Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Big Fat Indian Wedding Trip

Like all great journeys this also begins with a girl, or at least because of a girl who Ankit Khandelwal hereby refered to as ‘Khandu,’started seeing in his engineering college and after passing out from IMI decided to get married to. He was the first one in our circle of friends of IMI who was getting married to everyone was pretty enthusiastic to attend this marriage, it was also to serve as a reunion for us to grand plans were under way. The fateful date was 1st of March which was decided much because of availability of marriage halls in Agra than anything else.

Chapter 1: The Run – Up –
Big plan were drawn up, mails were sent to track the closure of events and messages like ‘Have you made it large for Khandu’s wedding’ were put up in facebook communities, Con Calls were fixed, itineraries were sent for approval and dress code was freezed. I, Anuj and Akshat got our tickets done and responsibilities for staying and booking a Cab was sent to Khanna. Russian Prostitutes, Single Malts, Puking all over Delhi and Splitting the head of our class mate was part of the plan at one point or the other.
But things never work out as planned and Anuj didn’t get the leaves to come and Khanna had to attend a meeting right on the day of the marriage so 2 guys dropped out at the last moment, Akshat was having issues with getting his leave approved and was on the Verge of dropping out himself, but then he did make it with his signature line “Kaam bade lekin naam hai Chote”. And yes Khanna the genius the was allotted two things booking a hotel and booking a cab, which he took for granted and didn’t do till the last moment and at that time he couldn’t do it.

Chapter 2: Day 1 –

I had planned to arrive in Delhi on Friday only as I wanted to make the most of this time, I had swiped out from the campus at 16:00 and was well on my way at 16:30 to catch the 20:00 clock flight, I was very early as usual (touch wood) decided to have a Johnnie Red at the Airport Bar and a Pizza, see when it’s Khandu’s wedding you have to start out large (pun intented). And I was bent on reaching at 20:05 for the 20:00 flight this time for boarding, I was tired of waiting 2 hours in the security area, then waiting in line for boarding and then waiting in the flight to take off, this time I had planned to be the last guy in the flight and I very nearly succeeded.
I got down at around 22:00 and picked up 2 Veg. and 3 Non Veg burgers from Fast Trax for the boys, first round of surprise came in when Khanna told me the hotel Star World where we were planning to stay (it had amazing beds, and just that I am not misunderstood, we like jumping on them, that’s all) is fully booked and gave the address of a Hotel in Gurgaon. I met Khanna and Mayank at around midnight and we all screamed for at least a minute after seeing each other. Mayank had brought a bottle of 100 Pipers and we wanted to get started right away. As I was waiting for the glasses Khanna dug in a burger was happily enjoying it when I hesitatingly said “Uhh Khanna, shayad tu Non Veg wala Burger kha raha hai” (Khanna is a vegetarian, or at least he likes to think so, he had eaten Fish Pakoras happily too before somebody told him it was fish). He ran to the sink to spit and we cracked ourselves with laughter. “Khanna saale bhooke, khaane se pehle dekh to leta kee kaunsa burger kha raha hai, tereko maluum hai hum log hamesha Don burger khate hai jo Non Veg hai” Mayank commented. Khanna replied “Haan mujhe bhi aaloo thoda ajeeb sa to lag raha tha burger mae”, this was followed by another round of laughter. Soon thereafter we got down to the bottle and didn’t stop till there were only 2 pegs left in it. Mike the Psyche was back, there were quite a few bottoms up and I for once didn’t sleep after drinking, in fact I was the last to doze off. A big achievement for me lately, or at least in front of this group of friends, I was pretty pleased with myself, half a bottle down and still up (Smug Smile). And I got to have Dal Makhani, a thing I was not able to have for a past month or so.

