are so many places in the world but these places win hands down any day for me. Not Las Vegas,not Miami...! Be it a holiday with friends, a romantic getaway, a family holiday, I think I'd choose one of these places.
There are a couple of other places I have on my list but will make do with writing about just these... in fact, my next piece will be on a small valley I visited in our very own, India!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Wish List!!! Part 1

This sudden strong urge,within me to explore the taking me places,creating new moments in my life(ok..not really but in my mind..yet..) and makes my heart happy!! That's why the title has the 'wish' in it...well wishes do come true,i'd like to believe..!
Here are some pics taken from the internet of places that I will visit very soon :)

Oh Greece!! The blue and the white of the Santorini and the sea expanding into the horizon. I imagine myself here in a dainty flowery summer dress,feeling all fresh, and sipping coffee..!

Swim in the blue sea, have a cozy dinner on a yacht, taste some wine and relax..a greek boy as a friend,guide more than welcome....Inner Peace...wink wink!!

Istanbul by Turk Hava Yollari :)
I have been to Istanbul once on a really short trip. Too short for a city like Istanbul. I still
remember the welcome nip in the air, the cobbled roads, the varied colours at the grand bazaar, the old man who I bought a Turkish tea set from, the Hagiya Sofia, the Boshphorous cruise and the Shawarma! Though i visited most of the tourist attraction there, i would say they were more like short 10 seconds preview of a film you're dying to watch! The main show is yet to be seen!!

I imagine myself in Istanbul as a single traveler, walking the lanes, sitting at one of the outdoor seating of a restaurant, riding the Istikal Caddesi Tram...Oh so much to do....! Life..please take me to Istanbul....

My list has a few more places, some I came across in movies, some in food magazines and some have been just my childhood dream....Need to update soon..right now i'm hard pressed for time hence leaving with Greece and Istanbul in my blog and my eager heart..