The next day was spent in preparation for the reception. My dad and I made our way to Jayalakshmi's which has all kinds of Indian clothes. My dad bought me a Kurta - it is navy blue with some work along the middle (where the buttons go). We got back home, dressed up, and made out way to the reception. The reception gave me a very good opportunity to meet all the other members of my family - all my aunts, uncles, grand-aunts, and grand-uncles. Since my leave was only 15 days, I didn't have enough time to see them all, so I was happy I was able to see them there. A note about Indian families - they are very large, and very tight-knit. I can't begin to count the number of cousins, second-cousins, aunts, uncles, grand-aunts, and grand-uncles I have. I have some from my dad's side of the family, and my mom's side (which alone has about 400-500 members) of the family. Then I have some from my uncle's (my dad's older sister's husband) side of the family - not related of course, but nonetheless, "cousins". I can go on and on. I guess some people might feel crowded, but I like it. The reception like I already said, was pretty awesome. The question on everyone's lips was "How is Iraq?". And I'd say "Just fine... can't wait to go home!" and maybe tell them a few stories or so. Everyone always ended with "Well, be safe! And don't do anything stupid!".
After the reception we made our way back home. For the next few days, I didn't do much other than just relax at home. Talking to my grand-dad, playing with our Samoyed, Chikoo. We used to have a German Shepherd, Jimmy, but he was put down a month before I arrived because of a pretty bad infection in his hind leg. He was in too much pain and my grandad said he had no choice but to euthanize him. He was just an overgrown puppy, that dog - and I missed having him come up and jump on me and lightly gnawing on my hand in that typical German Shepherd fashion. We made a few trips to Ernakulam and also spent a horrible three hours at Jayalakshmi's where my sister tried to decide which Saris she wanted to buy. But other than that, I didn't do much for a couple of days. Mainly I was just happy to sit down and relax - watch the world go by, instead of trying to outpace it. In Iraq it was always go-go-go... but here I got a chance to sit down, and unwind. Then of course, there's the fact that I'm able to sleep in - and it's not the harsh sound of an alarm that wakes me up, it's the sound of birds in the air. One of the most relaxing moments I had was sitting at the eretthu (patio) when it rained. There's nothing like the rain in Kerala - the sound of it, as it comes crashing down from the sky is quite soothing. Then there were also the hours spent watching Cricket with my dad, grand-dad and my cousin. It had been a while since I'd seen a good game of cricket. While all of this was going on, my dad and I were talking about getting another dog for the house. So him, my sister, and I made our way to Ernakulam to meet up with one of my uncles who knows all about the different breeders in the area. We went to this little house where this guy had a bunch of dogs. We settled on feistly little black lab. She's absolutely adorable - her coat is shiny black and she's full of energy. We took her back in a cardboard box lined with old newspapers. She kept trying to climb out and when it became apparent to her that we weren't going to let her, she took ripping apart the newspapers. The first time we introduced her to Chikoo, things didn't go too well. Chikoo gets a little jealous at times. I remember when I used to play with Jimmy, he'd jump in the middle and nip at Jimmy's ears and generally annoy him. Although he was about three times the size of Chikoo, he never did anything other smack him once with his paw. Well, anyway, at first Chikoo kept nipping at our new lab. And we had to keep smacking him to stop it. Soon the whole family was at the eretthu and we were all trying to think of a name for the puppy. If my grandma was still alive, she would have given the perfect name. That's a unique talent she had - she could always give an apt name to any dogs that we brought home. It actually took us about three or four days before we settled on a name. I wanted to call her Rani (Queen - we've had two other dogs named Rani but we haven't used the name in a while) or Jessie. She was Jessie for a few days and then for some reason everyone wanted to call her Honey, even though my dog back in the US has the same name. So Honey she was. Chikoo was still a little mean towards Honey and she'd try to hide from him but then eventually she started retaliating and would actually bark back at him, or even go looking for a fight! So after they built some sort of mutual respect, everything was ok.