Chapter 3: Day 2 –

I was starved for more than Dal Makhani from the past month, even seeing girls after I have been shifted to this campus has become rarer than a funny Akshay Kumar movie. So when Akshat arrived and ditched us to have a drink with is ‘FRIENDS’ and asked us what do we plan to right now I had a single line answer “Ladkiyan Taadni hai”. So went for what is the only thing possible in Gurgaon, mall hopping. I actually did shop for a few things, considering the fact that I don’t get to come to a city very often. One important piece of info here, when were leaving the room Mayank asked me if I was leaving any valuable in the room, normally I don’t worry about such things but that day I remembered that my Walkman was lying outside, Mayank took that and put it in his suitcase and locked it. After deliberating over whether we should watch ‘7 khoon maaf’ or ‘Tanu weds Manu’ or go for paintball shooting we finally settled for what we always do, drinking and eating. I also explained the concept of ‘arriving’ to Khanna and how Delhi boys always need gel in their hair, Khanna really ran with the concept and asked for my hair gel when were leaving ‘to arrive’ as he put it. We had a few pints in Ruby Tuesday where some kid was having birthday party; “plenty of Cougars around”, the thought went through my head seeing their moms, couldn’t find anybody in animal print though, sad. 
After that Mayank’s pizza mania started, we had pizza at Pizza hut where we ran into a few IMI batch mates. At the end of it ‘The Prodigal Roommate’ arrived, again the drinking people were in majority. He very rightly shouted “Abey tum log kya yahan khaana khaane aaye ho? Mujhe daaru peeni hai”. We were back in business!
So we headed to Barrique, good ambience and very good music, it was quite some time I heard House music, Mayank apparently liked it too. Downed a couple of beers and a shot of Kamiaze too which Mayank termed as ‘Nimbu Paani’, and ya nachos too which were worse than ‘Masala Papad’ , by this time I was stuffed with beer,  got no place to drink even water. Couldn’t find an auto so we convinced a Cabbie to drop us till the hotel, after haggling a little he agreed, we were planning to pick up Glennfiddich on the way, when I told the guys it was 3200 bucks both said to leave it but I said what the hell, “Dekho brother ye bhi ek course hai jo puura karna hai, mehngi sasti mat socho isme ab”.  Plus anyways I had promised Mayank that I’ll buy him a single malt if I get through Infosys, and I am a man of my word.

Not to sound pretentious but Glennfiddich is one hell of whisky, one of the best I ever tasted! Oh ya the cab driver happily rolled a joint when I was buying the bottle and offered us a few drags too, god help the people he was going to drive back. And Mayank it seems wasn’t done with pizzas, so he ordered more pizzas from Pizza Square, which I have to admit is good. And somewhere along the night Bruce Banner had turned into Hulk, that is Akshat had gone into Gorilla mode. The Pizza Square got the pizza very late who had given it to the bellboy at the reception, the bellboy came up to give the pizza and Akshat went off on him, asking why he brought the pizza so late. After 5 mins of verbal volleys he heard me shouting something “Ruk jaa kaake, ye apna hee aadmi hai, ye Pizza Square wala aadmi nahi hai” at this Akshat asked him to bring the pizza guy up, the guy came, Akshat asked him to come in, he did, Akshat said “Bhaiya darwaza kaun band karega?,so he bolted the door from inside, I tried to rescue the guy but I was no match for The Hulk, then Akshat asked him to grab a chair and sit down. I don’t know what all went through that guy’s head that time but he was scared, he kept looking at me for some help but I couldn’t. The guy sat down and after a few seconds Akshat turned back to his drinking oblivious to the fact that he asked that guy to sit down, he looked at me again pleadingly and I asked him to quietly slip out, Akshat never noticed and I thanked god that no women come to deliver pizza in India . I could hardly eat anything, Mayank and Khanna ate that as well as Aaloo Paranthas and Dal Makhani in the night, I was full of 4 bottles of beer, one shot of Kamikaze and 4 large of Single Malt already. Akshat slept there only that night.

Chapter 4: Day 3 –

Next morning or rather afternoon Akshat ran off again as he had to meet his Buajee and his cousin and all, I wanted to go to Delhi for the day but Mayank and Khanna, the lazy bastards didn’t get off their asses, “Brother B******d main India kee batting to nahi chodunga, match yahi dekh lete hai, ek Pizza aur pakad lo”, so this time they ordered one double burst pizza from Dominos. India played well and Sachin scored a century, I told Khanna that probably this is what Anuj referred to as Sachin’s Swansong, Khanna asked me what Swansong is and I asked him to google it as usual, he flared “Saale jab bhi tujhse kuch puchta huun tu yahi jawab deta hai, pehle to aise chutiyape ke words use karta hai fir matlab bhi nahi batata, pehle bhi tujhse kuch pucha tha main tune yahi kaha fir maine wo dekha hee nahi” so this time I had to explain what it was.

