The wedding venue was Madubhan Resort which is about 80 km from the Radisson in Ahmedabad. John had arranged for a bus to take guests from the hotel to the resort. There were enough of us to justify a large bus which would be simpler than multiple vehicles. Once at the resort we would begin the series of events over three days.
We had an early night last night, both slept well, and woke around 7:00 am which is about sunrise here at present. We went down around 8:00 am to eat breakfast and then went back, packed, and went down to checkout around 9:00 am. Assembly time for the bus was 9:45 am but it seemed wise to avoid a last minute rush to check out.
When the bus arrived, getting the accumulated luggage packed in was a challenge for the hotel staff. They filled all the luggage compartments and then, after we were all aboard and seated, rolled several large suitcases down the aisle of the bus because they had not been able to fit them in the luggage spaces.
The first part of the journey south to the resort was through the busy morning traffic of Ahmedabad. Progress was slow as our large bus wove among cars, motorcycles, motor rickshaws, and pedestrians. At one point Majella looked out her window and saw a man pushing a handcart among the traffic.
The cityscape was a mix of apartment buildings and smaller dwellings. There were some new and old and some that seemed to have been abandoned during construction. At one point Majella commented on the strange collections of items on the flat roofs and we surmised that they were there to hold the roof in place. We passed what looked like a major elevated road or rail construction but there was not much sign of active construction work.
As we got out into the countryside the scenery changed. There were some industrial sites and clusters of dwellings but also a lot of rice paddies. Further on we saw grain growing and some leafy vegetables that may have been cauliflowers. All were in small enclosed fields rather than the large areas of cultivation we typically see in Australia.
It was about midday when we arrived at the resort. Our large coach had difficulty squeezing through the front gate but eventually made it to a location near the front of the resort building where we disembarked. Across a garden by the entrance to the resort there were three colorfully dressed drummers pounding out a beat in front of a crowd of Shruti’s family and guests. Once everyone was out of the bus it returned to the gate for luggage to be screened for security purposes and, as bidden by John and the wedding planner, we all danced in procession toward the entrance to the resort.
As we arrived at the entrance we were greeted warmly by the other party who also launched into free form dancing as the drummers reached for a new crescendo. Eventually the drumming subsided and we had a chance to meet and speak with a few of the other guests.
We may have been a little later than planned and lunch was ready. One of the staff told Majella to go to the Banyan Room and we dutifully obeyed. It was a few minutes before anybody else was persuaded to follow us and, in that time, we had been offered and served Mexican soup. It was good and a bit spicy with the taste of beans, chilli, and coriander discernible. By the time we had eaten our soup others had arrived to join us at the buffet which offered a variety of tasty vegetarian dishes including tomato, cucumber, salad, lasagne, cottage cheese with peas, mixed Indian breads, papadums, spiced baby potatoes, and more.
As the room became crowded and there were people looking for chairs we decided we had eaten enough and headed back to reception to register for our room. Though we were first or second there, we had a long wait after registering since our room was still being cleaned. When it was ready we collected our key and went out to fetch our luggage.
Two of the hotel staff with an electric cart picked up our bags and motioned for us to ride on the back. They took off at what seemed like speed through a network of narrow paths, parked near our room, and carried our bags up a flight of stairs to the room. It was a large room with king sized bed, desk, chairs, table, and room to spare. The bathroom, complete with large tub in addition to the shower and basin, was proportionately large and had a wardrobe where we could hang clothes once they were ironed and ready.
Majella immediately set about the ironing. She had me reach down the ironing board from a top shelf but it refused to stand without collapsing until I did a minor repair by restoring a roller that had fallen off. A bent shaft meant it was still dodgy but she got the job done.
We rested for a while but sometime before 4:00 pm Majella insisted on dressing for the 5:00 pm Mehndi ceremony. A few minutes after 4:00 pm we were out the door so she could look to see if anybody else was dressed and ready. We did see one of Laura’s sisters and her husband. They had been wandering the grounds but had not thought of dressing yet.
Majella asked a staff member by the pool to take our photograph. He was an enthusiastic photographer and had us pose in various positions by an expatriate red bottlebrush tree and on a bridge over the pool. When we reached the far end of the pool we found the space being porepared for the Mehndi so at least we then knew where to go at 5:00 pm. It was a very colourful scene with a large area of seating in front of a stage surrounded by a yellow structure with a multicoloured awning overhead. That was purely decorative as the large openings in it would allow in sun or rain depending on the weather. We explored a little further toward the resort reception but still found nobody we knew and went back to our room to wait for the appointed hour.
We were there on schedule and spent time talking with others we knew as they arrived. Many, but not all, of the western guests had come in local dress so it was a colourful group. The crowd grew over the next hour and became more colourful as more of Shruti’s relatives arrived. We were advised a couple of times that the bride and groom would be arriving in a few minutes.
Sometime later they did arrive on the decorated trishaw, accompanied by drums. The crowd cheered and coloured smoke appeared as they alighted from the trishaw.
They were soon seated on the decorated swing and the MC proceeded to direct proceedings. There were some party games involving bride and groom and members of their parties. The MC seemed to be able to think on the spot to produce appropriate questions and switched easily between English and what we assumed was Gujarati. There were some dances by young cousins of Shruti and promises of a performance by John’s family. Eventually our turn came as the last act and we crowded onto the stage. Our performance was well received. John told us later that he had been impressed and was sure we would enjoy the video.
By then it was time for dinner but Majella had decided to have henna on her hands so we were delayed a while. When she was ready to eat she was unable to use her hands while her henna dried so I had to select her food and feed her. It was another spicy vegetarian feast accompanied by ginger beer.
After dinner was the dancing. The music was very loud and unfamiliar but we had a go at several of the dances. They went on for a long time as the music seemed to be on infinite repeat but people started and stopped as they were ready or needed a break. That went on with a variety of dances until 10:30 at which time the crowd began to disperse and we headed to our room to rest.