Friday, December 28, 2012

It's Wedding Season; revisited

I wrote a post on weddings in Hyderabad, India a while ago. While I was writing it I felt like I was doing it half-heartedly and in a hurry. That post haunts me to this day. I literally shudder when I think about it. So I'd like to rewrite this post, give it another shot and hopefully be satisfied with this one. Since wedding season is here {summer and winter}, I thought this would be a good time to do it. Indian weddings have a LOT of parties leading up to the wedding and after the wedding. I'm covering the actual wedding reception itself. The Nikah, or wedding ceremony is simply. There is a small speech about marriage followed by agreement of the bride and groom.

I used to be a punctual person. Until I moved to India. When there was a wedding I'd force my sister to rush getting ready and scramble into the car. Traffic in Hyderabad was never light, except for the odd hours of the night. It would take at least an hour to get to the wedding hall with traffic, fifteen minutes without. After arriving to the venue, we'd find that we are extremely early, despite being half and hour to 45 minutes later than the time given on the invitation.

The stage is beautifully decorated with flowers hanging on string to create a backdrop, as well as large flower arrangements near the area the bride is to sit. It's either a velvet chair or couch, or the traditional way is to sit on the floor on a velvet cloth with gold thread in an uncomfortable pose. In front of the stage are chairs arranged facing the stage. Usually the first few rows are fancy chairs or benches that closer members of the bride and grooms family sit. Behind them are plastic chairs everybody else sits on. This I have seen at the most extravagant weddings as well. Now that I think of it, it might be due to lack of storage space, or low maintenance, as Indian weddings are pretty big. I've been to a wedding where a couple thousand people have been invited! Oh, and men and women are seated in separate areas, as per religious requirements.

In India, the stages look something along the lines of this:

This is the more traditional way of sitting. The bride is supposed to be "shy" and look down, not speak. Meh. WHO CARES? A lot of older people do. It's the happiest day of your life, but you can't look it! Culture is weird.

In America, stages look more like this:

After what seems hours of waiting or so, the hall fills up with many, many people. Everyone is invited to weddings in India. Sometimes you never even met the bride or the family, you just are a coworker or friend of someone related to the wedding party. The mailman, the tailor, the neighbors, drivers, maids. Teachers, classmates, co-workers. Parents' friends, co-workers. The jeweler. The bride and grooms friends' cousins, siblings families and friends. The list is pretty exhausting.

If we're lucky dinner will be served by 10:30 PM.  There is a separate area where dinner is served. Usually, they have rounds for eating, as not everyone can fit into the hall. There are tons of people, after all. You're best bet, and in my case, my only chance of having a shot at dinner is at the first sitting. During the second sitting, drinking glasses and napkins are not provided. The plates are rewashed and wet, sometimes dirty. The serving spoons have oil on them, as Indians eat with their hands. And the food is not brand new. Meaning that they will take the left overs from the first sitting and serve them in the next rounds. Which is OK, I mean don't waste food. But I'd like clean serving spoons.

Because of the advantages of the first round, there is a mad dash when dinner is served. I probably was unlucky one or two times. I sit near the entrance to the dining hall, I walk fast, but don't run. I am a lady, after all. I know it does seem rather barbaric, but once you sit in the second or third round, you do not want to make that mistake again. Another reason for the rush is that Indian weddings are so late! They start as late as 10 pm, sometimes the bride doesn't show up until 10:30. It's kind of ridiculous if you ask me. I learned to eat a light meal  or snack before the wedding.

The food usually does not disappoint. Because I am a girly girl, I love it when they serve naan - an Indian flat bread - in the shape of a HEART. So romantic. Usually there is soup with meat in it to start with along with shrimp, lamb kabobs, chicken kabobs, fish. At a Muslim wedding there will definitely be a meat overload. This is served with different types of bread, the naan, as I've mentioned as well as some more oily or buttery breads. Following this huge amount of appetizers come the star of the meal, the biryani (rice) along with the accompanying gravies and yogurt. Followed by dessert which is Indian or ice cream served on cake with dried fruit and nuts.