As soon as the inning ended I started jumping lets go to Delhi and settle into some Pub. But then Khanna started explaining me the time line “Dekh abhi 6.30 baje hai, 7.30 tak tu yahan se nikal payega, 9 baje tak Delhi pahuchega, aur raat ko 11 baje kee Metro pakadne ke liye tujhe fir wahan se 10.30 nikalna padega, to tere pass effectievely dedh ghanta hee hai, usme tu kya pee payega”. I was tired of his bull shit if not anything so I agreed to go to some place in Gurgaon, I asked him to find a good pub in Gurgaon, he agreed “Haan mera ek launda hai us se baat karta huun”, the Launda didn’t pick his call, then he said “Ok main Desi se puchta huun”, Desi suggested some run down bars in Gurgaon, I realized that if Khanna or his friends are gonna suggest some pub it is better idea to go to Chinar Dhaba and drink there rather than taking his advice. Finally I called my friend and she told me a few places and recommended a place called the ‘Vapour’. But as soon as we stepped out Mayank started again “Khanna jee kahi accha sa khaana khilwa do”, I was at my wit’s end at this point. I screamed “Brother tum to North India mae rehte ho, upar se apne ghar mae hee rehte ho, khaane ke liye kyun mar rahe ho?” After arguing for some time we agreed that we will go drink now for some time, eat good food somewhere and then buy more booze and drink in the room.
We reached Vapour which was a good place, it was a microbrewery  actually, I tasted two beers over there , both were different but good, foamy and full bodied. Saw the match for a while, there was no music playing, some photographer came and took our pictures, I told Khanna that we might make page 3 in Delhi Times tomorrow where they publish the last night’s parties photos, Khanna shook his head and said “Arey nahi wo log to koi celebrities hote hai jinki photos aati hai”. I laughed and disagreed that all of them are celebrities, I had my photo in Bangalore Times twice when I used to party, I told him. After seeing India getting clobbered for some time we had enough and left to eat as some place called Dana Choga and stopped to pick up booze from Spencers, we also picked up chocolate (Lindt) and Perrier (which Akshat washed his hands with in the end) from there. I wanted to pick up Bombay Sapphire and asked Mayank about it, his reply was a question “Brother hum ye piyenge? Matlab hum waakai YAHI piyenge?” I took the hint and finally picked up a bottle of Jim Beam. Post dinner we started drinking again, talk went to how I like Dusky girls and whether my previous girl friend was fairer to me or not and stuff. I little whisky loosened my tongue and I started showing my old college pics and talking about my sad love story, but instead to getting some kind of sympathy people were falling asleep left and right. So I called it a night and put up a alarm to get up early next day morning. Akshat was supposed to leave his house by 6 from in a cab he had booked last night, when he had again let off his line “Ye sala Khanna kisi kaam ka nahi hai, aakhikaar cab mujhe hee book karni padi. Kaam bade lekin  naam hai chote.”

