Monthly Archives: April 2013

Wedding in the Land of Rivers

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There is always a reason to feel elated with any celebrations in a family. With so many ups and downs till the D-day is a bit of an experience I would like to share. It was indeed a journey to knowing so many little things that makes up for the big event. It is also a reason to rejoice. You need the planning thing done & planning a wedding away in another country presents some unique challenges.

Well, its my brother’s  wedding! My sister and brother in law, who lives some thousands of miles away in another country, traveled all the way just to arrange everything for the wonderful event. The day was fixed with few formalities and within 2  sweltering weeks, the budget setting, venue & purchases. etc was done.

The balancing act between work and organizing things needed a lot of scheduling. Inviting guests was the major and final task. Undoubtedly, this was perhaps the most challenging of all as we had to visit the invitees’ family individually.

I share this as I thought that this was something that made me more me in the process of handling situations and knowing more people. Besides, it was the calling, as my father was bed-ridden for nearly 3 months till few days of the D-day! So he could not participate in the whole process.

Oh! Wow! Now that we are traveling to another country was something which made me a bit both excited & nervous. Well, it is Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh where the wedding will take place. Definitely the bride is from this very country. Arranging for the VISA  was one foremost task before the travel.

Our journey was two days ahead of the wedding. We, me and my hubby took the Greenline bus service to Dhaka from kolkata, India. The roads were just excellent and the views on both sides saw the yellow blooms of mustard and marigold plantations. The village life was prominently visible as we moved further. We crossed the Padma River on a huge barge. This was another very interesting experience!

onwaytodhakaIt was the Benapol – Petrapol immigration checks that surprised me. If you wish your luggage to be unchecked, you definitely need to scoff out some extra bucks to the officers, well, on the Bangladesh border.

After about 12 and a half hours journey we reached Dhaka. It was 6.45 p.m. We had to wait for nearly 2 hours at the bus depot for the bride’s family to take us to their house. Now, the horrendous journey started with a snarling traffic jam, very unusual, unlike Kolkata.

We reached our destination around 10.00 p.m. with showers of flower petals!! I was just taken aback by the arrangements made for the haldi ceremony for the bride. The bride looked astoundingly beautiful in a yellow sari. A blend of Muslim-Hindu rituals was prominently visible. After the rituals, it was followed by the beats of the latest hindi film song, “chor charke apne saleem ki gali ,“ with friends and relatives dancing to the tune. It was full masti, fun and frolic! No, no not us. The exhausted bones couldn’t take it any more. After a quick dinner we were taken to a hotel nearby where we were to lodge for the next 2 days.

Both my hubby and I on reaching the hotel, our expectation zeroed down.  It was a mosquito infested room; the telephone was dead and no attendant for the night. Rooms looked very shabby. Oh! What a nightmare!

sleepy-eyes

During my bus journey I was dozing to sleep and jolting awake throughout. I badly needed sleep. It was 1.30 a.m. and I was still wide awake. With the hope, I turned on the television if this can lullaby me. Hubby was rhino skinned (to mosquito bites)..he was snoring to glory and yelled back to lower the volume.Now, what? The volume button doesn’t work. I’m always an over packer and this experience made me think twice to definitely carry a mosquito repellent for all my travel. You really don’t know what surprise awaits you at the destination.

I desperately wanted the dawn to break. Well, the night passed by with no sleep. Woke up around 7.30 a.m. the next day and took a quick shower. It was a bandh day here at Dhaka. That day the groom (my brother) with my sis and brother -in -law (BIL) were flying. Unfortunately, on reaching, they were stranded for 4 hours at the airport before they joined us.

Another strikingly annoying situation was every one of us was put in different floors of the hotel. Communication was so poor, that we needed to run to each room to co-ordinate.

The previous evening my BIL’s aunt expired. He was busy till the wee hours on the day of travel. Their flight was around 7.00 a.m. He couldn’t sleep a wink and to top it they haven’t yet come over the jet lag thing. So, in fact every one desperately needed sleep except my hubby.

