This is the first segment of a feature story about a group of nine current and former area residents who traveled to India early last year to attend the wedding of an exchange student who shared their lives from 2009 to 2010 in the Mount Markham Central School District.
The series was written and photographed by Leonardsville resident Wendy Barrett, whose family was among those to make the trip. Articles will run every week until the story concludes.
By Wendy L. Barrett
This was it.
Two months of semi-rushed planning and immunizations were done, and the borrowed “I Dream of Jeannie” wedding outfit was tucked carefully into my check-on luggage.
As our Boeing 777 revved for takeoff for the 15-hour flight from Newark to Mumbai, my thoughts raced back to Komal Patel, the beautiful young Rotary exchange student my Central New York family hosted a decade ago and the promise she made to us before returning to India.
Komal was certain she would marry her high school sweetheart back home some day and vowed to invite us and her two other local host families to her wedding. In the years after she left, we stayed in touch periodically through email, where she always spoke of her future wedding and her wish for us to attend.
Now it was late February 2020, and six of us were headed to India for this special occasion, with three others set to fly out the next day.
Unexpected joys eclipse a close call.
We knew Indian weddings were extraordinary affairs, and Komal’s would certainly prove beyond our wildest expectations. The three days of ceremonial festivities were absolutely magnificent and, not surprisingly, our long-awaited reunion reaffirmed the special place this young woman held in our hearts.
Two things we hadn’t foreseen were our fortunate timing with travel and the trip’s phenomenal impact on a whole series of relationships as we connected with all of the important people in Komal’s life....