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Mafia London Trip


The Invitation – 30th January 2014, we all had come together for our annual family meet which happens every year when they visit India. Sobhag uncle & Anju aunty had planned a wonderful surprise announcement this time. It was the wedding of their son Vrush with Dimple in Oct & all of us were invited to London to attend it. We were really happy and excited about the invitation. Initially, we were hesitant on how this would work out. But Sobhag uncle was very keen on getting us to attend and he had come well prepared with his plans and convinced us with his comforting words. In few days, 9 of us confirmed the travel to London to attend the big day.

Planning– We applied for all the necessary documents required for the travel. Sobhag uncle and Anju aunty again visited, this time with their family including Vrush & Dimple for the wedding shopping. We met to further plan our trip. Before they arrived, we got in touch with Star Tours to explore Scotland and Europe which could be squeezed in with our London trip. Since Sobhag uncle wanted us to get the best experience out there, he planned it really well not missing out the minute details. His ideology is- nothing is perfect, there always is space for improvisation and one should never stop being active, productive, and be open to new learnings. Uncle constantly was in co-ordination with us and Star Tours and made sure that all documents for our travel were in place and on time. We visited the UK Embassy, BKC-Mumbai for visa application, biometrics and passport submission. As days passed prior to confirmation of application, we had our fingers crossed since the nervousness for the visa and excitement for the trip were parallelly running on our minds. And Behold! all applications were approved for the trip we were eagerly looking forward to. We also got the Schengen visa done in next 10 days. Sobhag uncle and Aunty were here when we booked our tickets via MakeMyTrip. We never realised this bond of our strengthening while planning, shopping, talking endlessly about the trip. We also prepared a group dance which we would perform at the Mehfil night from Vrush-Dimple wedding. The group-Simul, Saloni, Chirag-Krupali with their little one Krish, Hiren-Asha, Dhaval & Reekin.

Arrival at London-4th Sept, 2014-we all felt the excitement surge when we were to board our first international flight, our family members had come to drop us. After a lay over at Cairo for 4hrs, we reached London- Heathrow airport around 10.30 pm GMT. The flight gave a further surge in excitement as hopes kept building up as to what would happen over the next month. Heathrow being one of the busiest airports in the world, took some time while getting us through with the immigration. We were welcomed at the airport by a tensed Sobhag uncle and Anju Aunty since we took some time at the immigration and none of our phones were getting connected. Once out, we could see the relief in their eyes on seeing us. We headed to their home and had a scrumptious dinner. Simul & Saloni stayed back and the remainder crew went to Kanti Dada & Ansuya Dadi’s place. The following day, 5th Sept, we had breakfast at home and visited Costco then went to Royal Sandwich for lunch-Grilled Masala chips & Jacket potatoes and French fries. Since our beloved Sobhag uncle has planned everything, we went to buy sim cards for each of us so that we could stay in touch with our homes back in India. He even gave us enough money to spend and visiting card to each one of us, which had the home address. We all felt at home, that’s how comfortable was Sobhag uncle & Anju Aunty’s hospitality.

Scotland- 6th Sept, 2014, our trip to Scotland took off with 11 of us-7 from India with Sobhag uncle, Anju Aunty, Manu Masa, Renuka Masi. Back at home, Hiren and Asha due to some glitches had received their approvals now and they applied for UK & Schengen Visas. Here, we visited Glasgow city, Gretna green, where we got to see ‘Hands of Love’-a sculpture which symbolises an act of eloped couples getting married in the area. We had our combination lunch of homemade Dhebras, Ladoos and Pringles here. Delicious Dhebras & toast Sandwiches were made by Anju Aunty. The first day was sort of a warmup with the group where not too many exchanges and interactions had happened as we were seated with people who we were comfortable with. Sobhag uncle observed this and he made the next move of informing us at dinner that from next day we are rotating the seats after every stop we get down. We were taken aback on this as we already had our enjoyment in our own companies. Next day, it was continental breakfast, got to try various types of cheese, spreads and croissants, It was a nice new experience. As decided the previous night, we started sitting with different people from our group on the bus. This little plan of Sobhag uncle did really help and we all started having small talks and gradually started enjoying each others company. Manu Masa is a very jolly person, he made us laugh and kept the environment lighter & Renuka Masi is a lovely personality, and both took care of us along with Anju aunty. That day we visited Lake Lomond, did Nevis range-a scenic mountain-via cable car, visited Fort William and 3 sister Mountains. We saw bikers riding through the mountains on their big beautiful BMW bikes, we enjoyed the beautiful green landcapes & highlands all around. we carried Jugus and dry fruits with us to keep us full. We were served Indian dinner at the hotel. The hotel rooms were very comfortable with serene scenic views through the windows.  The next two days we went to Edinburgh castle, whiskey Distillery and had a chance to view Scottish crown jewels, enjoyed the scenic view at Scotland Lake district and took our tour picture at forth road bridge-a beautiful memory with all the people in our tour. Uncle also helped us choose beautiful scarfs and bini caps to buy which we really loved. In the midst of this enjoyment, Sobhag uncle was continuously co-ordinating with the Star tour person to speed up the visa procedure for Hiren & Asha. Sobhag uncle and Anju aunty wanted them to come London as early as possible, so that they do not have to miss out on the fun.  9th sept, we headed back to London and had another lovely dinner night at Kanti Dada & Ansuya Dadi’s place. 

