INDIAN SHAADI (Wedding) – desi (Indian)style 💕

Grab a cuppa and some snacks before you join me on this particular journey. And for my Indian friends don’t you be tutting and rolling your eyes. This is a U.P. wedding originating from near Moradabad and not a posh city affair.

As my dad is the oldest living member of the extended family it was important for all of us to be at this wedding. I do not recall having been to one in India as an adult. The wedding house was decorated but the monkeys kept breaking the flower chains 🐒🙄. A supply of mattresses and pillows had been delivered – not sure about that! My OCD would not have allowed it. Luckily our house is next door.

The cooks set up four days beforehand; they would prepare all the sweets that would be needed as gifts. They would also feed the entire household and any guests for the duration; breakfast, lunch and dinner. What a great idea. It freed up the household from routine chores. The guys just got on with it morning, noon and night. I wonder if I could set them up in my back garden permanently🤫. Would need friends to visits as their karahis (woks) were XXXL.

Breakfasts ranged from

⁃ samosas and jalebis

⁃ chole bhaturas

⁃ potato and onion pakoras

⁃ bread pakoras (being fried below)

Bread, potatoes, carbs, sugar and oil !! What’s not to love? Just don’t tell the doctor🤫. Or Nitasha Buldeo !!

Lunch would normally be two curries, chappatis and dinner,similar. We did also get “tairi” (vegetable pilau). Someone or other would pop round and say “food is ready” and like lemmings we would trot over. All were amused at Sam and me constantly taking pics of the food. I think they thought it was all new to us…😬.

Sweets or mithai

⁃ Khasta kachori (savoury)

⁃ Shakkar pare

⁃ Laddoo (below)

⁃ Gulab jamun

⁃ Balushai

The cooks can be seen packing the sweet boxes below. This finished box is shown further down.

Basically heart stopping coronary blocking party pack 🤔. I avoided any tea (those who know me know what a delicate and sensitive subject this is for me. So stewed, sweet, milky tea with cardamoms wasn’t going to get past my lips.🤢)

Enough about food. Let’s move to clothes. I had been super organised and banked a couple of outfits in Kolkata. My sister in law however arrived empty handed and needed support shopping. It would have been rude to leave her to do it on her own. Below is one outfit that got away.

The day before the wedding all the women had henna applied. I’ve also shown below the henna design the bride had. Crazy detail!

When the day arrives finally ! We have someone come to make us look beautiful. Note to self (yes another one!) – avoid tikkas (pendant on my forehead) unless you want to appear skewed all evening!

Everyone is looking super smart as the evening wedding preparations approach. Below are my two gorgeous nephews from London.

Sam in her lovely lengha with groom and his mother.

My dad looking like a midget next to my nephew and groom’s brother.

Shavvi on a horse as one does ! Setting off for the wedding hall.

The baraat (the wedding party)stops a short distance from the venue which is to hold 1600 guests. FFS who even knows that many people. I was told 800 from each side; I thought well that seems more reasonable 🙄. The groom by now has moved onto a carriage type affair and my nephew joins him.

We danced along the roadside to a what can only be described as a mobile band and disco 😀. As they say band, baaja (instrument) , baarat! It’s also common for notes to be thrown about for band members to pick up/take. My abiding memory is the sheer noise and the smell of the burning lanterns.

(Slightly skewed tikka 🤷🏽‍♀️)

Health & Safety freaks look away now. Yes that is a firework being set off on the road whilst traffic is going past. 😳

The baraat is welcomed by the bride’s family.

Total chaos but managed to capture my dad, brother and nephew.

And just Incase anyone was in doubt that there was a wedding on the agenda.

After entering the hall guests either sit or can go and eat. In fact lots were already there and enjoying yummy food. I can’t even begin to explain the variety of food available. Just awesome. Below a photo of roomali roti being cooked.

Above – The groom’s aunts. Again the skewed tikka!

Even mum managed to be get through all the hullabaloo of the evening.And my tikka is finally straight .. hoorah.

The bride and groom meet on the stage and exchange garlands; Jai Mala. Then normal photos and dancing.

They are not actually married but having their first dance. I’m slightly bemused by all this. It transpires that the marriage ceremony (phere) is to take place during the early hours of the morning. Let’s just say the yours truly went home at 12.30 but my 82year old father made a magnificent effort and came home at 6am. He will always do what is right.

The day after the wedding there is an event called “koria” (all the women get together to sing and dance including the bride). This is after singing and some dancing throughout the whole week. God bless her, Damini was on show. She was pretty cool;not only pretty and bright but she can also sing and dance. Thank god this was not a requirement in my time. I would have been sent back.

