Today is Alison’s birthday, little did we know what at day we had in store, but it was going to be one of the most memorable birthdays ever.
We were up and packed and driven away from the Hyatt hotel in Amritsar and headed to Jalandhar. One of our drivers was Arvin boss of one of the factories that Colin had arranged to visit.We left at 09:00 and saw some of the rural countryside around. And just like the streets India is always a case of extremes. For instance in one field you will see a combine harvester working a plot and in the very next, hand cropping, beating and shifting the wheat manually. There is poverty and wealth living or existing cheek by jowl both seemingly ignored by each other.
We arrived at our new home for one night in Jalandhar, which is the medical centre of the Punjab, with a hospital for every type of condition possible. We are staying at Raddisson, apparently the best hotel in the area, which it probably was, but to us it appeared to be still decorated as installed in the 1960’s and even still had wooden toilet seats!!.
Anyhow no longer as soon as we were booked in we as Alison, Zoe and I were taken by the xxxx family, another manufacturing company on Colin’s list. The wife and a four month baby girl were taking us out, while Colin headed to the factories.
Our first stop, was to pick up the sister in law and their four year old daughter, so now we had five women and me going on a day out. To be fair both were excellent hosts and the younger sister did the driving. We headed to the largest Hindu Temple where we had explained the Hindu relegion and their many gods, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh. All have their own explanations and family hierarchy within the godly families.
We were so priveldge to be given not only a blessing by the local priest but almost a renewal of our wedding vows. We were presented with a coconut, apple and sweets as a gift and blessing. Amazing,... as we walked around the perimeter of the temple we had several more blessings, Zoe was also given her blessing as Colin was not there.
After the Temple went for lunch, thinking this would be at a restaurant, we ende up in what can only be described as a nightclub. Thumping music, dark corners, bunk beds yes bunk beds around the floor as well as thirty freshman students enjoying themselves on the dance floor. We had a lovely lunch and after the party began.
Firstly dancing then Alison was presented a cake in the middle of the dance floor, with all the students singing and dancing around Alison with a sort of happy birthday in an upbeat Indian bollywood style. It was lovely to see and great for the students to have joined in. It was so special for Alison. More dancing followed with Sinsha the little four year old wearing me out dancing.....I think everyone had a great time and we headed back exhausted to the hotel, only to find we were out again at 8pm with the xxxx brothers. Alison, Zoe and I were presented with gifts from our hosts, their generosity has no bounds. Alison and Zoe received beautiful solid silver necklaces
Colin returned at about 7pm and he too had had to busy day, he opened a new office wing, was presented with 20 garlands, and visited three possibly four manufacturing units many making cricket bats, rounders bats, baseball bats etc, all from wooden products.
We had a quiet evening in the hotel and was hosted by some of Colin’s manufacturers and we was served off the Indian Buffett, as they wished us to experience their tastes. Throughout the evening evening it was about trying to manage the intake of food, despite our hosts trying to fill us up. They too had arranged a birthday cake for Alison and the hotel signing Happy Birthday. At the end of the evening our hosts presented Alison and Zoe with gifts. An amazing birthday, blessing, wedding vow, gifts from the priest, clubbing it, dancing with the students, two cakes, and gifts galore, what a day. I was absolutely shattered and ready for some serious sleep.
Unfortunately there was a wedding ceremony going on at the hotel and the disco continued until 3:30 in the morning. So despite not being invited to ceremony, I felt that we were part of celebrations as the disco was loud enough to have been held in our bedroom!!!!!. So falling to sleep at 03:45 was further disturbed by the calling of prayers at 04:00, well at least we won’t be late for breakfast.