Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Old Church, A Sanctuary

Years ago, I went to Macau. It was only a day trip before I took the ferry to Hong Kong. That was when I met my good friend Andrea, and now he is like a family, since my sisters "adopted" him. It was a long story.

So... Years ago... I was in Macau, strolling through the square near Saint Paulo Cathedral, and on to the museums and spoke to an old man tending an old Museum. I had his photos somewhere, it's gone now. I don't know where my backup is.

Macau was meant to be a touch and go trip anyway. I wanted to go to Hong Kong, but Airasia does not fly to Hong Kong then. So with RM400 budget on flight, I decided it was not a good idea to get in from Macau. It was only a ferry ride away.

I believe I have became a bad writer since I have not been writing properly for a couple of years...

Back to the story, again.

It was after lunch. I was walking along the street, wander along the streets to back alley way and on to a park where old folks and birds are hanging out. The sound of birds singing and the quiet chatter of old folks, the crisp sound of newspaper filipping, the April wind brushing old trees... I remember I sat in the shade for a while, watching people and the still world in front of me.Such a huge difference from Saint Paulo Cathedral where all the tourists hangout.

And then I got up and walk further, and found myself in an old church.

I went in, put in some money in the donation box, and sat down at one of the pews.

An old lady was sweeping the floor. The light, short stroke of the broom against the floor, so careful so the dust will not dance around the hall... and her footsteps light and careful.

The echo of both sweeping and footsteps filled the hall... it was so quiet, I can hear the dust rising and falling...

It was one of the most peaceful moment I had in my life...

It was the longest time I spent in a church, on my own, not during a mass.

The old lady sweeping the floor slowly got closer and closer to me, and our eyes met.

"Haven't seen you for a while," in a low voice, almost whisper, she said "How are are you?"

I smiled. Not going to correct her, and said in the same manner, "Yes. How are you?"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Kolhapur - Part 4

So, we went back.

I went back to my room and Angana was watching TV. We checked out a few HOT HOT HOT Bollywood music video, checked out a few pretty cool condom commercials, and kind of watched a movie... in case you're wondering, we were switching channels every 10 minutes... and then we slept.

So I went back to the club later, did not know what to expect. I only knew it was a Mahendi function and only ladies was invited. But I did not know what it was all about.

It turned out to be a party where girls getting their hands don with beautiful flowery patterns and I totally loved it.

those Mahendi artists work pretty fast.

This is a party where all the girls would get to chit chat, have snacks and drinks, and admire the bride's Mahendi and look for the groom's name on her arms.

After I learned that it was for the groom to look for his name on the bride's Mahendi, I went, "Wow! that's Kinky."

But of course, all the girls would check it out and giggle the entire evening.

So I got to know Anju's girl friends from school - Sai Dheepa, Anusha, Aiswarya, and Randeep. They were really nice. They took care of me and made sure I am involve in the party. It felt like I've known them for years.

The even invited me to go shopping with them tomorrow.

It was quite nice until the light is off and everybody started dancing, and it was the hottest party ever!

Bangra! I would only party in India from now on. It was so good you don't need anything else to feel the joy and happiness. Of course a couple of hard drink would help but this is totally GREAT!!!

Everybody move together and it just like those in movies. It seems everyone went to the same dancing school.

Slowly, guys join in the party and the dance floor came alive.

Late that night, Angana joined us also, that shocked me because she said she was not coming.

We dance and laughed the entire night.

One song after another and another and another, when the clock hit 12 mid-night, I thought, so this is what Sangeet is like. We just snack, drink, and dance all night. That's not too bad isn't it.

I was actually hungry.

So when the light came on and music stopped, I thought we should be making a move and started looking for Angana, wondering if we could find some place to have some food...

Strangely, everyone still hangs around, chit chat, some uncles even opening new bottle of whisky.

5 second later, the waiters started arranging long tables with chairs.

10 seconds later, the groom's father announced, "Please be seated, dinner is served."

Dinner at mid-night?

That's a first.

So dinner ends around 1 and we slowly adjourned back to our hotels.

Next adventure - Church wedding.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kolhapur - Part 3

And now! The very event that every lady would look forward to - Mahendi!!!!!!!

In the invitation it said 4pm. Angana was not up for it but Emma was. So Emma and I met downstairs at the lobby and got ourselves an auto and off we went!

Guess what! As we arrived at the club, the people just started to decorate the place and Anju was just getting her Mahendi done, which would take hours!

"The party is not going to start until 6:30pm." Anju said.

Well that's great! Because we was told that Mahendi supposed to start at 4pm!

Here we learned: Everything in India is not going to go according to plan, so don't plan. Just be very very late!

So we went back to the hotel and I continue to nap.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Girl

She is from Delhi
She works @ Google
She has great smile
She likes Transformers and X-men
I do not know her name
I think she is beautiful

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ladies Sangeet

Sangeet, traditionally means "sung together", in modern term, it means party.

It is an event everyone look forward to. Men and women, young and old, in true Bollywood fashion, Bhangra is the only way to go.

