Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Terrorism, wild pig captures, and Stove Top Stuffing with Evangelical Christians... welcome to our Thanksgiving in Varanasi.
Our day started with news of the Mumbai attack from Uncle Dan, and Chris spent much of the morning scrambling around trying to learn what was going on and what, if any, effect it was likely to have on us. I made mashed potatoes, seeking refuge in cooking as much as preparing for the feast we were invited to later in the day. I'm just now begining to read all the details of the attacks in Mumbai, and am still so shocked, so you'll have to forgive my silence on the subject for now...

Once everything was settled and done we struck out for "The Ashram" and a Thanksgiving feast with the Western ex-pat community in Varanasi. Unfortunately 4 men had cornered a wild pig in front of our house and were in the process of capturing it when we wanted to leave. The pig's screams were enough to send us back inside, not to mention the possibility of the (huge) pig getting lose and trampling someone. It was really an awful thing to wait out and did much to reaffirm my commitment to vegetarianism. Once the pig was finally tied up and carried off we ventured beyond the gate and off to the ashram. (I swear, I am not making this up. Only in India could a wild pig capture make you late for Thanksgiving dinner.)

(Perhaps a brief digression to explain The Ashram is in order here. Through one of the owners of one of our favorite haunts I was connected with Amy, our doctor's wife and a big part of the ex-pat community in Varanasi. She invited me to join a playgroup made up of families who all know each other from attending church together at The Ashram. The Ashram is actually a collection of buildings which originally belonged to the Panchkote Raj (somebody want to google that?) and which are now rented by Americans and used partly as their home and partly as a space for church services. Play group meets there once a month and moms get to meditate for 90 minutes while various nannies mind the kids - hooray!) The Ashram overlooks the Ganga and is a lovely oasis, complete with grass and a very friendly black lab. We aren't joining in for the church services, but all the people we've met from that community have been just wonderful to us, and me in particular. One of my favorite things about Varanasi, for sure.)

Every year the feast includes a talent show along with all of the traditional American Thanksgiving foods. There were no less than 3 vats of mashed potatoes, 4 pumpkin pies and even two bowls of honest-to-goodness Stove Top Stuffing. Brownies and chocolate pudding and crescent rolls too! I cannot begin to describe to you how wonderful it was to see and smell and EAT all of that fabulous food. The talent show was just as heart warming as the food. It ranged from our doctor reciting "Lamentations of the Father" (you may have seen it going around in an email - hilarious) to little kids singing, doing magic tricks and our favorite actress reciting the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech from Macbeth. Afterwards everyone hung around chatting on the roof, running wild in the yard, and driving the family auto-rickshaw.

From start to finish Thanksgiving 2008 was unlike anything I've ever experienced - good, bad and ugly. All of our family and friends were in my thoughts through out the day and beyond anything else, I am thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives. Your love and support mean so much, especially now when we are so far away.
And now, the pictures...
Nora Grace drives the auto-rickshaw. (That's her dad, Dr. Lowell looking so pleased and proud in the foreground.)
Ben and Nora Grace taking a break in the yard.
Chris and Brendon discussing religion on the roof, Ganga beyond.
Looking south from the roof of The Ashram, up the Ganga, toward Assi Ghat and the pontoon bridge.

1 comment:

Grandpa George said...

Dear Family,

Just read all of these AND I loved the pictures of kids and local scenes. YOUR BLOG IS WONDERFUL!!!


BTW, have been thinking of one of our Indian house guests-Anwar who was Muslim, living in a primarily Hindu area. We had many talks about culture conflicts. One particular was his astonishment that the son of a professor would have a job washing dishes (Chris was a dishboy at MW--source of many hilarious experiences). As I recall, Anwar was aghast about this and many other American folkways.