Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This Thanksgiving was as atypical as they get - making it one of the most memorable in recent years. I flew home to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to celebrate there because my fiance's brother was getting married over several days, with a Hindu wedding on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and a Catholic ceremony taking place on Saturday. My whole family was invited - that is, anyone coming to Fort Wayne for the holiday weekend was welcome to come. That meant my parents, my sister, my grandparents, and my uncle, and I, all got to take part in a long weekend of festivities.

It all started Wednesday with a groom's ceremony at my fiance's house. I had to be there around 9am to get into a sari garment and mingle with the family. Naveen unfortunately had to miss it because he couldn't fly in until the evening, whereas I was able to come in town the previous Friday. His brother (Praveen, or Prav for short) was the center of attention for the morning, while family came before him with rice and various traditional signs of blessing and good fortune. In the afternoon it was Jenni's turn to have a bridal ceremony at another house where people came to offer her the same signs. I also got henna designs painted on my hands afterwards, which stains your skin for a week or two. It was a full day - and when I went home we celebrated my sister's 22nd birthday at Logan's Roadhouse, complete with cake and presents.

Thursday was another long day of celebration - we had sort of a Thanksgiving lunch at the house, with turkey, potatoes, stuffing, veggies, cranberry apple salad - the works. But it was a lunch - which I actually liked better because I didn't completely stuff myself. Then, off to my fiance's house to get into another sari and all kinds of jewelry. We headed to the hall where the wedding was to take place, took lots of photos, and prepared for a 4pm wedding... when all of a sudden, I re-injured my knee. I was bending down in a sari with heels on, trying to help one of the kids get their shoes on, and I just collapsed. Naveen was right there to help me get into the bathoom so I could pour out my miserable pain in private. However I have to be thankful that this wasn't as severe a re-injury as I've had in the past, where I haven't been able to even move my leg without excruciating stabbing throbs of pain. At least with ibuprofen and a cold compress I was able to hobble around and enjoy the ceremony and reception. And I wasn't the only one - my whole family got into it, which was awesome. Even my grandpa got up and danced with everybody, which was a huge surprise and I was so happy.

Friday I worked on my animation, napped through some pain (and through family holiday shopping), and went to Prav and Jenni's rehearsal dinner, which was fantastic. We got to meet friends - Yaz, Ryan, and Kara - and a lot of the extended family and wedding party. It was great - appetizers, wine, and great italian food (and desserts!) - at our table we each got a different dinner and passed around our plates so we could try different things. It was delicious and lots of fun. When I got home we celebrated my grandma's 80th birthday, which was fun - by the way, my grandpa also turned 85 a month ago.

Saturday then was the Catholic wedding ceremony and reception, which was also a big event with loads of great people to meet and wonderful food. I was honored to say the prayer in the beginning of the dinner, which was nice. And it looked like Jen and Prav had a blast with old friends on the dance floor. I even snuck up there for a little while, although I couldn't move around too much. It was a great time.

And of course Sunday morning, after church, I scrambled to work on my animation, which has taken a back burner to all of these events - but I'm happy to put my family first. Besides, I knew once I got back to Orlando, I could really concentrate and get a lot done. Naveen flew back in the evening with a stop in Detroit which ended up in an overnight stay and a bump up to first class because something was up with the plane.

So Monday was Travel Drama Day - I had a direct flight to Orlando (Sanford) from Fort Wayne that should have taken under 3 hours. I got to the airport around 2 (for a 3:45 Allegiant flight), and ten hours later I finally arrived in Orlando. There weren't any weather delays, despite rain in the midwest - instead, we got about two hours into the flight when the pilot came over the intercom and informed us that the plane was leaking oil from the left engine, and he might have to shut it off. So we had an unscheduled "emergency" landing in Columbia, South Carolina around 6pm. The pilot told us that we would be given pizza and drinks when we got off the plane, and that he had spoken to another pilot who was on his way with another Allegiant plane, which we were told might take an hour to get there. But then, maybe ten minutes later, the pilot told us that the other pilot was first then on his way to the other airport to get the plane. People were getting restless, and by 7pm Allegiant finally worked out something with Delta so that we could use their gate to get into the terminal. There was no food, but we were told food was on the way. Some people immediately gave up and went to the small food court. Soon enough it was 8pm and we were told that they found someone from Delta to work on our plane to fix the oil leak, and that if it was going to take less than 40 minutes, that we would get on that plane and not be served food (so apparently the whole other pilot story was a fib). If it would take longer than 40 minutes, Allegiant would be serving us food and drinks, but they expected we would be taking off around 8:45. It got to be 9pm and still no word - and no food. The restaurant bar and grill area was completely full, and the other small shop had only one cash register and a couple other employees scrambling to come up with new food because they were selling out of everything. I decided to grab a bite to eat and something to drink ($10 of course, for a sandwich and bottle of water). Finally at 9:45 someone came over the intercom saying that Allegiant was ready to board immediately, so we all scrambled on the plane, and around 10 we called our families to let them know they were closing the plane doors and we would arrive in about an hour. Phones went off. Moments later, the pilot informed us that now we didn't have enough gas. This started to seem fairly incompetent since we all started wondering why they didn't fill up while working on the technical problem. So they literally had to push the plane out of the gate while we waited for the refueling people to get there. And then we were notified that we were waiting on paperwork because a Delta employee had been working on our Allegiant plane, and we had used their gate, etc. Finally, around 10:45, we took off for Orlando. Mid-flight they said they were coming around with complimentary drinks (except two minutes later they announced a clarification that they meant soda - alcoholic drinks would still cost $5 or $7, and if we wanted we could also purchase snack packs). Finally we arrived around 11:45 and, along with many apologies from the pilot, we were told that we were going to receive care packages on our way off the plane. The care package was a $30 voucher toward a future flight with Allegiant (as long as you were booking by phone - it didn't count toward online bookings). By the time I got my one checked bag and hobbled out of the airport, it was midnight and airport security was turning lights off in the building.

Now, hopefully, I can catch up with my work, although I missed out on an evening to unpack and get going on the assignment. At least I can say, despite my knee and the craziness of holiday traveling, that everyone is safe and enjoyed a beautiful wedding weekend. I hope yours was wonderful too!

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