Wears

The Top 5 Things I Learned at an Indian Wedding

Friendship blessed me with the opportunity to attend a Punjabi Sikh wedding last weekend.  Not only was it my first time in NorCal (San Jose!), but it was also the first Indian wedding I’ve ever attended – which meant days of parties.  I returned home Sunday night, exhausted, full of curry, and armed with new knowledge for next time.

In no particular order, here are the top five things I learned this past weekend:

1. Be prepared to eat.  No, not “eat a meal at the reception.”  We had dinner at the Mehndi ceremony on Thursday and the Sangeet on Friday.  And Saturday, we had breakfast and lunch at the hall (sandwiching the religious ceremony), and then dinner at the reception.  If you don’t like Indian food, this could be a bit challenging, but give it a chance if you’ve never had it.  You just might surprise yourself.

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Image courtesy of purvajcaterers.co.in

I’m fairly certain I ate about 12 pounds of paneer, chicken, lamb, samosas, rice, saag, kebob…I actually decided to change my outfit one night so I could eat more.  Side note – Indian desserts are a bit….different.  Spongy and very sweet.  My advice would be to fill up on the food.

2. Some of the parties may be dry.  In the U.S., “wedding” is usually synonymous with “booze,” but consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Sikhism.  This doesn’t mean that every event will be dry, but we were told, “You do you.”  Which, to many of us, said”be prepared with your own drinks.”
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Punjabi people are known for partying and having a good time, and the first two nights were not dry.  (My new drink invention is chai with spiced rum and a bit of sweetener.)  Out of respect, Saturday’s religious festivities and the reception were, however, so we made do with our own flasks.  Just don’t be too obvious, and take swigs privately.

3. It’s totally appropriate to wear a saree.  Bold and bright colors (no solid black or white), beading, embroidery, you name it.  My saree was an impulse buy between the Saturday morning ceremony and reception from a secondhand boutique that donates proceeds to help abused women.
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There are lots of videos on YouTube to teach you how to wear one, and they’re definitely not bad.  Invest in safety pins, and give it your best shot.  And if you’re still having trouble draping it, an Indian auntie will most certainly help you.

I was in the ladies’ room, trying to fix it, and she came up to me, asked if I needed help, and before I knew it, I was standing there with her hands tucking the fabric into my petticoat (aka skirt worn below your belly button).  It was a bit odd at first, but about 4 seconds in, I was immensely thankful for her help, and before I knew it, she had a line of people needing her expert advice.

4. Bring your dancing shoes.  Not dancing is not an option.  You’re at a wedding where the dance floor will basically turn into an Indian club, with pounding, energetic Indian music and flashing lights.  Plus, you’re there to celebrate.  Get off your butt and dance.
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At the Sangeet, there were choreographed traditional dances, a group dance, and then what seemed like every person trying to show off even more energetic moves.  It was bhangra style, it was American style, and it was totally fun.  It was even better with all the swirling colors.

5. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Pace yourself.  Indian weddings last for days and have several events.  It’s worth it to take the time to appreciate all the work that went into the coordination, the gorgeous settings and colors, and to celebrate the happy couple.  There are traditions in which you can participate, such as the groom riding in on a white horse, with his friends and family dancing around it (which in our case was a fancy Mercedes), or hoisting the bride up and carrying her while the groom tries to get a garland of flowers around her neck.  Participate in the group dances, try all the food, and make new friends.  Indians are warm and welcoming, and they certainly know how to have a good time.

At heart, weddings all share one common thing:  They are a celebration of joining two families and many friends together, and this was no exception.   I can’t wait for the next one!

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Birthday Weekend, Part 1

My third 29th birthday was last Thursday, and what better way to celebrate than a weekend getaway to…Dallas.  No, I didn’t go to Cabo, no I didn’t go on a cruise, or even New York City.  Instead, I packed a bag and set off for the winter warmth of Texas.

Of course, birthday weekend wouldn’t be off to a good start without some birthday present (to myself), in the form of new running pants.  Now all I need are some running sneakers to match 🙂

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These are super fun – the squiggles are actually silver.

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I was told these look like the 80s threw up on my black pants.

Upon my arrival in Dallas, I was greeted with a sushi dinner (being Friday and Lent and all).  It was at a place I’d been to once before, and they were nice enough to let me use my Groupon on a Friday night.  I think I have a new favorite sushi spot in Dallas, though only if there’s a deal.

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IMG_20160304_195029643The first picture is missing a few rolls that came later, and yes, you do see two of the same rolls in each photo.  They’re hands down my favorites – the black caviar one is called the White Russian…what can I say?  I love Anna, I love this sushi roll – I just love my white Russians.

