Rhode Island Travel Diary Part I: When Life’s a Beach

Two years back, as we were a month away from our US visas’ expiration, my friends and I braced ourselves for another parting time. Instead of feeling down that we were close to leaving our friends and colleagues who have become our family, we cheered up and decided to make the most out of our remaining days by creating memories. And nothing will be better than a getaway with your favourite people to somewhere serene yet fun! Two years forward, I’m reminiscing the unforgettable beach vacation we had!

Road Trip to Providence, Rhode Island

One fine Wednesday afternoon, September 2015, we bid goodbye to our little town Bretton Woods as we put on our seat belts and drive South to Rhode Island, another New England state known for its secluded beaches and seaside mansions — which were two of those many things we needed in a well-deserved RnR. It was David’s and Ashley’s ideas. They opted for somewhere we could really unwind and have fun as well. And voila! Rhode Island was the perfect destination! Not to mention, an Omni property is present in the location which means employee rate ( only a budget traveler could understand)!

Hello, Newport, Rhode Island!

Driving for 3 hours could be boring and exhausting, but not with these group of people I was travelling with! Along with my then boyfriend (now husband) Avinash‘s humor, joined by Jannie and Claudene‘s upbeat vibes, Ashley‘s and our Manager-slash-friend-slash-big brother David‘s fun ideas — we made one hell of a group! And playing “Cards Against Humanities” was only one of our ways to break the ice while on the road. It was my first time playing but I was actually pretty good that the game turned out to be also “Cards against Relationships”. LOL.

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Omni Providence Hotel — our home away from home

We arrived in the evening and was welcomed warmly by an Omni’s friendly staffs — from front desk to bellman to housekeeping, everyone was on top of their game! We appreciated every little things. I think it’s part of being a hotelier, you can’t help but point out even the tiniest details like their check-in spiels, the speed of the lift, and even the towel folding and toiletries’ arrangement 🙂 And oh, I loved the cookies and milk during turn down service, too!

Day 1: Getting a dose of Vitamin Sea!

After a long night of playing Cards Against Humanities over pizza, we dozed off for the beautiful beach day ahead of us! As the sun shined brightly, a bunch of early birds drove up to Easton Beach, Newport. The moment the car parked and we get settled, we were like birds freed from their cage as we ran and sprang on the shore!

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We were already comfortable and having fun when an officer came and warned us that the water has a high count of bacteria so swimming was a bad idea. Though the beach was really beautiful and quiet, we had to leave and transfer to another beach as we badly wanted to plunge in the water!

Second Beach/Sachuest Beach

By the name itself, to Second  Beach we went! With its various rock formations along the seashore, soft off-white sand and clean waters, the  Second Beach also known as Sachuest Beach, was not a second best at all. For those who look for tranquility, the beach was really quiet and peaceful. While those who look for fun and adventure, I recommend trekking the cliff on the far end and check “The Chasm”. You can also try surfing, no worries as there are surf boards for rent in the area. Though the waves weren’t big enough, it was still okay, I think.

Once we’ve found our own base, everyone just started to have a blast! Jannie and Claudene (me included!) couldn’t help but to click thousand of pictures away the moment they set foot on the beach, while David and Avinash dove straight to the water. Ashley did enjoy reading a book while basking under the sun. I know, nothing is as peaceful as reading your favorite novel with a calming sound of the ocean waves on the background. It’s a dream! 🙂

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Our little man cave.

The fun didn’t end yet. Of course, we all spent time playing in the water while Avinash and Claudene took turns on learning surfing. We also worked together in building our sand castles in between dips. Who says they’re only for kids?

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My Avinash learning how to surf.
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Beautiful Ashley rebuilding our castle.

Romantic Walk on the Beach
Most of us girls dreamed of a walk by the beach with someone we love. This always sounds romantic to me. I was yet to find out. Okay, it’s going to sound corny but I’m unleashing the hopeless romantic side of me.

So, while everyone took their naps, I took the opportunity to finally be alone with Avinash. Girls can make the first move, too, you know. And it turned out, he was actually waiting for that moment, too!

Hand in hand, we walked along the seashore as the ocean breeze blew upon our faces. To make the most out of the experience, we walked barefoot leaving footprints In the sand.

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…and this guy.

