Sunday, 28 August 2011

Frequent Traveller - Mumbai, India

By Pandora Poikilos

This is another Cathy Dixon moment from Frequent Traveller - my upcoming Fiction, Novel.

Mumbai, India
February 2009

With a resounding culture painted and weaved through the centuries by its locals, the brief rule of the Portugese and the widespread clutches of the British East India Company, Mumbai's growth in recent years has stunned the world if not its local people. To date it has become one of the top five most populated urban cities in the world and is India's richest city where economy and tourism are concerned. In 1947 when India was accorded independence from British rule this city was part of an area called Bombay State. Decades later, the Samyukta Maharashtra movement demanded a change of territory and the state of Maharashtra was created with the city of Bombay being made its capital capital. In 1995, at the insistence of the winning state party, the city was renamed to Mumbai to be 'cleansed' from all British rule. Mumbai is derived from Mumba which is the name of the Koli goddess Mumbadevi and Aai which means "mother" in the language of Marathi.

Indian cinema which has been making itself known to the rest of the world in the last decade is said to have been started in Mumbai. This has allowed it the popularity to nurture the most number of cinema halls than any other city in India which showcases local Marathi talent, Bollywood blockbusters and Hollywood movies. The Mumbai International Film Festival and the country's oldest award ceremony Filmfare Awards are now presented at the world's largest IMAX dome theatre in the Wadala neighbourhood of Mumbai. The city is also home to Asia’s largest theme water park, Water Kingdom which is a popular tourist destination alongside Essel World which is also an amusement park. Tucked away between majestic architectural wonders and colourful culture, MoonStar Mumbai is seen standing tall at 20 storeys high. With more than 300 rooms dedicated to business and family travellers, its lobby was always a bustle of activity just as it was today.

Cathy observed as some associates from banquet draped red satin on the pillars around the Marathi Ballroom. It was the wedding ceremony that would captivate many a local magazine and leave many a girl to dream of such luxury lapping at her feet. Local business tycoon Aravind Rakshit had earned his money the hard way, rags to riches. Brought up by his grandmother in a village after his parents had been killed in an accident, he had put himself through school and had started a freight shipping service literally with his bare hands. In two days, he would be giving away his only daughter in marriage and had made it clear to all involved parties that cost was no barrier. As long as the wedding was grand and his daughter was happy, he would be happy. The marriage had been arranged at Anu's birth almost 30 years ago to Anil, the son of his business partner. In all their lives Anu and her husband-to-be had met each other less than 10 times, each time watched and doted on by their loving families.

The last two weeks was probably the most time they couple had spent together. There would be temple ceremony in the morning and a wedding dinner at MoonStar Mumbai hosted by both families from 6pm to midnight. Both families were expecting at least 2000 people to attend the dinner and had specifically requested a large sitting area to be cordoned off at the lobby area should the hall get too congested or if their guests wanted to sit and chat outside the hall. Even guests staying at the hotel who were not participating in the wedding felt a glimmer of celebration.

Red and gold cloth hung in big waves through the lobby's high ceiling. The entrance of the Marathi Ballroom was adorned with a flower arch splashed with various blooms of all colours and sizes. The tables were lined with stainless plates and dishes, the centrepiece of each table was a decorative photo printout of the wedding couple. Cathy took one of these in her hand and traced the outline of the bride's face.

"Wishing you were her?" came the voice of George, the property's director of sales and marketing.

He was well past fifty but looked half his age, was well known for his popularity with the women folk and could talk his way into a potential customer's wallet as sure as a blazing fire could melt a spoon of butter.

"No way, just observing that's all," Cathy chuckled as she turned to face him.

"Oh come now, Cathy. You're hot and you know it. Even when you're all 'oh I'm the VP and I'm your boss', you'd make any man go wild for you," he responded cheekily staring into Cathy's face.

"I beg your pardon?," Cathy exclaimed as she stepped back not sure what he was getting at.

"That was just my absolutely cheeky way of telling you any man would be lucky to have and a downright fool to lose you," he laughed as he adjusted a few chair covers.

"So what do you think Corporate Cathy? Does it meet your approval?" he asked her pointing to the ballroom still bustling with banquet associates and a variety of clanging sounds from cutlery, plates and furniture.

"It's lovely. Really. And the amount of effort banquet has been putting in. I've been here three days and the way they have transformed the ballroom ... it's almost magical, and yes, absolutely impressive George. It is," Cathy said as she absorbed the decor.

The two of them stood back as the banquet team raised a huge red backdrop at the front of the ballroom with the couple's names on it surrounded by little hearts. It had been hand-stitched with sparkling sequins by the hotel's in-house tailor and added a further touch of splendour to the ballroom.

"Do you think you'll ever marry?' George asked Cathy.

Cathy took a deep breath. "Oh wow, I really don't know. Between work and everything else, I'm not sure if marriage will fit in just yet."

"Ah so there is someone. You had us all wondering for awhile. I've been to your office and there's no pictures. Rumour has it your apartment doesn't have pictures as well."

