The key phrase of the evening being, ‘Arre yaar, let bygones be bygones, writes Minoo Shah
As the word suggests, it’s all about thanking and on this side of the hemisphere it is the last Thursday in November. Although in most courteous societies we tend to do this anytime an occasion presents itself, but in the US we are particular lest people consider us civilised. We, meaning family and friends, gather at one table to partake of a sumptuous feast together. Unlike youse people who appear unannounced at a relative or friend’s door in the wee hours of the morning or late at night when even the ‘supari’ gang has called it a day for a cuppa chai and ‘gupshup’ – here, we limit our camaraderie to but one day a year (I err, there is also Christmas but that is in lieu of gifts – so I do not stand corrected).
On this day, the kids and grandkids, uncles and aunts and cousins scurry on over with cavemen appetites and containers to take back leftovers (translated in ‘desi’ as ‘parcels’). The fake plastered smiles of the hosts greeting them are reminiscent of the stressful week they spent grocery shopping, planning and bickering over which aunt or uncle they do not want sitting next to them.
Invariably, when the dinner begins with the host carving a bird, who until it made the freezer and whose purchase date had been re-stamped several times, was but a turkey roaming free in the wilderness, the drama begins. A brother asks his nefarious cousin when he got out of the slammer whilst the ‘nef’ is playing footsie with the aforementioned bro’s wife (the sanctity of ‘bhabhishness’ non-existent). The divorced cousin lays low until a nosy aunt asks if she is moving on at which point the divorcee who is still in the third step of healing throws a fit along with her snot-filled napkin and storms out of the room. Just when it seems they have thanked God for the bountiful meal that they are grateful to partake with their family, the little kids’ table decides t,hat they are going to go all in on the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce (in all this time the adults have not learned that any breathing biped of less than eight years has the patience of a Burmese python in labour, so prayers and what not best be saved for last) ladles of which have now stained the walls and with exceptional skill landed on the obnoxious cousin’s trophy wife whose blonde wig has so far fooled nobody. Wine glasses smash and crystal and china hit the floor as the anguished hostess rethinks her vows and why she did not choose the path of celibacy. By the end of it, all the men go to the living room to watch football (its probably the only tradition that is taken solemnly almost like you would the Third Reich’s salute)! The women hum and haw at the clean-up thereafter, their only solace lies in spitting into the dessert gleefully as their bellowing masters call for it whilst relieving the fatigued buttons where the pot-bellies meet the shirts. Soon it is all over and everyone heaves a sigh that this would not recur for at least another 12 months.
Let’s reminisce and think about how it all began. Well, per History 101, the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock where the natives – let us for laughter’s sake call them Indians – were eating corn aka ‘bhutta’ . Seeing the pilgrims salivating, the Indians invited them to join in. Which they the pilgrims took it as please take our lands and massacre us. They proceeded to do so and colonized the inhabitants who rebelled and asked for treaties and the guilt preyed so heavily on the invaders, that they introduced them to the sublime nuances of intoxication and constitutionalized that heretofore all casinos would belong to the Indians. Somehow, they also incorporated loopholes in the Magna Charta and are able to this day skim the cream off of the profits. Go figure!
So, now you understand why corn is never served at thanksgiving, albeit it adorns the dining table in a cornucopia, as a reminder of why this day gallantly avoids peace and harmony amid families.
We, the Non-resident ‘Indians’ always ready for an occasion, join in the celebration and give it our twist by inviting all and sundry to an evening of loud talk, turkey tikka masala, cranberry chutney, mashed dum aloo, green bean casserole stewed in buttermilk and mango pie. The key phrase of the evening being, ‘Arre yaar, let bygones be bygones!’
Photo Credit: Susan Tieski under Creative Commons licence