As we reached the end, we decided to trek the cliff rather than walking back. We were curious what’s behind those giant rock formations, anyway. Although a bit slippery, I knew I had nothing to worry ’cause Avinash was there to catch me if I fall. (Haha okay corny much)

A true gentleman.

The trek was worth it. We felt like we’ve found a hidden treasure. The view of the sea from afar was spectacular. We were left in awe! As much as we wanted to call our friends so they can see the stunning view as well, we stayed a little longer instead and enjoyed that sense of ease by ourselves.

Sitting side by side on the cliff’s edge with someone dear to me, watching the seagulls fly across the ocean, listening to the waves crashing against the rocks were surreal! For me, nothing is more romantic than that.

The Daredevils by The Chasm and its Myth

Later on, the rest of the gang joined us with David showing us “The Purgatory Chasm”. This 10′ wide and 50′ deep breach between the giant rocks was formed thousand years ago with an interesting folklore to tell.

I was holding to David for my dear life.
One wrong step and we’re…
Of course, us girls won’t miss the opportunity for an Instagramable photo.

According to the legends, there were a rich and giddy woman and her young lover standing by the edge of the chasm. As the young man pleaded his love hoping to be loved back, the lady promised to be his wife only if he’ll prove his devotion to her by leaping over the breach. Without second thought, the young man complied as he uttered how much he adores her. He sprang on the other side of the rocks and she never saw his face again. Legend has it that the woman mourned for the rest of her life. 😦 Ain’t that awful?

Unlike the woman, I held my man tight as we kissed the day away. 🙂

It was that moment I will never trade for anything in this world.

Indeed, the best beach day ever! On the second part, I’ll share our Newport Mansions experience. See you there!

With Love,

Atria

Postcards from Boston

As I stumbled upon these old photos from my waning I-pod, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. There were literally thousands of stunningly memorable images worth reminiscing — from my graduation and my first job, to my US internship and those rewarding travels after a hard days’ work. One of those rewarding travels was my first trip to Boston with my friends. Not only that it was my first time to visit the city but it was also my first time to go out of town after being in the woods for months! So I decided to share this unforgettable experience with you all as I take a walk down memory lane.

Why Boston?

With a distance of about 60-70 miles, Boston is the nearest tourist destination from New Hampshire where we lived. Our colleagues from Omni Mount Washington Resort recommended Boston, too, as this famous New England city has a lot to offer. Being one of the oldest city in the United States, it’s no surprise that Boston has a lot of historic sites and museums for tourists to visit, also popular parks and marketplaces for a shopaholic like my friends! Plus, most of it are easy to reach — you can take a walking tour or just stroll by yourself like we did! And their subway is also very convenient you will not get lost!

Adios, NH! Ola, Boston!

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This is Omni Mount Washington Resort where I had my internship. This majestic place was my home.

It was December 2014 when I first traveled outside New Hampshire with my friends. Thanks to our generous Supervisors for letting us all take leaves at the same days! We were all beyond ecstatic as we were finally off to seeing a city after being stuck in the woods for awhile. We started our plans with where to stay. I was lucky that my college friend, Ely, was doing her internship in Hampton Inn, Natick which was 30 minutes by train to South Station in Atlantic Avenue (where we planned to start our walking tour). She was able to book us a room for four under a “friends/family rate” so that saved us a lot of money! 🙂 As per the transportation from NH to Boston, we took the 6:45 scheduled Concord Bus from Littleton to the South Station for around $32 per person I think.

Misfits and Misadventures Upon Arrival

We arrived at the Boston South Station 3 hours later and went straight to Natick to check-in in Hampton Inn (what?). If I remember it correctly, you just have to cross the street to get to the MBTA or Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and carefully check the line where you’re going and its schedule. We did just the same and dropped by the West Natick Station which took us approx. 30 minutes.

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As what Ely told me, Hampton Inn was walking distance away from the station. So, we walked around the area for an hour or two but did not find the hotel. Later did we realize, after asking some locals, that we missed the right stop which was Framingham and that we were a bit far from Hampton Inn Natick. 😦

It could have been easy if I understood Ely’s instructions clearly and if one of us was smart enough to reload his phone before travelling so we could have called her in advance. But even after refilling Moises’s phone in an attempt to call Ely, I found out I saved the wrong number! How stupid I could be? Could this situation get any worst? We tried to get a hold of the hotel instead. Luckily, the concierge was very helpful to book a taxi that will pick us up and bring us to the hotel. I forgot his name but he really went beyond his duty.

