Wednesday, August 20, 2008

White Eid - part 2

Saturday morning started exactly the way I expected it to – with a flurry. Snow had been piling up for the last few days mostly due to couple of heavy snowfalls just days ago. I was happy to see more. Our party was scheduled to start around noon, so we didn’t have much time to waste. Mili had been working on a few traditional Eid dishes to take with us. While she desperately tried to have them ready I was given the difficult task to get Zakeem dressed for the party. I would have preferred the cooking. It took me half an hour of chasing him around the house before I got him dressed. Shobuj bhai called us to say that they were making their move and would be picking up the boys from college. Bus system in Sault isn’t that bad but it can be very time consuming. Some of the students had bikes but it is dangerous to bike on snowy pavements or roads. I heard that one of the boys had already gotten couple of police warnings for biking on the icy roads.
After packing and carrying the food to the car (took me three trips across the icy parking lot), convincing Zakeem that it was a better idea to let the house key go so that we could lock the door and get going and a brief heated argument with Mili for taking so long to get dressed we finally packed ourselves into our primitive Toyota and rolled ahead. It was already one in the afternoon.
The flurry stopped but there was still some snowflakes floating in the air. I guess this slow movement of snow gives it the rhythmic nature. The temperature had rose a little bit and the partly melted ice made the roads muddy. A six-kilometer trip to the venue took us longer than we expected. Snowy roads can be very slippery triggering most people, especially the elderly, to drive in a turtle pace.
When we finally got our smiling faces into the restaurant, most guests had already showed up. The night before the wife of one of the Srilankan families had gotten admitted in the hospital for childbirth, so they weren’t coming for sure. The other family, Frank Neil and his wife were due to come. They were the first South East Asian family we met since we came here and we found them extremely friendly and helpful. Our initial sense of isolation evaporated quickly when we first met them.
A brief introduction got us all acquainted in that room. A white Canadian Christian family, neighbor of Shabuj bhai, man and wife with their blonde son and a Hindu Indian family gave us some diversity, something I personally wanted to see in this gathering very badly. Like Xmas, I thought, Eid was due to be a part of other people’s culture and what better way was there to do so than to invite them into one. Frank and Sriani joined us soon, both Christians, and we attacked the food without delay. Beside the buffet the Chatpati that Mili made became an instant hit. For the next couple of hours that place got filled with talk, laughter, scream (of course!) and the joy that I felt was overwhelming. It almost felt like being with one’s family after a long lonely trip. It sometimes surprises me how one can feel isolated and distant while living among people with different cultures no matter how nice and well mannered they are. It is never half as easy to mingle with people of other races than to the one we are so familiar with, specifically South East Asian. It was also a satisfaction to see Mili smiling ear to ear and Zakeem having a great time without making my life a hell.
After the meal a quick game of draw took place where four names were randomly picked and awarded with token gifts. Two of them went to Shabuj household, one to his Caucasian neighbor and the fourth one to Frank. After a few photo sessions finally it was time for departing.
Overall, it was perhaps the most enjoyable Eid celebration that I ever had, no matter how insignificant or brief.

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