If you’re new to the blog, start reading thedelhibells series from here. This is post #12.
I know, I know. You are expecting the Honeymoon post. I began writing this with the title “thedelhibells: Honeymoon” but the story of the first 48 hours of our honeymoon is so intimately tied up with Karva Chauth, that I can’t possibly talk about it without mentioning this first. You know me, I must give you ALL the details and so – here’s the story of my first Karva Chauth.
We got onto the flight exhausted (we’d just had our Wedding Reception the night before). I had managed the shortest nap possible, while my husband had pulled an all-nighter in order to finish packing. Once the flight took off from Delhi airport, our honeymoon had officially begun. And we kicked it off with a nice, long nap. The airhostess woke us up to ask if we wanted breakfast, but we told her “We’ll have it later, so please save us some. But we’re exhausted right now!” And then we went back to sleep.
We had a layover at Singapore airport for a couple of hours, where we ate and shopped a bit, and window-shopped a lot.
The airport is really big, and really nice! We didn’t even realize how time passed, and suddenly it was time to catch the next flight!
I had this great strategy to ensure we were minimally jet-lagged when we reached Australia. Other than the sleeping we did right after we got onto our flight from Delhi (which was a necessity, considering we’d barely slept the night before), we tried to stay awake through the rest of the flight. And we were supposed to land in Brisbane at 7 am Australia time, so we tried sleeping for a few hours before we landed. Of course, thanks to the almost 24 hour journey, we were exhausted anyway. But atleast it helped – we were relatively lesser exhausted, if that even means anything!
But to give you the true masaledaar picture of that day, we must go back to the flight. So we woke up shortly before the final landing, and were mid-way through breakfast. The sun was just beginning to rise, and the rays of light were cutting across the flight in beautiful lines. Suddenly, my husband says “Oh, Karva Chauth (KC) has officially begun! Since the sun has already risen over here…” I had my mouth full of food, and paused wondering whether it was ok for me to swallow the food now that I knew Karva Chauth had started. My husband quickly realized my dilemma and said, “Uhmm finish eating your breakfast. It’s ok, it’s not officially Karva Chauth in India yet!” Haha! I did finish my breakfast, but my hazy memory tells me my husband stopped eating immediately after he realized KC had started.
You’re wondering – oh, you’re THAT couple? Who does Karva Chauth together? Well, I had never really planned anything this way. And our reasons are not as clearly black and white as you may think.
I am not a Punjabi. I am a Bihari. We don’t do Karva Chauth. So I have never attended or even seen a Karva Chauth ceremony, not even from a distance. Only in the movies. And my parents are probably one of the least religious parents in India. We do puja once a year, on Diwali. Nobody prays every day. I visit a temple once in 5 years probably. And Bihari wives do Teej. Which also, my mother started doing very recently. She tells me an amusing story of why she never did it for so many years. Want to know now? Ok, I’ll tell you.
My Nani (maternal grandmother) used to keep all these fasts for her husband, my Nana. And her body could never quite keep up with it. On plenty of occasions, she almost fainted with the lack of food and water. And my Nana, who is a doctor, used to literally scold her to eat, but she used to resist it till the last possible moment. And he always commented on how silly it was for her to do all these things when the end result was so disastrous on her body! My mother saw this scene repeat itself many times as a kid, and eventually formed an opinion that such things were not necessary, especially if it ends up with you on the bed barely able to get up! That’s why she didn’t keep fasts most of her married life. And that’s why I have never been exposed to concepts like fasting for your husband. Or for any other reason. Atleast, not at home.
People had asked me before the wedding – Karva Chauth is right after you get married! Will you keep the fast? My first reaction was “No, I don’t believe in these things.” But eventually, I started to re-think it. I was going to live with my in-laws. For Punjabis, Karva Chuath is a very big deal, or so I’ve heard. The whole family will do it together. Do I want to be left out? Will anyone mind if I don’t do it? I get acidity very easily if I leave my stomach’s hunger pangs unattended, so I’m usually nibbling on food all day. Do I want to take the chance that I will get acidity on purpose? And don’t they say – do it once, then you have to do it for life? What if the first time I do it, I get acidity, and then I never want to do it again? Will bad fortune befall my relationship if I don’t do it a second time? Does God not forgive women who don’t fast because of acidity problems? What are the rules? Who makes them? And of course, the ultimate reason – defying the patriarchal society we live in. Or in other words, feminism. I’m a borderline feminist, but not to the extent that I feel we’re better than the boys. I like to think of us as equals, in every single way and in every single aspect of life. If I need to learn how to cook, it’s not because it’s a woman’s responsibility, but because it’s a very useful skill to have as a human being. And when I learn, I would want my husband to also learn it with me. So that we can help each other out as and when it’s required.
So, back to the current story. My husband was doing Karva Chauth WITH me. And honestly, I don’t think I would have done it if he hadn’t volunteered (without ANY suggestion – direct or indirect – from my side! Really! I wasn’t even sure if I would do it, remember?) Once I knew we were in it together, I thought “What the heck, let’s give it a shot!” But I made him promise that I could back out at any point of time if it got too much for me. He agreed. And so began, the first fast of my 24 year old life.
We landed at Brisbane, and immediately started looking for our coach. We got a little delayed in figuring it out, and were eventually seated right outside the airport, waiting desperately for the bus. We had no idea that this desperation was nowhere near what we were about to feel in 2 hours time!