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Guys, meet my friend Ely 🙂 (who is MIA right now)

How we enjoyed our 1-day in Boston?

After our first day hiatus, we agreed to leave the hotel early so we can make the most out our Boston Trip. This would be officially our first and last day exploring Boston as we were going home the next day. This time, we were joined by Tanja, Jannie’s and Claudene’s high school friend, who happened to be a housemate of Ely. What a small world! Anyway, with only one day to explore Boston, you might wonder how we enjoyed it? Well, welcome aboard as we will walk (literally) through the city of Boston.

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Me and my friends Moises, Jannie and Claudene while waiting for the train to take us from Natick to South Station
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The A Team plus Tanja
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Trying to look like a Parisian 🙂

Like I’ve mentioned, you can visit one touristy place to another just by walking. The city has a lot of walking tours arranged by experts from different tour guide company/groups if you’d like to join. From the Freedom Trail where you’ll walk through the Boston’s historic sites to Cambridge Tour where you’ll see the World’s famous University — Harvard. But if you’ll just get yourself a map, you’ll do just fine. I don’t know why I said that when honestly I was just tagging along with my friends. HAHA! So we started our own walking tour from South Station at Atlantic Avenue towards Faneuil Hall for food trips and shopping. And you’ll see where our feet led us along the way!

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Outside the Boston South Station
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Dewey Square Park behind me
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“Aww.. Kitty!” – Avinash
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Custom House;s Clock Tower
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Still along Atlantic Avenue

The stunning architecture of the buildings made me felt like I was in Europe! If only I can take a photo of all of ’em! But Moises and Claudene were already scolding me and Jannie for being so slow as we stopped in every corner for pictures. Didn’t you guys see what we saw? But surely the next one was worth stopping by.

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A bunch of proud Omni employees. Omni Mount Washington represent!

Norman B Leventhal Park

Just a stone’s throw away from the South Station via Atlantic Avenue and Congress Avenue, you’ll find this little green oasis hidden along the Boston’s Financial District — the Norman B Leventhal Park. Good thing Jannie and I stopped by to admire this park while the rest of the gang continued walking. This park is perfect for romantic dates and family Sunday bonding!

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A quick picture taken by strangers at Norman Leventhal Park
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Absorbing the serenity this park offers

Faneuil Hall Market Place

With only less than an hour, we made it to the historic Faneuil Hall! A unique old market place with over 50 shops — shopaholics will go drooling! From clothing and souvenirs to gadgets and footwear, you name it, Faneuil Hall has it all! If you visit this place for food trips, I heard the Quincy Market has tons of food choices in different cuisines that it’s overwhelming. But our lunch plans changed so we didn’t get to try the food. 😦 We were satisfied by what we purchased though 🙂 (I bought magnets to add to my collections!)

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Get ready to indulge in Quincy’s Place’ endless food choices!
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Lots of tourist and locals visiting this place!
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Outside the Faneuil Hall. I kinda hate myself right now for always being in the picture.

This capital of Massachusetts is surrounded by water, and Faneuil Hall is just few steps away from the waterfront. So when we visited Boston during the winter, the breezy air from the sea plus the negative degree-weather made us freezing cold! Those were the reasons behind our chopped lips, rosy cheeks and teary eyes in the pictures, if you noticed. Tips: Don’t forget to wear thermal clothes if you visit during the winter. Without them, even we were wearing  sweaters+jackets+wool coat+scarves, we were still dying inside.

Christmas season made Boston even prettier, though.

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Boston Public Library and Trinity Church at Copley Square

With its stunning Renaissance-style architecture and massive book selection, Boston Public Library is known as the first free public library in America. I’ve never seen this kind of place ever! Those bookworms will find it so heavenly! Oh, I just loved it!

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Boston Public Library at Copley Sqaure

If you’re visiting only for art and not for books, like us, you’ll love to see the spectacular architecture and murals around the building.Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

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Say hello, ladies! Also, thanks Tanja, for bringing us here!

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When you walk through Copley Square, it’s like hitting two birds in one stone. Just across the Boston Public Library is another state-of-the-art building in Boston — the Trinity Church. Unfortunately, it was closed the time we visited. But just looking at the exterior, no wonder this breathtaking masterpiece was among the Top 10 Buildings of America.