This is dessert served in a clay pot. It's like full fat ice cream. So delicious. I put so many pictures of food, the best part!

Here, Muslim brides wear something called a Khada Dupatta. It's pretty much worn specifically in the region/city of India I am from. It's basically wearing a long top and pants and then being wrapped up in 6 meters of fabric. I used to hate it but now I love it. Even though I find it difficult to walk in. Only royalty used to wear these dresses, and I like to think of myself as such. Seriously, though, with jewelry, and if you wear it right, it looks grand. The first photos is a really simple, non-bridal one. The second is a bridal one. But the brides here wear heavier ones this is also pretty simple in comparison and I can't find a heavier one online and I don't want to post photos of my friends up here for religious reasons as they aren't covered up properly.

The bride also has henna on her hands and feet. Usually up to the elbows and a mid-calf. It costs about 100-200 dollars when you convert the currency. Which is nothing! In America, I got a quote for $1000. But I got lucky and found a super skilled Henna Artist who did it for much less.

After or during dinner the bride will her her photo shoot with the groom. And since it's so late, the guests will get ready to go. There is no dancing at the Muslim weddings. The dancing is done on the days leading up to the wedding. Sometimes there is entertainment. But I don't find it entertaining. Mostly it's old guys singing old school songs. haha. In America, there are dances, speeches, slideshows, entertainment, etc. But I'm mostly discussing how it's done "back home".

Anyways, when it's finally time for the bride and groom to leave, the bride and her parents and family cry because she is leaving the nest. So emotional. Waah waah waah. 

I tried to cry. But I didn't. My parents were like, "Peace out!" haha. Good thing, or else my makeup would have been all over the place. It was kind of like this. "Bye, girl, see you tomorrow!"

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I came across this tweet and took this screen shot. Although technology definitely has it's perks, I think it's sad the effect it has on relationships. Friends, families, spouses; many prefer communicating through  screen, rather than face to face.

My husband and I decided to put our phones away when we are together. If the hospital needs him, they page him. It works out, no harm done and, I'm glad we decided to do this before it turned into a problem where we wouldn't be able to speak to one another without pressing buttons on a device. Before it became awkward. I also hope we can carry this on to our children and be one of those families that actually enjoys spending times with each other and not with each others' mobile devices and iPads.

Think about the last time you met up with someone face-to-face. Were you able to give them your undivided attention? Or were you always checking your facebook, twitter, instagram, twitter, etc? Multitasking isn't always a good thing.

I feel that it's leading to a lot of people developing something along the lines of Attention Deficit Syndrome. I have a longer post post dedicated to this written up, I'll be posting more about that later.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Hunger Games books and movie reviews

Warning: this is not a proper book review, mostly my own thoughts. I also am not organized here, because I hate when people ruin books/movies/tv shows for me before I get a chance to read or watch them. So in my effort to minimize giving away too much information, I became pretty choppy. But it's a decent review, in my opinion, given that the last book review I did was in elementary school.

I took it a bit slowly reading The Hunger Games, mainly because I was not used to sitting around reading all day. Every now and then I'd get up, thinking I had something to do, but realize that I don't. But then I would remember that I have a husband who I haven't seen in a while and probably should hang out with. Just kidding! He is my number one superstar. So husband  > books any day. We had fun. We ate Mexican food, and talked, studied, walked and got fat together. Beautiful, really.

Oh, the book! Right, well I cried in the beginning when Katniss volunteered in place of her sister. I am not going to be giving away much, don't worry. But I get emotional during these family moments. I think that's all I felt bad about. I'm not really emotional otherwise.

Okay, so this book takes place somewhere in the future, in my mind it's in the United States, but it could very well be the whole world. There are 12 districts. Each year one male and one female from each district is selected at random to participate in the Hunger Games. The game is a fight to death, with only one victor left standing. It sounds gory and full of action, but it isn't too bad, promise. The Hunger Games is a way the government reminds the districts who is in charge. That they can and will take your children to fight to the death each year, and celebrate it.

