Sunday, March 9, 2014

Indescribable INDIA

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My trip to India was one of the greatest journeys of all time, in many ways.  I got to be my dear friend Meliza's bridesmaid on her wedding day - which was such a remarkable experience.  It was so unexpected on my end, considering that she popped the "Will you be my bridesmaid?" question during an ocular inspection for a company event that we were organizing.  I was totally lost for words.  For me being a part of a friend's big day is exciting and a genuine honor.  So finally I said "YES" not knowing what to expect and what to do.  Only one thing came to mind, I was going to India.  

I told my family and friends about this exciting journey and they weren't as thrilled as I was.  My parents are so used to me traveling alone, but they said India was something else entirely. Truth is they feared the reputation the country holds for being unsafe - most especially for women (local and foreign). I was quite hesitant too, but I was unstoppable. As a woman, I think we must face these situations head on. It can be difficult and downright horrendous but when we think about it, avoiding it doesn't address this problem at all.

When I reached India, all my reluctance faltered.  It was such an exotic destination - one of the richest and most diverse cultures that I ever saw in my life.  This country prospered with cultural and spiritual wealth.  

With the coolest bride and groom - Meliza and Arun

Backwater Ripples - It is a very well maintained resort hotel in Kumarakom in the city of Kerala, India.  It is situated right next to the backwaters.  It is very spacious - ideal for long walks.  I was so happy that the each cottage has a balcony facing the lake.  Oh, I spent most of my free time there, just sitting down and admiring nature.  The bathroom was something too, the shower area is covered with stained glass so it's as if you were showering outside.

The sunset view was just perfect.  It gives you a feeling of solitude.  

Infinity pool
Plants inside the shower area
 Natural light
My bed
Mirror mirror hanging on the wall
Always kept clean
No sleep =)
This is what you'll see by the balcony

Backwater Ripples 
Nazareth Church Road
Kottayan, Kumarakom
Kerala, India 686563
Phone:+91 481 252 3600

Sangeet Festival - Indian weddings are full of rituals and customs but they say one of the most fun-filled ones is the Sangeet party.  This party is where the family and friends shower the bride and the groom with music, dance and entertainment.  I don't really know what to expect, my new found friends just told me to enjoy the evening because it will be a memorable one.  And yes, it was indeed very unforgettable.

I have no idea how serious their preparations were until I saw the entire production.  I can imagine long hours they spent for dance practices, song selection and coordination.  It was like watching ASAP live (Bollywood style).  

Note to self: All Indians CAN dance.  They were like pros.  Young, old, older, you name it, everyone got their own groove.  They hired a group of entertainers to set the mood - dancers, musicians and singers.  But when it was their (family and friends) turn to showcase their choreographed skit, I was so amazed.  Of course I had my chance on the dance floor too, when the bride forcefully grabbed my hand to dance with the group.  I can't understand a single word of the song they were dancing too, but seeing such happy faces and groovy peeps just led me to make my own dance moves too.  I was hilarious, but it was loads of fun.

Meliza with the evening's emcee
Meliza's brother in law and cute nephew
Meliza with her sister Pinky
Happy and beautiful family
The band
Meliza with her friends
The bride and the groom
My date that night :p
My NFF, Sneha
Very warm ladies
Meliza with her relatives
Life and dancing partners
I'm not short, he is just too tall :p
Bride and the father of the bride
Free styling
Too cute!
Too colorful!
The guests
I love this dance number
How adorable
Me and Melli

Ayurvedic Treatment - Nothing relieves stress and prepared you for the big day like having a therapeutic massage.  It's great that the resort offers Ayurveda massages.  In this kind of massage expect that you'll be very, very, very oily right after.  The entire body including the head and the face is massaged with suitable medicated oil.  My masseuse told me a lot of conditions that these oils cure, so many I forgot what they are.  The oil was a bit too much for me, but over all is was truly relaxing.

Bodyzone center
The massage table
Reception area

Kettuvalam - Kettuvalam is a house boat widely used in the state of Kerala.  It is made by wooden planks tied together with coconut ropes and painted with cashew nut oil.  It is usually 70 to 100 feet long and 15 to 20 feet wide.   Each boat has a bedroom (one to three) , a sun deck and private balcony. Each room has an attached bathroom, and the boat is also equipped with a kitchen.

One of the most tranquil things you can do in India is to ride a house boat and explore the beauty of the backwaters. I was so happy all of us were invited to experience this. I must say the cruise on the picturesque lakeside is very enchanting. It was much more fun also when we started a game of charades. And because a non-Indian speaker was in the boat, the English category was imposed. Believe me, these people know their movies too well.

The House Boat 
 Safety first
 First bedroom
 Second bedroom
 Oh captain, my captain
 Unending chitchat
 One big happy fam photo 1
One big happy fam photo 2

The Wedding Day - We all had to wake up early on the big day.  Started off with coffee and the long cue to get our hair done.  The hairstylist is a very funny Chinese lady from Dubai who in fact speaks Tagalog.  First time she saw me, she said "Hey maganda, I will make you very maganda today." Hahaha! She made me laugh.

Meliza came from a Catholic family so I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary in the marriage rite. I can't understand any of it (language) of course,  but everything else looks very familiar.  The reception part of the day though was grand.  There was a carriage with white horses who paraded the couple from the entrance of the resort to the main ballroom area.  We got to be in the parade, it is kind of embarrassing since hundreds of people were looking at you. It was a very huge crowd.  The gigantic ballroom area was decorated with beautiful blooms and a big stage was set in front.  The cake cutting ceremony and the traditional speeches were pretty much similar to ours.  

I have to say that I am truly in love with everything about this wedding, and for sure you'll understand why.  The colors, outfits, decoration, rituals, scenery... it was just an array of beauty.

 Very nice up do
  The beautiful Kavi, she did my make up so nice!
  The finished product
Love this
The curls
Bridesmaid duties
 Mother and daughter
 The bride's family
 the beautiful bride
Love her gown
 The church entrance
 Inside the church
The bridesmaids
Bride and Groom
Outside the church
 Cinderella-ish entrance
Banging the drums
 The ballroom
 With the giant couple - I feel so tiny LOL!

Here are some BTS of the post wedding photo shoot. It was so much fun.


The Zuri Kumarakom - On my last night in India, Sneha invited me to have dinner and drinks with her at the neighboring resort.  The place was amazing too and we had very nice time.  I am sure going to miss her company and the rest of the pleasant people I met during my stay.  She told me of the other places I should visit in India and believe me I am seriously planning my next visit.

 Yummy Satay
 Souvenir shop
The restaurant
Thank you Sneha!

The Zuri Kumarakom
New Nazareth Rd,
Athikkalam, Kumarakom,
Kerala 686563, India
Phone:+91 481 252 7272

 I love India and I'm happy to share my experiences and adventures with you.  Meliza's and Arun's wedding, it seriously took my breath away.  It was the kind of wedding that infused cultural traditions with rich colorful details and a lot of inspiring moments.  I'm so happy I was a part of it.  Melli and Arun, thank you for making me a part of your special day.  It was truly an inspiration. May God bless your marriage and I hope to see your cute little kids very soon! And to your warm and hospitable family and friends, I cannot thank you enough.  Thanks for making my very first trip to India a very momentous one.

"India is a country in which every great religion finds a home."
                                                                                      - Annie Besant


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