Finally getting around to posting all about our trip to Pittsburgh for Amee's wedding! First of all, this was super exciting because we left Owen here. We just filled up a whole bunch of bowls with Cheerios and covered the floor with plastic, left him without a diaper on. It was all good. No, my parents came up from Florida to stay with him.
Anyway, no kid. That was exciting. We love him, but getting up at 6:30 on Saturday and Sunday has really lost its charm.
On Thursday we drove out to Pgh in my car so we could get better gas mileage. We didn't do as well as I normally do, I think we had about 40-41 mpg. Disappointing! Brian is not used to driving so low to the ground and with his legs so scrunched in. He managed though. We no sooner got to our hotel than I had to take off for Amee's house for the very exciting ritual of getting henna tattoos (mehndi).
Here's Amee starting out. She was sitting there for, I think, over THREE HOURS.
Here's her hand afterwards (she got this on the front and back of both hands and on both feet)
and here is what she looked like the next day:
Dan's family was also there and they got henna'd, and so did I. It was really exciting!
The artists just put the stuff on with a paper cone, sort of like they were decorating a cake. They were just coming up with the designs off of the top of their heads! It was really neat to watch. You let the henna dry until it gets sort of crackly and then you mop it with lemon juice. No idea what that is for, but I think it helps your skin take up the henna. Or something. Don't listen to me, I have no idea what I am talking about.
I learned a lot of exciting things about mehndi. First, the color comes from a reaction where something in the henna binds to the melanin in your skin. So it isn't like its on top of your skin and you can wash it off, it is sort of in your skin. Second, the darkness depends on the heat of your body. It is darker in warmer parts and lighter in cooler parts (see how the tone changes from Amee's hands to her arms).
Okay, so after we got our henna (and while Amee was still sitting) we had dinner. Lots of Amee's family and friends were there, and it was a buffet of wonderful Indian goodness. More Southern Indian (I think) and ALL VEGETARIAN. This is like my heaven. There was even a guy there making dosa and uttapam on a portable griddle. I love dosa. Of course, my hands were covered in sticky henna and lemon juice, so Brian (who had joined us by this point) had to help me eat. The food was fantastic though (this is going to be a theme here, I'm just warning you).
Here's what my mehndi looked like the next morning.
The next day we went back to Amee's house for a ceremony of some sort, where they are basically getting the bride ready for the wedding and doing a lot of blessing of things, or making offerings, or something like that. Basically we all sat on the floor (all women) with Amee and her family at the front, in front of an altar type thing.
Then the priest talked or chanted a lot (it turns out that he was speaking Sanskrit) and put things on various places on the altar (like money, food, flowers, a coconut, some other stuff). Then he lit a fire in this little bowl (that sort of freaked me out - fire in Amee's living room!) and Amee and her family would throw things in the fire. This all had meaning and stuff, but I can't really help you with any of that. It was neat to watch though. One of our other sorority sisters, Lis, was a bridesmaid and was there for all of this too. We were the only two non-Indians in the room, and we were totally confused. But at least we were confused together.
Then we did something else very exciting: Amee got all dressed up in another nice sari and we smeared turmeric paste (my friend Archana tells me it is turmeric and sandalwood) all over her. She sat on a stool in the middle of the room and everyone took a turn. It was awesome.
Lis and I took a turn as well (like we would miss out on this!).
This post is getting long, so I will break it into two.