London – Sobhag uncle & Anju Aunty wanted us to get the experience of everything around home. People whom he knows are blessed to have him around as himself and Anju aunty give their hearts out and want to go out of their way to help and let others feel at home. Sobhag uncle wants everyone to experience the ups while learning in life and Anju aunty has always been a rock-strong support in everything. The following 5 days was a tailor-made London tour prepared by him. 10th sept, we went to Swaminarayan temple & had a nice pleasant lunch at Sayona Restaurant. The second half was in IKEA, a huge supermarket for home/office furnishings. Sobhag uncle insisted us to get something for ourselves & we did find unique stuff as per our likes and has been a different shopping experience. Got some really good decor material there.

11th sept, we were going to London city, travelling by Underground tubes. Our new friends Sonali, Raj and even Shanil accompanied us to show us around. London eye gave a spectacular view of the city just the way we have been hearing about it & we also enjoyed the 4D movie. We went to the beautiful Tower bridge (the poetic London bridge from our textbooks, which in reality didn’t fall down!), a major attraction of London as shown in the movies. We had sugar coated jugus, clicked pictures at Madame Tussauds. The next day we went to the Oshwal Centre & Jain Temple – Derasar next to the Oshwal Centre. it was a surprise for us, but many people from around there still carry our home-grown traditional values towards our religious culture which even includes diligently celebrating all Indian festivals. There is a park adjoining the Derasar which had trees and were named as per the 52 Halari villages (52 gaam na Otla). We clicked pictures with the tree named Kajurda, our native village. We visited Golders-green crematorium, where there is a small place, or a plaque built in the memory of Falguni Masi and a message written on it. We visited the local general/grocery store Sunrup to get some supplies. Since uncle wanted us to experience everything, the next day 13th sept was scheduled for fitness, Simul & Saloni went for morning walk with Sobhag uncle and his trainer, got a professional massage. We had Handvo at Babu Dada & Kanta Dadi’s home later for breakfast and green apples from the trees in their own backyard. And that day, after facing and emerging successful from all hassles, Hiren & Asha had arrived in London and joined us for Dhosa ladoo’s lunch at Manu Masa & Renuka Masi’s Home. The traditional food was fun with their family. We later went to Sheena di’s relative’s place where a birthday celebration was on, we had Jiko (Indian broiler) pizza, Kenyan pizza with beer. The next day, the full India united group, Sobhag uncle, Anju aunty and Nixha Di & Sachin, went for London city tour in a Big bus, River Thames cruise, Harrods and playful Hamleys store. Lunch at Subway and dinner back at home were two filling meals that day. We just got busy then packing for the next outing-Europe. Uncle ensured that we all have enough Euros along the trip and as always out of his kind nature-he wanted us to make the best out of this trip.

