Finally had a chance to get on the actual Internet and talk a little about our vacation up to this point– the hotel that Michelle and I stayed at in Chicago had wifi, but charged 10 bucks for 24 hours of use. Tweeting throughout the days are a decent means of getting some words out there, but I wanted to fill in some of the gaps…
In case you missed it, we are on our matrimonial summer vacation. We started out on July 9, mid-day, with a coach bus ride from 4th and St. Paul in Milwaukee down to O’Hare in Chicago. From there, we were able to catch a shuttle to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, where Michelle’s friend Amisha was getting married (I suppose technically she did not get married at the hotel, but rather the Rosemont Convention Center across the street).
We caught a later bus out of Milwaukee than we originally planned, so on Thursday night, Michelle and her mom, Sheryl, had to head straight over to the henna party at Amisha’s parents’ house. I tried in vain to get on a subway train to downtown Chicago (would have taken an hour to get there, and I was starting at about 9PM), see Public Enemies (the last show of the day started just a little while before I got to the theater), and find a grocery store within reasonable walking distance. I ended up having some wings and a beer in the hotel bar for dinner on Thursday night.
I should probably mention here that Amisha is Indian, and the experience of an Indian wedding was new for all three of us. There is a LOT of ceremony throughout the entire event, which can last for days. With Michelle being a bridesmaid, we had to keep a very tight schedule and spend a lot of hours at each location. It was extremely interesting, a lot of fun, and exhausting.
Friday, we were back at Amisha’s parents for a ceremony to get Amisha prepared for her wedding day. Most of her visiting family attended the event from about 9AM to 2PM. We had lunch, then returned to the hotel to get ready for the Garba, a dance/party the night BEFORE the wedding Most of you, you might have throughout this was the reception just based on casual observation; it was a little more like a prom the day before the ceremony. There was one dance in particular, toward the end of the evening (around 10:30) that nearly everyone participated in (did I mention that there were several hundred people at the Garba?) lasting nearly an hour! And it was a non-stop dance. We wondered where everyone got SO MUCH energy, and by the end of the night, Michelle was suffering from some mild heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Saturday wedding ceremony was unbelievably ornate and spectacular. Even some of the Indian friends that we made over the weekend commented that this was possibly the largest and most extravagant Indian wedding THEY had ever been to. I will post photos when I get a chance to give you a better sense of what the ceremony looked like, but I will sum up a few of the key points:
- the day started with the groom’s 200-person procession by horse-drawn carriage from the hotel across the street to the convention center
- the room where the ceremony was located seated over 1000 people
- at the height of the ceremony, there were about 60 people on the stage with the couple
- from start to finish, the ceremony itself was over two hours
The reception in the evening featured 10 dance performances, a Slumdog Millionaire parody, and an entire room just for desserts. Toward the end of the evening, it was fairly similar to an American reception, with all the younger folks on the dance floor to the end.
More to come as time allows on our trip out of Chicago and our first couple days in sunny southern California… off to the Hollywood sign!