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Trinity Church at Copley Square
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Trinity Church up close
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With my outfit and an architecture like this, I felt like I was in Europe.
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The rear side of Trinity Church is still very gorgeous!

Prudential Tower

From Copley Square, a 5 minute walk will lead you to Prudential Tower, the second tallest Building in Boston. The highest observation deck in New England, The Skywalk, is also situated in this tower. If that will not interest you, how about a lunch or dinner with a view of Boston’s skyline? Located at the top of Prudential Tower is the Top of the Hub, a restaurant known for its world-class cuisines, stellar service and breathtaking 360 degree view of Boston.

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Nope, we did not dine in there because it was extremely pricey for us except for our friend Moises. We were just lucky that we had a glimpse of the restaurant when Moises checked his reservation. He was one fortunate guy who could afford to book a table for himself and was granted a seat by the window (I know, right?). Well, he thought the experience was really worth it and he did not have any regrets. I’ll definitely try it someday with Avinash! 🙂

Hello, Harvard!

Well, that short walking tour around Boston was lovely! But we did not walk any longer to see the infamous Harvard University as it was about 3 miles away from the heart of Boston and we were running out of time. We went through the red line subway instead that took us about 30 minutes to get to Cambridge. I guess, I don’t need any introduction for Harvard University as you all already know how prestigious this University is .

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That was it, loves! Just browsing through these images, you could say we made the most out of our one day in Boston. Although I still wish we spent more days so we could have visited some museums, we still had so much fun exploring Boston. I couldn’t stop talking about this trip the moment we got home. The city was also as charming as its people that watching them amazed me! I’m gonna say it again, “I felt like I was in a movie” in a European setting.

I hope you had a good read! Thank you for joining me as I walked down my “Boston” memory lane. Till next time!

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With love,

Atria

 

Akash and Simran’s Indian Wedding: A One for the Books Experience!

Aside from hopefully travelling to places in India, the wedding of Akash and Simran was actually what I’ve been waiting for. I haven’t attended any wedding in my entire life so getting an invite to this event thrilled me! And it was not an ordinary wedding I always see on TV or the SDE of Filipino Weddings I watch on Vimeo – it’s a Big Fat Indian Wedding! I was like “Yey, I’ll get to wear an Indian dress!” and yet “Oh no, I couldn’t dance!”

I really had no idea what to expect in an Indian wedding ceremony other than the glamour and dancing. Though I did look forward to meet my boyfriend’s family specially his mom, but thinking about it gives me thrills and shivers at the same time. With the culture differences and language barrier, I’ve been anxious how to win her over or make her and the rest of the family like me, at least. (You guys are with me, right?) Later, I’ll let you know how it went. 🙂

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Gripped with curiosity, just as you guys, my boyfriend filled me in with some fine points. And I’m sharing ’em here with you all as well!

So, the Indian Wedding is actually a week long celebration with different rituals and traditions before the actual wedding day. Those ceremonies take place from the bride’s and groom’s respected family and are done separately. I was not able to witness all of them since Avinash and I had some commitments in Delhi while the pre-wedding events took place in Sangrur, Punjab (Bride’s hometown) and Bihar (Groom’s hometown).

Pre-Wedding 

There was Mehendi Ceremony , where a henna paste was applied to a bride’s arms and feet in an intricate design. This was not only a symbol of aesthetics but of fun and festivities as well.

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If I was the bride, this ceremony is the one I’d enjoy the most! I was just amazed on the intricate details they draw. According to Avinash, they believe that the darker the color of the mehndi on the bride’s hands, the deeper she’ll be loved by her husband. Those are the bride’s. Tell me whatchu think.

Other than the bride, women guests can apply them as well. To get the most out of this experience, I also had my first henna (ever) just the night before the wedding. Talk about some final touch.

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My cute and simple mehendi was beautifully drawn by Anjali (Avinash’s sister). Thanks, Nanad Ji!

Also, one of the pre wedding rituals is the Sangeet Ceremony, where the wedding is celebrated through dancing and singing. I wish I was there. It must be so much fun!

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And the most essential of all ceremonies — The Haldi Ceremony. 

