I’m back in London after a whirlwind trip to Delhi to attend the wedding of Karan Tuli (pictured above), who works for Agatha Paris’s travel retail operations in Asia [and is the son of King Power Group Hong Kong's Sunil Tuli] to his beautiful bride Jesreen.
[Father and son: Sunil and Karan Tuli arrive in style for a moment that will live forever in both their memories]
I’d always been told that big Indian weddings are one of the great spectacles and experiences in life but this one surely superseded even that billing. Along with a large contingent of travel retail executives, I was privileged to attend an event that not only marked the beginning of a young and loving couple’s married life but one that brought home all the majesty, magic, power, passion and pageantry that is India.
I’ll never forget the scene outside the Taj Palace in Delhi, as traffic was brought to a standstill while the groom, Karan, rode in on a magnificently adorned white horse towards the grounds of the hotel, amid a riot of colour and a cacophany of sound. Guests, passers-by (locals and tourists alike), cheered, clapped, danced and snapped photos as this extraordinary gathering wound its way towards the wedding venue.
[Karan's proud father, Sunil (above), and sister Karuna (above and below), enjoy the unforgettable spectacle on the streets of Delhi before the wedding ceremony]
[Mondalez Travel Retail's Jaya Singh, also President of APTRA, enjoys the moment]
[Meter maid: David Spillane does his best to stop the traffic]
[Anglo/Irish alliance: Jonathan Holland and David Spillane dress up in style]
[Street Serenade: Sue Lewis from Crabtree & Evelyn and TRT's Christine Martin boogie on down the streets of Delhi]
The ceremony that followed was unforgettable in its spectacle, emotion and tradition. As the almost fairy tale-like beautiful bride and handsome groom completed the Pheras (the walking around of sacred fire), one knew one had been cast into a new yet deeply traditional world.
[A lovely shot with the happy couple: (From left) Martin Moodie, Jane Grant, Breeda McLoughlin, Jesreen and Karan Tuli, Colm McLoughlin, Sue Lewis and David Spillane]
As I predicted in my last Blog, the occasion also saw prominent members of the travel retail community as you’d never seen them before, as they entered into the spirit of the occasion by donning turbans and Indian wedding clothing. I must admit to having become quite partial to my temporary new look, which did wonders for my equally traditional follically challenged appearance. My advice to those worried about impending or existing baldness – forget the hairpiece, just wear a turban.
['The Turbanitor': King Power Group Hong Kong Managing Director Antares Cheng dresses up in style]
[A pate in need of protection: Martin Moodie awaits the turban treatment]
["We don't usually have this much forehead to cover," mutters the turban maker as he requests overtime payment - and extra cloth]
[A true cover up: The transformation is complete as Sunil Tuli welcomes a new Indian citizen]
[In the hands of the creator: Acknowledging the craft of the turban maker]
[From Dubai to Delhi: Dubai Duty Free's Colm and Breeda McLoughlin light up the Indian night]
[Flying Kiwis: Peter Hanson, Director of Aotea New Zealand Souvenirs, and Martin Moodie]
[Colm McLoughlin accepts a US$20 payment from Rémy Cointreau Global Travel Retail Managing Director Peter Sant, not for the latter's failure to wear a turban but for a trouncing earlier that day in a putting contest at the Taj Palace Hotel, pictured below]
[Toasting the happy couple with a Delhi-tini: Martin Moodie, Revlon's Art Miller and long-time industry executive John Kammerman in the Taj Palace's magnificent Orient Express bar]
[Mr and Mrs Kammerman, the latter in an exquisite traditional Korean Hanbok]
After a wonderful evening of celebrations, topped off with a traditional travel retail gathering in the Orient Express Bar (above) at the Taj Palace, it was on to Delhi Airport for a 04.00 flight to Heathrow, via Dubai.
At that hour, my senses may not have been as sharp as usual but they were sufficiently acute to note the general excellence of the airport’s commercial offer. I had not been overly impressed by the Arrivals duty free set-up but in Departures the Delhi Duty Free Services offer was pretty good (and about to be improved via a refurbishment), supported by a generally strong and occasionally excellent specialist retail offer that did really well in conveying the elusive concept of Sense of Place. I was always pleasantly surprised by the sharp improvement in the food & beverage proposition from the airport’s historically slipshod offer. I’ll let the pictures below tell their own story.