Everything that makes the bride glow on D-Day – II: The dress hunt!

I think every bride gets it. Irrespective of the budget, the tradition, the culture or any other parameter which might come in your head, a bride’s wedding dress is one of the major, if not the only thing which matters. The entire wedding revolves around it. The venue decoration, the groom’s outfit, and even the wedding cards at times are coordinated with the bride’s outfit!

Now you might argue, why only bride’s outfit? Where did the groom vanish? He is getting married too, right? Yes, but the answer is pretty straight forward, and again, I am sure every bride would agree with me. Guys’ clothes are boring. Yes, I said it out loud. Its true, what options do the poor guys have? A tux? A suit? Or a Sherwani in case of Indian weddings. And when you think about colours, I’ve personally met very few guys who experiment with colours, and even if they do, rarely on their wedding day.

Whereas when you think about women, we go all in! We can spend hours and look at as many options as possible to get to that one perfect outfit. Plus, we have so many options! Dresses, gowns, lehngas, suits, sarees and what not. The list can go on, not just for clothes, but also for colour combinations! Okay, you could argue here that, there are women who do not have that level of patience or do not enjoy shopping for clothes that much. And I would agree, because I am one of them. I took out three days to finish my entire wedding clothes shopping in one go and promised myself to never go through that pain again! But for those three days, I invested myself fully. I wanted my dress to be ‘The Dress’. I wanted to not just theoretically be the person in limelight, but to look the part too.

Indian weddings, to say the least, are elaborate. There is a lot of colour, a lot of glitter, and a lot of fun! So the wedding outfits need to match the feel of the wedding. Traditionally the main wedding dress is red. The main reason behind it is that in Hindu culture, red is considered aa the colour associated with being married. It is considered to be very auspicious. However, with times people are experimenting with other colours. These days you’d see a lot of women going with pink, blue, gold and other colours.

I wanted to stick with the red colour for my main wedding dress. But, I wanted it to have elements of pink and orange to make it stand out. Budget was a big thing for me. This is a dress which you wear only once or maybe twice in your life, and spending insane amount of money on designer lehngas made absolutely no sense to me. But at the same time I wanted it to stand out. The dress ended up being a little above my budget still, but kinda convinced myself eventually.

Lehnga

The wedding outfit

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The epic footwear to match my outfit

For my mehndi, I wanted a fun dress. I wanted a fusion of Indian and Western. And, I wanted a light dress. A dress which I could dance around in without having to worry about how heavy it is. I eventually went with a pink and golden dress, which till date remains my favourite purchase.

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The easy breezy mehndi dress

For my engagement, I wanted something golden with an element of red in it. My engagement was the first function to declare my wedding, and it happened nearly four months before the wedding. I went for a light yet elaborate golden lehnga with a red top. This was an easy to wear outfit irrespective of how it looked.

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The Lehnga and the stole

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The wedding outfit

Personally, I had more fun shopping for my wedding outfits than I had expected. However, I will still not want to do it again. It’s too much stress! But if you are currently in this phase where you are doing a wedding dress hunt and you feel like you are obsessing too much, relax. It’s worth your while.

Food and More: Vietnam, Trip of a Lifetime

It took us nearly half of our courtship period to decide where we’d go for our first vacation post wedding, and I am not exaggerating when I say we pretty much covered the entire world, one place at a time. We bought books, we saw documentaries and made more than two expense sheets to finally decide on Vietnam.

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Halong Bay – Vietnam

Most of the people we meet invariably ask us why Vietnam? After having spent nearly two weeks in that fabulous place, our only answer to them is – Why not? You want beaches – check; You want shopping -check; you want history -check; you want nice and helpful locals, check; and above it all, you want good food – check again!

Yes, there is so much more to Vietnam than just Vietnam War. Don’t get me wrong, visits to the war museum in Ho Chi Minh City or Cu Chi tunnels can shake you up, but to an outsider it seems that the country is beginning to move on. The people are humble and hard working, and it’s fascinating to see such an agriculture focused economy. When in Vietnam, it feels like you’ve gone back to simpler times with the luxury of modern amenities.

But I digress; I must now shift the focus to the food. Now, I haven’t yet traversed the globe, but of the places that I have travelled to and and the food that I have gorged on, Vietnamese cuisine stands out for its goodness and simplicity. Experiencing local food was our primary agenda on this trip. I must add here, I am glad to have found a foodie in my husband, and through its cuisine, we could really connect with the Vietnamese way of life.

Vietnamese food is as humble and simple as the people. It is comfort food at its best. Be it the quintessential Pho (pronounced as ‘fuh’ – who knew!) or the ever so fancy Bun Cha (Grilled pork and noodles)you can find everything at that tiny street side shop or at the fancy restaurants dotting the French Quarter in Hanoi.

