The number of relatives' and close friends' weddings I've missed out is innumerable. That's one of the disadvantages of living so far away from Mizoram. It's not just the leaves we'll have to take, you'll also have to factor in the distance and expense as well.
And so when my niece told me she was going to have a "destination wedding" at Goa, I was ecstatic, especially since Goa is just an hour away from Pune by flight. We planned our trip immediately, looking forward to the event. We jumped up in joy thinking about the beautiful beaches and cashew fenis!
(Ok, the above pic is a combination of two free-licensed photos from pexels.com that I merged. Didn't wanna put my Goa pics in the beginning as it might spoil the chronological order.)
Coming back to this topic, the reason why they had a destination wedding was because of a couple of reasons. First of all, why not? Getting married at a stunning location far away from home is my ideal kinda wedding. And I'm not just saying this because I went to one recently. Ever since I watched Kool & the Gang sing "Cherish" when I was a little boy [watch video here], that was how I had always wanted my wedding to be like too.
Secondly, the groom wasn't a Mizo, and considering the way we love to talk about Mizos who marry outside the tribe, I think it was a pretty smart move to have the wedding and reception someplace else. As for me, I couldn't be happier that my niece had the courage to say "I do" to the one she truly loves. Nancy and Utsav are one of the most beautiful and matching couples I have ever come across.
So two days before the Goan wedding, my sister Dimps and cousin Mash landed in Pune. Whoopiedoo!
I treated them to our traditional Punekar breakfast - Poha, Upma, Sabudana khichadi and Masala dosa.
They liked it. They also got for me a couple of Vawksa rêp, our Mizo traditional smoked pork, but hell no, I wasn't gonna make that for them (I cooked the meat only after they went back to Mizoram :D ).
Once they were done with breakfast and they refreshed, we spent the rest of the day shopping at Phoenix Market City, buying our beach wears for Goa and the wedding gifts.
But first, a man needs to eat before braving the perilous quest of shopping with one's sisters :D
We stopped at "Shizusan" located on the ground floor of the mall, a famous South-East Asian restaurant renowned for their Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines, and we filled our stomachs to the brim. They had an unlimited food offer going on, and we took full advantage of that.
I think the management contemplated on stopping the unlimited food offer because of us :D
We shopped for a long time after that. Nothing was more boring than shopping with women. We spent most of our time at H&M - I took like 15 minutes to select my 5-6 T-shirts, shorts and sleeveless to wear at Goa; they took more than 4 hours to do the same! By the time we were done with shopping and we went home, we bought so much stuff that the three of us couldn't even fit together inside my apartment's dinghy old lift! :D :D
We quickly packed our bags and ordered dinner. We decided to sleep early because the next 3 days were going to be hardcore. We had to save our energy for that :D
Woke up the next day and soon left for the airport. Our flight was at 12 in the afternoon, so we didn't need to rush, especially since the airport was just 10 minutes away from my apartment.
Once we were through security check-in, we had breakfast at Port Lounge, the airport restaurant on the first floor.
I mean, my sisters had breakfast. I on the other hand…
Yeah I was already starting my Goan adventure in Pune itself :D
I think one of the best part about our trip was that Nancy and Utsav created a WhatsApp group and added all invited guests in that group. There were so many people we didn't know, but everybody socialized with one another even before we actually met. A really good way to break the ice between strangers.
On that day, everybody sent photos of themselves at different airports on their way to Goa, and so we sent this one to the group as well with the caption, "Nancy's uncle and aunts reporting from Pune airport!"
Soon, we were about to takeoff.
It was just an hour's flight, but maybe because of all the excitement, it felt pretty long. I wished there was an in-flight Wi-Fi so I could check where all the others had reached.
Finally, we landed at Goa. The airport was so beautiful from the air as it was right next to a beach, but I didn't get the window seat so I couldn't take any photos.
As we landed from Pune, cousin BTi and co landed from Delhi and cousin Muanpuii and co landed from Kolkata a few minutes later. It was such a happy reunion at the airport!
We celebrated our family reunion with "kuhva hring" fresh from Mizoram :D
More family group photos.
The feeling was so… awesome and different. To get together at a tourist destination as a family from different locations all at the same time solely to party was something I had never done before in my life. I am feeling nostalgic again just writing about those moments now.
Srinivas was waiting for us outside the airport with a huge signboard saying "Nancy's family". He led us to a mini bus that was booked exclusively for us. He was so helpful during the entire trip.
