As you’ve probably been following, I’ve been in Dallas, Texas for the past few dayswith Dina. The excuse (not that I really need one for a bit of travel), was the marriage of her cousin Ameesh to Evelyn – but as with all of these things I was determined to get a few tourist outings into the schedule as well. Fortunately the travel disruption on my inward leg didn’t cause too much havoc with my plans so even with just three and a half days to play with (including three wedding events) we were still on for most of my stops.
On the Friday I arrived into the Hyatt Place hotel in Las Colinas around 1900, got showered & changed in to my social Kurta and we headed to Dina’s Uncle’s & Auntie’s place in ‘the Colony’, north of Dallas City. We were heading up there for Evelyn’s Mehndi – the party before the wedding where the bride & her party (and any other lady who wants in) have Henna painted on their hands & feet. It would also be the first time I’d met anyone in Dina’s family outside of her mother so it was a little daunting for me… but there was nothing to fear as I was on my best behaviour.
Of course it all passed off well and I got to meet the happy couple, say hello, as well as Dina’s other cousin’s, Uncles & Aunties. It was actually pretty funny because the Auntie who lived in the house was the spitting image of Dina’s mother – to the point where I actually thought it was Mrs K (Dina’s Mum) until I realised that the lady in front of me wasn’t as thin as Mrs K!! It was definitely a double take moment though.
It is fair to say that I slept well on Friday night / Saturday morning… at least I did until my brother called at 0600 Texas time… it was a wake up call I really could have done without and it combined with jet lag to ensure that I didn’t get back to sleep that morning. However a healthy ‘continental’ (N.B. the American Continental breakfast wasn’t quite as expansive as the European Continental breakfast nor the Asian Continental breakfast, but it was certainly high quality…) breakfast later & I was ready for the day… and so Dina & I headed to a local mall. I actually do enjoy shopping some times & running around some of the stores for the first half hour or so was fun… but I did start to tire a little towards the end and we had a schedule to keep.
That afternoon we headed to the church where the wedding service was being held. My understanding was that it was to be a Civil Ceremony, however, the church was full of crosses… clearly the American version and the British version of a Civil Ceremony differ. The service itself was simple & straight forward, lasting no more than 25 minutes all told – including the customary late bride. Afterwards, once a few family photos had been taken, the Groom’s cousins (including Dina) and I headed to a local Mexican restaurant and then on to the banquet hall for the reception.
The reception was a bit different from what I would see as a traditional Northern Irish reception in a number of small ways… firstly it was a double buffet (Indian & Mexican to reflect the cultures of the happy couple), the top table was just the wedding party (no parents included), there wasn’t any apparent table plan and there were no speeches to talk of, but otherwise it was much as you’d see at any other wedding.
Day three saw Dina & I pick up her cousin & daughter (that’s the cousin’s daughter, not Dina’s… you know what I mean) and head for Southfork Ranch, the home made famous by the TV show Dallas. What we discovered, apart from it being interesting and all the folks being very, very friendly, was that the whole thing was a lot smaller than we all remembered it!! What had happened, was that the producers used loads of TV tricks (wide lenses & cutting and pasting) to make the whole place look bigger!! From the lane, to the house, to the swimming pool!! Also, as people actually lived in the house at the time, no filming of the show ever took place inside, so once you cross the threshold, it looks nothing like the house you used to see in the TV show!!
In the afternoon, we headed back to the hotel to change up, this time in to my formal Kurta and we headed to the second wedding reception – this one being thrown by the parents of the Groom. This reception had more of an Indian feel to it, with traditional Indian music in the background – and I have to say the pick of the Indian food I’d had all week!!
Our last full day in Dallas saw us try to pack in as much as possible. We started out by heading to the 6th Floor Museum, which is dedicated to the murder of John F. Kennedy. We weren’t really expecting much, but the detail was superb, with us eventually having to cut out a few of the videos as we needed to do other things. We also headed to the grassy knoll… but the gunman is long gone I’m afraid to report. I also want to say that I walked in thinking Oswald had made an impressive shot, but from looking out on the 6th floor to the spot where his target was, I reckon I could have made it.
After this, we headed to the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Now I’ve been to many a sports ground & done the tour in quite a few too… so I reckon this was one more for me than Dina, but she enjoyed it too (well, for the first 15 minutes at least!!). The stadium is really impressive, with a seated capacity of around 80,000 in the world’s biggest room!! It was also pretty cool because the team were practicing on the field whilst we were doing the tour. One of the employees said that they had 18,000 turn up the previous day just to watch practice!!
After another stop at another Mall and a few other shops, we headed for Fort Worth’s Stockyards for dinner with Ameesh, Evelyn, another cousin of Dina’s called Preeti and some of Dina’s University friends. the Stockyards look pretty cool, styled in what I would describe as a ‘Western’ style (if you think of John Wayne when you say Western). I had Rabbit and Rattlesnake sausages for starter… which was actually very nice, followed by steak. It wasn’t quite the steak I was expecting – it was beautiful, however it wasn’t quite the size I was expecting in America!!
And so the trip was really at an end… we headed back to our hotel, finished packing our bags & prepared for our journey home with a good solid sleep. It was needed as the journey home was punctured by a five hour delay in Chicago… a flight, which when it did take off, I managed to sleep through from start to finish!! Bliss.
So, only two & half weeks until my next vacation!!