I woke up around 9:30 AM, to get ready to go downstairs and take care of the passport business. I felt surprisingly refreshed, but maybe after my train experience, sleep was all I needed. When I went downstairs, I didn’t see DN’s uncle anywhere, so I gave my passport to the man at the desk. I filled out the paperwork required, had a cup of coffee, and went back upstairs to unpack and get organized.
Later on in the day, DN was on his way out of town for official business, but he let me know I could still go meet his family while he was out of town. I was a bit nervous, as I relied on him for comfort and to be my translator, but ultimately I decided to go. ♥
Sometime in the early evening, DN’s uncle came to my door. “You’ve been invited to the home of DN. Will you move with me?” (To move with someone is to go with them somewhere.) I smiled and said okay, grabbed my purse, locked the door, and went downstairs to wait for him. I stepped outside to feel the fresh air. The streets were bustling. Uncle came up from behind me, and said: “We have to take the bike. Is that okay? Can you ride on a bike?” I suddenly felt nervous. Oh… Being on the back of a bike on Indian roads? Well, I just didn’t know if I was ready for that. But Uncle seemed eager to take me, and it seemed like the only choice we had. So I agreed. He started the motorcycle and I climbed aboard.
We started riding down the street. I may or may not have crushed his shoulder, while holding on. Haha 😀 But actually, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Not very many people wear helmets in this city, so that was kind of a scary thought, but it was probably the only time I would ever get to feel the wind in my hair like that. There are special handles on the back of the back, for passengers to hold on to, so you can bet I was holding on for dear life. Uncle was a great driver, though, and like I said, I’m not scared of Indian traffic. There is a system to driving here, just like anywhere else. The combination of feeling the wind in my hair and seeing all of the sights along the way, made that moment unforgettable.
We soon arrived at DN’s house. I dismounted the bike, and followed Uncle inside. DN’s mother was waiting just inside. I put my hands together and said “Namaste”. Uncle then showed me to DN’s room. I stepped inside and looked around. I could spot various landmarks, from our Skype conversations together. I looked around for a few minutes, when Uncle came back with DN’s bhabhi (sister in law). I said “Namaste” to her, as well. She looked absolutely lovely. She wore a beautiful warm pink saree, decorated in silver designs. She had her pallu (the loose end of the saree) draped over her head, as she was in the presence of elder men. She was truly stunning.
Next, DN’s brother came in with his daughter, Mani. I shook his hand and said, “Nice to meet you.” (My greeting changes, depending upon the person, their age and the circumstances.) Mani was very shy, and smiled, but stayed in the corner of the room to observe me. DN’s father came in. I put my hands together and greeted him with “Namaste”. He said “Namaste” back and seemed happy. He motioned towards the couch, saying, “Beti”. Beti literally means ‘daughter’ but can also mean ‘dear’ or something similar. I smiled and sat down. I smiled and waved again at Mani, who was still shying away. DN’s father picked her up and sat her beside me. Mani was wearing the cutest little fur coat, as it was a chilly night. I smiled at her. She stared at me and played with her hands. So cute.
DN’s mother returned with a small silver plate, and approached me. She dipped her finger in a dark pink powder and touched it to my forehead. I could hear Uncle in the background, saying, “Don’t worry, this is an Indian tradition.” I smiled. She then dipped her finger in rice, and again touched it to my forehead. Rice was falling off of my forehead haha, but the symbolism was astounding! I felt honored. She took the silver plate and left the room. I could feel myself blushing. Uncle said, “When a girl enters the home for the first time, this is the tradition.” He then described the same is true for a groom entering the home for the first time. I’m not sure where else this may apply. I’ll keep you posted.A good welcome, and a great way to be initiated into Indian culture. ♥
DN’s brother and uncle went to get a table for the chai (tea) and snacks that DN’s mom was bringing in. Me and DN’s bhabhi were sitting together, alone in his room. I couldn’t understand her, and she couldn’t understand me. We found a way to communicate though. She showed me pictures of DN from grade school and college. So cute! I told her that her saree was pretty. She probably didn’t understand me, except for maybe the word “saree”. She said something in Hindi. I had no idea what she said, but then she said “pallu” and pulled on her pallu. I smiled and repeated the word. It felt good knowing at least a few words, hahaha, but I still felt like a child in comparison. She pointed to my necklace and said, “Om”. I smiled and said, “Yes, Om.” DN later reminded me that his bhabhi knew that my necklace was a gift from him.
DN’s brother and uncle returned with a table and soon after, his mom returned with so much food! She brought chai, biscuits (cookies), some kind of spicy, crunchy snack, snacks similar to chips and then an omelet. 😀 Everything was so good. Her chai was the best chai I have tasted so far, in India. As I was eating, everyone came in the room to watch a picture slideshow of family pictures. There were so many wedding pictures!
While we were looking at photos, Uncle was explaining a little about each procedure and tradition in an Indian wedding. He was otherwise just making commentary on who was who in the pictures. I stopped eating at one point, to talk to Uncle about the pictures. DN’s mom said something in Hindi. I could recognize the word “khao” which means “eat”. Uncle looked at me, smiling, and said: “She says, ‘eat more’.” I giggled and began eating more of the crunchy and spicy snack. Whatever it was, it was good. And as we sat there, other relatives came in to meet me.
In no time, Uncle was ready to leave. “Would you like to meet my family?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “Okay, will you move with me?” I said, “Yes, let’s go.”
As we left, I turned and said, “Goodbye! Nice to meet you. Namaste. ♥” DN’s family said Namaste and me and Uncle walked outside. Across the street, there was a temple playing music and I could hear chanting. I tilted my head. “What’s going on over there?”
Uncle said, “That is the temple of Maa Durga.” I about jumped up and down. I’ve done research on Maa Durga, and I’ve always wanted to visit a temple. I said, “Wow, Maa Durga!”
Uncle smiled, “Let’s go see,” he said, as he started walking into traffic. Oh… I haven’t crossed the street before, so I stayed extremely close to him as we crossed the street. We approached the temple. I could see inside, men playing instruments, and a sort of shrine in the middle of the Goddess Durga. We took our shoes off, and climbed the steps. Uncle began praying, but I wasn’t sure how to pray to Maa Durga, so I took the time to look around. When Uncle was finished with his prayer, we went back down the stairs and put our shoes on. We got back on the bike and left for his home.
Uncle’s family was eager to meet me, and extremely kind. His wife was very sweet and his children were so wonderful. ♥
At the end of the night, Uncle took me back to the hotel. What an adventure, though! I thanked him and rushed to my room to celebrate how exciting the evening was.