How to gatecrash a wedding in India

‘Chumi de de, chumi de de (kiss me),’ I sung with the biggest grin on my face. I learnt this romantic Bollywood song a few days ago during Holi in Mumbai, thanks to my Indian friend Sweety. She taught me some Hindi phrases and how to dance Bollywood style. This has been of great use in Udipur when gate crashing (or more accurately, inviting oneself to) an Indian wedding.

Strolling around this evening, we heard some loud music and decided to see what was happening. There was a truck blaring Indian music and a large crowd of men following it. Behind the men were a group of ladies wearing the most beautiful dresses. Everyone was singing, dancing and laughing. As soon as I saw the fun I had to be part of it.

‘Can we join? What is happening?’ I asked a lady in the crowd. ‘Of course, it is a wedding,’ she replied bobbing her head from side to side (a common friendly Indian mannerism). Wobbling my head back, I started dancing with her. They wanted to take pictures with us and accepted us into their party. Dancing like mad we strutted behind the party truck.

Before we knew it we had walked around the city and ended up by the river. The dancing didn’t stop. It went on and on. Next all the ladies rotated in a circle, clapping their hands in the middle and stepping side to side. It took a little while to pick up the choreography.

Following this, there was more freestyle. I copied the girls and ladies – who were all outstanding dancers. This was day 1 of the 3 day wedding celebration. Guests explained to me how they were related to the bride and groom.

It was such a great way to spend the first night in Udipur. Earlier that afternoon we had arrived from Mumbai, checked into hostel Moustache – which has a wonderful rooftop – and roamed around the city. We stopped by the river, admiring the stunning scenery.

I bought some bananas, the vendor had no change, so paid me in oranges. This made me giggle. Imagine going into a shop in London that did not have loose change and you were expected you to buy more items. Nevertheless, I was happy with the extra fruit.

We walked to Ambrai Ghant to see the sunset. On arriving there was a posh hotel and restaurant called Ambrai. We wandered upstairs and was greeted with a rooftop to ourselves. Stretching my hands to the sky, I performed a sun salutation (yoga sequence) while watching the bright red sun sink below the skyline.

Starving and ready for food, we dived into the restaurant Queen, which was rather like a home. The food was extremely cheap and supremely tasty. We enjoyed a saffron lassie, ladyfinger curry (otherwise known as okra) and pumpkin curry with special fruit rice and naan bread. It was the perfect meal, and the flavours ignited my taste buds.

After all the dancing and tasty food I slept very well.

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