You’re going to have to bear with me…the wedding proper is still a post away !
Where were we? At Hotel Elite waiting for hot water…which arrives half an hour later. Showered, refreshed and unpacked…we head out to explore the shops around. The Hotel is on a main street, within walking distance from the train station, from the Church where the nuptials will be held and from a shopping mall called Celestium, which is where we end up…unsurprisingly 😛 I buy a few ‘Onam’ sarees for Mom, Granny and myself and one fabulous ‘Kanjeevaram’ to wear to my cousin’s wedding later in the year 🙂 We also get a tiny silk ‘mundu’ (the traditional dress worn by men in Kerala) for Ishaan! This is the first serious bit of shopping I’ve done in a long time and it gives me a welcome high 🙂
Then we head to a restaurant, strangely called ‘Phosphorus’, and settle down to get some dinner. And this is where I meet Vinod (the groom) for the first time in 18 years with his 3 brothers in law, who are busy trying to get his outfit sorted, with the wedding just a day away! Seeing Vinod after all these years, clean takes my breath away! I remember him as a lanky, scrawny boy, my best friend’s little brother, full of mischief, with an impish grin; someone we tolerated and often labored to avoid so we could talk in peace 😛 (Sorry Vinod! We were teenagers! You understand ;-))
Vinod today, is a tall, young man, no longer scrawny, indeed rather well-built and prosperous-looking ;-). He wears glasses that add to the gentleman demeanor and gravitas, just like his Dad. That’s the thing…he’s turned into a spitting image of his Dad, which I tell him, is a huge compliment 🙂 He still has the impish smile though, perhaps somewhat tempered at the moment, by the fact that this is his last day on the planet as a single man 😛 He’s understandably a little nervous, and I try and assure him that everything’s going to turn out fine. He’s working in the US now and complains about spending just 2 days in the last 2 years in Goa, a place he loves dearly…certainly more than I do!
They leave in a bit to get on with their tasks and I wait with bated breath for Beena to arrive. She does and it’s an emotional reunion, followed in the usual manner, by non-stop chatter, while the hubbies look on bemused 🙂 I tell her I shopped for sarees and she chides me for using my two hours in Thiruvalla so efficiently without her expert guidance 😉 We exchange notes about the kids and I’m over the moon to learn that Kevin has done exceedingly well in his O levels 🙂 That’s my boy! Too soon, they have to leave…a million things still to be done and as we say goodnight, I promise to help as much as I can in the morning.
The next morning after a breakfast of the most luscious Idlis on the planet, we walk to GJ Villa, the family’s ancestral home and again I’m in for a surprise! The whole place has been renovated…the driveway now extends to the house with a porch, where a white Mercedes awaits adornment. It’s the wedding car! Inside, all is new and shiny, smooth marble floors and ornamental wooden pillars. But the core of the house remains solidly unchanged…it’s Aunty’s exuberant welcome and bear-hug that envelops me as soon as I enter and Uncle’s quieter yet equally heart-felt handshake and smile! I meet the remaining members of the family and the children, including the youngest addition – cherubic baby Sara with her placid nature and darling smile, am shown the house, am duly fed (that’s Aunty!) and finally whisked away upstairs where Beena and I dig in our heels and iron their stunning, richly hued, ‘Kanjeevarams’, debating minuscule creases and ironing techniques! Later she blows balloons, while Kevin, Blessy and I, tie them up in bunches that will decorate the porch. All the while, there’s non-stop chatter and an easy flow of conversation. I manage a tête-à-tête with Kevin which as always stimulates and rejuvenates me 🙂 We discuss anything and everything, which is how it’s always been with him and me, (ever since he was a little boy), from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which he is reading and enjoying at the moment) to his plans for the future.
Late afternoon, I take a break and promise to return for dinner, when out-of-town guests and family members are expected to arrive. And so I spend another fabulous evening in the company of a family that has loved me since I was a school girl, laughing, drinking wine on the tap (a contribution from an uncle who’s come all the way from New Zealand!) and gorging on all manner of goodies, especially the Kerala ‘halwa’ a sweetmeat that both hubby and I find hard to resist.
We call it a day, rather early. Tomorrow’s the wedding and they have an early, 6 am start. Everyone needs to be dressed by 9 am, when the photographer will arrive to take pictures. The wedding ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11 am and we’re all hoping the rain will stay away for once! Hubby & I have decided to go straight to the venue, so we can catch an extra forty-winks 😛
As we leave, the fairy lights in the driveway twinkle gently, and speak to me of happier times still to come, when the new bride comes home and takes her place in this loving family, where I too make my second home 🙂
And tomorrow…tomorrow is the Wedding!!!