There is this saying in India in Hindi, which goes like this
Shaadi ka laddoo, jo khaaye pachhtaaye aur jo naa khaaye wo bhi pachhtaye 😉
Which basically translates to something that means – The quandary of marriage – the married ones long to be single while the singles long to be married 😂
So, this is an account of my crazy, amusing and half the times stressful holiday to my hometown in Odisha, last week.
Me – New Mom, old daughter, old wife
My daughter – The Star of the trip and the only toddler and grandchild in both sides of the family and the extended family
The North Indian husband – Who mainly suffered from major cases of stomach upsets and headaches brought on by familia
My mom – Superwoman
My dad – The alcoholic in denial, who is totally living his life
And the rest of the extended family including the harassed groom and the new age bride 👰
Day 1 – We sailed through waking up, getting ready and getting through the myriad airport checks and queues. The toddler was very cooperative and entertained the others in the queue by singing her favorite poems. Just as I was starting to relax, she asked me to sing and dance with her. No way! I said. I also managed to check out the amazingly well stocked tiny book outlet at the Pune airport and buy two books, with the toddler tugging incessantly at my top. Way to go, me!
We change two flights, but have a relatively relaxed journey to Bhubaneswar and I also manage to find time to read the book I was carrying – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban! We reach home at 6 pm and I’m treated to lots of hugs from my mom and dad, followed one of my favourite Indian snacks called ‘Chaat’ – you have to eat it, I can’t explain it. And then mom’s amazing prawn fries for dinner.
Day 2 – My superwoman mom has woken up at the crack of dawn and has showered, made a lavish breakfast and done most of the other chores by the time we wake up. Breakfast is followed by a list of errands. A trip to the bank, and a shopping expedition to buy glittery Indian wedding wear- which was the lowest point of the day. However, I survived and bought a shiny light green kurta. Yay!
There was mutton and fish for lunch along with a plethora of vegetables and rice. Yep, there is going to be lots of food in this post! Lol
Day 3 was inconsequential other than the visit to the doctor, packing for the wedding destination and eating yummy chicken curry for lunch😊😊
Day 4 – The extremely harrowing road trip begins. Dad sits in the front and decides he is feeling too cold so we keep fighting for the car air con to be turned on or off. He also decides that the toddler is making enough noise, so there will be no music on the drive. We drove in utter silence for the 2 hours in between when the toddler napped. Woe was us. The road was terrible and full of potholes, and it took us 8 hours to reach our destination , Rourkela!! By the time we reached, we were so tired, that we only had energy to meet dad’s extended family and their kids and straightaway eat some dinner and say goodnight for the night.
Day 5 – The day of the wedding. Everyone is busy and everyone is fighting over something or the other. Everyone is also bitching about the bride and her family🙄 And all the guests have one problem or the other with some arrangement done for the wedding and for the guests. That’s what happens when too many people are put under a single roof..lol! We manage to get ready and reach the place where a function called Haldi ceremony is taking place. All the married women take turns to put yellow Haldi (turmeric) paste on the groom. The groom already has fever by now, poor chap. My daughter also puts colour on her uncle and enjoys it immensely. She later explains to everyone that “wedding party is when we put jellow coyor on Nicky mamu” 🤣 #toddlerfacts
I meet lots of other relatives and get lots of blessings. And then we head back to the hotel for lunch and to take a nap before the Big Bang evening ceremony. My daughter sleeps blissfully and my hassled husband uses this time to catch up on some movies on Amazon Prime, while I manage to finish Harry Potter and rescue Sirius Black!!! This was absolutely my highlight of the trip! 😊
So, I have to mention here that like the greedy pig that I am, I had hogged on a lot of lunch and ate fried fish. Then I had tea and samosa and vegetable cutlet for the 6 pm snack and by the time we were ready to leave for the ‘Baraat’ procession, I had the looseys 🙄💩
But, we braved it on and had lots of fun dancing at the ‘Baraat’ procession. So, if you haven’t attending an Indian wedding, this is the part right before the wedding ceremony, when the groom gets to sit in a chariot or a car or a horse (yes, a real Horse!) and everyone from his family and all his friends get drunk and dance like maniacs on the road to the beats of a live DJ, dolling out the latest Bollywood tracks, with no concern about civic duty such as noise pollution or creating a traffic jam. And this is happily tolerated and accepted by everyone in the society. It is the norm! I’m not sure if I should be proud about this fact though. I kind of have mixed feelings about it really. But my daughter, dressed as a butterfly had the most fun and was literally the cynosure of all eyes! Bless her 🤗