In this ritual, a turmeric paste or haldi is applied to the bride’s and groom’s body by their loved ones. Aside from its aesthetics benefits, they believe that this will keep the evil spirits away — including all those wedding jitters! 🙂

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The Big Day

“It’s time”, as the groom said. On the 29th of April, 2017, the big day has come  for Simran Mann (The Bride) and Akash Pratap Singh (The Groom) as they are finally tying the knot after their 6-year relationship. Read their inspiring love story here.

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The groom on his Sikh Wedding attire – Kurta Pajama and Turban

Simran is Sikh while Akash is Hindu – so having different culture and religion, they needed to have two weddings. Isn’t it nice that they don’t have to convert to one’s religion and argue which is which? I have too much respect for the Indian culture already.

It was a bright sunny day in the city of Sangrur, Punjab. A perfect weather for a much-awaited Sikh Wedding that took place in the morning. Everyone was all dolled up on time, or actually earlier than scheduled, including me who were secretly way more excited than anyone. HAHA! You can’t blame me. This was my first wedding experience, remember?

Among with my firsts was to wear an Indian dress. Thank God that my boyfriend’s sister, Anjali, was too generous to lend me her suit and lehenga, so I did not worry too much about that. As far as my makeup and hair, I managed to look decent on my no-makeup makeup look  for the morning wedding even though I did not achieve the Indian standard. *sighs*

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Funny fact: This pair of earrings was the heaviest earrings I’ve ever worn!

And being an early birds, we had lots of photo opportunities! Look at these!

Untitled collage Me in Churidar Suit and Avinash in Kurta Pajama

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Me, groom’s father, Anjali (left photo) and groom’s sister Bala (right photo)

I love our (emphasized on the ‘our’ ) family photos below 🙂 ♥♥♥

 

Coming with the Groom’s side, we all arrived at 10:30 in Gurudwara Sahib.

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The groom was welcomed by the bride’s family and was presented with a sword or kirpan as a symbol of his role to protect his wife and family from harm, and sehra, the dangling garlands attached to his turban to signify his prosperity.

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Before we entered the Gurudwara, everyone was required to take off their shoes and cover their heads with a head scarf or bandana. That is how they show respect to their God in Sikh religion.

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Once inside, men and women were seated, legs crossed, on opposite sides of the hall while waiting for the bride.

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Meanwhile…the bride along with her family is now walking her way to Gurudwara.

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The bride is ready to rock her wedding.

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The groom and bride sat in front of Guru Granth Sahib, or the Sikh’s holy book, as the priest read the prayers. The groom’s scarf was then tied with the bride’s as a symbol of unity. Then the Four Lavans were performed.

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While Hindu Wedding performs Mangal Phere or Seven Vows (will be mentioned later), Sikh Wedding performs Four Lavans. Read the quoted description below:

The four stanza of the hymn describes the progression of love between a husband and wife which is analogous to that between the soul (bride) and God (the husband). After the conclusion of the recitation of each stanza the groom followed by the bride holding the end of the scarf go around Sri Guru Granth Sahib in a clockwise direction while the ragis sing out the recited Lavan stanza. After each round the couple sit down and listen while the officiate reads the next stanza. The ragis then sing it while the couple completes another walk around Sri Guru Granth Sahib. This process is repeated four times in total for each stanza of the Lavan after which the couple sit down.

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You are now pronounced husband and wife. Vadhaiyan Akash and Simran!

I may not described the Sikh Wedding as detailed as I did about Hindu Wedding. I was just so mesmerized of what were happening around me that I did not bother to ask, and everyone was seriously watching the ceremony (chit-chatting could be disrespectful). The wedding was brief anyway.

There was no reception since they were a second wedding in the evening, however there were tea and halwa, a sweet made of flour and clarified sugar (as per Avinash) served afterwards.

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Congratulations, love birds!

Hindu Wedding

Like I’ve mentioned, there were two weddings. The second one which was Hindu Wedding took place around 8 o’clock in the evening at Chefs Hotel, Sangrur.

As much as I wanted to share everything in details for a better comprehension , I surely still have lack  of knowledge of all the rituals since this was the first time I attended an Indian Wedding. Nevertheless, I’ll still try to incorporate all the data I’ve gathered from the web and my ever-reliable boyfriend Avinash. (Thanks, love!)