We travelled more than an hour to reach our accommodation, which was longer than the duration we took to fly from Pune to Goa, lolz. But the journey was pleasant and everybody cracked so many jokes at each other inside the bus that my eyes were tearing up from laughter.
Finally, we reached Goa Marriott Resort & Spa, Panjim. What an awesome place. We were all welcomed at the hotel lobby by the staff with fresh juice and a garland made of shells and exotic stones.
Nancy and Utsav along with Utsav's parents, brother Rajat and sister-in-law Tanushree welcomed us one by one. They were truly warm and friendly. After that, I met the other people who had arrived before us, including some of Nancy's friends from Bangalore.
While we were at the reception, we were all assigned our rooms. The Agarwals had booked 130 of the 180 rooms of this luxury 5-star hotel (wow!), including the Presidential suites, so all the hotel guests were more or less just us. I didn't take any photos of this moment because I was busy meeting new people.
Two special reception counters were set up exclusively for the wedding party. Our family members and all other Mizo guests were assigned rooms on the same floor, so it was pretty swell staying right next door to each other. Everybody was paired off per room - my sis Dimps was paired with cousin Mash and so on. I was the only person with a whole deluxe room to myself!
Nancy insisted I stay alone and enjoy the freedom and privacy of single occupancy because I was the only male member from her mom's cousin side. The rest of the cousins who turned up for the wedding were all women, and so according to our Mizo tradition, I had a big role to play in terms of looking after the family, giving away the bride, making a short speech etc.
Anyway, the staff told us our luggage would be sent to our respective rooms and the Agarwals took us downstairs for lunch, where we met more people and more introductions followed.
The lunch was amazing, but very strangely, I didn't take any photos here as well! I guess I was hungry or something. One of those very rare moments I forgot to take a picture of my food. Dayymmm.
Once we were done with lunch, we headed to our respective rooms. Mine was amazing!
So the rooms at Goa Marriott Resort are divided into two types, one is "sea-facing" and the other is "garden-facing". I got a garden-facing one, and it was awesome.
The palm tree outside my room kinda looked like my mohawk hairstyle :D
I really loved the interior decors of my room, they had this very calm and alluring effect on me.
Haha, such a cute towel monkey. The housekeeping staff must have spent a lot of time making it.
Along with stationeries and letter pads etc, one of the drawers had these…
I could understand the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible, but the Book of Mormon took me a bit by surprise. I mean, I have read that India has a sizeable Mormon population, but I have never met one till now. It was only when I googled that I found out Willard Marriott, the founder of the Marriott hotel chain, was a Mormon himself. After that I was like, "Aaaah".
The bathroom was also awesome. There was a transparent glass between the bathroom and bedroom, so if you didn't pull the shutters down and also didn't close the curtains outside, people could see you from the garden taking a magnificent dump on the throne :D
The bathroom drawer had everything I needed…
I even had an attached iron and ironing board, which was cool. I really needed that.
U Muanpuii, Nancy's mom, got a sea-facing room and here's the view from their room.
Me trying to take some picture-perfect photos of the surroundings…
The hotel staff was already preparing the area meant for the night's wedding beach party.
As you can see from the above beach lining, the hotel's private beach extended further to join Miramar beach at the edge.
The night's program was still a few hours away, so some of us decided to check out the swimming pool and other areas as we headed back to our rooms to change.
Cousin BTi posing on the corridor of our rooms…
We headed out just in time to witness the romantic sunset across the horizon…
BTi of course, like any other youngsters on Instagram, made use of the beautiful lighting and wanted a couple of pics taken :)
She wore her one-piece swimsuit to pose by the pool-side, but trust me, she didn't even enter the swimming pool once! :D :P
Soon, we bid farewell to the sun…
As darkness descended, we headed back to our rooms and got ready for the night's event.
The dress code was "casual or traditional" and most of us opted for casual, while some wore a fusion of both. My sister and cousins were ready to rock the party…
The place was already bustling with activity by the time we reached…
There was even a wandering live band, kinda like those Miriachi bands. They played really great songs, mostly from the 80's and 90's.
By the way, we could bring a +1 along for the party, and so for my +1, I invited my close friend Bee (no wonder I'm still single today).
Bee is not just a dear friend of mine during my Mumbai days, after he left Mumbai and relocated to Goa, within a year he was elected as the President of the Goa Mizo Welfare with a landslide majority never seen before in this Universe! Such was the awesomeness of Bee.
