Buaji is S's great aunt, about 75 or 80. I imagined that she would be a crooked little woman, gray hair, simple cotton saris, whispering to me in hushed tones about our impending nuptials. Instead, she was what I would call a classy old broad -- not in any sort of denigratory sense; she's this majestic, proud woman who loves to gossip and kid and have her picture taken, a woman who loves to lead new friends through Johari and Bapu Bazaars, haggling with the shopkeepers who dread seeing the woman with jet black (dyed) hair, perfectly creased and shining salwar, in the doorway.
I am now fully prepared for my very Indian engagement (which is about two weeks away) -- I have a Patiala salwar in bright pink, a block printed kurta in vibrant blue, embroidered juttis, blue and pink bangles, a string of beautiful blue enamel and gold beads with matching earrings, bindis, and -- oh yes -- a custom-made engagement ring. And I have the blessing of Buaji, who made S take pictures of she and I pretending to dance bhangra ("You will look at this picture and remember the fun and the dancing!"), which is worth more than everything else combined. It's been awhile since I've been around a coven of fabulous, strong older women -- far, far too long since I've seen my mother, aunties, grandma -- and S's mother and great aunt were just so wonderful and warm.