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Published: February 8th 2009
Well yesterday hardly seems worth mentioning! While I thought the saga of trying to get a taxi north was over, it was in fact only just beginning. I awoke at 6.30am to get ready to leave. I called the driver on his mobile at 7am to confirm he would be there in an hour and then went out to buy some water and bananas for the trip. When 8 o clock arrived and the taxi hadn't I called Shivali. What followed was a hideously stressful four hours where the taxi driver alternatively 'hadn't been told the right time but would come in an hour' or 'couldn't find the hotel but was on his way and would be there soon'. After a lot of phoning between myself, the taxi driver, the hotel staff and Shivali and her family the taxi arrived at midday, just before I was about to lose my room at the hotel.
The drive was long and boring. The traffic in Delhi was bad and we sat in a traffic jam for quite some time. I managed to sleep for a couple of hours and then enjoyed the views as we left the city behind and drove through small
towns, farmland and villages. I finally arrived in the village in the dark and I saw Shivali and her parents standing huddled in blankets and wooly hats waiting for me.
Since arriving I have settled back into village life and have had a wonderfully relaxing day, despite the bustle of wedding preparations going on around me. I woke up freezing this morning. While India may not get as cold as England there is no central heating so inside is as cold as outside. I've never been in India during winter before. I am so used to trying to keep cool in India it never accured to me that I could be cold! I soon recovered as I had a quick hot shower (well bucket) and sat drying off in the sunshine. Shivali and I had our breakfast sitting on the porch in the sun and then we were sent to guard the shop as the rest of the family were busy wrapping Shivali's wedding presents! I kept Shivali company throughout the day, and Ankur frequently came to join us.
At 3pm I decided to go for a walk before it got too dark. Shivali no longer has to go to
fetch water before her wedding and she didn't want to walk with me in case other villagers saw her and thought her parents were making her work during her own wedding preparations. So I set off on my own, treading the old familiar route down to the water spot. I had a surprise when I reached it and found the whole area covered in tiles. It looks more like a swimming pool area now! I stopped for a drink and was about to walk down to the beach when an old woman came up the steps and started talking to me, apparently completely unconcerned by my obvious lack of understanding. I finally managed to excuse myslef and enjoyed my walk through the woods and farmland in the sun. I managed to find a route around the edges of the fields and walked down to the beach where I alternatively wandered about or sat sunning myself.
I came back to find Shivali still sitting guard over the shop and it wasn't until dark that we were able to go inside and looked through all her wedding things. She showed me all her various gifts and new outfits, including the lengha which
is so beautiful and she is so excited about wearing. I showed her the dress I brought for the wedding - a bridesmaid's bargain in the Monsoon sales - which is apparently fine to wear although I am slightly concerned about freezing to death now I realise how cold it gets in the evenings here.
I gave her my wedding presents and was surprised when she had a return gift for me. Apparently it is traditional to give something to guests as well. I now have a beautiful kurta which I will wear with my jeans for one of my outfits (oops, hadn't really considered needing more than one wedding outfit before!) I have also been given a necklace and earring set, anklets and several sets of bangles! It's a lovely unexpected present. Shivali seemed to like my gifts too although she only unwrapped one and then tried to shove it back into the wrapping paper so she could reopen it at the wedding.
We had dinner at one of the neighbours houses. We walked up the road in the dark, covered in blankets and shawls. The family greeted us at the door and welcomed us in. The daughter obviously
knew Shivali well and soon all the girls and women were chatting about the wedding, while the little boy leapt around and tried to stand on his head on the sofa. We had a nice meal and then reurned home, stumbling along the dark road by the light of a torch.
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