Monday, June 27, 2022

Your wedding, your plan, your ideas? What worked for you?

 The wedding brings so many things together. We all can forget our day today life and just enjoy the food, fun, family and friends. Somehow it becomes a communal event. some time you plan a wedding in days and some time you have months to prepare. I have seen both kind of wedding in my family.

I have  organized a wedding in 5 days so know very well how everyone do their part to contribute with planning and preparing to make it fun. Those days aunts and uncles were event planners. Family going shopping together was one of the best thing. Grandmothers and aunts going for saree, jewelry and gift shopping and uncles making list for grocery shopping, arrangements for guests and decoration and transportation. It used to be an assembly line affair.

Now we have all these event planners and most of the things fall on bride and grooms. Weddings are theme based, with specific ideas in mind. But some aspects haven’t changed. Family participation makes it colorful, musical and fun.

This wedding was not an exception, one of aunt hosted meet and greet for families and other one did Mehandi. I learnt so much from both of the hosts. The simplicity of doing things made the events so much fun. I am sure lot of planning and preparation went behind the scene but that day it felt easy and warm.  

One evening Dosa, vada, masala rice , kheer with wine and beer were perfect for a cool evening and the next day for mehandi -Poori, aloo sabzi, chole, Pulao raita and fruits sweets and pani poori can make the whole meal and yes Mimosa was the added bonus . Everyone and everything can be a part of celebration. All you need is willingness and open heart and attitude to take things as they come.

I sat watching the wedding and was thinking how much time, energy and work couple has put in planning this beautiful wedding. I hope they got time to enjoy and celebrate their union.

As guest, we sure had time of our life. 

What is the best part of a wedding for you? Did you plan and organize yours? Did you trust other people’s choice? Did you make all the decisions? what would you differently if you go back in time? Would you let your kid do everything? And my story will come as a post some time. 

What is plus one means to and who is your plus one?

 Most of the invites mostly means for family and couple, unless it is a specific kind of celebration.

The most recent invite for a very dear friend’s son’s wedding was for the family, all four of us. Anand is away this year and Mr. Husband was not very keen on flying to San Francisco. The friends have known him for so long, they didnt make a big deal out of it. The conversation around that was always fun to watch, her asking him to join and him responding nicely that he will participate through Zoom. Ajey on the other hand was all in.

It was our first wedding together here in United States and I am so glad he was my plus one. We packed together and took everything we wanted, plenty of clothes and shoes.  We are so similar kind of people. This was first time I really packed for myself with plan in mind, Sarees, dresses, shoes and jewelry.

Before the wedding we spent time with two other friends. One of them took Ajey to the city while I caught up with my bestie from high school. 

After checking in the hotel the wedding festivies began and the first evening “sangeet” I witnessed how much fun Ajey was having. He danced like there is no tomorrow, he is a talker and charmer and a wonderful human being and I am so proud of him but this vacation we saw each other differently. We are very similar and that has caused some disagreement in the past but we understood our differences in opinions and respected them. I can guarantee that those arguments are not going anywhere but at the same time I look forward to having many more trips together. 

I could see how different my trips are with 3 Pandey men, 3 different kind of plus ones. I am so happy that I have variety to choose from depending on occasion. I have my parents, sisters and Brother in law too. Now the kids in my in law’s family are ready to be my companions too. 

Who is your favorite kind of plus one and why?

A banarasi - a contemporary one. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The things I learnt from my friend - what is in your list

I was in California with only one agenda this time, to enjoy the wedding and spend time with some friends who are in my life forever. One of my best friend, Shilpi, from High School lives in San Francisco too. I spent two nights with her. Her beautiful home, overlooking bay and mountain was a welcome break from everything. The house is in shape of half moon , a perfect spot for sunrise in west coast.

Two of us spent our time  reminiscing our days in Balaghat, talking about kids, family, our past, hopes and dreams, worries and some more. We were so different in school and college but always admired and respected each other’s opinion. We complimented and learnt from one another.

The conversation around outdoor fire log , a cup of wine near indoor fire, paratha and all curry in the kitchen, Coffee in the bedroom, walk in the neighborhood, South Indian snacks in the dining room we kind of move from one topic to another.

We have met many times before but this time it was just us, no sightseeing, no agenda, no todo list. Just us and our time without interruption. Some of the things I will remember always.

  1. Why create/fix/mend any friendship or relationship - if it is worth it - end the bitterness and start fresh, create a new relationship with the same person.
  2. She doesn’t insist or push for food, she said food is a personal choice - I loved it.
  3. She cleans the kitchen eveny night ( many people do) but she doesn’t do it for cleaning sake - her philosophy is why start a new day with yesterday’s backlog. This really made sense to me. I decided to follow her philosophy.

Do you have any of these tidbits? Something from your experience or someone else’s ?

Wearing a batik saree from West Bengal to celebrate Groom’s dad’s heritage, Agarwals settled in Calcutta. He loves Bengali sweets, food and art so I decided to drape a Bengali weave. A mehandi ceremony in another aunts home. #Batik 

 I always loved Payal (anklet), wore few times after I got married and dear husband got scratched. Anklet and glass bangles couldn't make it back after that in my everyday life. While packing for this trip I packed many of them and wore a new one with sarees.- Payal no - 2 

and the list goes on- I am not even listing the value of skin care, she was very patient to explain things to this fashion illiterate friend. Time to go shopping for stuff. But I can assure nothing in this world can make me look like her. My gorgeous friend is a mother of two grown kids, she hasn't aged a bit.
My gorgeous host for Mehandi day

Wedding Saga - Fun, family, friends and Food - what’s in it for you?

A dear friend’s son got married in California and us aunties rushed all the way to the other coast to celebrate and enjoy the union.