Somehow, despite the weekend being insanely busy, I managed to hit a vintage market (which was actually more of a disappointment – I was hoping for much more.  Maybe next year, though) coupled with a home and garden show.  I got in trouble for taking photos, but there were some cute little cacti and lovely cards.  I also bought some hot pepper-infused jelly.  I recommend the blueberry and the jalapeño mint.

 

 

 

Post market, it was such a beautiful day, I wanted to take advantage of the weather and the marginally safer streets, and went for a run outside.  When it’s 77 degrees out and winter everywhere else, you’d be a fool to not do something outside.  A short 5k around some of Dallas’s main arteries meant that I should probably reward myself.  I had wanted to go to a brewery for ages, and finally made it:  Deep Ellum Brewing Company.  $15 gets you three pints, a souvenir glass, and some prime people watching.  And folks, my PSA soapbox comment:  Just because you think you are hot stuff and wearing leggings in public does not give you permission to go commando.  Especially if the leggings are already stretched tight.  That material stretches further when you bend over, and when that material stretches and becomes transparent….ooof.  That was NOT a Grand Canyon I wanted to visit.

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Dinnertime meant a trip to meet some friends at Chino Chinatown, which was in a fancypants area with lots of restaurants I want to try.  It’s a Latin-Asian fusion, and I have just four words for you:  Duck.  Fat.  Fried.  Rice.  Everything was delicious, but really, that fried rice was divine.  To die for.  I could go back and eat just that.  The drinks were inventive but not terribly strong, so the beers beforehand were helpful.  I’m not an alkie, I swear.  I just enjoy feeling bubbly 🙂  Good conversation, good food, nice area.  I couldn’t really ask for more for my birthday.

Like all good things, weekends come to an end, and unfortunately, so do birthday weekends.  I flew back to reality this past Monday, and have been stuck in an office for the last few days.  Friday brings about Birthday Weekend, Part 2 in DC, when I head down to see some racing friends.  I think I’m pretty lucky – who else gets to have two birthday weekends?

Yes Is Be My Answer

As the old joke goes, someone who speaks four languages is quadrilingual, a speaker of three languages is trilingual, someone with two languages is bilingual, and someone who knows only one language is an American.  To continue, there’s a stereotype that Americans don’t need to learn another language because everyone speaks English – and if they don’t, they should.

While I am an American (but I’m bilingual so don’t shoot me!), I don’t necessarily believe everyone should speak English.  In fact, Engrish has provided me with some of my fondest travel memories.  The signs posted on my dorm in Hangzhou were a bit rough, but they were good for a chuckle, and sometimes our Chinese friends wore shirts that left us either doubled over in laughter, or scratching our heads trying to make sense of the phrase.

Because Hong Kong was under British rule for so long, I figured there wouldn’t be too much Engrish around – but I was pleasantly mistaken.  The translations on signs and menus were fine (albeit a bit formal), but fashion….oh, the fashion.  There was plenty of Engrish to go around, and what was even better were the shirts with incredibly random lists and graphics.  They might have been grammatically correct, but they were so odd to me…

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Yes, that says New Hauen. With a “U” instead of a “V.” Can’t win ’em all.

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While the sartorial purchases I made were tame and (gasp) normal (a New England Patriots long sleeve shirt, and two scarves – one with lobsters and one with seahorses), I had to talk myself out of buying some of the others.  Just for the looks I’d get at home if I wore it out.  Like I said, one of the best reasons to go to Hong Kong is for the shopping.

Shame On You

Everywhere we go, wherever we live our lives, there’s a dress code.  Work, school, grocery shopping…there’s what you can/can’t wear, what’s appropriate, and what’s borderline.  For most, including myself, how I look and dress is a personal expression – that being said, I’ve always made it a point to be appropriate.  My style is fairly casual, but also classic.  I don’t subscribe to fashion trends (TIGHTS ARE NOT PANTS) – I prefer what’s comfortable, flattering, and timeless.

That being said, I’m short, I have a fairly decent figure, and I like to wear sky-high heels (see point #1).  It’s come to my attention that normal shirts seem to be a lot more revealing based on the fact that people are literally looking down at me while speaking, and if I want something to fit appropriately on 90% of my body, I’m going to look like I am wearing a Wonderbra on steroids.  None of this matters, however, because I dress very professionally at work – even if I have a bit of Jenna flair in my shoes or the colors:  Note two typical outfits, one summer, one winter.

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This is why, yesterday, when my boss added my coworker to our 1:1, and took us outside and we were just going to hang out and chat for a while, I knew something had to be up.  And I was right.  Sitting around a table, laughing and smiling, she revealed that the COO had told the department director to tell our boss to speak to us about how we “dress too sexy.”  She said she thought this was unfounded, a horrible conversation, and motivated by jealous, crotchety old people at work.  There were no examples of “too sexy,” but nonetheless, we’d been reported and were being asked to change our clothes.

