This morning Garry and Aarti popped over to the Imperia Hotel and we shared our dismay of still not being able to take a warm, and now much needed shower. The manager of the hotel the previous night told us “this hot water in Punjab!” In fact, it was not nearly lukewarm! Steve argued that this was not case and it needed to be fixed tonight. He finally agreed.
Garry called the owner of the newly opened who promised it would be rectified in half an hour. On the way out, we followed Garry to see the manager of the restaurant and communicating in local Punjabi was telling them how it should be – a buffet breakfast whatever they want. The message was received loud and clear (we hope) and if no buffet was available, we get to choose what we want off the menu (not given two measly choices) for breakfast. Unfortunately this seems to occur everywhere in India – over promising and under delivering.
Aarti and Garry had also brought over some Indian clothes – warmer and more traditional clothing for us girls to wear if we needed them and to attend upcoming ceremonies. They’re so very good to us and we are grateful for their help. We have clearly seen just by being in Jalandhar for a day that tourists don’t come here for no reason because there’s just nothing in the way of a tourist industry here. But if there’s a family wedding to attend (or a Golden Temple in Amritsar to experience) and only if you know someone on the ground is it wise to stay in Jalandhar. Otherwise it’s a very hard travel experience which is not too enjoyable. We have already felt quite cooped up in our hotel room, waiting for Garry to drop by and pick us up in the car, or take us out somewhere. There are rickshaws out on the street to hail, but no one speaks any English, and we have no idea where we’re heading here in Jalandhar – there are no maps, no English directions! Makes it difficult to move about, especially as a large group and one with often impatient kids.
Nothing gets going here until lunch time. Morning really is 1pm and lunch is 4-5pm! That makes dinner 10pm onwards! Today, sometime, we are going to the market area to select our outfits to hire for the wedding on the 15th. They are rental gowns and skirts completely covered in sequins and jewels. Unfortunately, poor Dacey has come down with a stomach bug this morning, she vomited down the street while we went for a walk to get out of the hotel, and also has diarrhoea. So Steve stayed back at the hotel with Dacey while the rest of us went out with Garry and co to get these outfits organised. A car and two bikes – Ash and Billie got on the back of the motorbikes with Ankit (Aarti’s youngest brother) and his friend, while Charlie and I went in the car with Aarti and Garry.
We all went to the hairdressers first for trim and colour. My grey hairs were brilliant, sprouting everywhere if I looked closely, so with Aarti’s hairdresser recommendation I thought let’s get a colour! Charlie wanted highlights, Ash and Billie a cut and tidy up. I was there like forever – the base colour and then highlights took hours upon hours. My hair colour came out more pinky red than I’d expected, but I got a trim and a fringe and I’m feeling funky! Ash of course was devastated at her hair trim – it looked too tidy and short. Billie got the sides layered around her face and it really suits her. I was the longest in the chair, so the others walked off to get some food with Aarti. They went to the local KFC and grabbed some popcorn chicken and rice. They came back and I was still seated in the chair! Charlie was finished, so she wandered down the street to Nik’s Bakery (originally from India, but he travelled to Australia to learn the art of baking) and purchased a very late lunch of two chocolate croissants. Mine was delightfully yum!
Then we were off to the market area to select and hire our gowns for the wedding. We had to park the car away from the congested market area. We walked into the market through the narrow alleyways full of shops showcasing bangles, jewellery, cloth, saris, gowns, suits and shoes. It was wedding city and it glittered. It was hard to walk through the market and enjoy it with the cars and bikes and bicycles and pedestrians trying to move through a very narrow one-way lane. Horns beeping loudly; single file was the drill. We finally got to the rental store – upstairs and bulging with gowns and skirts. Many tried on samples strewn all over the floor. We waited and watched one Indian bride stand on a small round podium in the middle of the room facing the mirrored wall, while her mother and family members watched on from a seat near the back of the room pointing and discussing the style of the richly decorated red wedding skirts being wrapped around her thick waist. In Indian weddings, the bride wears red, and the fabric is thick that flows to the floor. It’s spectacular to sit and watch it all happen. Glad it’s not me up there though, it looks like a most tedious time with mum, aunt, brother all watching and commenting from the sidelines.