The first ceremony was meet the family. My friend’s aunt hosted it in her beautiful backyard. Familes came from various parts of the world and many of them were meeting for the first time ( mostly in laws) and some close relatives after long time. It was lot of fun. Introducing each other and finding common connection. 

I have met some of the relatives before here in Boston, Many I knew off but met in person for the first time. The generous host made us all feel welcome and fed us well. It was an amazing evening overall and I learnt a lesson or two in hospitality, care, grace and generosity from the host couple.

I love historical fiction and specially by the contemporary authors. Who live outside India they have a very different perspective too. The host is one of them. One of her book The House on East Canal Road” was the one I picked for my travel. During wedding we got time to catch up on our love for books and got some time to talk about complicated human emotions. In her novel each and every character was strong and content yet respectful to others. 

The female lead, Aha, she needs a saree story just for her. 

The wedding brings people together and that makes it even more fun. This wedding wasn’t any different. The bride’s family is from Southern India, The groom’s mom is from Banaras, dad from Calcutta. I decided to wear Sarees from these region as my tribute.
Friend from my high school gifted me this beautiful Kanjivaram saree few years ago. I wore it for “meet the family event” just right for the evening. 

 My handsome plus one for the wedding. Mr. Husband decided to stay home and enjoy the peace and quiet.

 I always loved Payal (anklet), wore few times after I got married and dear husband got scratched. Anklet and glass bangles couldn't make it back after that in my everyday life. While packing for this trip I packed many of them and wore a new one with sarees.  
The Author - wish I had more time to chat, cannot wait for the next book

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Is there a celebration for silver Jubilee of friendship ??

My trip to California is nostalgic in so many ways, meeting people who are part of my life over decades.

A kid whose mom is one of my best friends since his kindergarten, getting married, Meeting another one who was one of my best friends since high school, Meeting mom and brother of another bestie from highschool and another friend from our Singapore days. Thats what this trip is - a connection from past to our next generation.

My first born decided to accompany me for the wedding. We decided not to pack our trips with too many things and see what comes out of it.

The first wave of emotions struck me when I saw Ajey meeting our friend at the airport. “A” came into our life at a very difficult time. When Ajey was 4 days old, Ashish and I lost one of our best friend. The joy of parenthood was dampened. Ajey was 2 months old and I traveled back to Singapore to build our life as new parents. When I landed in Singapore, a met a new addition in the team Ashish was working with, A namesake of our deceased friend, who instantly took over the responsibility of comforting and soothing our broken heart. A (1)  would have been the most favorite uncle of Ajey and this “A” did slide into that role seamlessly. During our stay in Singapore he was always there in our lives. We left Singapore and came to USA and he moved back to India to start his life with the woman he loved. I was there for their wedding and that union brought another one into our lives. Quiet and observant she was and very quick she understood our friendship and welcomed us with love and care in “their” life. A was our friend but she took over the “taking care of friendship” part. 

Yesterday When I saw Ajey with A at the airport, I couldn’t stop thinking how marvelous it is to have these friendships in our life. I really need to find those pic where A was holding baby Ajey.

It was A’s wife who made a point that I must see a sunset on the water, knowing how much I love sunrises and sunset. I was skeptical going that far but I am so fortunate to have her in my life, quietly she made sure I get what I enjoy. A sumptuous meal with my fav maharashtrian delicacies, a drive to meet Aai, a sunset on the water, a drive along the ocean and not to forget a beautiful saree. 

It was our 27th anniversary yesterday and I actually was celebrating friendship, love and care with the people who really are part of this journey. 

Sun and Son @ Big Basin Redwood State Park- Waddell Beach 

The Day began like this - June 15th, 2022 - Boston Airport 
With A, who was with Ajey when he was turning onto her stomach, sitting, crawling, walking and running 
The better half, she really is a quiet "doer"  
With Aai, She saw me grow - a girl into a woman - she has been feeding me for almost 40 yrs now its my son's turn 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Life - Good Bad and Ugly - embrace it or deject it?

Past couple of days have tried my patience to the core. I was invited to speak in a Vietnamese group about Building our village, cultural biases and finding courage to be authentic in a foreign land. There was an amazing interpreter who kept up with my words/emotions and nuisances.

I was happy to be there but was heartbreaking to see how difficult it is for families who don’t understand English much. I understand the plight of immigrants familes but not to this extent. When you don’t understand English, you are not only deprived of resources but you don’t understand how the system works.

Another day brought another challenge - how do you balance your social responsibilities, obligation, expectation from the society and religion and keep your family intact. How do you manage when something challenges all your core believes and values. Seeing someone in that dilemma shook me too. I so wish my hugs and words could comfort that friend.

Two of my sisters lost one of their very close and long time friend. The kind of family we are, he became part of my life too. Our mutual love for ghazals, poetry and above all Jagjit Singh brought us together. His untimely death is a reminder of fragility of life. Seeing my sister’s agony over their loss, I haven't yet process my own emotions.

My dentist lost his 49 yrs old wife to breast cancer, last Monday. I have been with the practice for over 2 decades and known everyone. The staff loved her, my heart aches for young kids.

What do you do when you face life’s challenges? Whom do you turn to? What is your support system? What comforts you when nothing makes sense?

Among all this my first born turned 25, A quarter century of motherhood. That deserves another post. But he sure was my guiding star in this dark time.

A beautiful mul cotton, a gift from a friend just to celebrate friendship, respect and love. I will hold on to that feeling for today.

I wish you have those people in your life who make you feel loved and respected. 

We all need to have clarity and peace 
A happy baby in my arms- reminder how things fall into place
When nothing works clean the bathrooms  
Above everything remember - this is what matters most - a happy kid