It is at this time that locals and elders come and see the bride. In the old days the bride’s face would be covered by her long veil. People would bless the bride and also see her face “moo dikhai”(literally translates as face showing).

During the days following the new bride comes and gets blessing from the elders of the family “aashirwaad”. This involves touching their feet. Below Damini with mum.

Wedding aside there were numerous occasions when people went for my feet. I would step aside or hold out my arm to stop them. Surely I am not old enough to be giving my blessings. This is one Indian custom I can’t cope with but understand that it holds a lot of meaning for and gives pleasure to many. Who am I to comment!! Britasian from Bedford 🤷🏽‍♀️?

It was a wonderful week of being totally immersed in a traditional Indian wedding complete with traditions and rituals. The latter often debated at length between people as to what was the “right” way. This is absolutely normal and nothing to be concerned about – no god is going to be offended. The standout had to be the food and dancing along the road. I hope I have done justice to the efforts of the cooks in my review, I certainly did in my eating!!

My Indian friends may be wondering why there hasn’t been any reference to “timing”. Indians are renowned for being late. I’ve obviously let the side down again by being punctual and often early. Shame on me. Needless to say that because of this casual attitude to timing I missed two ceremonies. One because it was running late and I had to be elsewhere and another because we thought they would be running late but rather rudely they did it on time – good grief !#expecttheunexpected (copyright Glenn Meek).

The only other thing I would note is that all family members need stamina for this type of occasion; you have been warned.

🙏🏽

Seema

I will be partaking in carrots and hummus for sometime !!!

Dear Mrs May …I have decided to come back to the U.K. 👋🏽

Dear Mrs May

I have decided to come back to the U.K.

Don’t worry, I have a British Passport so no need to have a welcome party ready for me at border control. I’ll be the one looking happy to be home but sad also to have left India.

Enough about me,how are you? I was a little disappointed that you didn’t respond to my first letter. I hope you didn’t think I was being too forward by suggesting some changes. It’s the socialist and control freak in me.

I was actually going to say that after six weeks in India we should be proud of the following things in particular within the UK:

⁃ Transport system

⁃ Healthcare Service

⁃ Education system.

I can see you are filling up with pride and getting teary eyed but please note this praise isn’t meant for you but for the people who deliver these services. Ofcourse we aspire to be better, demand more value for our taxes and there is always room for improvement.

However, there are a few things that we could learn from this beautiful country called India.

⁃ Please can we encourage more street food!! You simply can’t have a nation without Street Food. It may of course send the Health & Safety brigade into meltdown. But I think it would be worth it!! 😋 Just think of the joy it would bring to so many people.

⁃ Please can we encourage more napping 💤. I’m sure it would help lower the nation’s blood pressure.

⁃ Please can we encourage more transport options. I love the idea of Electric rickshaws around London.And more people on scooters (I don’t mean more on each scooter btw. I saw mum, dad, toddler and baby together on several occasions. I think it is in the genes here and the Brits should not attempt this at any point 😱).

⁃ Please can we encourage our soap makers (the tv kind) to be less cynical and downright depressing. Take time out to watch some Indian soaps and you’ll be transported to fantasy land where your brain can chill for a while. Perhaps it’s just me; I actually enjoy them.

I hope these less taxing ideas are more appealing ? I know you will be busy otherwise I would certainly have shared more ideas.

See you on the other side of Brexit. 🤷🏽‍♀️And I can honestly say that for the last 6 weeks this word has not really entered my headspace.I am sure you will have everything under control. Have you made any new friends yet btw?

I’m preparing myself for the 24/7 BBC tv & radio onslaught. I am Brexit ready !! But whilst I am still here for another 24 hours, more food is calling me. Hmmm what should I have… samosas, chaat(street food) , chole bhatura ( chickpeas and type of fried bread) , aloo puris ( potatoes and another type of fried bread).

Bye for now Theresa. Sorry but food over Brexit everyday.👍🏽 If you ever want some help my door is always open.

Namaste

Seema

🙏🏽

Auntiji goes to a coffee morning ☕️🍰

Auntiji 1: I’m reporting this event to the trading standards authority !

Auntiji 2: Kyo kya hua? (Why what happened?)You sound angry but look very at peace.

Auntiji 1: Well I just went for a coffee and a slice of cake !!

Auntiji 2: Chalo (come)sit down and have a cup of tea and tell me what those Bandhan ladies have done this time ?!?🙄

Auntiji 1: Mai bolti kum hoo magar (I am not one for speaking but) as you are asking let me begin at the start. Kuch meetha hai chai ke saath (do you have anything sweet to go with the tea)?

