Today for the Saxena/Sinha family was Katha -- storytelling, and a time for prayer for the bride I believe. The Pandit joined them at Devika's Grandmother's home. This was their family time, and we were happy for them to spend this time together. I found this picture on Facebook posted by Ipshita, Devika's cousin of Madhuv, Devika's brother, Aditiya her father, Kalpana her mother, and of course our Devika -- what a beautiful family! Devika doesn't normally wear saris, but I believe all the women gathered wore saris for this event. My son is one lucky man, marrying such a sweet, intelligent, beautiful woman! Forgive me Isphita for borrowing this photo, but it was too beautiful not to include in the blog today.
The groom's side went on a walking adventure this morning. We stopped off in the sweet shop we had visited a few days before, and Allan's eyes were huge as he eyed all the sweets! The men behind the counter were the same ones who waited on us a few days before -- they were warm and welcoming. One thing though, they couldn't understand why Allan didn't want to taste anything! It was very typical -- you can have a taste of anything in the store, and they were anxious to be of help.
Allan got his first taste of crossing the streets here in Hyderabad -- when we got to the other side the first time we crossed, I know he was blown away -- I can just hear him thinking to himself, "it's a miracle we didn't get killed." Like me, he just hung on to Max and away we went! We headed over to Basra Pride for chai, but decided to stop off at Serene Domain right up the street where the Saxena's are staying to see if we could say hello. They had already left for Nani's home. As we headed down the stairwell of their apartment building, Max pointed out to Allan the men building furniture in the adjoining courtyard. Max asked, "do you all want to take a tour of the furniture making business?" We asked, "you know these people?" "No," Max responded. "But I can ask them." And he did!
Next thing we knew we were getting a tour, looking at all the different pieces of furniture the men were working on. There were over a dozen men working on various stages of furniture making -- from initial building to finishing. As it turned out, most (all?) of them were from "UP" -- Uttar Pradesh, the same state Max lived in for over 2 1/2 years when he was living in Lucknow. The men told Max (and he translated) about the various projects they've been working on. Among the most impressive was a 15 foot armoire, hand carved and lacquered white with gold leaf trim, which was being made for a family who live in Dubai but who have a home in Hyderabad. They also showed us four beautiful, hand carved bedposts they've been working on. Unbelievable! Here is a picture of us with some of the workmen. We were very happy to spend this time with them. We said our goodbyes and headed off to get some Iranian chai.
Max introduced Allan to Iranian chai at Basra Pride the same way he introduced his father to it a few days before: introducing them to the people who worked there, and then getting a paper cup for him to try the chai in. I don't drink it, but apparently it is very strong and very sweet, hence the small cups of it that are served. A big cup could put someone under the bus!
We then continued our walk to see if Karachi Bakery was open -- it wasn't, so we continued back up to the hotel, and got ready to meet our cab at 12:30 -- for our adventure in Char Minar! As we headed out, Allan was in awe of the way cars, motorcycles, auto rickshaws, bicycles, carts, trucks and pedestrians navigate the roadways. As we got closer to Char Minar, the roads narrowed and the streets were teaming with pedestrians and sidewalk merchants selling anything and everything you could think of, including fruits and vegetables, clothing, jewelry -- you name it, it was being sold. Our first order of business was to find cloth to make table runners/toppers for the Pasadena wedding. Our driver called his sister in law, who pointed him to one store. They didn't have what we were looking for, so the young man helping us walked us over to another store -- really -- and we found just what we were looking for. Perfect!
We walked over to the shoe merchant who was supposed to make Max's shoes -- remember from the blog the other day, Max can never find shoes to fit his ginormous feet in India. Max had given the merchant a deposit, and he promised to make Max two pairs of shoes, due to be picked up today. I knew within 10 seconds of being in the shop that something was dreadfully wrong. I can't speak Urdu, but I know Max and the look in his face said, "you lied to me." The man not only had NOT made the shoes he promised Max, but was trying, I think, to make excuses and get Max to buy the same ill fitting, tight shoes he tried to get him to buy this past Friday. NOT smart on his part. Max questioned the merchant's integrity and honesty -- and any of you who know Max, when he gets on a roll, watch out. By the time Max was done, as he didn't want to deal with this anymore, the merchant knocked 250 rupees off the price. Max took home 2 ill fitting pairs of shoes that he'll wear once and never again. Here's a picture taken from across the street of Allan and I standing outside the shoe shop, waiting for Max to finish his negotiations.
Among the wonderful things about Char Minar is the web of life that exists -- hundreds of merchants, thousands of buyers, incredible traffic and just -- LIFE. I can imagine that this is the way it's been done for centuries, and it felt so good and right to be part of the hustle and bustle. This is one of Steve's favorite things to do -- we both loved Chadni Chowk in Delhi, and the old part of the city of Lucknow -- Char Minar was no different for us. We hope to go back there at least one more time and continue our exploration before we return to California.
We headed back to the hotel, tired and hot. On the way Max had Ali our driver stop, and from the window of the car Max bought bananas from a vendor.
The Saxenas were at the hotel making the final catering arrangements for the wedding, so we got to sit and have coffee together in the hotel coffee shop (well, the Bruces ate while the Saxenas had coffee -- it was 4:30 and we hadn't eaten lunch!) Steve still isn't feeling well, so he tried to eat a little something but then went upstairs to bed. Max is preparing to pull an "all nighter", as my best friend (and one of his his Godmothers) Boo and her husband Larry are coming into Hyderabad at 1:00 am, and our daughter Jardine arrives at 6:00 am.
I leave you with some other views of Char Minar, and will end with a picture of Max yesterday in the front of the auto rickshaw -- Devika, Steve and I were in the back.
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Location:Road No 1,Hyderabad,India