Saturday, November 09, 2013
After the fun & interesting Sikh wedding in Mombasa I got a chance to expereince one in India. BF & I had already booked our flights before the Westgate Mall attack happened, so the holiday came just at the right time when we needed a break from all.
We traveled to India, to the village in Punjab where Poli's family comes from and stayed most of the time with his cousin and her family. It was so much fun. Poli's brother also came & stayed with his In-laws, since there was a wedding of his nephew (on his wife's side). So we got to attend all the functions as well.
First was the 48 hour reading of the Holy Book in the Grooms Family's House, we attended the end of the reading, which - as always with Sikhism - was accompanied by a feast
Darwinder (husband of Poli's cousin), Lali (Poli's brother) & Poli
Here the Holy Book is removed from the house and returned to the temple
Then the in the evening another fun function, the groom is covered in a herbal paste by his relatives to brighten his skin & for people to wish him well
here preparations & decorations are being done
the groom is ready:
Mum & Dad are the first to smear the stuff on him
Big Brother does it less gently....
This fun went on for several hours with everyone having a go.
WE went through a couple of other ceremonies & participated in the Mendhi application
and had both hands nicely decorated.
Then on Sunday finally the big day came. Since this wedding had about 1000 guests, only the immediate family attended the ceremony in the Gurudwara, while the rest was eating, drinking & having fun at the Marriage Palace. In India most weddings are held at such social halls, which reminded me of Movie props - lots of decoration in front, beautiful looking, but usually just 1 big room inside & maybe a room or 2 for the bride & groom to rest if needed.
Beautiful Gardens, where there were lush buffets, lots of drinks - mostly mocktails, alcohol & meat are only served to the men in a corner somewhere
The grooms family was serenaded in with backpipes!
Then the party started, lots of food, lots of dancing and the bride & groom sat somewhere in style and everyone walked up to have their picture taken with them & give a present (money)
A wonderful experience, even though I would prefer a smaller wedding
Saturday, September 28, 2013
I am touched, so many people responded to my last blog, people from teams I am in, but we had never talked, people we have been friends with in SP, but have never met, the SP Team themselves.
Thank you for caring! It means a lot.
We are trying to piece our life's together, every day there are things that shake you up again, but also things that touch you.
Stories that come out and touch you. Like the one terrorist, who allowed little children to leave, from the supermarket downstairs, while his colleagues where slaughtering them upstairs. He asked if there are children around and a british Mum stood up and said she had 2, he allowed her to go. Then her 4year old boy told the terrorist he is a bad man and the terrorist asked him to forgive him and gave the little boy & his sister a chocolate.
Or the muslim who, when the terrorists told muslims could leave, but had to recite a prayer to prove they are indeed muslims, quickly wrote a prayer down on paper for the Christian next to him.
The politician's son, who is trained on guns and a police reservist, who came in to rescue his brother who was stuck and ended up rescuing hundreds, at one point he was (we saw picture's later) outside the bank protecting us with his gun.
We were able to get our cars back. Going there and down into the basement parking was traumatizing, not just being there again, but also seeing the damage, chaos & horror. Thank God it was dark, so I did not see much. But I also concentrated on MY car & BF's car. I was with BF's son and a Flying Squat (Special Police unit) Officer. WE walked down there in standing muck & water and could not see much. First I couldn't see my car & panicked. But then It was there, hidden behind another. The battery was totally dead, since the alarm, triggered off by the detonations & gunfire, drained it. We had to push it out of the parking space & one wheel fell into a man hole, we could not see in the muck & water, so the guys had to lift it out again. We managed to turn the car. BF's car was fine, so we used it to toe my car out. BF had meanwhile been send by us to get a jumper cable from a friend who lives nearby. We managed to jumpstart it with no problem. While we were waiting to finalize formalities with the police we saw evidence being carried out of the building by the different forensic teams. I have never seen so many life bullets in my life..... Those Terrorists had enough for a whole army.
Thanks God my car had only minor damage. And even though the rear shocks suffered damage when we pushed the car into the man hole, those shocks were old and just about worn out anyway.
Please pray for Kenya:
- For the different Kenya Defence Forces for wisdom.
- for the bereaved families for strength & healing]
- for the injured & traumatized for physical & spiritual healing
- for those who lost their cars, documents, businesses, & livelihood for strength & new solutions. Most insurance covers do not cover international acts of terrorism!
- For the politicians & journalists for wisdom in all they say, they have done enough damage already with their mindless talks & blamegame
I am very lucky to have friends who are there for me, and try to help us through this. Some were already accompanying us during the ordeal via mobile phone (a wonderful invention.....), even though they were conscious not to drain our batteries, but even hourly sms helped a lot. But even afterwards, the friend who lent a car immediately, those who invited us for dinners & lunches & simply spend time with us and my bosses for their understanding. Currently I am not expected to meet any goals at work, they are happy I am alive & are very supportive & understand that I can't perform well right now. I can chose what I think I can do. They even offered a car (usually reserved for Senior Management) for 2 weeks for me to use.