I thought after the Bollywood night and the New Year’s Eve Party they would know what they were doing. It doesn’t take much does it to make a cup of tea and buy a cake from Sainsbury. Do you agree?

Auntiji 2; Well to be honest I went to both of those events and don’t recall seeing you there ? Aap busy the? (Were you busy?)My husband , our children, our grandchildren, our neighbours we all had a great time. Even the PM came !!

Auntiji 1: Bhenji (sister)I think you mean the MP🙄

Anyway back to meri kahani (my story)…. yes I would like more tea please.

• Well you know how normally at apne functions everything runs late – well kya kahu…sub time par aiye except me!! Mujhe kya pata tha yeh sub modern ho gaye (I didn’t realise they had all become modern)!! Yes yes they may just be well mannered people.

• Then the organisers – Suman, Sati, Rekha and Poonam were so nice and had planned everything. How can they be so nice ? They think of everything.

• Then there were others , you know some volunteer type log who were helping out and being kind and community minded (yeh mere bas ki baat nahin hain – I’m not that way inclined).Let me think there was a Maya, another Rekha ( naam kitna common ho gaya 🙄- what a common name ), Preeti, Induji, Misha and some young girl called Sunaina doing mehendi –henna ( was it a wedding !!). Oh do you like the design she’s done … it’s very intricate don’t you think ?

• Then Rekha P did some meditation. I know what you’re thinking… I did enjoy it but my mind kept on going to all the food that was there. Perhaps I should have tried harder.

• Then we did bingo … it was fun. And very cheap to play you know. I nearly won you know !

• And to top it all off we had apple pie/coconut sponge and lemon cakes/pakora/dhokra and other bits.Ok so they were delicious but I am sure my Victoria sponge is better. Ok so it’s been over 20years since I baked but I was just saying.

• And do you know what those Bandhan girls did … they let some men attend. Even a little young man. Yes yes I know one of them was my husband but that’s not the point. Yes it was nice to have a mix of people there. You know what people do … they talk! But the gup shup (chit chat)was very entertaining indeed.

Auntiji 1: And you know I wanted to see for myself that Suman lady I mentioned earlier. Everyone had been saying that she had the look of Olivia Coleman and was quite regal looking. Mai jhoot nahi bolti (I’m not lying)but log were absolutely correct. I think that meditation is making me a nicer person you know 💕.

Auntiji 2: Didi aap such bol rahi ho ( sister you are correct). I’ve also had so many messages saying she is such a good organiser. She should consider a career change but kya kare woh to doctor hai (what to do she is a doctor) 🙏🏽. She thought of everything- bin bags, a knife, trays for serving cakes, kitchen roll, lace tablecloths, spare food bags for people to take some food home (Oh I see you have some there – her coconut sponge cake and some dhokra – don’t confuse them) , sellotape and blue TAC. Literally everything.👍🏽

Auntiji 1: Do you think she would help with my Sunny’s wedding?? Why are you so quiet?

Auntiji 2: Looks like you had a horrible time meeting old friends … the bathroom…, it’s over to the left. Apne aaj jaada chai pee hai (did you drink too much tea) ?😉

Auntiji 1: No no I didn’t say that I did not enjoy. I was just saying ….. yes a little too much chai 🤷🏽‍♀️.

Auntiji 2: I can make the next coffee morning so shall my husband and I pick you and Bhai up then?

Auntiji 1: Make sure you come nice and early … hum late nahin hona chahte (we don’t want to be late)!! Please apni diary me write karlo Friday 12th April. It starts at 10am so pick us up at 9am. It finishes at 12.30. Then afterwards perhaps we can have lunch at yours ?

Auntiji 2: We’ll see you at 9.45!!! We live in Bedford and the venue will be in Bedford. Unless you want to help ???

Auntiji 1: bye sweetie !! See you soon.

———————————————————

Don’t be like Auntiji 1

Be like Auntiji 2.

Come and create some memories with new and old friends.

You may meet an Uncleji or two 😂.

———————————————————

I ate chicken today and cried 🐓😢

Chicken ??

I thought you were a vegetarian. I am … always have been and will continue to be.

This is the very short story that is not letting me fall asleep tonight.

I decided to upgrade to business on my Air India flight from Kolkata to Delhi: charge my phone , use the WiFi , eat some more .. be rude not to.

