We returned to Delhi on February 10th, a special day in our family, as it happens to be the 40th Wedding Anniversary of Anil’s older brother, Arun, and his wife Neena. When we learned that Neena was going to be in Delhi taking care of her grandsons Aatmaj and Aadhar, we encouraged Arun to travel from Patna to Delhi so that we could celebrate this wonderful event. I had been in India with our daughter Adia to celebrate their 25th anniversary, but this time, Anil could join in as well.
We had hoped that Anil’s sister Manju could join us from Nagpur as well, but she was scheduled to be in Mumbai awaiting the birth of her daughter and son-in-law’s second child. It would have been wonderful to have four of the Kapoor siblings together for this celebration, because their parents, Prem and Kamala, did not make it to the fabulous fortieth. The patriarch of the family passed away a couple of years before they were due to reach this landmark anniversary.
As it turned out in the end, the newest member of the family made here appearance on Feb 10th, making it yet another reason to remember this special day. We were in the mood to celebrate; India is ahead of Canada in terms of time zones and we were only too happy to raise our glasses in a toast to our daughter’s 32nd birthday, celebrated one day earlier.
Anil and I led a relaxed life in Delhi while Ajay, Neeta and their son Tanuj set off to work each morning. However, we did set out for restaurant meals most evenings in order to indulge ourselves by eating the great food at China Bowl, the family’s favorite eatery. We made a visit to see our distant cousin, Ravinder Kapoor, who is ailing and becoming dangerously thin in the process. We were alarmed to see him struggle for breath, but pleased that he was strong enough to make it to the living room, impeccably dressed as he has always loved to present himself.
A couple of days after our visit, we were saddened to learn that Ravinder’s niece had passed away from cancer. No one in the extended family had been informed that she was even unwell, so it came as quite a shock. Sangeeta had never married, had lived with her aging parents and seemed to have devoted her life to taking care of them. She was in her early 40s. Ajay and Anil attended the cremation ceremony that took place almost immediately as we would not be in Delhi for the 4th day ceremony that is held upon the death of a Hindu.
We were under the impression that only men attended the cremation, but Anil returned to let me know that there were women there as well. I am glad that I didn’t know this, because after Anil described the proceedings, I knew that it would have been very hard for me to witness. Anil was shaken by the experience and I am proud that he steeled himself to go, even though his first instinct was to give it a miss.
It was a hard way to end our stay in Delhi, but life isn’t always easy, something we need to be reminded of from time to time. I remember thinking that there always seems to be a death when there is a birth, and though the loss of Sangeeta came as a surprise to us, her family had known for some time that her end was near and were able to prepare for it, as much as one can ever prepare for the loss of a loved one.
The one thing that this death did do for all of us, was make us think about how much we cherish each other, and be thankful that we were able to be together once again. Dhriti and Nitin’s wedding in December, the 40th Wedding Anniversary of Arun and Neena, and the birth of Parth’s little sister (she is yet unnamed) were events to celebrate. We must always be sure to rejoice when there is something to celebrate because it is so much better to be together in happy times.
During our two weeks in Istanbul, we kept running into people who had just come from Syria, and they raved about the country and its friendly citizens. While we didn’t initially have Syria on our travel agenda, we were open to adding it, especially when we heard such positive reports. We called Ajay from Sri Lanka and asked him to look into the process required for us to get visas from the Syrian Consulate in Delhi.
We had already learned that it was not possible to get visas for Syria in Amman Jordan. Syria would prefer that foreigners get their visas from their home country, if there is a consulate there. Of course, we can’t return to Canada just to get a visa. Ajay was able to find out that we could get one in Delhi, but first we would have to visit the Canadian consulate and get a letter from them stating that it was okay for us to be issued a visa. I suspect this is due to the issues that Canada has had with Syria over the Maher Arar case, and the torture he was subjected to there.
The official also told Ajay that they do not accept payment for the visas at the consulate and that a trip to their bank located at Connaught Place in central Delhi would also be required. We would have to deposit the visa fee (US $100) in their account before submitting our application along with the letter from the Canadian Embassy. Knowing how little time we had, and how difficult it is to get around Delhi with all the traffic congestion, we decided a visit to Syria was just not meant to be at this time.
Perhaps we will combine it with a future visit to Turkey and we will get the visas in Canada before we set out. It just didn’t seem to be worth the effort. When we flew from Jordan to Delhi, we had purchased a return ticket, so we were travelling back to Amman. We decided to visit Lebanon instead of Syria, and even managed to find a Lonely Planet Syria/Lebanon at a bookstore in Delhi. The fact that it was so easy, and that we could get a visa on arrival in Beirut with no fee, seemed a much better plan overall.
As is so often the case, our flight left Delhi early in the morning and we had to arouse the entire family to say goodbye. Ajay drove us to the airport around 4am and became a little teary-eyed as he hugged us goodbye. We are really hoping that Ajay and Neeta can make it to Canada for their first ever visit later this summer. If not, we will make every effort to be back in India for Tanuj and Manita’s wedding in 2011. The date has not yet been fixed, but they are formally engaged and we all look forward to celebrating yet another joyous occasion together.