Europe – 15th sept, India group (all 9) with Sobhag uncle and Shanil embarked on the trip to Europe-courtesy – Star tours. We were in a coach which boarded Dover ferry which took us to Europe. An enormous cruise which had many other coaches, cars, to travel from England to other areas. we experienced something unique and new from what we have seen back at home. We then enjoyed movies and music in the Coach till we reached the hotel. The coach even had emergency washroom, which we have never seen in Indian coaches. Our first stopover was at Germany, where we drove through the scenic Black forest and got to watch Cuckoo clock making and shop souvenirs.  Sobhag uncle insisted us to collect something from which we could have a memory of the place. We had our Indian lunch, there was a caravan travelling with us for our food requirements. The next destination was Switzerland, where we saw beautiful Rhine waterfalls, Zurich and we relished the Mumbai Vada pav. We kept the interactions expanding amongst us to help us get to know each other better. People from various ethnicities of which some settled in London while others from various places and age groups were our co-traveler’s. We had an Indian Parsi guide Dinshaw, also from Mumbai. Sobhag uncle helped our group shop for Chocolates – Toblerone, dairy milk; Doritos, pringles at the gas stations which we shared with the co-travellers. This small act helped us connect with the others easily-probably food is one of the ways to win over people-and we bonded with everyone in the coach. This kind of bonding makes the journey a lot more fun and memorable. Suddenly, Sobhag uncle had made the full coach active and people were sharing laughs, stories with each other. We played the most fun Indian travel game in the coach – ‘Antakshari’. Chirag and Krish always had the fun element to add in any activity. Because of the way we kept the ongoing journey lively and fun, Dinshaw conferred us with the title of ‘The Mafias’. We would go to sleep, share experiences from our areas with each other, enjoying the pleasant weather. Unknowingly, the India group had become very close to each other because of Sobhag uncle & Anju Aunty. Our next stop in Switzerland was Mt. Jungfrau, via a cogwheel train the mini passes of which we still have preserved as a memoir. We savored a warm cup of Masala tea at the peak of the mountain. Next stop- Interlaken, where we again clicked memories and shopped. 

18th sept, we went to Mt. Titlis, the snowcapped mountain through the cable car, and it offered another breath-taking view around with so many cows with bells around their neck. The sound of the bells & this ambience was soothing. We enjoyed playing in the snow while keeping ourselves covered with scarfs and bini caps to keep warm. The bells tied on the cows help them to find their cows. There was a tube ride in the snow which scared us a bit but Sobhag uncle as mentioned above in his ideology-never wants anyone to miss any experiences-so he insisted on trying it at least once. Though scared, we all gave it a shot and the enjoyment were such that we opted for a 2nd round of this ride. We further explored the Ice cave and clicked photos with the infamous DDLJ poster of Sharukh & Kajol on Mt. Titlis and also in the traditional Swiss Dress. We then enjoyed one of the best Swiss Chocolate ice cream and visited the beautiful Chapel Bridge. We got key chains and cow bells as a souvenir. Next day, we visited Austria – Swarovski Museum, enjoyed a horse ride along the beautiful streets of Austria. On 20th, we headed to Venice, Italy, it was raining at the start, where we covered ourselves with the raincoats. Later the weather became pleasant and we enjoyed the Gandola ride, with the beautiful ambience of Venice. We sipped up some cups of coffee at Hard rock cafe and visited a Murano glass showroom. Next day was Florence, a city of historic richness and medivial buildings and we visited churches. When the tour guide was walking us through the city, Sobhag uncle planned for a new activity on seeing people riding on Segway. He said let’s try these. For the first time we saw something like this in reality and few of us already hesitated to try, but by then, he had already rented few Segway and started making all of us try, he was not taking our ‘NO’, a try is must. We all had to give it a chance, it was scary at the start, few of us could not learn so fast, but at the end we all enjoyed the trial. Now, whenever we find that Segway in India, we do not miss to ride again. He did scold some of us as we did not pay heed to his plan which did scare us out, but then he made up for it with the Ice cream pampering. We did fear his scolding, but it is somehow to make you better as a person. Florence also has another memory, where we got lost on the streets, and undoubtedly without any guess Sobhag uncle was able to trace us easily. We even fed pigeons and they sat on our hands and heads, we clicked pictures of the same. Next, we visited the Colosseum, watched a 5D movie about the history of Rome & later visited the leaning tower of Pisa. At this place, we purchased handbags, wallets for us and for our family members, souvenir and few more interesting things. We even went to the renowned Vatican City, home of The Pope. Next destination was France on 24th Sept, we were in Paris, enjoyed a boat cruise in River Seine and explored Paris streets at night, we got to see the twinkling lights on Eiffel tower, it was a sparkling moment. That day we had to carry our luggage to a distance on our own as the coach couldn’t climb uphill a small road to the hotel. We did help the elders with their bags and Sobhag uncle also did remind us to inform them about getting the luggage down next day. We had dinner, back to our rooms and next day, as decided the prior day, we helped our elder people to get their luggage down till the coach. That day as per the tour itinerary, it was perfume factory and few more spots, and Sobhag uncle arranged for a trip to Disneyland making it the best day of the trip. We all enjoyed rides, got tattoos done (the temporary ones though!), had a range of snacks, burger and finger chips. We bought the Disney caps and bands. There were some rides where Saloni and Reekin hesitated out of fear. To encourage them Sobhag uncle sat with us in the roller coaster and made sure they do not miss out on this experience. We saw the Disneyland parade also. The next day, 26th sept was the last day of the trip, we climbed up the Eiffel tower, enjoyed the bird’s eye view of the place from above and managed to click a really nice group picture. We also bought souvenir from Paris as a remembrance of the place. We returned back through Eurotunnel train, which can board the coach bus and many other vehicles in it, the channel tunnel is built undersea rail tunnel, which connects UK and Europe, this was a unique experience. We had made lot of memories in the trip and everyone took leave and goodbyes on a friendly note. Once we reached London, everyone appreciated our group and exchanged contacts to stay in touch.

