You may not have visited in person, but chances are you’ve been to Bangalore before.
With 8.4 million people, Bangalore is India’s third most populous city, home to a massive IT industry plus a huge outsourcing industry that includes call centers.
In the past 10 years, if you’ve called a company for customer service and spoke with someone who had an Indian accent, it’s a good bet they were in an office in this city.
Popularly called the “Garden City of India” and “Pensioner’s Paradise” for its nice climate, Bangalore drew attention from the British in the 19th Century who, also appreciating its environment, decided to move their garrison to the city.
From there, its early infrastructure grew with telegraph and rail lines connecting it to the rest of the British Empire in India. This led to demand for more services and Bangalore became the first Indian city to receive electricity from hydrolectric power. Three years later, perhaps seeing the city had favourable services and infrastructure, the Indian Science Institute was founded in Bangalore.
In retrospect, this move was a watershed moment for the city, as the Institute laid the foundation for science research that would attract further business, eventually leading the city into being the IT hub that it is today.
All interesting enough, but Rose and I weren’t here to admire its modern industry – we had to get in costume:
Because, we were invited to a three-day, Indian wedding bonanza for one of Rose’s friends – Anastasia – who was marrying the man of many smiles – Johan.
Did I mention it was a THREE day wedding. That was our first clue that we weren’t in for a modest affair with mild fanfare and a small guest list. We were one of 450 guests who had come from all over the world: Australia, Dubai, England, Denmark, France, U.A.E, Canada, U.S, India and people I’m sure from a bunch of other countries of whom I didn’t get a chance to meet.
The second clue things weren’t going to be like any other wedding I’d experienced before?
Festivities began with Rose and I each wearing our own particular Indian ensemble that suited the opening night. Outfits for which we consulted with shop owners at length for an afternoon in a fashion quarter of the city:
“Is green enough? Is it flashy enough? Is it too flashy?”
All concerns faded, as our attention turned to the opening night kickoff with Johan arriving by horse drawn cart in behind a marching band:
The only other entrance I’d seen that might compare to this was probably a Wrestlemania.
Things carried on into the hotel grounds where all the guests were staying, and as a nod to the city we were in, Johan and Anastasia then received flower necklaces via a delivery drone that descended from above the palm trees.
High tech would then take a curtain call, as the couple, sitting in a ceremonial swing, had rose petals dropped on them by another drone: this time a helicopter whose bay doors swung open to drop its ordnance.
The night continued on the dance floor where Rose held her own, and I did my best singing along to the choruses of Drake songs like “Best I Ever Had” (which I learned fairly easily since Drake likes to repeat words a lot) while the core dance crew knew the lyrics top to bottom.
But we couldn’t make it past the first party on the first night, and headed to bed while others carried on until the early morning.
Next day was a pool party, and as conscientious hosts, service attendants passed out Tylenol and sunglasses to late night partiers from the night before.
We got some sun, had a swim, got a shot with these guys who were part of a Carnival theme around the pool:
Then I got a shot of Anastasia and her bridesmaids who, tired of standing around the pool or their Tylenol was wearing off and they thought it could help, decided to jump in:
Eventually after they’d dried off, and others had had their fill of booze and food, we all moved to a park to throw stuff at each other. Specifically, colour:
Holi is an annual Indian festival that takes place in Spring (Feb/March) where people throw vegetable dyes at one another. It’s meant to signify the victory of good over evil – Spring over Winter – light over darkness – dogs over cats (kidding) – and coincides with the vernal equinox every year.
But here, it was just for the sake of it:
Everyone got cleaned off, and the rest of the night was pretty laidback, so I got some shots of the decorated hotel grounds:
Of course, all of this until now was a lead up. Day three was the actual wedding day, and a new costume day where Rose and I got to see the clothes we got made in Jaipur for the first time:
Saris are an accordion of fabric. I think it was something like 5 metres in all, for which Rose had to ask someone to arrange, twist and turn around her so it would fit and hang properly.
It worked out, and we made our way to the church where the wedding ceremony would take place.
I’m not religious, and don’t go to church that often, but one thing was exactly as I remembered it from all the previous times I’ve been – uncomfortable pews. What does God have against a seat cushion or some padding? Or is it meant to be uncomfortable so the priest has our attention?
En tout cas.
We headed back to the final night of speeches, massive amounts of food and booze and a newly renovated poolside decorated just for the moment:
This time, Rose and I held up our side and made it to the after party and….the after-after party. Thank you very much.
I won’t say how I felt the next day.
We said goodbye to the newlyweds and made our way to our last stop on our 10 month travel run – Chennai – where we say our final goodbye.