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The groom with his sisters. (Yup, that was me photobombing)

The night started with Baarat or the groom’s procession. The groom along with his friends and family, accompanied by the live bass drummers, danced his way to the venue. This was the most enjoyable tradition! I was in that fun-filled moment where you just can’t help but dance along the Bollywood beats. It was so amusing!

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That’s Avinash having the best time of his life. haha!
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Thank you, Meenakshi, for teaching me an Indian moves 🙂

And according to The Cultureist, the lively Baraat shows the happiness of the family on welcoming the bride as part of their own. Look at the photos below and see how happy we were 🙂

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I can dance, you guys!

We were welcomed by the lavish facade of the event place. They are famous on this. And hey, “There’s no such thing as ‘too much’ in an Indian Wedding.” Just like the women’s glamorous outfits. Take a look!

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Again, the groom was welcomed by the bride’s family. Members of each family exchanged garlands as a symbol of their acceptance to each other — bride’s father exchanged garland with the groom’s father, bride’s brother to the groom’s brother and so on.

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Sim’s father and Akash’s father
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Groom’s brother Avinash and Simran’s brother Gurjot

The next ritual is another amusing one. Hear this thought, “Bribe to get the bride”. See the ribbon in there? It served as a barrier where the groom shall pay or bribe the bride’s sisters before he could get in the way to get his bride. It was a long and entertaining negotiation I’ve ever seen!

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Look at the groom trying to bargain. 🙂
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Who would win against these charming ladies? If I were you, guys, I’d accept defeat.
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These girls surely know how to do business.

Check the groom’s face — as if he had won a lottery (which he surely did) ! 🙂

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“I’m coming for you, Simran!”

…and here comes the Bride!

It is that most anticipated part of the event when the bride walks down the aisle and everyone is just thrilled to see how beautiful the bride is.Well, this one was extra-ordinary! Accompanied by her siblings and cousins, Simran arrived in an elegant wine velvet lehenga and danced her way to meet her husband-to-be.

6Q5A4489[1]6Q5A4484[2]6Q5A4492[1]She was such a scene-stealer! Click here to watch the video of her dancing to Saiyaan Superstar.

To begin the ceremony, Akash and Sim’s  locked off the seal with Sagai or Ring Ceremony as a sign that they are now both ready to embark on their new journey which is marriage. Awww. Happy for you both!

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One of the captivating rituals I’ve witnessed was Jai Mala or the exchange of garlands, as a sign of their acceptance of each other.

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Happily assisted by their sisters 🙂

Generally, the woman wears bindi (the red dot applied on the forehead) to show that she is married. On the counterpart, tilak, a red paste applied in a groom’s forehead, to signify that the bride’s family accepted him to be a part of their own. Congrats, Akash!RIN_8652[1]

Then the fun began with more dancing and…

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The couple’s first dance.

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…family pictures!

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Up close with Avi’s mom 🙂

And our favorite of all… FOOD!!! India is known for its splendid food, and for a big event such as weddings, I was excited to see what they have to offer! In this wedding, dinner was served in a buffet style starting from their mouth-watering appetizers up to their well-planned main course showcasing India’s finest delicacies. You don’t have to worry as they served both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes!

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Though I didn’t try them, I was impressed of the food presented separately in different stalls. I was like, “Are they all for us?” They had it all! If there is a word beyond extravagant, that would be it! But for someone like me who is not used to eating spicy food, I indulged myself to fruit salad and pasta arrabiata, and spoiled myself in an extra servings of ice cream! To Simran and Akash’s family, you were really a generous host! 🙂

Just when I thought that the wedding was almost over, someone just told me, “It’s just starting.” There were actually more rituals to be performed! I was like…

 

 

The ceremony continued. This time the bride and groom were sitting in mandap (the altar that represents their home) in front of the priest and are surrounded by their families. Tons of rituals were performed but there were three most important that you should not miss — Mangalya, Mangal Phera and Sindoor.

RIN_8834[1]In Philippines, we use a gesture called “Mano” to show respect to elders. We take the right hand of the elders with our right hand then place it to our forehead. While in India, they show their respect by touching the elder’s feet.

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The couple receiving their blessings from the groom’s father.

The following rituals in the two photos below show the bride’s family members accepting Akash as their own.