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Pho – the complete meal

I don’t think we had a single bad meal in Vietnam. Except perhaps the time we thought the chicken feet in our starter was a mistake, and then ended up seeing the same thing in a hotel buffet, and then again proudly displayed at the supermarket. It might have been a local delicacy, but neither of us was adventurous enough to try.

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Can you blame us for not eating that?

At the end of the day Vietnam is all about the street food. As much as we enjoy fine wine, ambient lighting, live jazz music, and sundry, nothing comes close to the authenticity of devouring fabulous street food squatting on low plastic stools along the pavements.

I can go on and on about the food in Vietnam, but I’d let the photos do the talking now:

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Banh Mi – The Vietnamese sandwich I wish I had eaten more of

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Springrolls – fresh and fried

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Sticky rice, a duck main course, and Pho – One of our many roadside dinners

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Egg Coffee – A must try in Vietnam. Beware, it does not taste anything like coffee

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Raw papaya salad – one of my favourites

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Crab patties – one of my husband’s favourites

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Bun Cha – grilled pork and noodles, a dish which made me appreciate pork

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Bia Hoi – best drink ever! Freshly brewed local beer, not to be confused with the local bottled beer, Bia Hanoi

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Lychee with lotus seeds – a rather refreshing dessert

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Den Nong – Vietnamese hot black coffee, way too sweet, way too strong

So here’s the concluding thought: whether or not you are travelling for a week or a month, back packing or going luxe, with family or with  friends, Vietnam is a joy to visit. If for nothing else, go for the food.

PS: I am not through with raving about Vietnam. Expect more posts in the coming days 🙂

Everything that makes the bride glow on D-Day – I: Henna, The graceful Indian tattoo

I think the first time I applied henna (Mehndi in Hindi) is when I was six years old or something. If I remember well enough, it was my uncle’s wedding and that’s the only reason my mother allowed me to get it done. I remember adjusting my frilly frock as I sat on a high chair and extending my trembling hand to this petite girl. She took this cone and started drawing on my hand. I watched in amazement as that green fluid coming out of that cone took shape of a flower. Trust me, that takes some skill!  Once done, I was told not to let it get wet or smudged for the next few hours. And I quietly went, sat in a corner watching the henna dry out, start to peel, and the beautiful orange colour appear!

To an Indian girl, I think there is an eternal feeling of awe towards getting mehndi applied on your hands.You grow up watching your mother apply it on festivals and weddings, and its magic never ceases to enchant.

In an Indian wedding, the Mehndi ceremony is usually quite important. The bride gets her hands and legs beautifully painted with henna. This henna comes from the guy’s side – a part of the tradition. This is a part of what’s known as a bride’s Solah Singar (16 elements of getting ready for the wedding)

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Copyright: Shuddhashil Mullick

It can get a little annoying as you have to sit for like 2-3 hours without moving a muscle as 2-3 people draw on your hands and legs. However, the patience is totally worth it! The end product, if done well, can take your breath away!

The superstition around henna with respect to Indian weddings can be considered as little absurd, however – it is said that darker the colour of your henna, the more your husband would love you. I know, it doesn’t make much sense, but here is the funnier thing. Now days, you won’t see a single bride in India with a non-black henna colour! How you ask? Colour Dye!

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Copyright: Shuddhashil Mullick

Anyway, keeping those technicalities out, these days the henna designs are out of this world! Its amazing how much talent those artists have.  I remember when I was getting henna done for my wedding, I just stared at what those ladies were doing. They made the most beautiful design including so many elements of Indian weddings and going as far as making a small portrait of the bride and groom – something similar to what you see on top cakes in weddings!

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Copyright: Shuddhashil Mullick

And, as always, I quietly went, sat in a corner watching the henna dry out, start peeling, and see the beautiful orange colour appear!

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Copyright: Shuddhashil Mullick

Note: All the above photos are from my own wedding and have been clicked by a dear friend. You guys can check his work out on his facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/shuddhashil/

Apologies for the Absence, But…

Super apologies for a super long absence, But… In my defence, I do have a very justified excuse!

I spent the last few months preparing for my wedding… getting married… and the going on a vacation!

But I am back now. More enthusiastic than before, I would soon be adding another element to this blog! A little feel of Indian weddings! In past few months I learnt a lot about my culture and wedding traditions! And, I can’t wait to share it with you guys.

My usual love for restaurant hopping and baking would continue as is on the blog.

I hope this would compensate the long silence!

This is going to be fun!