I slept on our way to Gold Coast – the bus ride was around an hour long.
*don’t have any more pictures after the bus ride on THIS day, you’ll know why once you’ve finished the post
By the time we reached the hotel, we had already been travelling for 22 (or was it 24?) hours straight. It was 10.30 am, and the Receptionist told us “Sorry, but you’ve not opted for an early check-in and your room won’t be ready till 2 pm.”
I was this close to murdering someone.
My husband called up the travel agent, who was unapologetic about not arranging for an early check-in. We figured, he’s not going to be of any help now. So my poor husband, in that exhausted stupor, went about convincing the lady at the Reception why we needed a room urgently. She said, “I can give you a room with 2 single-beds” which we enthusiastically said yes to, before she mentioned “But you can’t change the room once you’re in it, during this stay.”
I really badly wanted to murder someone right now.
Ummm…we’re on our honeymoon! NO WAY! I took a very, very deep breath and plonked myself onto the sofa in the lobby. This better not be a long wait, I mumbled to myself.
After some more back and forth with the Receptionist, my husband came back to me and said, “She’s given us these access cards to the Pool area. We can wait there.”
“Does it have a bed to sleep on?”
*husband looks bewildered*
“Of course not”
I definitely deserve a chance to atleast slap someone now. A nice, hard jhataak!
“Then you go tell her we need to be horizontal somewhere. On a thing called a bed. Nothing else will do right now.”
I was fuming. And SO exhausted. I have no idea how my husband could even stand on his two feet, let alone argue with a Receptionist for a simple thing like a bed in a hotel room. I know, it wasn’t the hotel’s fault. But we were so tired! We’d travelled for 24 hours straight by now, AND we were both doing Karva Chauth! I told my husband, “I can’t keep this damn fast now. My body is giving up!” He was more than ok with me breaking the fast, but then I said, “Ok, atleast give me some water.” So I had many sips of water, and finally – I felt a teeny tiny amount of energy in my body. It cooled my temper also, just enough to keep me from blasting the entire hotel staff.
I slept off while sitting in the lobby. And I think I did it just as much to embarrass the hotel, as I did because I was just so tired. After the longest 2 hours of my life, we finally had a room at 12.30. I got into bed, and the moment I shut my eyes, I was asleep.
Now that I think back, it was probably the best way to spend Karva Chauth. Asleep! I woke up almost 4 hours later, and the first thing I asked my husband was, “do you think the moon is out now?”
“It’s 4.30 pm, Shinjini!”
Oops. I guess that means I have to wait a bit longer till I can eat.
Without any energy to do anything, we just lazed around. I don’t think I stepped out of bed till 7.30 pm. Just kept dozing off and doing nothing.
We finally went downstairs at 7.30 pm to check if the moon was out. The second we stepped out of the hotel, we were hit by a really cold breeze! What on Earth! I thought it was the beginning of Summer in Australia! Bearing the freezing wind, we walked 5 minutes till we reached an open area. No sign of the moon. Anywhere. We waited around, and walked a bit more – as if willing it to appear would help in some way. But the moon was nowhere to be seen. We decided to walk back to the hotel and grab a newspaper, to look for Moon Rise time in Brisbane.
The newspaper said that the moon was expected to be at its highest point at 10.30 pm. Damn it! Was the moon in Australia not aware that there was a first-timer-Karva Chauth-performing-bride on its shores? This was not the time to play hide and seek!
We headed back to our room, disappointed. After waiting some more, my dutiful husband said he’d go look for the moon and told me to stay in the room and relax. I chilled for a while, but then I started to get fidgety when he hadn’t returned for over an hour. I had just started thinking that maybe I should go downstairs and check on him, when he walked through the door. With Subway sandwiches in tow!
“Ohhh!!! Did you find the moon?”
“No. I can’t see it anywhere and it’s 10 pm now. Let’s just eat.”
*without wasting a second* “Ok!”
I almost started unwrapping the sub, when I realized something.
“Wait a minute! What kind of Karva Chauth is this? We don’t drink water and eat food all day, and this is how we end it? By just heading straight for the food? We need to do something to make it feel like KC. It’s our first one, after all!”
So I quickly rummaged through my bag, and found a pouch made entirely out of net fabric (that my SIL had given to me for the trip, to carry essentials like lip balm, sunscreen, etc). I emptied it, and this was going to be the thing I looked at my husband through. But, what about the moon?
I looked around the room, and this floor lamp had a bright white light emanating from it’s oval shaped shade. That would be the moon.
So I looked at a lamp through a pouch, then shifted my gaze to my husband who looked like a pretty pink blur through the dense net fabric. We fed each other our first bites.
The second bite onwards, it was as if no other person existed in the world. We got so engrossed in eating our first meal of the day, that for 5 minutes neither of us spoke. And that was, hands down, the best Subway sub I’ve ever had in my entire life! My husband seconds that.
Do you keep any fasts for your husband, or plan to keep post your wedding?
PS. It was not AS bad as I’ve made it sound. The tiredness due to travelling for 24 hours and the jet lag also contributed to our condition. I didn’t feel any hunger pangs, probably because my mind was prepared to not eat all day. But it was only my first fast, so it’s too early to draw any conclusions.
For the rest of the stories from my wedding (Pre-Wedding Shoot, Sangeet, Wedding Reception, etc), go to thedelhibells series.