There's lots of love to go around in this wonderful country of ours. It's not just about the smooches and declarations. It's about how people treat you, speak to you, and feed you. Yes, food is so much a part of Indian love. Affection is deep fried into crunchy samosas. It's baked into delicious chunks of paneer, and sauteed with golden brown onions. My favorite part of eating in India is the saturation of love that is in every bite. It just tastes better that way.
I was in Bhopal for two weeks where each meal was deliciously cooked with a healthy sprinkle of love. Preparations for the 25th anniversary of the gas disaster were well underway. In fact, today is the day when the tragedy took place. During my stay in Bhopal, I was showered with the love of those I first met three years ago, when I spent six months in what has now become one of my favorite cities. Well, it's not the city that I'm crazy about, it's the people. I'm talking about people like Hazra Bi who despite a lifetime of loss and struggle is still able to fight for her loved ones. There's the second generation survivors like Sarita and Rafat and Yasmeen. These girls can be giggly and boisterous like teenagers everywhere, but they are part of a battle that is much bigger than themselves. December 2, 1984 happened before they were born but pain and poverty is just as much their reality as their elders'. I can not see a life for myself without my Bhopali friends. They make me humble, and give me hope. Sure, it sounds cheezy. Maybe I'm being brainwashed by the countless serials/soap operas that are always on TV here. Neelam Mammi, as I call my oldest aunt, knows the story of each and every one of these shows were the women are gaudy-extraodinairistas and the fake tears river down their foundation caked cheeks. But I digress.
These past few days I have been attending the wedding functions of Sonu, Nikhil's cousin, who is getting married tonight. Weddings and the events leading up to them are always loads of fun, but I have the fortune of knowing that this is going to happen to me in a month. Yay. (indeed, you were correct in noticing the tinge of sarcasm). Sonu's functions were elaborately ornate - lots of thought had gone into each event, from the decorations to the outfits people wore. I spent the night at their house a few times as the events often dragged into the wee hours of the morning, and I got to meet Nikhil's amazing family. They reminded me a lot of my family - loads of people, loads of laughter, and oodles of love to go around. They didn't allow for a moment of boredom, something or the other was always happening. Nothing beats the functional chaos that ensues during wedding season. I am slowly looking forward to what's going to happen in my household in those few days of marriage madness. It seems that most of the glitches end up being with clothes...oh, and beauty parlor appointments. The guys seem to have it easy.