27TH Sept was the pre wedding function of Vrush & Dimple for which we had guests at home to welcome Jaymin & family who all came with the Lagnotri. Then, we all proceeded to lunch & lip-smacking fruit Shrikhand in dessert. As it was the time of Navratri, early evening, we had a Garba night in right here in London, and it felt like being back at home, such was the environment. Garba being celebrated just as they do it in Gujarat. It was a wonderful night and we did not miss the annual Navratri festival which we make a point to celebrate Garba when at home.  

28th Sept was a family brunch at Sakoni Restaurant, so that we all from India can meet our relatives and get to spend quality time together. We all were excited to meet our extended family for the 1st time. We all had good conversations over brunch. We shared a lot of memories with each other. We also visited their place to meet others from the family. We liked this important plan by Sobhag uncle and Anju aunty to get in touch with our relatives and meet at one place, which saved time. Everyone was happy & thankful to them. Then we drove back to Uncle’s house, where everyone had re-united for the preparations of the wedding and we also played games like Antakshari & Dumb charades arranged by Mirag and Shetal for the night. 

Next day, we had breakfast left for Costco to shop, we bought many food items and even the requirements for the mela Reception. then we went to Morrisons, where we bought chocolates and saffron for India.

Nursing Home – On 30th Sept guests from Nairobi -Pravin and Benaben & Guest from Mumbai Bharti and Sanjay joined. Sobhag uncle had rented a 25 seter minibus for the duration of wedding 5 days. He drove us all for the full day. In the bus including breakfast, prepared by Anju aunty to keep us full in the bus. Sobhag uncle and Anju aunty had planned to show us their businesses, being run since last 26 years, St Georges nursing home in WIGAN, after that we visited the second one St Georges Liverpool nursing home, where we had tea, pastries and cookies. At nursing homes, we noticed a warm kind of love, affection, care been given to the residents. We got emotional seeing elderly people and mentally ill people. The nursing home had beautiful quotes of life written on the walls and the workers wonderfully took care of the residents of nursing home. They told us about the activities they conduct to keep all the members in attention and the way they take care of the resident’s health. At one stage a lady came to Dhaval and held his hand as if he was her grandson, we were moved to tears while leaving this place.

We saw Everton Football Club and Liverpool Football Club stadiums from outside on returning back from nursing home. On return trip visited Leicester and saw selling of Indian food items, traditional clothes etc. That evening Anju aunty treated us with delicious meal of biryani and chole bhatura.

  1st Oct, we went to shopping at Prim-mark, where we bought clothes, shoes, scarfs and more souvenirs. Krish had gone for a haircut. After we all came home, we all practiced our dance to be performed on Mehfil night. On that evening, went to a park near the home and had Maru bhajia and Masala Mogo for dinner.

Vrush & Dimple’s Wedding

The Wedding functions started from 2nd Oct, with the Mehfil function in the evening which had a Moroccon Decor, Mehendi arrangements were in place and there was Shisha, which Hiren, Chirag & Reekin tried for the first time. There were dance performances, we performed on 2 peppy Bollywood numbers. Bhavi, Nidhi & Sonali had a unique performance while wearing masks with the faces of Vrush and Dimple which was a planned surprise for everyone. There were singers and belly dancers. Such an experience was completely new for us, and the fun was never-ending. The cuisine was Lebanese & street food. There were firecrackers, it was a perfect function, we were amazed to see a different kind of a wedding celebration.