All settled in and we’re off. Lunch is to be served and I opted for the paneer option.The loaded tray arrives with so much going on it. I take a fork full of rice and a small piece of the paneer curry. This paneer is funny 🤔. I don’t like it. Then it dawns on me that it isn’t paneer afterall. I poke around in the dish and find chicken. I am traumatised as is probably the air stewardess and the gentleman to my left 🤦🏽‍♀️ I said in a whimper whilst tears were falling “I’ve never eaten meat and because of you I’ve just had a bit of chicken”. Some of you may say that’s rather careless of you Seema? Under normal circumstances one wouldn’t miss a chicken 🐓! But this was in a curry and I was expecting paneer. By the time I had eaten the small piece it was too late.

Had I done something to upset the gods? Anyway I can’t tell you why I cried for some time, but I did.

The stewardess says she’s a vegetarian too and is upset. The catering team had labelled the meal incorrectly. She replaced the tray. I swigged lots of water. She came back with a feedback form which I duly completed.Let’s see what they say, if anything or perhaps something along these lines…..

⁃ Dear Vegetarian… we were horrified to hear of your experience at the hand of our team. Please accept this basket of vegetables with our heartfelt apologies.

⁃ Dear Vegetarian…we understand you experienced some issues with our onboard catering. Please accept these business class tickets for two to a destination of your choice with our heartfelt apologies.

⁃ Dear Vegetarian… it was with some surprise that we received your complaint. We have asked for a thorough investigation and will ensure that one of the team gets back to you at the earliest opportunity.

I’m a forever vegetarian… I don’t want to change. I can’t stop thinking about it. How long will the chicken be inside me. It was only a small piece. Can someone please make sense of this. I think I have a tummy ache. My body is not used to it 😢🤬

🙏🏽

Seema

I also realised I have a real dislike of arrogant Indian businessmen (you’ll know when you see one). Rules are not just for the rest of us. Seriously if you don’t want to obey the flight rules just get your own jet. I digress…..🤷🏽‍♀️

TRADE SHOWS – I love them !!

Miles away from the UK I am seeing posts from ex colleagues and friends from Spring Fair and Ambiente. I have a slight twinge of jealousy but only because they brings back happy memories.

I started my journey with Spring Fair in 1989 and Ambiente in 1999.This will be the first year since then that I have not attended in some guise. I may be unusual in the fact that I actually relished the shows.It is a wonderful opportunity to show your wares in the best light possible – and with the money being spent on the stands you’d better make it work. It is also a chance to meet and reconnect with old friends, colleagues and business partners. No better opportunity than these shows to catch up with the industry barometer. It is also the time to brush up on your air kissing skills.

Some basics for shows -the show haircut and the show suit/dress. See how many you can spot! And don’t forget the sensible shoes and the Barocca. It’s about survival and unfortunately sometimes being sensible seems to be long forgotten.

Spring Fair would always mean consecutive nights out in Birmingham and the body progressively screaming for sleep. But no matter what, a day on the stand meant looking alert and behaving professionally. The food experience is best forgotten unless you are one of those that brought a packed lunch – yes I have seen this. And please tell me I am not the only one who has lost her car in that NEC car park. And then on a rare occasion the weather would cause mayhem but it would all be forgotten as the circus moved to Frankfurt.

You knew it was show time as you looked around the plane and clocked familiar faces and it certainly wasn’t a wedding party.It’s advisable to keep quiet during that short journey.

Ambiente provides the opportunity for buyers and sellers to come together from around the globe. There’s a definite buzz and a cacophony of different languages along the aisles. Love the visits on the stands from the most enthusiastic buyers who will spend hours and then ask for a price for 24pcs. Hours of waiting for that one meeting that makes it all worthwhile 😉. Patience is a skill that is needed in good amounts. Oh and those long pointless chats with your colleagues to fill the gaps. I know you like them but by day 5 enough is enough and home beckons.

As a vegetarian in Frankfurt I learnt to love cream cheese and cucumber. But GreenPan upped the stakes on the food front. I discovered that at Spring Fair when the show closes it closes – at Ambiente it’s the time to open the beers and nuts. And nights in Frankfurt during show time would not be complete without a night at a curry house and another at the Irish Bar and definitely one where I would watch others eat hunks of meat!!🤦🏽‍♀️

All that said it’s about getting those listings for the exhibitors and finding that next big thing for the buyers … before your rival!!!

Good luck to all those … hard core show attendees flitting from Birmingham to Frankfurt to Chicago.

Seema

The overfamiliar taxi driver ….

I knew it was going to be interesting when after picking me up we didn’t make our way straight to the bypass that leads to the M1, but headed into Bromham.