Chapter 5: Day 4 –

Today is where the fun starts, it was Harsh’s Marriage and Ankur’s marriage (read about it here) all over again. I and Mayank got up at 6 and checked our cell phones realizing that Akshat hadn’t called yet which meant he hadn’t left. Without saying a word to each other we both went to sleep again. Akshat called some time later telling us that he had left and we started packing and getting ready. You see the trip was going smoothly till now which can never be the case when I go for a wedding at least. After I was done packing I realized my Walkman was nowhere to be seen, I checked my jeans, my suit case and the hotel drawers once more after which I broke the news to Mayank, he said he had kept it in his suit case, he went through his stuff again but it was nowhere to be found. We checked our luggage and the room again and asked Akshat and Khanna if they knew where it was, Akshat coldly replied he hadn’t seen it and Khanna replied in his sleep that he doesn’t know, when I asked if it could be in his bag and he again snapped back saying it is not. So I had to check in his bag, after checking the hotel’s dirty drawers I had to touch Khanna’s dirty drawers too while checking, which let’s just say wasn’t a pleasurable experience. We searched everywhere but couldn’t find them anywhere and reached the conclusion that it had been stolen, flicked from Mayank’s bag when we had left last night.
We loaded our stuff in the car and argued with the hotel guys for sometime who all proclaimed their innocence, it was un-fruitful and we knew that from the start. While leaving I handed over the cover of the walkman to those people, asking them to use that lest it gets scratches on the screen, they made a face and took it. Khanna left as he was not coming with us and we went on our way to Agra
The car was wobbly from the start, I guess it was a nice way to prepare us for the baraat, a car that jives while it drives. Akshat complained about it but the driver flat out refused to admit it such a thing. After filling up petrol worth 1100 bucks and paying the 700 odd tolls and taxes we entered U.P., we stopped at a Dhaba to eat Tandoori Paranthas while getting back in we realized that we had a flat, the driver drove a little more (I can’t fathom why) and then stopped to change the tyre. When we started driving off from there some guy pointed out that we had one more puncture, this time the left front unlike previous one which was right front tyre. The driver grumbled something about some foul play and I thought so too. We went to a puncture repair shop nearby he start getting it fixed, he was told his tubes were gone and he should get them both replaced. So we gave him 1000 bucks more to get it done, the puncture asked him to get the spare tyre fixed as well as he said it is hot and he has long way to go, shouldn’t take that risk, bad omen I realize now. I was wondering if this was some kind of business model, puncture the tyres at the dhaba and fix them at this shop 100 meters later. The guy peeked in the car and said looking at Mayank and Akshat “Abey Wajan tere pass itna zyada, party VIP hai, aur tyre Chinese?”
Anyways this time I sat in the front as we went on our way, the driver had obviously seen an advance screening of ‘Drive Angry’ and was playing the part of the car driver from hell with perfection, he made amply sure that I didn’t sleep as whenever I tried to sleep he pulled one maneuver which would put ‘The Transporter’ to shame. And then…. Bang ! Another blowout, the car swerved around dangerously before stopping, I realized that the Chinese tyre in the front right had a big hole in it and was wasted, trying to hold on to our patience we cursed Akshat for booking this superb car . I recited “Kaam bade lekin  naam hai chote” to him.
After this fiasco we got on the road, and I had very nearly dozed off when I felt the car swerving like crazy one more time, this time it was the rear right one, the tyre had blown so bad that even the Radial wires had come out. Akshat lost it that time he started screaming on the phone to the guy who sent the car while Mayank was about to go berserk on the driver, I on the other hand walked up to a Dhaba nearby and asked how far we are from Agra and how could be go from here to there, we were near some place called Barari, he said you can take a Magik from here to Agra. I told them in any case I am not getting in this car again and we took out our luggage from the car and started to look for a ride to Agra, few Magiks and Buses passed by but none stopped because they were either full or hesitant to stop in the middle of nowhere. Finally we found a 6 seater auto which said it will take us to place called Farah, having no choice we got in that and took a ride till Farah where we were supposed to find lot of transportation to Agra, when we called Khandu his two cents were “Abey itni saari buses aati hai us route kisi mae bhi baith ke aa jao”, when we asked if any of his friends or relatives were to come by from this way who could give us a ride he replied “Na koi aa raha hai aur na hee koi aane wala hai, khud he aa jao.” Great.
Anyways then we found a guy who used to run a sharing auto there, we asked to just take us in his auto to Agra, he said he can just go till Sikandara and for 150 Rs he will take us and our luggage to there and get us an auto from there to wherever we were going in Agra, so we rode in that 6 seater again till Sikandra, got down then caught an auto again to water works crossing where the hotel was. It was getting crazy once more.
But my ordeal was not yet over Akshat said he hadn’t brought his Kurta Pajama (our decided dress code for the sangeet) as it was too flashy, I think in Agra flashy was the starting point, and then people moved forward from there, as he would soon found out. We wandered around in the market for some time trying to find a kurta for Akshat of ‘his choice’, I was beginning to believe that finding a needle in a hay stack would be easier, everywhere we went Akshat described his choice in great detail, “Bhaiya aisa jisme mae ye collar mae ye aisa kaam nahi ho. Haan ye line thodi aisi aati ho, ye waala thread agar green ke bajai red mae hota ho.” When I shop even the girls go crazy with me, but he was me, on steroids. It was excruciating, I would any day prefer a kick in the balls then Kurta shopping with him, Myank was surprised at me getting frustrated, that too so much. But Allah be praised he found something he liked after going through entire shops after shops, now the next fight was getting him a footwear to go with them. And he repeated the entire procces again and didn’t find anything to his liking. Frustrated and tired we got back to the hotel again and started to get ready again. Akshat and Mayank got ready first and I was left to my own pace when they again got out to look for his foot wear. After some twist and turns we got ready and headed for his Sangeet, it was the same mix of loosely choreographed dances where everyone in the family seemed compelled to show case his or her talent. Kids from his in-laws had prepared some skit on how he had met Shivangi and how the courtship went. We three were really tempted at a few parts to go up on the stage and tell the true story but we refrained. We got out from there, purchased some Black Dog after the shop was closed (from under the shutter in case you are wondering how) came back in the room and started drinking, little later Khandu joined us, and then few of his cousins, we exchanged stories for some time and then I dozed off.