It was 3.00 p.m. and as we all tried to sleep, meanwhile, my hubby made rounds to the nearby markets. He didn’t smoke since he came here (though not a regular smoker) was pretty tempted by the variety of foreign branded cigarettes sold in one of the stalls. In Kolkata you need not buy the whole pack. A cigarette lighter in a sling always hangs by the shop, so u need not even buy a match box either. Here in Dhaka no loose ones, so he bought a pack. Just after his first puff, he saw a rickshaw puller puffing the same brand :0!

 I was just trying to get some more sleep when some of our cousins were at our hotel to visit us. This was perhaps our first meet and we were quite excited. They took us around the city and the lighting in and around looked brilliant! I bravely let my spirits high despite being exhausted. One very interesting observation was, we haven’t seen even a single woman on the streets. Every second vehicle is a BMW and what a contrast with endless rickshaws. Heard Dhaka has one of Asia’s largest number of these cycles 🙂

The next day was crucial. Since previous night and the next morning we decorated all the gifts boxes for the bride’s family. In a Bengali wedding fish is supposed to be a very auspicious element. Buying one from an unknown country was pretty tuff but definitely the main mode of communication was Bengali, so it was a hassle free shopping. Decorating a fish is another interesting part, which goes along with the other gifts.

The wedding day started off by visiting the bride’s house with all the gifts early morning. The decorated fish was the major attraction. This is the first part of the ceremony.

We spent the wedding afternoon at one of our cousin’s house. The sumptuous lunch and the adda was just incredible. It was a huge house with spacious rooms. They made us feel so much at home. We decked up for the wedding event from here and was ready by 5.00 p.m. By 5.30 – 6.00 p.m. we were suppose to reach the wedding hall.  A very distressing thing of Dhaka is the traffic jam. All vehicles reached so late that we were already totally drained out. I definitely didn’t want to look tired on the wedding day. My fatigued eyes looked puffy. We reached at around 9.30 p.m. At the destination, we were taken back by the road side onlookers.Hindu wedding in a Muslim dominated country is some what a great attraction!!

 Gate dhora is another interesting part before entering the venue. The bride’s friends and cousins make demands in currency which the groom has to negotiate otherwise no wedding would take place. It is just part of the fun in a Bengali wedding and many Indian weddings.

Finally when we were inside the hall, we were greeted by our other relatives whom we met for the first time. The hall was very beautiful and well decorated. We were taken aback by the bride yet again. She looked gorgeous! Now, let me tell you one very interesting part of the Bangladesh Parlors. They can make anyone look exceptionally beautiful by their skills. Even the ugly duckling will look like a queen! This is one trade I would certainly appreciate. But, it does come with a cost unlike that in Kolkata. I was just awe -struck by most of the women guests. I had no energy to capture them for my camera. Just Google search “Bangladeshi bride”, you will definitely fall flat. The make-up business is doing real business.

By 11.00 p.m. I was already drooling and the ceremony was just on the final stage. Dinner table was very tastefully decorated for the guests and food looked really good – Badshashi layout!  The worst part is when over exhaustion kills your appetite and the display of all yummy dishes becomes a sore to the eye. If only there was a retake.

food

By 12.30 p.m. we were at one of our cousins’ place at the Army cantonment. We spent the night with comfort but the mosquitoes were very cunning here as well. Well, I told myself, next time no risk. I’ll surely be geared up for such menace.

The next morning after a simple but superb breakfast, we headed to the bride’s place for the final bidai (farewell ceremony) for the bride. This is one situation I really hate to see as parents and relatives of the bride weep as she sets out to another family.

Our flight took off at 4.30 p.m. The fifteen minutes flight from Dhaka to Kolkata was just unbelievable but the immigrations and the luggage checks took away nearly all of the time. We finally reached home at 7.30 p.m. In spite of the few hitches, we had a great stay. The warmth and love showered on us was indeed memorable.

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