Saturday, October 27, 2012

Warm Welcomes

During Durga Puja, I spent lots of time at my Indian friends' houses. I had not been to any of my friends' houses yet and I was not sure what to expect.

I first went to Pinky’s house. Many posts back, I wrote about the famous Kamakhya Temple. The temple’s billboard, gateway and entrance is located at the bottom of a steep hill, and the temple is about a 10-15 minute drive from this entrance. Pinky lives across the street from the gateway and billboard. You cross a railroad track and begin to climb what feels like the Great Wall of China. She lives closer to the top of a steep hill and the only way to get to her house is by walking some trails. There are plenty of houses on this hill, so lots of people get their daily workout by hiking the hill.

Pinky kept warning me and warning me about how her house was a lot different from mine (she has never seen a picture of my house), and she stressed the fact that it was not very nice. I told her repeatedly that did not bother me at all (because it did not), and I was just so excited to meet her family. Pinky met me at my apartment and we took a motorcycle to her house. She told me that all day long her four siblings and parents kept asking what time I would come, and the answer was always the same: 5 P.M. On the motorcycle, they kept calling asking how far away from the house we were. Talk about pressure: they had been preparing food and been waiting for me all day. Half way up the hill, I was welcomed and greeted by her three brothers (ages 16, 10, and 6). Her mom and little sister (17) were outside of her house waiting to greet me with me big hugs and smiles. 

Below are pictures showing the house:

Behind the curtain is the kitchen/den
The porch and drying cothes area

Their temple
The bathroom

The den/living area 

The kitchen (I am sitting in the den while taking this photo)

My best friends, the cows
Their view (hard to see in the dark but it is beautiful)

The house is the size of my den in Nashville, which only goes to show that absolute joy can come wrapped in small packages. This family was the nicest family in the world. Before dinner, Pinky's sister painted my arms and hands in henna, and the whole time the brothers just sat watching talking to me a getting to know me. At dinner, the mother fed me so much food, and in the interest of being polite I stuffed my face until I seriously could not put one more thing in my mouth. (Serving huge meals is a common thing here for hostesses to do to guests in India. This evening included tiny fried fish in which you eat the heads, eyes, everything.) The sister did the most amazing henna ever; the mother cooked the most amazing food and told me she wanted me to move in; the brothers loved showing me their house, loved playing with my iPhone, and asked question after question about the USA. Meanwhile, Pinky was always asking if I needed anything. I felt totally spoiled.

Pinky's sister, an incredible henna artist

In the middle of my massive meal: rice, dal, chicken, veggies and fish (notice the fried fish on the top of my plate). 
This night really affected me. Their warmth and generosity was beyond all. Since this night, I have had dinner at her house two more times. Pinky’s mom is worried about me being away from my family so she wants me to live at their house. The whole family embodies the meaning of kindness. Although they do not have much, they have an incredibly kind spirit and really that is all that matters.

Manika, Me, Pinki (to put some faces to the names)
Also this week, I went to my friend Manika’s house for a Durga Puja celebration. The parents were so happy to have me and got me all ready to go out on the town to see Puja. Thank you Manika for having me over!

The view from Manika's house
Living room
Manika's room
Manika's room
Some delicious Puja food- rice, dal, potatoes/cauliflower, a veggie salad, chicken
Manika's beautiful mom
Finally, I went to Rihna’s house for another Puja celebration the same day I went to Manika’s house. We ate some Puja snacks before going to see more Puja at night. Thank you also Rihna for your hospitality!
Rihna (to a put a face to the name)
Puja snacks- samosas, and Indian sweets
Rihna's living room
More of Rihna's living room
Sending smiles and warm welcomes from India,

ALSO, Please check out My friend Abby Horrell so kindly gave me a shout out on her blog, so I’ll do the same. Her blog, although quite different from mine, takes my mind off the hardships that are sometimes faced here. Go read the posts and feel like you are living in New York City as a musical theatre college student who knows how to dress better than anyone out there. 

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