Now, you see, no one can actually dance for 3 hours at a stretch. Unless you are high on weed. You definitely can’t dance that long wearing high heels, carrying a toddler because she has spent all her energy and fighting the constant urge to visit the loo. Yes you read right – the procession took 3 hours to cover 700m! By the time we reached the venue where the wedding rituals were to be carried out, we were all tired and ‘hangry’ and all the food was over! Or nearly over. People were angry now. And so was my toddler. She chose this moment to lie down on the road and shriek her lungs away. I don’t blame her, if I was her age, I’d have done the same probably, because I was tired, thirsty, hungry and pissed off at my husband for yelling at my mom and pissed off at my mom for being the sacrificial lamb and volunteering to do all the chores at the cost of her own health! 😤
So, at 11 pm in the night, the husband, the daughter and I returned to the hotel. We fed our daughter but I felt so guilty about not being able to say bye to everyone that I went back again, only to find that my dad had drank too much, as always, and had fallen down and soiled his pants. My mom, instead of enjoying the wedding, had to spend time caring for him and literally cleaning his shit. I love my dad so much but I hate alcoholism and the hold alcohol has on him. I hate the fact that I’m so helpless about this and that my beautiful, caring, kindhearted mom is the one who has to suffer this because she has old school values and will not leave her husband even if he is an alcoholic😔 That’s how it is living with an alcoholic, you love. You manage to make the most of the fun and the happy moments because you never know when the patient will decide to bring out his/her worst or needy moment. I returned to the hotel finally at 2 am in the morning and passed out on the glorious bed!
Day 6 – There were still five or six more ceremonies that were to take place over the next 2-3 days, but we had to leave because we had a long journey ahead and by now everyone was ill. We also had a flight back to Pune two days later and really wanted to rest at home and eat some home cooked meals. The return journey was equally tiring and horrendous but we made it in 7 hours since we didn’t stop for lunch anywhere. That might, we got treated with delicious prawn curry and broccoli for dinner at my aunt’s place, who just lives upstairs. I love them so much!
Day 7 – My superwoman mom finally succumbed to her overdoing things and fell ill with high fever. But even with that, she didn’t want to rest and wanted to cook something yummy for me and spend time with me and her granddaughter! How is it that her generation are so kind and selfless and loving? How is it that our generation has become so involved in self love? 🤷♀️
Day 8 – Last day before our return to Pune and I was starting to feel blue already. Mom was slightly better, my looseys were cured the minute I had reached home, the husband was on medicines and diet control, while the alcoholic dad was completely normal and snapping at everyone for talking so much! Lol.. I hogged on dosa and idlis for breakfast, chicken for lunch and paneer for dinner. I also managed to find time in the afternoon to visit one local bookstore and well, and how can a visit to a bookstore end without purchasing books? However, I was really disappointed to find the condition the books were in, in that store. Dusty and even tattered! I actually asked the teller if this was a second hand bookstore but he said, no, these are just orphan books that have been on the shelves since the opening of the bookstore in 2011, have no buyers, no takers and can’t be returned to the warehouse! My heart was aching to see such waste! If only I could buy all of those books and donate them!
That night, my other favourite people from Mom’s extended family came to meet us and spend time with my daughter. My aunts, my uncles and my grandmother – the sweetest soul I’ve known! It just felt so amazing to see all of them show the same kind of love and kindness and attention to my daughter, that they had done for me and still continue to do for me even now. These people redefine the meaning of love and kindness. And every time I am around them, my heart just wells up with joy and with previous memories from childhood summer vacations!
And just like that, my bittersweet and short vacation back home ended and we were back in Pune, with a huge case of missing the family that I left behind in Odisha😊