There was a flurry of activity that morning in Juhu Beach. Last minute shaves were being made. Kurtas were tried on again and coffee was consumed in the local Starbucks.
In another part of town, in a market, John was quickly scampering to buy a last minute shirt and tie.. and belt for the evening reception. Karen was busy with her friend Shirley, bargaining for their lives for cheap bangles and earrings. Jewellery at an Indian wedding means you go big or you go home!
As the midday rush hour commuters hurtled down the Juhu Tara Road small contingents of western women congregated in the lobby of the Ramada Hotel. The Mission: To get blinged up for the big wedding that day.
Neem had organised a team of stylists and dressers to make sure each of the female guests were looking their very best for the occasion. Room 106 at the Ramada was a sea of eye shadow, hair extensions and lots of bling. Indian weddings are all about the look, the request was for ‘subtle’ make up on advice from Neem’s friend…there was nothing subtle about the thick eye make up and lashings of lipstick. The hair stylist was just as wow, before Karen knew it she had her short hair in a mini ponytail and several hair extensions applied to create a full head of curls forming a bun. All complete with hair jewels.
The next mission was to cross the busy road- a pack of western girls in Sarees managed to stop traffic. Now to meet the lads who had been turbinated.
Soon thereafter the busy Juhu beach road was a scene from a Bollywood movie with a twist.. The groom on horse back was white guy with crazy westerns and Indians busting moves around him. The band were on the road leading the party. Many white foreheads turned pink… The sweat from dancing had made the red dye run from the turbines onto the foreheads of the westerners.
The groom was greeted at the door by Neem’s mother and after a failed attempt by Diarmuid to protect Ollie’s nose we were admitted to the wedding venue.
Most of the action took place on a raised Dias which was surrounded by rows of chairs for the 450 guests ( a small wedding!)
Neem arrived borne on a palanquin and soon the ceremony started. We won’t bore you with the details as it was quite a long ceremony but suffice to say we all managed to take part in at least one aspect of the various rituals and blessings. For more details on a Gujurati wedding see: (Wiki Culture of Gujarat)
3 hours later Neem and Ollie were married (again). Next up was the wedding reception.
There was plenty of food to be had and the party flowed over to Bora Bora afterwards where John received the first of 3 birthday cakes … Spoiled!