I introduced him to my family and we took a photo with the beautiful bride.
It was also good to have him around because apart from our family members, there were many other Mizos from Bangalore (Nancy's friends) that night, so if any untoward incident took place, the Welfare President could get right into action and handle the situation.
I think one of highlights of that night was when Nancy's sister Ruati entered the place. Below in red is Ruati.
Being the sister of the bride, she wanted to make a grand entrance. She entered the venue, surrounded by four hunky guys on all sides, and as she walked down the makeshift steps (which you can see behind her pic above), she suddenly stumbled and rolled down the entire steps like one of those minions from Despicable Me.
Dup dup dup dup… dup dup… dup…
I had never laughed out that loud my entire life :D
I mean, of course the others around me were extremely concerned. Bee immediately rushed to her and asked if he should call for the Goa Mizo Welfare ambulance to take her to a hospital or not, while I was laughing like a jackass at my corner. After all, that is what family is all about :D
She was fine. Ruati is a hell of a niece and she rocked the party that night.
A few more pics here and there…
The other side of the private beach which was not a part of the venue had a deserted look, but it was so peaceful and serene.
Back at the other side, people were like…
The musical troupe wandered around everywhere and they played any songs we requested, as long as it was from the golden oldies era. We sang our guts out as they played "Stand by me" (Ben E King), "I'd love you to want me" (Lobo) and "Dancing Queen" (Abba).
I told u-Muanpuii, Nancy's mom, "Just look at them, this is why I love being a Mizo so much, this was before their generation and yet they know all these songs! I am so impressed." And then she looked at me and said, "Just look at you, this was before your generation and yet you know all these songs, I am so impressed!" :D
The party kept going for a long time. By the way, it was an open bar.
The bar section was managed by these three stunningly beautiful Russian bartenders and a male Russian bartender. They managed the event really well, and their Mojitos and LIIT were kickass.
I swear I didn't ask Bee to take this photo :P
To me, the most memorable moment of that night was definitely when the music suddenly stopped and they announced my name on the mic! They had a birthday cake ready for me!
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, that day was my birthday :)
But like any other mid-thirties single out there, I was hoping nobody would remember. I even hid my birthday on Facebook so nobody would wish me. But hell, my cousins had it all planned out the entire time!
At first I was actually scolding them, telling them this was embarrassing and unnecessary because it was Nancy's wedding reception, and then they told me it was Nancy and Utsav who had planned the whole thing in the first place!
And so, there I was, cutting my birthday cake at Goa thanks to Nancy and Utsav. Love you guys!
The birthday song was conducted by the live band.
Happy happy :D
Cheers to the wonderful bride and groom.
Bee looked so hungry in the above photo :D He was probably thinking, Pass me the goddamn cake!
After that, people started having dinner.
Again, I didn't take any pictures of the food because I didn't eat and I was already on a different planet because of all the drinks and emotions. The others though had great food.
Mapuii who's sitting with Nancy above, came all the way from Shillong and was definitely another very funny character to remember.
Around 2 in the morning, the beach party ended.
We all headed back to the hotel's banquet hall, where the entire place was booked for us as a discotheque. There was even a DJ hired, rocking the place!
I wished I had taken a clearer photo below - Mother of the bride was super happy :D
Bee as always was ever watchful, making sure no Mizos misbehaved among the crowd. Here he was, instructing every Mizo who came to the party to brush their teeth properly the next morning otherwise people might think we Mizos have a perpetual alcohol-breath and ended up giving Goan Mizos a bad name. El Presidente!
Mapuii was everywhere that night :D She partied so hard that the next day, she slept the entire day, lolzzz.
One last pic with my second-cousin Zuali and her wonderful hubby Carlos before I headed back to my room… Mapuii too somehow managed to come in this pic again :D
And so ended a wild Day 1 of a Goan wedding reception. I slept by 5 or so I think. But drunk as I was, I made sure every family member was safely tucked in in their rooms, so in a way I think I handled my responsibility pretty well.
I told Bee to stay with me for the night since I was occupying a double room by myself but he felt it was best if he went home. He promised to be back the next day. I spoke with his girlfriend Mayline over the phone too, and she was the sweetest darling for allowing him to watch over us inebriated fun-seeking visitors.
I'll post about Day 2 tomorrow, so keep watching this space for more. Until then, cheers everyone!