Katniss, the main character, goes with her male counterpart, Peeta. Peeta confesses his love for Katniss in front of the country during the interview before the games. And now they have to fight to the death, basically. She encounters a little girl from district 11, Rue, with whom she becomes allies with. The story goes into how she survives in terms of hunting and gathering food, escaping death a few times, and killing a few people.

That's all I am going to say. But it was a good read. The problem with me is that I don't like endings very much. I always predict the end and end up right. Or the ending is dumb. Well I thought it was fabulous up until the end. I felt it was too unfinished.

Which is why there is a sequel, duh.
Then I felt the same way about the second book, Catching Fire. Which is why there's another book, duh again.

All I have to say about Catching Fire, without giving away too much of the first is that IT IS SO GOOD. *POSSIBLE SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY* There's a sequel so obviously Katniss survives in the first book. But the president is not happy with her and there's a lot of drama and she has to play in the Hunger Games AGAIN. *END OF POSSIBLE SPOILER* And the ending was amazing and it just ends...leaving me begging to know what happens next. unfortunately my sister has the third book with her and I'll have to wait like a patient princess. Except I am not patient and not a princess.

I cannot wait to read the third. I don't even know what it's called...Mocking Jay?

As far as the movie goes, I will say this. I am weird. I always read the book first then watch the movie. Then get disappointed in the movie. It's a vicious cycle. I did this with Harry Potter and the first movie and didn't watch another until the 7th book.I did this with My Sister's Keeper. But the movie was dumb all on it's own, even if I didn't read the book. Everything looks so perfect and awesome in my head. The movie ruins it. So from now on I'll do the opposite. A lot of people who read the book also loved the movie. To be honest with you, I don't watch TV and movies much, so to sit there for 2 hours and do nothing but watch it made me a little apprehensive. It did pretty much follow the book, with minor changes here and there. And the time frame seemed much longer in the book than it did the movie. Over all, it was pretty accurate.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Outfit Of The Day

To show you more of my lifestyle, I guess I'll be posting more outfits and food and everyday photos here as well. Maybe not of my face, but little tidbits of my life here and there. :) The above photo is what I wore to a dinner a few weeks ago.

If you are new o this blog, you may not recall the post regarding the Muslim women's dress code. If you are interested in the requirements and how we stay stylish while covered up, click here to read all about it!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Jiggly Puff

Muslims don't celebrate Christmas, but it's hard to avoid holiday parties and dinners. And the fact that many out there get a break from work to gather with friends and family usually means heavy, comfort food. It's hard walking by a bakery or the bakery section of the grocery store and not be tempted to buy the many cakes and goodies.

So what it comes down to it - wether you have a special holiday or occasion to celebrate or not, the end of the year is always a danger zone for feasting on unhealthy things and slacking on exercise. I need a motivational boost every now and then.

So I'm posting here, and letting you know it's not easy! But I'm still trying. If I can't run, I walk. I'll try to go for herbal tea instead of coffee with creamer and sugar or tea with evaporated milk and sugar. Something healthy is always better than nothing.

If you start your day with unhealthy food, don't let that discourage you and allow yourself a full fat day. One unhealthy thing won't kill you, but one day can turn into one week and so on. So if anyone out there reads this and is struggling, I just want to let you know you're not alone. I'm trying, too :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Living out of a suitcase

I'm sitting in a hotel after a not so hot "hot" breakfast. The eggs contained bacon residue because I think  they cooked it on the same stove. Muslims can not eat pig or pig products, in case you were wondering. The potatoes were cold and hard, my plastic fork could not stab them. My toast popped out of the toaster and landed on some spilled juice on the counter. #firstworldproblems But at least I have food. So I will stop 

I have been doing a bit of traveling lately. While I do like going to various places, I have not had a chance to relax and do my own thing. I want to spend a quiet day or two at home. One thing I don't enjoy about traveling is living out of a suitcase. Packing light hasn't been one of my strong points. Unpacking after returning is an even bigger hurdle. 

