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09/28/2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Kerala! Yesterday, my friend Micaela and I went to the Onam celebrations on campus. The only information we had was that it started at 5pm in DST Auditorium, and that we should wear white saris, with a gold border. My sari IS white with a gold border, and some red and green thrown in there too, but I decided it would work. Micaela’s is bright pink and gold. Close enough. Our Hindi teacher, Bhavani, had us come to her room a little before the event, and she tied our saris for us. Mine took her about 5 minutes, but Micaela’s had a LOT of fabric, and took considerably longer.

At about 4pm, we headed out for the half hour walk to DST. Bikes in a sari are sort of out of the question, so walking it is! On our walk, everyone we passed gave us the “A-OK” sign, slowed down on their bikes, and told us “bahut sundar, girls” (very beautiful). This was when we decided that wearing saris once a week would be a good ego booster.

We arrived at the auditorium at 4:30, right on time, and picked seats inside. This was a good move. The program started at 5:30, but there were easily over a thousand people there, many of whom were relegated to sitting in the aisles, or standing, crammed together, in the doorway. At one point, I turned to Micaela, and said, "Isn't this a fire hazard?' She just looked at me, like "Zoe. We're in India. Seriously?"

The performance went about 2 hours, and was a combination of song, dance, and a skit or two. The emcees introduced all the acts in Malayalam and English, which was really cool. The whole thing started with a slideshow, and everyone cheered whenever food appeared as part of the show.

The two guys sitting behind us provided constant entertainment, singing Linkin Park songs in Indian accents, and telling us about how we could improve our sari-wearing experience for next time (24 or 36 gold bangles, and wear the watch on your other hand. Dye your hair, and wear it down…) So many suggestions!

In any case, the program was great. Traditional Christinan, Hindu, and Muslim dances, as well as dances the looked remarkably like the Kerala version of bhangra, and one dance that was modeled after the boat races that take place there every year.

After the program, we met up with friends from class, and were accosted for interviews by the campus news channel. My friend Roshan from Dalit politics unfortunately captured that on film, but I shall not post it here – I told him after that my face felt really red, and in true male form, he nodded, and said, “Yeah, your face was REALLY red.” Thanks.

The interviewers messed up the first time, so they chased us around until we agreed to do a second one. We took a million pictures, both with people we knew from class, and people we didn’t. On the walk back, a man stopped on his bicycle to take a picture of us, but at least he asked for permission first :-)

We were going to stay for the food, but we only had one ticket for the two of us, and the wait was close to 45 minutes. We walked back instead so we could take off our saris, and we got back too late for Tagore dinner, so pizza it was. They messed up, though, and brought us a tiny pizza. Oooops.

In any case, the pictures below is us and a couple of friends from class at the event :) We had so much fun! Happy New Year! Also, L'shanah tovah - it's the Jewish New Year as well this evening! Here's to new beginnings!

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