It was daylight and a Wednesday in Bedford – I’m sure I wasn’t being kidnapped!! And anyway a friend had seen me get into the taxi. Perhaps I’m reading too many Pd James, Ruth Rendell, Donna Leon,Ian Rankin and watching too many cop shows — Vera and Silent Witness, you have a lot to answer to.

But no! He was just short of ⛽️!! He’s already been to Heathrow once today and luckily has a pickup from Terminal 3 which fits in perfectly with my drop off. Jolly good !! He offers to buy me a drink which I politely refuse and proudly produce my water bottle so as not to offend.

But as we approached the petrol station we can see a long queue. So he drives past and doubleS back onto the bypass. The locals will know that the Bedford town is in total meltdown since Sainsbury’s have decided to zhuzh up their offering. Me thinks they are trying harder now Aldi has appeared next door. Don’t worry,I will stay loyal, dear Sainsbury’s. 💕

Anyway back to fuel for a taxi 🚕 that I’ve booked to take me to Heathrow. And because I am so early I am calm. Our next stop is the Shell garage on the dual carriageway towards junction 13. I am still calm.

By Luton we both know how long we’ve lived in Bedford. Me somewhat longer than him ; 21 years vs. 14. We both agree it’s a good location – upon which he reels off all the local towns that are within easy reach – Northampton, Luton, Wellingborough, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. I think I am losing the will.

I need to learn not to be so friendly !! I am now bonding further with the Asian taxi driver over Southall restaurants and which one does the best breakfast. I haven’t the heart to tell him I’ve only ever had that in one !!! 😂

He’s very accommodating and is happy for me to listen to anything I want. I decide not to choose Hindi music incase it leads to more conversation and opt for the safe option of BBC 5 Live.

We arrive in good time and I leave a tip because I am grateful to be out. The last straw was the belch from my new friend…..

🙏🏽

Seema

Dear Mrs May … would you mind if I called you Theresa?

Dear Theresa

I’m leaving the country !

Don’t panic I’m not going for good just for a few weeks.

So whilst I am away I would love it if you could get the following bits resolved. Think you really need to pass the Brexit parcel on and leave it to someone else? There’s so much more to sort.

⁃ Education: yes please🤷🏽‍♀️

⁃ Transport: yes please. 🤷🏽‍♀️

⁃ Healthy economy: pretty please 🙏🏽

⁃ Health: I don’t care much for the new digital doctor service. I don’t much like calling every morning at 8 for the same day appointment and not getting through either. You’ll be soon telling us to self diagnose and medicate! I neither have the words or the time to write more and know there are others more qualified than me to do this.

⁃ Weather : if you could just by chance organise another summer like 2018 I’d would be super grateful.

You may be reading this and shaking your head in dismay. Is it too simplified.. do I need to submit a 100page PowerPoint for each proposal. Why ? You have a host of experts… don’t you? You as the PM need to deliver it.

I know you don’t have many friends at the moment (even though the Daily Mail is being a total suck ass .. again) and after what I am asking you to do it may make it worse. But at least you may gain some brownie points with the people ! Here goes …

⁃ parliament: do you think that this is how people in industry or education or healthcare behave towards each other? Is this what you think intelligent debate is? What a rotten example you’re setting to the nation. Shame on you. If you want to have bants do it in your own time. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh.

⁃ Your team or lack of it. 1. Grayling: a posting to Tasmania? What harm could he possibly do ?2.Gove: lock him in the under-stairs cupboard. 3.Boris: I’m assuming you will be a NFI at all future raves chez Boris. I feel he deserves an ambassadorial role somewhere far far far away. 4.David Davies: Send him somewhere where he can grow some balls! Sorry to be so crude but there’s no other way of putting it. 5.Jacob Rees Mogg: Don’t turn your back on him😈🔪.

Oooh another idea perhaps they could form the new Mongolian Trade Advisory Board.

Just so there are no mix ups. I am a Labour voter (could you tell ..but would be happy if Jezza took up a new project) and a remainer. If you need me just PM me ( ask one of your young advisors what that means) and as I’m out of work at the moment I could spare some time. I won’t blame the B word for my redundancy whilst others would rightly do so . I’m of Indian origin,married to an Englishman and did an Engineering Degree. Imagine how many boxes you would tick with me on side ✅✅✅✅

I’m not saying I have the answers but would certainly add some spice to the debate!!

I’m back on 13th March and will wait with some anxiety for 29th March. Actually I may extend my stay 🤔.

Toodle pip and Namaste.

🙏🏽

Seema

NB: enjoy Brussels 👍🏽 and say hi to Mr Barnier.