Ladies Sangeet

This is ladies sangeet, only mothers and daughters was invited to this event. It may look mellow here, but these mamas are hot on the dance floor. You might want to start a bonfire to complete the look.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kolhapur - Part 2

So it was dead 3am in the morning, and I found a Chinese girl greeting me at the door and I was like...


How exciting is it?

So I was there with my mouth half open for like a few seconds, and she was looking at me with her just out of bed eyes.

Finally... "Am I at the right room?" I asked.

"Yes. I've been expecting you. Come in!" She said, with faint Indian accent.

I dragged my luggage in and watched her getting back into bed.

"Where are you from?" I asked.

"I'm from Manipur, north east of India. I'm Indian." She smiled, "My name is Angana."

"My name is YY... Please. You sleep. I'm sorry to wake you at this hour." I said, "trying to think where Manipur is, beginning to appreciate how diverse India is. "I'll come to bed when I'm done washing."

"Ok. Good night."

It was a very big but basic bathroom. There was a shower head, a sink, a bucket with ladle, and toilet with washer.

No toilet paper.

Sleepy... I filled the bucket with cold water, bathed, brushed my teeth, washed my face... and then went to bed.

I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow.

I woke up around 6:30am. it's already bright and sunny out there.

Kolhapur was quieter than Mumbai. I can hear motorbike puttering around, but they hardly honk.

Probably no need to.

I stayed in bed for awhile... read a bit of book (I can't remember which book I brought with me now...), and then moved near the window. The air condition was to cold.

The window panel was wide enough for me to sit on, so I continue reading there, with curtain drawn so the sunlight would not disturb Angana, who was still sleeping.

I was not sure what the exact plan was, because there was a last minute temple wedding, which I was not quite informed what time was the session, and where it will be held. Basically I will have to depend on Angana.

Angana woke up just after 7:30am...

We went for breakfast. It was a very simple and clean vegetarian breakfast.

And then we went back to the room and chill.

I asked her what's the plan, and she said just wait for them to call. we probably leave after 9:30am only.

So we chill... watched some TV (Bollywood MTV rocks!), read some book. Talk a lot about other thing like what India is all about and what Manipur is like, what your father do, what your mother do, how many brother and sister do you have etc..

9am, we start getting ready. She helped me drape the sari. and then we started doing makeup... in less than half an hour, we are ready, and waiting for someone to call.

9:45am, phone rings.

It was Emma.

"Hi YY. It's nice to hear your voice..."

So her story was, she and Ben went down to wait for a bus... but there was not any bus waiting for anybody, so she doesn't really know what's happening and thought whether or not they were left out of the convoy.

I told her we were waiting for someone to call too...

Angana started calling Anju's brother, Keshav.

Apparently they should not be any bus, but cars arranged by the groom's family and so for and so forth...

Apparently everyone should be at the club or at the temple already...

Apparently, we and Ben and Emma was left out.

Apparently, now the fastest way is to hop on an auto and get to the club so Keshav can arrange our transport from there.

So, I told Emma, you know, I think we just get an auto, everyone left already.

And then, 4 of us was at the lobby, me struggling to walk properly in my sari... trying to get an auto across the road.

Emma and Ben got an auto and went, Angana and I got the next one in less then a minute, and we went to pick up another guy, Robbie, from another hotel.

And then, we were at the club 10 minutes later.

We paid, and went to Anju's room.

She was getting ready and there was many girls admiring her sari...

She was stunning!

She looked up as we arrived, when a lady was doing some final touches on her sari, she told her mom, "Mom, help YY to draped her sari again?"

My drape was on the wrong side of my shoulder.

So Anju's mom, Mini, pulled me aside and start donning the sari for me.

A few minutes and a few safety pin later, the sari was done. And I felt alright.

So we chit chat and hangout with a few other, I got to know Anusha, Aishwarya, Sai Dheepa and Bala, Aruna, Randeep and Keshav (finally we got introduced).

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Pretty ladies
(From left to right: Randeep, Sai Dheepa, Aishwarya and Anusha)

After about half an hour later, all of us was arrange to hop on a few cars, with Anju's cousin, and we were well on our way to the temple for the wedding.

I was quite excited.

10 minutes later, we arrived at the temple and something didn't feel right.

After asking a few people around, and a few phone calls later, we were at the wrong temple.

The misunderstanding was because Anju's cousin can't speak much Hindi so he pronounced the name wrongly, hence we were at the wrong temple.

It was quite funny and we laughed about it. Everyone put their hands up to the temple direction to seek forgiveness, and then hop on the car and off we go again.

We rushed to the other temple and the rest of them already there, the wedding was just about to start.

Unlike South India, the Hindu temple here are quite simple. No idols towering the sky, just plain white stupa modestly sticking out just above the roof of the other buildings.

The wedding was quite small, but it was nice. It was a Maharathi wedding. A lot of rice and ghee were used... on 2 coconut was used, but not broken.

First, we put the bride and groom on stage, and then 2 persons would hold up a piece of cloth so they can't see each other.

The priest will recite and at some point, everyone would throw rice and them. A sign of happiness, prosperity and good luck.

And then, the cloth would drop and they would see each other.