Packing for a wedding is much worse! Fancy Indian clothes are not light. Then there's the jewelry, shoes and makeup. It is impossible to go for a weekend with a carry on bag. Indians have parties the days before and days after the actual wedding. So we have to pack clothes, shoes jewelry and makeup for all those events. It's ridiculous, if you ask me. But it's also fun and tiring. But if I could ever travel without going to an Indian event, count me in!

I haven't been going to any weddings or events lately. These trips are strictly for business. It's been pretty relaxed and care free. But there's no place like home. I want to spend a day curled up in bed with a good book and periodic naps in between. Like a cat, maybe with more reading than napping. But knowing me, only one of those days is enough! I start to feel unproductive and need to do something that makes me feel accomplished. I guess it's good that I chose the profession that I did. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I've been sick for the past few days. I am down with something viral and it's not just the 24 hour bug. I don't mind, only because I don't have deadlines or anything crazy coming up. I'm just glad I wasn't feeling well enough to hold all the babies I've been around the past few days.

Stay safe, get your flu shot if you haven't already and are okay with he idea of vaccines - it's not too late in the season. :) I hope everyone out there is doing well! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

Since I've had more free time these past few days I have been busy reading. And running. And reading. And sleeping. And reading and reading. Oh, and more reading. The result? I've been staying up too late reading, getting up too late, my run is about 4 hours later than it should be. Everything is later. The days are ending sooner so by 5 pm it feels as though I have done nothing all day, which I have not.

The problem with me is that everything looked so tempting to me before I had all this time on my hands. I made a list of things I wanted to do. I had a plan and it was to be awesome. Now that I found my books, aka my friends, I am holed up in my bedroom reading until the book's finished. I do not care for TV or movies, I do not care to eat out or cook. I'm not depressed, I just don't see the hype anymore. All these things I have been itching to do when I could not, do not look like they're worth the scratch. What does look tempting is studying. I am crazy. I know.

I've been reading The Hunger Games. I'm not good at book reviews, but I'll give you guys my opinion of the books and the movie in a post soon. Once I finished The Hunger Games I moved on to Catching Fire. I finished it in a day. I let it consume me until I finished it.

Reading is good. Everything can be good in moderation. But in excess it can be not so good. I guess that's my nature. I obsess over things until they are done. I obsessed over studying until I was completely done. I didn't go out and enjoy myself. I didn't enjoy life. I obsess over reading, until there's nothing left to read. I like to completely immerse myself in projects until they are completed. I clean until there's nothing else to clean. I seem to have an obsessive personality.

Despite me plowing forward until completion, I do not feel productive. To me, the way to feel so is to check things off my to-do list. This is also wrong. I jump from one extreme to the other. I guess I am going to be a workaholic when I get a job. But I don't want to be. I want to be able to enjoy my life at the same time. I need to step back, take in a breath of fresh air and enjoy the view, the big picture.

Maybe I should make a to-do list of things like "relax", "Call a friend", "bake something" and "take a walk outside". Things that feed my soul more than my mind. That way I can relax my obsessive mind by checking off things as well as nourishing my soul.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Easy Italian Chicken with Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad



You cannot fail with this recipe. Cannot. Cannot. Even if you wanted to.

My husband wanted to start eating baked or grilled chicken for lunch, rather than eating something fried, oily and unhealthy from the cafeteria at his workplace. So I needed something with a lot of flavor,  that wasn't fattening and easy to eat. Something healthy and filling.

I found this Italian chicken recipe and it was like child's play. And delicious, too! I cooked it the night before and stuck it in a storage container in the fridge along with the marinade I cooked it in, so it could absorb more moisture while it sat in the fridge overnight. The result? Very juicy chicken, despite baking for an hour in the oven. I also spooned the marinade over the chicken halfway through baking time.

But a chicken breast was not enough. Instead of adding pasta or turning it into a sandwich I paired this with this Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad. I messed with the measurements a little but it turned out great. And since the flavors were similar, I sliced up the chicken and stuck all of it in one box.

If you decide to make this, enjoy!

ps - I apologize for the quality of the photos, I took them with my phone.