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One of the important rituals is Mangalya Dharanam, where the groom ties a mangalsutra (mangal means holy and sutra means thread) around his bride’s neck. This  necklace is so significant as this symbolizes their love and marriage. In Indian tradition, the woman has to wear the mangalsutra throughout her married life.

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They also performed the most essential ritual in an Hindu Wedding called Mangal Phera or Seven Steps or Seven Vows, where the bride and groom walked around the holy fire seven times as a symbol of there seven promises to each other. Most likely the “I do” part in a Christian and any Western weddings.

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The groom’s dupatta was tied to the bride’s lehenga as they walk hand in hand around the fire.
The next wedding ritual will be your cue that the wedding is almost over. In this ceremony, the groom applied a red/orange paste on the bride’s forehead (in the parting of her hair). Sindoor or vermilion is a sign that she is now a married woman. So, guys, whenever you see a woman with a sindoor on her forehead, back off for she is taken. 🙂

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Congratulations!

The Hindu Wedding rituals may varied from one community to another but one thing is certain — it is still a sacred ceremony that unites two people together. Another important realization I’ve learned after watching these whole ceremony are 1: They are not only about the union of the couple. Unlike the weddings we’ve usually seen that only focus on the bride and groom. 2: They are also about the union of two families — showing acceptance and respect to each other.

PS: Just another funny (or not) fact: There was no “kiss the bride” in an Indian wedding just so you wouldn’t expect.

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Looking pretty in pink, Didi! 🙂

Special shout out to Anu Di for tagging me along with you when Avinash was so busy organizing the event. He just couldn’t help but put his inner hospitality professional in use and be helpful at the same time. I’m so proud of you, babe!

The wedding finished around 5 o’clock the next day. Yes, I was not exaggerating when I said that the wedding ceremony was 8 hour long or more! And although exhausting, it was still an enjoyable night. Just like the other guests, I definitely had a blast! For me, it was not only an unforgettable celebration but a fun learning experience about the Indian culture.

I am also beyond happy to say I got along well with Avinash’s mom and got to know the rest of his family as well. I felt the love and acceptance despite of our differences. It was indeed the best weekend of my life in India so far 🙂 I’ll share more about them on my future stories. Hope you had a good read!

Congratulations again to Akash and Simran! Thank you for having me!

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With Love,

Atria

Bittersweet Escapes: Behind the Blog

Namaste!

This is Atria, a girl from the Philippines who moved to India in search for her inner peace and happiness, and most of all… for LOVE.

Yep, you read it right. I left my home country, my family, my dear friends and all the comfort behind, to be with Avinash, the man I met on my one-year internship in America over 2 years ago.

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He is from India and was also an intern. That means we had to go back to our own country once our visas expire.

Being across the world from each other for fifteen months was enough for me to decide to leave everything behind and start a new life with Avinash — and all it took was a leap of faith and a one-way ticket to India.

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Avinash was so sweet to surprise me with flowers at the airport.

My journey was not easy though. Let’s just say , the plan was all against the odds. And to be honest, except from the thought of finally seeing my boyfriend again, everything else scared me. I had to constantly remind myself that “Love conquers all”. 🙂

It’s not (always) as romantic as it sounds. I’ve been here in India for 4 months now and I had the most amazing and challenging days of my life! I’ve been through the best and the bad times! And when I say bad, it includes that phase in life of an expat called “culture shock” — being so overwhelmed, disoriented, irritated, depressed, etc.

I can’t say I’ve totally overcame this stage. But I’m getting there. With the help of my boyfriend, I’m slowly understanding the culture and learning the norms and the language. I can even eat spicy food now! I have also finally met Avinash family which was one of the greatest things — and his mom — oh, she was the sweetest!

Those are only a glimpse of my new life in India and I have a lot more to share! Follow me as I tell my sweet and not so sweet journey in this blog I called “Bittersweet Escapes”.

With love,

Atria

A Short Story: New York Love and Misadventures

Welcome to New York! It’s been waiting for you. Welcome to New York, welcome to New Yooork. Ugh. That song is really catchy,  isn’t it, Swifties?

Aside from seeing the Statue of Liberty and Time square, a romantic date in Central Park was also on the top of my NY Bucket List. And of course, it wouldn’t be romantic without my boyfriend, Avinash, who wholeheartedly promised to bring me to NYC again.  Continue reading “A Short Story: New York Love and Misadventures”