After that, my coworker and I were dumbfounded.  We racked our brains, analyzed every article of clothing, and tried to speculate who in the world would have reported us.  We made ourselves sick with worry – and I gave myself anxiety trying to figure out how to afford a new wardrobe.

Is it body shaming?  Is it jealousy?  Should I start dressing like a frumpy old woman in oversized, mismatched clothing?  Has anyone ever told me anything other than, “You look so nice!” or “Wear those heels now, you won’t be able to at my age!”?  Is it my fault I am young, eat healthily, and regularly work out?

It came to light that the complaints did come from a crotchety, bitchy, old hag.  Someone that decided sleeveless (at lunch, outside, in 95* heat) is inappropriate for the workplace. Someone I will not miss when I leave here.

¡Viva España! El Tercer Día: Yo Quiero Comprar….

Upon the advice of my dearest friend and a former temporary Spanish resident, Anna (read her blog here!), I packed extremely fashionable and warm-weather-appropriate clothing for my late May trip.

Somehow, Mother Nature got wind of my best-laid plans, and decided that the 70F/21C temps that I had anticipated should instead be replaced by three days of 50F/10C days full of clouds and light spittings of rain. Suddenly, the chiffon blouses, mini-skirts, and maxi dresses were no longer appropriate for my holiday in Spain.

I walked out of the apartment on Wednesday, in a peach chiffon dress and open-toe sandals, to be greeted with a chilly breeze, and immediately turned around and walked back in. I was convinced that my day was ruined, until I realized that the silver lining here is that while at my apartment, I could connect to the Wi-Fi, and look for a cheap clothing store where I could buy sweaters, jeans, and a jacket. I settled on Zara and H&M, and after a quick glance at the map, it seemed they were in a shopping area less than 2 kilometers away.

H&M MapAs you can see, it’s a short, winding walk with lots of route options. Because I visited this area for the shopping, restaurants, and people-watching several times over the next few days, I didn’t always stick to the same blue route – I took several different combinations of roads to get up to the main shopping area. I enjoyed walking up Calle del Mesón de Paredes, which will hereby be known as Calle Ebay China, since not only was every store fashion and/or accessories related, but it was all the stuff I’ve seen on Ebay – hats, dresses, jewelry, wallets – that say “Shipping from: [insert Chinese place], China.” Seriously. Type in “China (some article of clothing)” into an Ebay search. That’s what you’ll see: everything in the stores on the Calle del Mesón de Paredes.

There was a beautiful church on the corner of Calle de Embajadores and Calle Oso. The churches were gorgeous – to be elaborated upon in a future post – and the carvings are so intricate and detailed, the buildings themselves are truly works of art.

As you can see, to get to H&M, I had to walk through the Puerta del Sol. This area was fantastic. It had lots of open area stands (Mercado de Ebay China), dried fruits and foods, slightly higher quality Ebay China items, They also had these super Carnevale masks, but they were so grandiose, I wasn’t sure how I’d get them home in my suitcase.

Despite all the goods and trinkets, I didn’t buy anything. Every time I made my way back through the Puerto del Sol, the stands were closed up, as I had spent my entire day north of the wall. I kept meaning to go back to the dried fruit stand, because it was cheap and had delicious-looking foods (and baklava!) but alas, I never made it back.

Through the archway, there were also some pretty spectacular fountains and statues. I found that every little plaza area had them, and while many of them were men on horses, they were still pretty cool to look at.

The other cool thing was that on this day, the city was still gearing up for the European Champions League Finals. I’ll spare you the boring soccer details, but basically, it encompasses all the Leagues around Europe. The top two teams from all the Premier Leagues play each other in the finals, and this year, they were both from Madrid: Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. The city was positively insane on those nights. I was a bit scared – it was crazier than when the Red Sox won the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. For some reason, I never got the Real Madrid jersey in any of the photos – but they ended up winning 4-1.

The stores around the Puerto del Sol ranged from US-brand to strictly Spanish Mom and Pop shops. They were delightful. People were friendly and welcoming, and there were bright colors and interesting patterns. I tried on lots of shoes and I even purchased a few articles of clothing, and was constantly reminded of what a wonderful place this is.

This Nearly Was Mine

I’ve just about given up on the swearing one. I am trying, but sometimes you can’t say “shoot” when you really need to say “shit.” It just doesn’t cut it.

Especially when it’s the middle of the night, you’ve set an alarm to wake up for the auction on ebay for something you’ve been wanting and searching for (for the past two years), and you are outbid at the last second. Literally.

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My max bid (which I submitted with 20 seconds left) held till the very last second. “1s remaining” and BAM. “You lost this item.” Not the most awesome way to fall asleep. Sigh.