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Travelling in India: Friends, Food, and New Beginnings

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“If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. you shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.” –F. Burton Howard

Travelling always brings new perspectives, new friends, new thoughts, and new life into me. I think that I grow and learn more every time I go some place I’ve never been, or even revisiting places that I love the most. There is always a new adventure and a new story. On this adventure to India, my family and I were going for the grandest of occasions – a wedding!

One of my dear friends from graduate school invited me to his wedding, clear across the world. Of course I couldn’t say no; Indian weddings are so grandiose and beautiful, steeped in cultural ritual, with great food, awesome music, and infectious laughter. It was going to be an event and I had to see it.

As always traveling to India is not for the faint of heart. It’s a long trip even with a nicely timed layover to get refreshed and eat something before another long flight. My family and I made it to Mumbai on April 1st, a day before the wedding to give our bodies time to recuperate from the trip and acclimate to the weather and the time. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency closest to the Mumbai airport. It was super nice, very convenient, and the breakfast bar was great, I’d highly recommend it if anyone needs a place to stay, for just a rest. It’s farther from all of them historical things to see, but it’s literally 1km from the airport, which is part of the convenience (Hyatt Regency Mumbai).

Later that day our driver picked us up and took us to Pune, India. Pune is further south than Mumbai, it’s about a 2 – 2.5 hour drive. It’s not as humid thank goodness) as Mumbai, but it is very very hot. For the majority of our stay it was always hovering around 100 degrees Farenheit. The hotel we stayed at here was the JW Marriott Pune (JW Marriott Pune). I have to say without a doubt it’s one of the best hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in. I loved this place and my family did too. Everyone was extremely helpful – a few of the ladies helped us into our sarees for the wedding – and the food was delicious.

There is a club/restaurant at the top of the hotel called Paasha that has some of the best Dal Mahkni I’ve ever had. If you come to Pune, you have to go to the restaurant at least once. The dal on the menu is called Dal Paasha. The other food items that were good here were the chicken scewers, tandori seabass, and the salmon tikka. We also had lamb, but I didn’t taste it, everyone said it was delicous.

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Enough about the hotels, moving onto the wedding – it was fantastic! My friend’s family and his now wife’s family were absolutely wonderful. We were invited to several of the events for the wedding besides the wedding ceremony and the reception. We went to an event the day before the wedding, which was the meeting of both of the familes, extended relatives included, before the main event. It was really nice to see and hear all the rituals behind what was going on. We were severely underdressed, but at least we were able to get our henna done prior to the event to start getting ready for the wedding which was the very next morning.

The very next morning we woke up about 5AM to start getting ready to head to the wedding. Ameya (my friend) and his family invited us to joing them for breakfast before the wedding ceremony and that was at 7AM. Why did we need 2 hours to get ready? We have 6 women getting ready in two hotel rooms and 4 of us had sarees…needless to say it was quite the adventure. The wedding was in a hall that was set up for events like this and it was beautiful. It overlooked the city of Pune and it was quite nice to be there in the morning because it was a lot cooler then it would be in the afternoon. The wedding took up the rest of the morning and early afternoon, but the whole things was just beautiful.

Both families’ were so open and welcoming and the definitely made sure we were comfortable, knew what was going on, and had plenty of food to eat!

I was so happy to make it to Ameya’s big day. It was lovely to see him so happy and to finally meet Purnima – his bride – for the first time.

It was an extremely hectic day for them, but we were able to get a group shot towards the end of the morning, after they were officially married and before they could finally take a break and eat!

 

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(From Left) My Mom, my friends Katie, Amber, Purnima, Ameya, Me, Torryn and Taylor

Of course the day wasn’t over yet, because the reception was the very same night. That was a lot more chill than the wedding. There were a lot of people at the reception as well as the wedding (700 at the wedding verus 2000 at the reception), but we had a great time, and as always, the food was amazing.

The day after the wedding (April 3rd), the whole group went and explored Pune. We visited the Ganesha Temple, and the main market in town. We visited the fort that was in pune and we also went to Aga Khan Palace, which is where Gandhi, his wife, and confidant lived in the latter stages of his life. It was an amazing place with a lot of history, and the grounds were gorgeous. We also went to this amazing restuarant called Vaishali, which makes many different types of dosas and other great dishes. I had the onion and tomator uttapam and it was delicousl – I’d highly recommend stopping in here for a bite, but be forewarned – it’s a popular place, so there is a line. It’s worth the wait though. We also visited a very nice park at the end of the day which had many meandering paths.

On April 4th, our last morning in Pune, Ameya invited us over to his house and we were able to sit and chat with him, Purnima, and his family. It was great getting to catch up and just relax after the hectic couple of days (for my family), and a long couple of months for them! A few more friends from XLRI came to see Ameya as well so we all went out to lunch together before my family and I headed back to Mumbai.

Back in Mumbai, we stayed at the Taj Palace Hotel, which as always was great. We had great views of the Gateway of India and the hotel rooms were nice and comfortable. Over the next day and a half we galavanted around the town via taxi’s and recommendations from a couple of my friends that live in Mumbai. We visited the Gateway of India, blitzed through the main markets in Mumbai, shopping for scarves, sarees, and more. Our group mosied over to a bakery opened by a French couple who live in Mumbai, it’s an amazing little place. The place is called Suzette (Suzette Website).The one we went to is in Nariman Point and there is another further north in Mumbai. I’d highly recommend stopping here. It’s a nice little place to get out of the traffic that is Mumbai!

As always it was a whirlwind of a trip but I could not stay at the Taj Palace Hotel and not get sushi, so on our last night we had a very nice (and expensive) dinner at the sushi joint in the hotel itself.

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And that brings my latest trip to India to a close. It was a blast from beginning to end and I look forward to my next trip back! Until next time folks.

 

Next Up…NYC and Playa del Carmen, Mexico!

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I'm not one to talk about myself too much, however I'm a certified nerd and geek. While I used to work at a large company in the healthcare industry, I am now a Global MBA student at Case Western Reserve University. I'm also an avid traveller, reader, and a writer. Last but certainly not least, I look forward to all the challenges that come my way (most of the time anyway).

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