Reception and departure

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February 21st 2018
Published: February 25th 2018
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Jammu back to Delhi


Looking good! Especially after not getting any sleep for 2 days!
Since the reception on Wednesday didn't start until the evening, and there were no more rituals and ceremonies, I had a free day. One of my other friends (Neha) is also from Jammu, and she was originally planning to come up from Delhi to attend the reception, but was unfortunately unable to make it. She offered to have her cousins show me around town and visit the monkey temple (I told anyone who'd listen that I Must See Monkeys during my trip), but I was so zonked from staying up all night that I slept most of the day, then just stayed in my room until I was picked up for the reception. I was shocked to learn that Shashank and Rupal had to stay up all night (playing games and conversing with family after I left) and all day and were still expected to be jovial and chatty gracious hosts during the reception as well. I'm not sure if that's part of the tradition for all regions/couples or just here, since I left the other wedding early, and their reception took place after a long bus journey to Moradabad, so I knew they at least got to sleep on the bus.

We danced, ate plenty, conversed at the reception, and of course, a fancy couch was set up for photos of/with the bride and groom. This event was the most familiar to me as it was the most similar to American wedding receptions, other than the fact that it took place on a different day than the marriage itself. It was my last opportunity to showcase my awesome (note sarcasm) dancing skills - my two signature moves being the light bulbs and the pointer fingers - and we tried to make the most of it before the DJ shut down at 10:00 pm due to some ordinance. I met many more people, and the Sapient VP was even there, so we talked shop for a while. It was nice to have some common ground with someone for what felt like the first time since my arrival a week and a half ago. Sadly, or actually probably gladly for the royal couple, the reception ended relatively early compared to the previous night's festivities. I rode back to the house with them so they could change and gather their things before bringing going to the hotel, and as we were getting ready to leave, Shashank realized he couldn't find the car keys. They tore the house apart, and with some facing a 5:00 am train ride back to Delhi, he ended up just calling a cousin to pick us up so the rest of the house could go to sleep. I blamed it on sleep deprivation, but it turns out that his dad had accidentally taken the keys with him when he went to the other house! It's funny now looking back, but I think everyone was so exhausted, it was stressful at the time.

The next day, I flew back to Delhi, and my bag was almost left behind at the airport. After going through x-rays and pat-downs half a dozen times, you're also supposed to identify your checked baggage before they'll put it on the plane. I've never had to do that before, and I woman I met briefly while we both confirmed which stalls in the ladies room had western toilets asked if it was my first time at this airport then walked me to the baggage identification area and showed me what to do. I don't know what I would've done if she hadn't helped me, because even though they announced it a bunch of times, I wasn't really paying attention to the announcements - only the screens. I thought about playing a joke on Shashank when I arrived in Delhi and telling him my bag wasn't there (since it's his hometown he'd know about that process), but I was too focused on getting transportation to my hotel that I didn't bother. While I had no signal in Jammu at all, I had slow and inconsistent signal in Delhi, and struggled to communicate with the grooms and to call an Uber. Eventually, I just walked up to a pre-payed taxi booth and told them where I wanted to go, paid, was handed a ticket, then got in a taxi with a non-English speaking driver who didn't know where I needed to go and couldn't tell me that what I was saying was different from what was scribbled on the ticket (after I showed him an email from the hotel with their address on it). Luckily, he straightened it out by reversing, calling someone over to help, me paying a little more, then getting told where I needed to go.

I stayed in the hotel that night and most of the next day to do some testing for work - the contingency for them letting me take days off during what's normally a blackout week was that I would run my normal test scripts for UAT while I was gone. Friday was my last day, and while I'd initially thought I'd take a day trip down to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, I learned that it's actually closed on Fridays, so I didn't make the trip (3 hours each way was a little daunting anyway after having done so much moving around the past 2 weeks). I was actually able to meet up with Neha after work at Dilli Haat for some souvenir shopping and snacks. During my Uber ride there, I even saw a momma monkey and her baby! I was so excited! Especially since I didn't muster up enough energy to go to the monkey temple in Jammu and my first monkey sighting last week was more of a fleeting glance. I also got to meet Apoorva, who works at Sapient too, though not on the MDT account. The three of us spent the evening together, even riding in an auto (the previous 'deathtrap' was my idea this time, lol) to another neighborhood to have a cocktail to celebrate my last night in India and some American-style pizza. I was so glad to hang out with them as my last "activity," having been pretty bummed Neha couldn't make it to Jammu (even though Shashank's cousins and family took very good care of me), it was the cherry on top and the perfect conclusion to my two week trip.

P.S. I learned a teensy bit of Hindi while I was here. Thanks to my friends back home, I already knew achha meant OK, but learned that theek hai also means the same. I'd heard it a zillion times in Suratgarh - often used 2-3 times in quick succession - and I assumed that it was the same thing, but confirmed after I got to Jammu and was hearing it there as well.
Haan - yes
Nehi - no
Namaste - hello
Kaise hai app - How are you? (to an elder/respected person - the moms!)

Shashank's cousin also gave me some handy phrases and kindly wrote them in my phone for me:
Mujhe pata hai - I know
Mujhe Hindi aati hai – I know Hindi
Mujhe pagal samjha hai – Do you think I’m crazy
Khaane mein kya hai – What is there to eat / what’s in lunch/dinner?
And my favorite, which I’m sure I’ll get to use back home – Tu kahaa hai – Where are you? Or, depending on the inflection, Where the H are you?


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