Tuesday, March 13, 2012

India, Sri Lanka and yet another maniacal weekend

So, as I mentioned last time, two weeks ago we spent 5 blissful days in Delhi, then another 4 magical days on the southern Sri Lankan coast followed by a 3 day work trip for me in Hyderabad. Writing in detail about this trip is useless. All I can say is that:

1. Delhi was absolutely beautiful. We spent considerable time in Old Delhi exploring  mosques and palaces, and more mosques and more palaces, and then the Taj Mahal.

2. OH MY GOD, the Taj Mahal!!! What stunning beauty, what grace, what detail, what massive amount of people. The palace moved me tremendously. However, I MUST admit that the effect, gravity and serenity of going inside the Taj to see the tomb of the Queen was a bit crippled by the oppressive odor of feet - we all had to take off our shoes to enter inside and I suspect a few folks out there did not maintain impeccable hygiene.

3. After visiting a few tombs, Son started asking why we were going there. Believing in honesty, I kept explaining that there was a dead uncle or an auntie in there. Little doubting Thomas that he is, he continued to question that and to try to find just exactly where that dead thing was. I am not sure he was satisfied with my answer that the uncle/auntie was deep in the ground. Ever since then, wherever we take him, even if it is a party to a friend's house, he'd inevitably ask me if there is a dead uncle or aunty in there. I suppose he is going through a "morbid" phase.

4. In Sri Lanka, we spent 5 sun-filled and disgustingly lazy days around the pool or the beach. We had rented a stunning villa along with the Diplomat's cousin, his wife and 3 year old daughter (visiting from Oregon, as well as my Inlaws and their Inlaws (or Diplomat's aunt and uncle from Washington, DC). The villa boasted a delightful chef, who spoiled us on a daily basis with incredible and versatile Sri Lankan cuisine and dreadful cheap wine. Which we drank copiously while the children ran amok all over the garden, chased and fed snacks by the grandparents. Good times were universally had by everyone.

5. Hyderabad was one delightful surprise. Turns out that it is a shopping and culinary heaven, with beautiful old fortress and mosques, and modern restaurants featuring both Eastern and Western cuisine. Hyderabad is famous for its churi or bangles. There is literally an entire long street which houses only bangle shops! I admit to spending about $40 on the damned things--they are just so pretty. I also admit to having dinner at the local Hard Rock Cafe and having the absolute best cheese burger in my entire life! Yes, you heard right - if you want a good burger, go to Hyderabad. It can be accompanied by a fresh Kingfisher beer on tap. After 12 intense days traveling in South Asia and just about ready to go back to South Asia, it felt just so damn good to have a cheeseburger, beer and a mountain of nachos with cheese and all the appropriate works. Actually, I ate so much that I felt nauseous afterwards. It was worth it.

I came back to Dhaka to face an intense week of preparations for the annual Hollywood Ball, organized by the Dhaka American Women Club, which took place this past Friday. Somehow I had found myself on the organizational committee of the Ball and by last week was neck deep in prep and last minute details. It did not help the matters that on Thursday I was in charge of a day-long team-building exercise called Consular Leadership Day, where I led a section of 50 foreign service officers, local staff and family members working for the Consular Section into several busy and somewhat physically challenging tasks and discussions. By the end of the day, I was brain dead and all I wanted to do was to curl up in a fetal position and stare at my olive green bedroom walls. Instead, I got a massage from a lady who comes to my house to perform all kinds of magic to my nails, face, hair, and body. Somewhat refreshed, I dressed up and the Diplomat and went to a restaurant opening (for those in Dhaka - The Village is DA bomb in BBQ and tandoori), follow up by a fabulous techno party at the Sonargaon Hotel, which featured Bangkok DJs and Russian dancers wearing boots, microscopic shirts and practically painted on shorts. We had a complete blast!

We got home around 3 am, and the next morning I sported a rather subdued but persistent hangover. Which was unfortunate since I had to be at the Radisson Hotel for a dress rehearsal for the Hollywood Ball at 9 am. At 12, I crawled out of the hotel, went home, fed Son and crawled further in bed where I spent 2 dreamless hours in deep slumber. Upon waking up at 4 pm, I dashed off to the hair salon, had a serious hair styling malfunction, practically broke into tears, had it fixed, dashed back home, slathered some make up on, put on an impossibly long golden dress and went off to the Ball. Needless to say, I was NOT in top form and had some serious doubts about my continued presence there once my duties were over. However, the food was excellent, I was surrounded by my best friends and the DJ for once rocked my Dhaka socks. So we stayed until 12.

Saturday was spent eating, sleeping and playing with Son. Just like the doctor ordered.

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