Healing will still be a long process, but we are managing to get some normalcy into our lives & are also starting to get the shock & trauma out of our systems. When BF finally started emotions on Thursday I was so glad!
Dear Sparkfamily, thanks for all your sweet comments, goodies, emails etc. It is wonderful to know there are people out there who care
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Yesterday I was going to meet BF just for a quick cup of coffee in a mall in our area. He had some banking to do. When i got there he was just finishing banking at one bank, so I went to buy airtime for my mobile (not sure what made me buy that, but it helped later). AT that time the lights went off, so I bought the airtime from the vendor at the light of the computer screen and we laughed about it, since this happens frequently.
Then I got out BF was finished with that bank, but still had another to go to. Since I saw a friend in an open coffee shop near the entrance we went to say hi to her, chatted for 2 minutes, then we went upstairs to go to the other bank (something was urging me to move on, otherwise we would have probably sat down for a coffee with her). Just as we entered the bank I heard a big bang like something big falling over (that was a grenade downstairs), and saw people running, next thing gunshots started.
The bank reacted very quickly, pulled everyone nearby on the corridor inside, locked the doors. First we went to shelter near the counters, where a wall protected us, but the shooting went on & on, so the bank manager decided to open up the strong room with the safety deposit lockers for us. WE all piled in there and the waiting started. We were very safe there, but could hear the gun shots. We had a plain cloth police reservist with us, who got us information and someone managed to switch the TV in the banking hall to a news station. From the corridor the men could peep on the TV, that way we had at least some info.
Interestingly another branch manager from the same bank but branch in a different town was there as well. The 2 branch managers together made decisions quickly and people remainedd calm, even the children. I think what helped was the fact that we didn't quite know how bad it was and that there were so many people injured and shot.
We sat for 5 hours, but after 3 hours we heard about people being evacuated from other floors. Our floor has to be last, since it had not direct emergency exit and the stair cases were not safe.
I was panicky, since I could not reach my friend whom we had left downstairs waiting for her coffee, right there were everything started.
But BF helped me focus on ourselves.
When the forces came now on our floor to evacuate the place and the shooting came closer, the bank managers quickly moved the women & children behind the counters now into the anteroom for the actual safe. For about 1 hour I had no contact with BF, but I was busy calming some people down, talking to parents with their shellshocked children and getting the children to talk.
When we were told we are getting out now, but have to walk out with our hands in the air, so that the Forces know we are harmless, I saw BF in line (we had to queue in single file), so I knew he is ahead of me. Just when we left teh bank door and entered the corridor and realized the troups where going to fleece us to ensure none of the terrorists was among us, the shooting started again a floor below. There is a big open void in that mall. So some girls next to me freaked out. I took one girls hand (as we were sticking them in the air) and we ran together, the Troups were standing along the corridor showing us where to run along the walls & encouraged us. When we got to the next floor, which has an adjacent roof top parking, we were searched again for weapons, but they kept telling us "you are safe now". Wehn we got out in the parkign the rfirst thing I saw was lots of Red Cross Volunteers & the head of Disaster Response ( a known figure in Nairobi) was right us telling us that we are safe & we should smile. They had ambulances there to take us down the ramp & out of the area. I didn't know Nairobi now has that many ambulances & these days the teams on them are well trained. That was not a given 15 years ago when I worked as a EMT.
When we got off the ambulance we walked to the next shopping mall up the road, which is where the policed had cordoned off the area & BF's son & grandson picked us.
As I am writing this - 21 hours after it all started, the "only" ones left are the hostages. We still don;t know how many they are. But apparently they are being kept in the Supermarket, hopefully they are being given some food.
Being locked inside a bank vault for 5 hours with now way to get out, makes you realize that in such situation there are no toilets reachable......
Please pray for the different Forces (Kenyan Defence Forces, Mossad, CIA, British Army and probably others as well) for wisdom on how to handle the situation, pray for the hostages for courage & safety.
Al Shabab a islamic terror group has said they are responsible. They did another similar attack on a Mall in Mogadishu, Somalia at the same time, but information on that is very scanty
Thursday, August 29, 2013
The Hotel were the wedding was hosts Asian Weddings quite frequently and really do their best to make it not only beautiful & serene but also private.
Hmm for some reason I can't upload pictures.
But let me just say it was beautiful! The make-shift temple was set up on the coral cliff facing the palm trees & the ocean, for privacy they had screened it off with palm leaves.
People dress up so beautifully for these occasions and there were some adorable little girls in Indian outfits.
As much as everybody traditionally sits on the floor for the religious function, they do provide chairs for the elderly & the handicapped.
There were numerous functions over several days, each with deep meaning, actually fusing the 2 families together, not just the couple. I really enjoyed participating for the first time in about 80% of the functions. A sikh wedding is much more a family affair involving everybody than our traditional western weddings, which focus on the bride & groom.
A great experience for me. My BF's daughter in law sat with me on the female side of the temple and explained every thing to me, which I really appreciated.
Later there were also some wild parties, any Sikh party is apt to be joyous and wild with lots of energetic dancing & fun
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