So it was our turn to try dresses. Billie went first and a dress, or what the Indians call a gown, was pulled over her head. A pinky peach colour with gold jewels on the bodice. It took more time to get it off her! She didn’t like the first, but loved the second gown. One down! Charlie went next up onto the round podium, and she preferred a longhi (skirt) over the gown, so did Ash. So after colours were finally sorted and agreed on, they were done too! I saw a dress and just went “yep that’s mine!” It’s encrusted with shining diamante’s and slides straight down to the floor. We were all done! Garry and Aarti and Aarti’s sister in law and brother in law all came along for the gown hiring expedition. The men at the gown hiring shop, after selecting a gown/skirt, measure your arm, bust, waist and the deal is done, money exchanged! Garry paid, as we were having trouble finding a cashed up atm in Jalandhar.
And although it took some time to pick the colours, we said we wanted a blue skirt and they pulled a pink one out of its bag. Can she try a green gown on, and then a blue would be pulled over the head. There were colourful dresses spread out and in piles all over the shop floor. We walked over them to the door and escaped from the place. It wasn’t over just yet. Next was shoe selection, and since it was getting late we had to hurry before they closed. We walked to a friend of a friend’s shoe shop that showcased hundreds of glittery shoes on glass ledges on each wall! Another overwhelming sparkly moment. I selected mine fairly quickly – nothing I would ever wear in Australia, but for an Indian Punjabi wedding it felt likea perfect match with the gown.
The girls – especially Charlie and Ash– had a field day in the shoe shop. Ash
purchased bright red and very high heels to match her red skirt, but we couldn’t get a blue
pair to match Charlie’s blue skirt in size 40 or 41. The Indians are quite fussy with colour matching. Billie selected some wedges, after I told her she would need to stand and dance in the shoes all night at the wedding function. Again we were done, except for Charlie. We would be returning the next day with Dacey and Steve anyway, so Charlie would get her shoes then.
Ash and Billie jumped back onto the bikes again headed for luxurious hotel – they were having an awesome time with Ankit and his friend on the back of their bikes. They had stopped off for ice-cream and Golgappas – a traditional northern Indian snack made out of a hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavoured water, tamarind chutney, chilli. Garry and Aarti had taken Charlie and myself to the central food stand within the market too, and we tried a tikki which was delicious – tikki aloo a popular street food snack/appetizer made from potato. It’s like a potato patty fried and topped with coleslaw and served with yogurt and chutney sauce. Delightfully tasty. But for the Golgappa however, this was not of my liking. I did try one, but it reminded me of dirty dish water, or was that because watching the old man dip his hand and half his arm into the bucket of liquid to fill the hollow cup was too much to witness? Anyway, Charlie and I watched Garry and Aarti consume six golgappas each – one after the other. They loved them!
We discovered Ash and Billie were given their own chance of Golgappa trying – I think nearly threw up in a laneway. It’s all caught on video, so I’m sure it will be shared on my blog at some stage.
We were dropped back at the hotel. I was exhausted. The bike girls, we were told, had made a stop off at Aarti’s family home to meet the rest of the family and they would be dropped off soon. Steve was trying to work out where the heck we had gotten to for most of the afternoon and early evening. Of course with no phone, it’s hard to communicate.
Dacey was feeling better, but she would spend the night in our room again to be on the safe side. It was then that our door bell sounded. We opened it up to two American men from California standing at the door and they asked Steve, “What the hell are you doing here?” They were born in the Punjab and had returned for a whirlwind 5-day family wedding. They were nice enough but so very loud! Mum was a tiny little Indian woman, but the son was huge. They invited Steve over for a drink of scotch if he wanted. We chatted at the door for a while, all of us bunched up at the doorway having a lovely hotel chat with guests on the same floor.
I was way too tired to even contemplate having a drink with loud Californian men, but Steve went over for a drink and a chat while I hopped into bed with Dace and dozed off to sleep. I vaguely remember hearing Steve return at 1:30am and crash on the spare mattress on the floor.
It was a big shopping day. I kept telling Steve how lucky he was to not have attended the shopping day! It was he and Dacey’s turn tomorrow to go and hire some formal attire for the wedding. How that looked was anyone’s guess. We are now fully in the hands of the Punjabi wedding crew and we are now going with the flow.