India is a dichotomy of the human condition… Both beautiful with it’s incredible temples and structures, the world famous Taj Mahal  “the jewel of Muslim art in India” is considered the eighth wonder of the world, entirely constructed of white marble. It’s the shrine of the  Emperor Shah Jahan and his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. There is a sense after entering through the Great Gate that there is no structure like the Taj Mahal… Yet there is a backdrop of poverty and stead-fast spiritual redemption… It is beyond complex and like no other place on the planet….

I was invited to India for a Wedding… The plane was to first fly from New York to Delhi where a friend and I would stay at a five star hotel, the Imperial, a legendary and world class experience that embraces India’s rich history. The hotel is like a dream with it’s priceless collection of the ‘British Art on India.’ There are five restaurants and four bars of which the Spice Route was most certainly my favorite… The most incredible Indian food…. Though I have to say I loved all five of the dining room experiences that we shared on the grounds of the hotel…

We spent a few days in Delhi discovering Indian cuisine and the open markets where it’s possible to buy anything from incense to handmade silk rugs. One of the highlights for me was to see the beautiful colored Sari’s and to watch the beading being sewn on with great patience by several people. I also had the opportunity to have several custom pieces made by a tailor sent to the hotel to take my measurements; custom shoes that would match my Sherwanis, a long coat-like garment traditionally associated with the aristocracy, worn in South Asia for formal events and weddings.

The wedding was near Jaipur at the Samode Palace a 300-year-old maharaja’s mansion in the heart of Rajasthan with it’s mirror-tiled halls and mural-lined walls, marble swimming pools and regal, antique-filled suites.

At first I thought it would be easier to take a small plane from Delhi to Jaipur, 422 miles, or possibly a train, but was encouraged by all to take on the experience of travel on an Indian road from one city to another…

Much to my surprise it was incredibly fascinating to see how man, machine and beast got along on one long road of unpredictability; the cows, elephants, monkeys, motorcycles with five family members seated comfortably. Quite often I’d notice a mother sitting sideways on a scooter with a small infant. The trucks overfilled with people inside and others hanging off each side of the vehicle. This organized chaos was orchestrated as beautifully as any symphony at Carnegie Hall..

Upon arriving to  The Samode Palace where we were welcomed with a formal greeting by the Host at the top of the red carpeted staircase that looked as if it were as tall as the heavens; Namaste, a gajra (flower garland) placed over our shoulders and a tilaka pressed onto our foreheads. This I knew was a piece of India that made it all so real and magical at the same time….

If you’re unfamiliar with a wedding in India you should know that these celebrations can continue for several days. This gave me an opportunity to create several options for hair and makeup for each garment change throughout the day… Generally anywhere between 100 to 10,000 people attend. Often, many of the attendees are unknown to the bride and groom as I was informed by the proprietor while visiting the world famous Gem Palace.

South Asian weddings are typically lavish with the groom arriving on an elephant and a whole festival of musicians, people dressed beautifully with tons of flower petals, fireworks and colors that overload the senses in such an amazing way… It was as if Disneyland modeled itself after the celebrations of India… Only in India everything is real…

After several days of parties, rituals of love, honor and religion, we headed to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal… We hired a driver and made several stops along the way including  The Gem Palace in Jaipur to find some of the treasures that we’d long heard about… The owner took us on a tour to see some of the most elaborate jewels, cuff links and accessories when entered  one of the Princess’ of Jaipur with her Lady in waiting..

India is worth every moment…

The Spirit of it remains with me…..

Though our traditions and sensibilities are different “Getting Away” makes you appreciate all that the world has to offer…





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