"What the hell is this?! The study group on my personal life?" Cathy jokingly demanded as she threw her head back and laughed.

"If you even have a personal life Corporate Cathy ... Na, it's just ... lets call it concerned office colleagues. And come on, show me one hotelier who minds his own business and I'll show you guest who never complaints."

"Oh stop it now. You always make me laugh," Cathy elbowed him. "What about you? Are you married?"

"Twice, both ended in the least amicable divorces. The first time she wanted loads of kids and the second time she thought I was too much of a kid. Now, I just live for myself and with a job that has running me amok for more than 16 hours a day, I think it's better that way."

"Exactly."

"Come on then, let me show you the ice carvings we'll be putting on display. The artist said he'd leave me the drawings for me to look at. My communications team found this artist who gives you exquisite statues. You could even put them in museums, well if they didn't melt. Plus, he works really cheap so I'll have plenty of nice things to say about him."

Even as they walked towards a corner of the ballroom where banquet had placed the diagrams, there were loud voices behind them and they turned to see the bride, Anu walking in with her mother and a herd of relatives decked in more finery than the bride herself.

"Right, here we go … watch this Cathy. They are either going to change the table arrangements, look for chef to change the menu or add more guest rooms and ask for a further discount," he whispered to Cathy.

The mother of the bride saw him and rushed towards him. "George, we need more rooms. Please tell me you can give me a good rate."

“Madam Rakshit, I'd give the whole hotel to you for a good rate. Come, give me the details and I'll let my staff know," George said to her as he took her arm and winked at Cathy.

Cathy smiled to herself and continued to slowly pace through the ballroom. She saw George leave with one of the relatives presumably to finalise the room arrangement with front office as the bride seemed to be sitting at one of the tables listening to her mother talking to her with a sorrowful expression on her face. Madam Rakshit had a stern look on her face and was seen pointing at the backdrop.

"I do not love him Mama, I just do not!" Anu screamed and tried to get up from her seat.

Her mother pushed her down, "You listen to me Anu, we've spent a lot of time and money on this wedding. We didn't send you to school, pay for your university for you to fall in love with someone we do not approve of. You will marry Anil on Thursday and that is final!"

Anu got up and ran in the direction of the main door but not before her mother grabbed the sleeve of her dress.

"Anu, I will slap you! You ingrate! You are so old, as it is nobody else wants you. Anil is doing us a favour by keeping his promise to us and to his family."

Cathy looked around the room. The banquet team could not have disappeared any faster. Some of their relatives were standing around the weeping bride while others were calming down her mother.

"You are not my daughter if you do not marry Anil, you hear me?!!" screamed the bride's mother even louder than before.

George walked in as soon as he had heard the commotion from outside and wanted to make sure banquet had not screwed up any specific requirements the family had made about the wedding dinner. He assessed the situation and realised it was not at all work related. He grabbed Cathy's arm and motioned for her to leave the room with him.

"Come now Corporate Cathy, let's go have a cuppa while they sort their difference out, nothing else we can do here."

Cathy walked out with him but was more than a little curious as to how the episode would end. "Do you think it'll go on? The wedding, I mean."

"Sure it will. Then in 10 years they'll end up hating each other or he'll end up having a string of affairs she'll pretend to know nothing about. Old story. Or they'll learn to make the best of the situation and find love where there is none. I really don't know."

"Wow, look who's all poetic. Next, you'll be telling me you run a relationship column in some magazine," Cathy raised an eyebrow at George.

"Not a chance. I just know people from both camps, equally disastrous and equally happy. One family I know, both their sons had wonderfully happy love marriages which ended in nasty divorces in less than five years with one son almost losing custody of his daughter and their daughter had an arranged marriage which is now going into its 12th year. I'm really not sure what to think."

"I guess. Come to think of it, King Henry VIII and his fourth wife Anne of Cleves had an arranged marriage. Although, King Henry was so upset that the artist impression was nothing like the real woman he ended up dissolving the marriage within hours. Not to mention Marilyn Monroe's first marriage when her guardian arranged for her to be married instead of being sent back to foster care. Different situations. But then again, these days I think it comes back to family honour. Do you stay because you have to or go because you want to?" Cathy wondered out loud as the screaming match from earlier replayed in her head.

"Remind me again, how we got on to this topic? At this point, I swear I'll make sure Anu gets married even if I have to personally carry her on my back to the temple and to the dinner. We've already bought tonnes of ice for carvings and all those props have hours of work put into them, the deposit they've paid will barely cover the food ... ha ... and try telling chef nobody's going to be eating his lamb briyani for 2000 people. Trust me, the wedding's going to happen."

Cathy chuckled and slowly sipped her tea. She noticed a front office associate making his way to their table at the coffee house and knew that she would soon have other things to keep her occupied. He held a brown envelope in his hand that she was certain had her name on it.

To read other Cathy Dixon moments, please click HERE.
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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom

SherbetBlossom

Blog-A-Licious

Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife

Blog-A-Licious

My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo

tbaoo

Blog-A-Licious

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Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun

Greatfun4kids

Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

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Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max


Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry

BlogNostics

My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
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My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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