Chapter 6:  the big Day –

We slept like the dead (I apparently snored a lot I am told though) till around 1 or so, got ready, waited for lunch till around 3 and then left without having it. We wanted to go to see the Taj Mahal, we got to it though some twisting lanes and people trying to make a fast buck, in fact everyone in Agra seemed to be wanting to do that, cheat someone out for a little money, Chindi Chori as I would call it.
No need to write about the Taj Mahal, it’s a majestic structure to say the least, after seeing videos and photos of it for years I finally got to see the real thing. We took a couple of cheesy pictures walked around and left. One thing here though, the Taj Mahal is very beautiful and well maintained from the inside but outside it is very un-organized and chaotic, no proper system of queue, of buying tickets, getting a guide, frisking, shoe covers. I guess the government wants everyone to have a piece from the visiting foreigners. One thing which pissed me even more, while Indians were charged 30 bucks for entry foreigners were charged 750, not done.

We hurried back and started to get ready when Khanna called in with very good news, he asked what booze we liked to drink tonight, he was buying. I first asked Johnnie Black, he asked me to go higher so I asked Glenmorangie, he asked me to go higher I said Skyy Vodka, and added that he want to kid around then why not Johnnie Walker Blue label King George V edition, he said that would be too costly so I asked him to buy black label as I realized he might be serious. The good news was that he got 20k bonus and a 1.8 lakh hike and he would reach by the time of the baraat.
I prepared for the Baraat by covering two most important points, putting a lot of deodorant and getting drunk. Then it was the Baraat Dance as usual, or crazy monkey dance as Rohini had christened it. There is something about the beat of the dhol which always makes me want to dance no matter how low I am feeling, I guess I get that from being Indian. So we danced our heart out (it did feel it was gonna come out at one stage) and I got the complement of being called “Tu to saala professional shaadi dancer lagta hai” by Akshat (Smug Smile again)and oh ya he also said I appeared a little thinner than before (Super Smug Smile).
From there it was business as usual, we danced on ‘Kendi Po Po Po…’ for some time inside, lifted him for ‘Jai Mala’, ate a little, drank a little, got our photo clicked with the couple, slipped him a cover of 11k and came back. I had slept when he took his ‘fere’ around 2, had to get up at 4 again.

Chapter 7:  Aftermath –

There was no cab to get back to so we went to the nearest train station ‘Raja kee Mandi´ took a general ticket, hopped on the next train which was going to Delhi which was Lucknow – Delhi Intercity, asked the TTE to give us seats. I barely slept 2 hours last night after drinking and dancing like crazy, could only catch an hour of sleep in the train, got down at New Delhi, said my good byes and got on the metro to the Airport, it was around 11:00 at that time. In the metro I realized that my phone was switched off as the battery was dead, and I had no print out of the e ticket and the PNR was in the phone. I freaked a little as I couldn’t find any charging points in the metro and I couldn’t enter the airport without the PNR. I don’t even remember anybody’s number I realized except my brother’s who will not be able to help me in this case. But thank god I found out a plug point in the metro station that worked after some searching and some help from the staff which was surprisingly helpful (they even asked me to fill a feedback form, in which I gave very generous ratings to them), I charged my cell for 15 mins, noted down the PNR number and got to the exit, which led to the Terminal 3 from where I took a bus to Terminal 1D. Finally I reached the airport, checked in, ate, even took a dump at the airport, picked up playing cards and sat in the flight.
After taking the flight that day I had probably travelled by all means of public transport, an auto, train, metro, bus and then an airplane, all in a day’s work, I got out of the airport, took the aeroexpress to Secunderabad and the fought with Auto-wallahs for half an hour, they started with 500 and finally settled for 200 bucks, but I being over smart insisted on paying 1.5 times meter which actually came out to be Rs 250. I hurried to Infosys to swipe in as it was already 20:00 and I could barely complete my 3.5 hours for the day. Total sleep for the day was less than 4 hours and I was actually feeling jetlagged by the time I got back.

Conclusion : Total Expense – Over 25 large | Places visited – Gurgaon and Agra | Marriage attended – Khandu’s | Booze Drank (In order) – Johhnie Red, 100 Pipers, Glennfidich, Jim Beam, Jo Daniels, Black Dog, Johnnie Black and a few fillers of beer and shots here and there.

All in all one hell of trip!!!!

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