Yup, we're still here in India. Contrary to popular belief (or at least contrary to what I've been implying through various emails and Facebook postings), we're not doing all that bad over here in good old Baroda. We had a minor morale dip earlier this week when Matt heard they were going to replace him with a guy from Delhi, and then realized not only was IOCL not going to accept the new guy, they were going to fight to keep Matt here... forever. Or so it seems. I know that isn't really news because we knew we were staying, but it's hard to keep getting our hopes up that we might leave, only to have them dashed at the last minute. Ahh, but life goes on.
While Matt's been struggling with UOP Delhi and IOCL, I've been doing a lot of expat women stuff - ie shopping, eating, chatting, etc - as well as going to yoga five days a week. It's been pretty fun, and I'm more than grateful for all the diversions.
My yoga friend Dhwani is getting married tonight, and guess who gets to go? Why, me, of course! And Matt. This will be our first foray into Indian wedding culture, and it should be really interesting and fun. I'm thinking if all goes well, I might just have to start wedding crashing. Probably I'd have to buy a saree first. Tonight I'm just borrowing. Tuesday Dhwani invited me over to get mehndi (henna tattoos) on my hands in preparation for the wedding. I've seen people doing these here on the street, but I haven't wanted to just get it done for the sake of it; now that I finally had an excuse, I was all over it!
Dhwani getting her mehndi done.
Because Dhwani is the bride, she had to get the most mehndi, and the most intricate designs. She had it all up her forearms - front and back- and on her feet. Just the application took more than 4 hours! I couldn't believe she could sit still that long, but she's a trooper. Then she had to wait a couple more hours for it to dry (for the color to set into the skin) before removing the dried out henna pieces.
Dhwani told them she wanted peacocks and paisley, and this is what they came up with. Not too shabby.
My application took about 20 minutes, and I could barely sit still through that. Then I had to wait a couple hours before removing it. One of the servants took pity on me and started feeding me snacks and sips of water while I waited. I wasn't even that pampered on my own wedding day!
I don't know that there's ever been someone as excited to get mehndi as I was. I almost peed. In my pants.
I had to scrub really hard to get the hardened henna crust off. My new maid friend came and rubbed cooking oil on my hands to soften the stuff up. Kind of gross, but it worked. Plus, then I smelled like hushpuppies the rest of the night, which is always a good thing.
Finished product! They say the darker the mehndi, the more your husband loves you. I think he loves me on the inside...
...But not so much on the outside. They told me the color is always darker on the inside because the warmth from your palms heats it up and lets the color sink in deeper.
Anyway, after the mehndi excitement wore off (yeah right... like it would ever wear off!), I went to a city called Surat, a couple hours from here, with some expat ladies. Srila was looking for inexpensive but nice sarees to donate to an all-girls orphanage in Baroda for them to use as uniforms. Surat is the single largest producer of textiles in India... and that's saying a lot considering India is one of the largest producers in the world.
A guy putting sequins on a saree.
We went to one of many gigantic textile markets in Surat, with each stall selling pretty much the same things as the previous stalls.
Tons of these guys were hauling loads of fabric on their heads and shoulders.
Annie (from France), Dori (from Canada), and Srila (from Michigan)
Surat seemed to be pretty much same same as Baroda and Ahmedebad, only bigger than both. We didn't do anything besides saree shopping, but it was nice to see something (a little) different.
So that's that. I am roaring and ready to go to this wedding, and so is Matt - he even got a suit made here just for this event. Friday we're heading out to Mumbai for a long weekend away. Gotta get new alcohol permits. Should be legendary.