The next day 3rd Oct, there were guests from London, Kenya, Zanzibar, India, U.S.A, Singapore and other places around the world. in the morning 9am we had the Mandvo function at home, the Ganesh pooja done by our Groom and all the family members and friends, with the Maharaj explaining the ritual while chanting the mantras, which we normally don’t get to see in India. Next was Gotiro function, where the sister-in-law of the groom carried a mud pot (beda) on their head. We sang Gujrati wedding songs and the complete environment was giving perfect wedding vibes. We enjoyed jalebi fafda in the morning at home. The next function in the afternoon was Peethi at RCT Hall, the color code for ladies was Yellow saree. The Pithi ritual was new for us, we enjoyed thoroughly same as like playing Holi with Haldi-Peethi and was followed by Lunch. In the evening we visited homes of Sushi Dadi’s place and visited the street of Wembley.

4th oct, the wedding day, the preparations at home started early morning, with a specialist person arranged by Sobhag uncle to tie all boys and men safa at home, we clicked group pictures in the gardens of Regent’s Court, the baaratis were ready to take the Jaan, the groom’s family being dressed in blue & red. A spectacular picture was taken of all of us in front of the building, looking very colorful. The jaan moved at 9.15am from Regent’s Court to VIP banquets. Vrush arrived at the banquet hall in Rolls Royce & Vrush’s friends arrived in Limousine. We danced at VIP Hall on the Dhols playing for the groom’s entry & later the gorgeous bride arrived. We were introduced to our extended family in the wedding, we got to meet many people. The Maharaj started the rituals at 11am. He was chanting all the mantras on Mic & explained the complete rituals to the couple and everyone, in English. The groom and bride, then promised each other the seven vows, which we have never heard in India in our community, it was so thoughtful and completely heart touching. Then there was a photo session with the couple and we also clicked pictures with everyone & the bride had a cheerful Bidai, unlike the one we see in India. The newly wedded couple was welcomed at home and there were few rituals conducted at home.

In the evening, there was wedding reception at VIP banquets, Men donned blazers and suits while the ladies were in Saree & Gowns. The best man speech was by Shanil and Vrush’s best friend for Vrush & for Dimple by her cousin. The couple then did the cake cutting and performed their first dance. There were few more performances, Dhaval even performed a solo. Everyone was on floor, raised a toast for the couple and enjoyed dancing. The experience was wonderful that night.

5th Oct was a Mela reception, where there was variety of street food of different culture, and more choices in each. juggus were prepared by Anju Aunty, Mogo wafers served in boat shaped plates, chocolate & candy counter was prepared by Sonali, variety of Pan and ice creams. The decor was Mela style with traditional umbrellas and there was a photographer who clicked and provided us the instant hard copies. we clicked the group pictures with everyone, Miraj, Shetal & Savan; Bhavi, Nidhi, Sushma Masi & Nani; Sonali, Raj & Shanil; Nixha, Vijay, Sheena, Sahil and Sachin; Manu Masa, Renuka Masi, Khushboo; Kanti dada, Ansuya Dadi, Babu Dada & Kanta Dadi & the Mafia group. we had the best memories captured.

Departure – 6th oct, that day was filled with mixed emotions, we were returning back to Mumbai with endless memories and the most memorable part of our life. We had an evening flight from London, and we reached India, early morning on 7th Oct. 

Sobhag uncle is the most energetic person we have come across. With so much of life in him, he’s always full of encouragement & motivation which really made us fond of him. The trip to London really helped us open up to so many aspects in life, socialising with people had suddenly become easier, we got to learn his ideologies of life. His willingness and energy to constantly keep helping others and giving them life experiences has always been to the top of his life. He is a role model to us and at the same time, not forgetting how equally interesting Anju Aunty as well. Prior to this, we used to catch up only during annual meets when we would land in India. But spending time with them made us realize how generous and humble they are. Anju aunty took care of us like her children & made us comfortable with everything.

Sobhag uncle and Anju aunty are gold hearted people, they hold a special place in our hearts, words would short fall for the gratitude we want to express towards them. That said, we would with all our heart, like to thank them both for the love and care they have imparted on us and always keep continue to do so. Till we meet again…


The Mafias


  • Pankaja


    Very good info


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