The Priest would then go and start a fire at one corner of the temple, this one was next to the stage, while we waited.

Now it's time for them to put thali (Gold chain) on the bride... presents from relatives.

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And then they adjourned to the fireplace and sat.

The priest will start reciting, and then the groom will spoon some ghee and pour it into the fire.. with the bride hand on his arm.

That gone on for about 20 minutes... at one point, Keshav, was to tease the groom for marrying the sister.

The groom would tie a string around the bride wrist. Think it's significant of they are married and their lifeline is now tied together.

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I wish I know the language, at least I would know what they talk about.

Anyway, moving on, the ceremony finished, they are married, and everyone, well, not EVERYONE, rushed to the canteen where they served lunch.

Angana and I sat down to take a break. we had been taking photo and it was getting hotter.

Keshav came to invite us for lunch, and we said let's wait for the other's to finish first.

"It is a shame to say, " Keshav smiled shyly, "That people just rush to the food everytime when the ceremony is finish, instead of waiting for the host to invite."

I didn't notice that, but I did notice most Indian do not believe in cuing up. Even when it comes to friend and relative's party.

Anyway, when the crowd subsided, Mini came to invite Angana and me to join her.

It was a wholesome lunch. I really enjoy it.

Mini and I talked a lot. She used to work in Malaysia and she knew some of the people I worked with.

After lunch, Keshav arranged transport for us to go back to the hotel.

It was a very hot afternoon.

Kolhapur is so flat and so bare, there were hardly any trees or green. You get direct heat from the sun everywhere you turn.

Angana and I decided to stay in the room and chill, watched Bollywoon movie and music video (Men! Watched them move!), watched a little bit of cricket, and sleep...

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This is Angana and me :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kolhapur - Part 1

Dheepa and I took an auto to the domestic airport because Anju's dad flew in from Cochin, so the bus will be waiting for us there.

Being in Mumbai super rush hour, the traffic was jam packed with lots of cars, busses and auto. There was many people selling strawberries.

"Wow! The strawberries here are really pretty." I said.

"Really?" Dheepa looked at them from afar, frown, doubted.

"Ya! These are red, plum and pretty. I wonder what it taste like." I admire them further without lifting an interest on my face.

"Do you have strawberries in Malaysia?" Dheepa asked, adjusting her seat, her knee really was hurting.

"Ya. They look like cancer."

Dheepa laughed.

When we reached the airport... honestly, this is one of the best domestic airport I've ever been. The waiting area was open and large, and the walkway was well paved.

Anyway, we found Anju's dad and joined him. We had a little chat. He was a very quiet man, apparently a well known camera man in India.

Anju and the rest of the convoy came about 20 minutes later.

The reunion... well, I forgot how tall she was. The young pretty face replaced by a matured, beautiful young woman face.

I met the mother, a soft spoken lady with strong character. She worked in Malaysia for a few years, and that's how Anju and I met.

And then we adjourned to the bus, where there was 4 peoples waiting for us, excluding the driver.

Ben and Emma (an Australian couple), a very bubbly Canadian girl (I forgot her name), and Yogita, Indian lives in UAE. All of them are working friends of Anju in Dubai.

After we said goodbye to Dheepa, we hop on the bus and started our journey, directly in the traffic.

The traffic was awfully solid on the way out of Mumbai. Later, we found out that there was a fire at the train station, therefore the entire city stop.

It took us 3 hours to get on to the highway, when it was already dark.

This is what I was excited about. Every single lane on the highway was occupied by big huge cargo trucks. All of them was huge, heavy, and FAST!!!!

All of them had "HORN OK PLEASE" painted on every one of them. Agaist the boring red or black or brown; or the colourful, sometimes tattooed with lord Ganesha on them.

They HONK ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every few seconds you'll get a honk without fail.

See. The culture of honking here is basic road manner.

The truck was too big to see what's behind them, so they wouldn't know when to give way for the car behind. So the car behind, if wish to overtake the car or truck in front, they honk to ask for permission, and the car or truck in front would honk to say "it's ok (to overtake or the coast is clear)".

so just honk to your heart content driving in India. It's good manners. Get used to it.

very soon, we need dinner.

2 hours later, we are in the McDonald's by the highway.

The vege burger was really really good.

After dinner, we hit the highway again, and this time, we stuck at the tol... with 10 to 12 rows of trucks in front of us.

Since every one was moving was slowly, those truck driver had fun with their melodic horn, and ladies and gentlemen! We had India very own highway symphony.

It was quite funny really.

After that... I kind of drifting to sleep, but every so often, I was woken up by a honk here and there, and I notice we went into one tunnel after another, and all of them are so ancient, I thought I just about to enter the ice age when coming out of the other side.

After a few drifting in and out of sleep, we arrived in Kolhapur...

Gosh~~~ I finally get to stretch my legs.

Since Dheepa can't come, I was supposed to be on my own, but Anju's brother's girlfriend decided to attend the wedding, so I suddenly have a roommate.

I was overjoyed that I did not need to drape the sari on my own.

I looked for my room #109. It was 3am in the morning, and I knocked the door... 3 times.

When I was about to give up, a girl opened the door.