Travel Muse Press Publishing House has plans to release its first travel-inspired book.

Portrait of Happiness – The New Hindu Wedding Recipe: Part Love, Part Arrangement
©2005 Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar

Synopsis: Irish-American oil painter Anne Marie Peterson travels with her future husband, Anand Kolatkar, to his homeland of India, which he left behind almost thirty years ago when his family moved to the United States. With the ultimate and persistent goal of having a Hindu wedding at the end of their travels, Annie and Anand adventure through India facing social and cultural obstacles, setbacks, feeling the pains of frustration as ancient Hindu practices are imposed on the modern couple’s path to marital happiness. Keeping a diary, Annie records the travel adventure aspects of their lives as they are interwoven with the wedding plans and preparations. While spending three and a half months backpacking the Himalayan Foothills, tea country, three major cities, Kerala’s waterways and Goa’s beaches they continue to discover India’s beauty and dirty secrets as they wait for their auspicious ceremonial day, February 13, 2002.

Annie and Anand, very much in love with each other, had been dating for six months when his mother suggested that they get married in India and that her older brother, Kumar, would arrange everything. Annie’s future in-laws warn her that India is a difficult country to travel in. After one week in Delhi, Annie discovers the “F” word: frustration. Nothing had prepared her for the trials and tribulations she encounters with India, its horrific corruption, lack of sanitation and often bizarre cultural practices. Her frustrations continue to escalate over the months, peaking with Uncle Kumar’s request for information regarding her menstrual cycle in case it coincided with the wedding date, at which point Anand is ready to call off the wedding.

There are no words in her fiancée’s language that translate into “I Love You” and Annie sets out to understand a way of life so different from hers, where love enters the equation after marriage and actions of love are the substitute for talk of love. Nothing says “I Love You” more than “Butter Chicken,” and Annie quickly learns that relatives feed a person their favorite food at every opportunity. She shares the family’s favorite recipes for foods that are traditional on days of worship or celebration. Annie gets genuine cultural experiences by living with Anand’s many relatives, especially Uncle Kumar who knows Annie must surrender to his control over her wedding. Uncle Kumar becomes her antagonist, and Annie bites her tongue on a regular basis as east meets west in a head-on collision. Escaping with great regularity to Barista, India’s version of Starbucks, Annie privately vents her frustrations to Anand, who consoles her by offering insights into the family power structure. She witnesses her future husband “manage” India and sees a new side to h that she struggles to learn from. He teaches her to understand and accept India as it is and when she finally lowers her expectations even further, he applauds her for he knows her happiness factor can only rise –in their favor.

Anand has to go through Hindu rites of passage as a Brahmin before he can get married, starting with his Munja, or “thread ceremony,” which he was to go through at the age of sixteen. Annie has her own ceremonies to endure to the merriment of Anand and his father as she speaks the ancient Sanskrit words, drinks holy water, and inhales the smoke from a ceremonial fire made of cow dung.

Annie barely survives beauty-parlor appointments because treatments are rough and the tools and techniques come across as primitive, becomes a Hindu for a day, marries into a conservative Brahmin family and finds inspiration for art while traveling the countryside. Together, Annie and Anand witness live births at his cousin’s hospital and learn about the implication of each new birth in India, come to the aid of a dying English man in Kovalam, make new friends, fight exhaustion and hunger, laugh and cry.

This book is a treasury of timeless photographs, detailed paintings of people, still life and dramatic landscapes and memories that illustrate and recall their road to happiness.

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