Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas has come and gone

Indeed, as the title says it, Christmas has come and gone ... this time, a little more silently than in the previous years ... at least in Mumbai, but, thanks to the economic melt-down, perhaps all over the world as well. Festivities such as having a Christmas tree, visiting Santa, giving gifts etc. will all go on, but as the pockets aren't so deep, the trees will be smaller, and the gifts, not as ostentatious as before. Travelling to a foreign country will also, I am sure, be marked by austerity and some effective use of common-sense (which is otherwise so uncommonly seen). 

Mumbai has had the terrrible terror attacks a month ago, and although people have begun to lead near normal lives, the fear and the suspicion are still there: people check under their seats when they visit a restaurant, and some will even chide the manager for not having long table-cloths under which they may hide in case a terrorist visits their restaurant. Introspection, quiet demeanour and an acceptance of Fate have all conspired to flatten the enthusiasm of the average Mumbai who wants nothing more than peace and a promise of no-repeats of what happened on 11/26.

Today is the 28th and we are roughly midway between Christmas and the New Year. I saw big crowds near the Regal Cinema, which is a stone's throw away (I know the analogy is a bit weird) from the Taj Palace hotel and the Gateway of India. Both the Taj tower and the Trident started operations and welcoming guests on the 21st of this month, and have sent a clear message to the terrorists and their masters that they will not cower down before the actions of a murderous few.

Today was also the first day of our Muslim-Bohra calendar year. Yesterday night, we had a sort of feast - a tradition that we follow every year. We create several dishes, and also dice a lot of fruit, and serve it all in small, dainty plates and bowls atop a large serving plate known as a "thaal". This large plate, mostly of stainless-steel, is circular and more than 3 1/2 feet in diameter. Along with the dishes that are served up, we also place, in the thaal, a smaller plate containing a silver coin, some raw rice, jaggery, a supari piece, a coconut, a garland and a single betel leaf: the belief is that this is a "birthday" of the thaal. You could say we are invoking Allah for his beneficence and his limitless mercy.

Generally, we count the items on the thaal and make sure we have at least 21 items, but at times, we aim for  larger number, which is usually an odd number. Yesterday, we reached a modest 25 dishes, while others aimed to go to 51 dishes or even more!

Stuffed ourselves, yes ... we did. And then, Nish and I went to attend a wedding ceremony of the son of one of our neighbour friends, where, too, we ate some food.

That's all for now. Hope you liked the entry.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice entry. I know, Mumbai must be recovering from the blasts, 26th is always a bad-date. I think we had an earthquake in Gujarat, the tsunami two years back and now this attack.