Forts of Rajasthan or Castles of Italy

I was seven years old when we first went to Italy. I remember Venice with its gondolas bobbing on green waters - my mother refusing to get on a gondola stating that the waters of Venice were the same colour as the Ganges. 

I remember the delight of seeing glimpses of medieval castles driving into a Tuscan sunset. I remember falling in love with a country, its language and its castles. 

  

Twenty years later, I fell in love with a man who shared my passion for Italian food and movies. Two years later when he proposed over prosecco, I accepted. 

 

Italy would have been our choice to get married. We spent evening after evening pouring through castles online as we held hands and imagined our wedding.

We had looked at majestic castles in Apulia for large weddings, spectacular castles on the Italian Riviera for royal weddings and fairytale castles in Tuscany just outside Florence for romantic weddings.

Finally, we narrowed it down to Tuscany to a pretty castle surrounded by olive trees and vineyards. It was a short drive from Florence.

  

 

It seemed perfect. Maybe too perfect. 

Five months before the wedding, my mother was advised not to travel long distances because of her health. The news hit us hard. I remember holding her hand. We had wanted to postpone the wedding, but my mother said no.

It was a while before I was able to focus again. The idea of Rajasthan came to us one afternoon. My mother had gently suggested it while pouring tea as she did every afternoon. The distance would be short enough for my mother to travel. We could invite more family and there would be no visas or translators to worry about. I loved her for thinking of it. Our wedding was a fairytale. We arrived in Jaipur at dusk. There was a cool breeze and a big moon in the sky. We had chosen a palace, now a resort, and an hour’s drive from Jaipur. I remember feeling excited as a child as I saw craggy forts, dotting hills, bright lights twinkling and later, the occasional camel.

  

The resort was beautiful. We were treated like royalty the moment we walked up the marble steps. There was a traditional dance in the courtyard, which we watched as we waited for our rooms. He even allowed us a peek into our bridal suite. We had a small private courtyard outside, looking up I could see the stars. Inside, there was a king-sized bed, which would be lined with flowers, a huge bathtub in front of the bed and everything we could possibly want. 

  

Dinner that night was served in a dancing hall with mirrors everywhere and beautiful chandeliers that took my breath away. The food was exquisite. Our wedding was the next evening. We started off with a camel ride to the venue. Girls threw petals at us as we walked to the venue. Then the fireworks went off spelling our names for all to see. Tears were in my eyes at the beauty of the event and being surrounded with so much love. 

The ceremony was surreal. Afterwards, we were entertained by women dancing and jugglers as we sat for an outdoor dinner overlooking the mountains. My perfect night ended with a lot of laughter and dancing. Later, when we walked into to our room hand in hand, there was a bottle of Prosecco waiting.

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