Tue, Jan 13/04
Marathon # 218 – Country # 65
When our youngest son, Jason, and his fiancée Ami asked if it was OK if they got married in India we were excited and overjoyed! Although Ami was born and raised in Houston, TX her parents emigrated from Ahmadabad, India and still had most of their family there. Thus they wanted the kids to get married in India so they could share the wedding with their family. We agreed after the kids agreed that we would have another (2nd) wedding in Houston for their friends and family that could not go to India.
We figured if we were going to go that far for the wedding and since we had never been to India that we should spend at least a few weeks exploring India before and after the wedding. And of course Maddog immediately started scouting for the possibility of running a marathon while there? What luck? An inaugural marathon was scheduled in Mumbai the weekend before the wedding!
Our oldest son Chris was to be best man at his brother’s wedding. Since Jason and Ami had to travel on a different schedule to be there for the final wedding plans we invited Chris to join us for a one week tour of the ‘Golden Triangle’ the week before the wedding. The Golden Triangle is a tourist circuit which includes: Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. We were concerned about travel and illness so we booked a tour with a private guide and driver and luxury hotels.
We cashed in ALL our combined Delta air miles to book 1st class seats! When we arrived in Delhi our guide and driver picked us up and took us to our hotel to rest and recover from jet lag. The tour would start the next day. That evening as we walked around Delhi near our hotel we were shocked to find people - lots of people - conducting their private duties in the street. That was disgusting! When I woke early the next day to get a short run in before the tour started I encountered the same problem. There were so many people defecating in the street that it was difficult to avoid them and the ‘landmines’ or mess they left behind. They would squat in the street and pull their costume/dress around them and when they stood up and walked away they left a steaming landmine behind. I gave up on trying to do a short run and returned to the hotel.
Our tour started after breakfast. The first thing our guide explained was that we would be harassed by beggars constantly. We should not talk to them, give them anything and avoid any eye contact. Many of the beggars were pros who were purposely maimed or disfigured to solicit more pity – and money. This tour and visit is off to such a good start?
At 3 am I appeared at the front of the hotel. I was besieged again by reporters and a TV film crew. They were going to accompany me on my marathon adventure – the ‘entire’ adventure! A taxi took the RD and me to the start line where I was joined by two young race volunteers on a moped. They would guide me through the course and provide any support needed such as water and carbo gels. It was a circus. I was followed for the entire marathon by a taxi full of newspaper reporters and photographers who would jump ahead and wait to ask questions and take photos. At the same time a pickup truck with a TV film crew followed me and filmed most of the marathon! I was afraid to stop for a potty break because I was sure they would film it!
It was time to move on to the main event – the wedding! We flew to Ahmadabad where we were met by Ami’s family. We were provided accommodations at a wedding compound along with members of Ami’s family. No other Wallace family attended because of the distance and cost. And remember we were planning a 2nd wedding in TX.
An Indian wedding is quite an experience. It goes on for days and days! There are traditional ceremonies that have to be completed in a specific order. A member of Ami’s family was assigned to babysit us and to explain the ceremonies and culture and to make sure we were in the right place at the right time and what to do and expect. I don’t remember all the ceremonies but I did make notes on some and of course took hundreds of photos of all the activities. I will try to explain some of the more important ceremonies that can been seen on my photo website.
Sangeet Sanhya: Indian wedding dances that are held the night before the wedding
Our hosts and all their family and guests treated us very kindly. The wedding was a fantastic and fun experience. In the USA such an elegant wedding would have cost $250,000 or more. I assume it was much, much less in India. One downside to the wedding was there was no booze and most of the meals were vegetarian! However there is always a way. Our babysitter took us to a ‘special’ store where we could buy beer (that we only drank in our room). The area was ‘dry’ – no booze in hotels or restaurants yet many of the locals seem to have beer in their home? He also snuck us out to a western hotel a few time for a carnivore fix!
I apologize for any important omissions I made in describing this wonderful wedding. One reason I was afraid to write this report was that I didn’t want to hurt any feelings. But now -11 years later- I believe I can write the report and nobody will care if I missed something? Hopefully!
When the wedding was over and the newly married couple left for a honeymoon in the Maldives we thanked our gracious hosts and returned home with a 2-day layover in Singapore. This report is already too long so I won’t bore you with details of Singapore. I will be going back – I need to run a marathon there!