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Breaking down walls at my cross country Indian wedding

The Maharaja’s home at the City Palace in Jaipur
The Taj Mahal in Agra

I have just embarked upon my latest and most daring adventure yet: life as a married man. For the last one month my life has been an endless celebration, across 8 different cities, to mark this momentous occasion. Minimal Internet access and an “error 500: internal server error” kept me away from this blog. (If you encounter the same problem on wordpress, go here) But my whirlwind wedding and the first and second honeymoon are now over. I am now back to civilization, mostly meaning that I have regular internet access again.
My new life began on July 7th with three days of wedding festivities in Chennai, India. From South Indian Kerala drummers to Punjabi Bhangra dancers, the wedding broke all traditional barriers. (Videos and pictures will be up once I receive them from the photographer)
Not only was my wife, Shruthi, the first person in her entire family and extended family to marry outside of caste, she was also the first to have a love marriage. I do not mean caste in the hierarchical sense, with Brahmans and so-called “untouchables,” but caste meaning different regions of India. This could be translated as someone from San Francisco marrying someone from southern Mississippi. (Forgive the stereotypes) Furthermore, I am from North India and she is from the South. All of this initially presented a significant problem to her family, who remained deeply rooted in the traditions passed down to them for generations. Arranged marriages to members of the same caste, set by the eldest members of the family, remained the norm, until I came along and fell in love with their youngest daughter. This set the stage for a classic Bollywood-style melodrama.
We moved past the intermission and into the second half of our courtship earlier this March when the drama subsided. After the first meeting between her family and mine at my wife’s home in Chennai, tensions eased and families bonded. Differences were caste aside, replaced by the realization that a good soul mattered more than place of birth.
But good soul or not, as an uncultured heathen I needed every weapon in my arsenal. So, my mother, the most sophisticated member of my family, took center stage in winning their hearts and minds. She put forward our most Indian side.
With her family’s blessings, Shruthi began planning every detail of the wedding at the Hilton Hotel in Chennai, down to the type of flower hanging on the walls. She planned it to perfection. Outside of a few members of her extended family, who could not get past the aura of blasphemy, especially when three Punjabi men in brightly colored turbans appeared from nowhere and began dancing at our reception, most people enjoyed every minute of the engagement, wedding and reception. On our way out of Chennai, my cousin exclaimed, “this wedding is the best thing that has ever happened to me.” It felt good knowing that I helped him out by getting married.
After the ceremony on the 10th of July, the entire wedding party moved to Bangalore and Bombay to commemorate our nuptials with family and friends that could not make it to Chennai. That week remains a blur of social gatherings and shaking hands with countless number of well-wishers.
I then moved up north with my wife and two friends for the first of our group honeymoons to Jaipur, the Pink City. For three days we spent hours in a large tempo traveler experiencing the rich history of India’s famous Golden Triangle – Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. Time constraints forced us to spend only one day in Jaipur and Agra. Nonetheless, that proved to be enough to visit all of the major historical monuments – the city palace and Amber Fort in Jaipur, the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. By the time we got to Delhi, we were tired of sitting in a car for hours every day. We just wanted to relax.
I began phase one of my detox on the last night in Agra and ended it five days later on honeymoon number two. From Delhi, we left our friends and reunited with my wife’s family in Singapore. Three days with six members of her family allowed them to really get to know me. Unfortunately, it would have been too late for them to change their mind’s at that point.
During the last four weeks of excessive partying and nonstop traveling from one city to the next, I walked away with one lesson that trumped all others. On my next post I will share the one rule that I believe is the most important in any traveler’s guidebook.


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3 thoughts on “Breaking down walls at my cross country Indian wedding”

  1. Akshay,

    Your words about love and marriage and your own journey nearly brought me to tears. (You could do very well as a writer my friend!) I am so happy that you found the love of your life and a way to make it work to be together! You have helped remind those who read this that no matter what the obstacles are, traditions, skeptics, distance or other people, that if you want something enough, there is nothing that can stand in your way! Thanks for that! I look forward to seeing all the photos and videos from your amazing trip and I will definitely be checking in on this blog!

    Big Hug Sweets!



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