Happy holidays, you beautiful people! The past week in Goa has been busy. There’s a massive influx of tourists, which are visible by the gridlock traffic everywhere around our shanti little village. The mornings and evenings are what the locals call “cold” but, to me, they’re just a bit cooler than before. The days are still summer temps, but at night I bring a scarf. Oooh! Having to wear a scarf at night is considered “winter” here!? Life is so relative, isn’t it?!
As most of you have heard, Indian traffic is crazy. Maybe you’ve seen it in a movie, or maybe you’ve been to Mother India herself, or maybe you read about it in a book, but I have discovered, the best way to deal with the traffic here is to act like you are the only person on the road. No hesitation, no stopping, just GO! Whether you’re walking or driving, don’t think twice. Everyone and everything will go around you no matter what. Funny, I know, but strangely true. The best description I’ve found about the traffic mentality here is from a book called “The city of Djinn’s,” and the author coins it as, “Might is Right.” He’s spot on. Thanks, Mr. Dalrymple.
The other thing I have discovered is that Catholics will always be Catholics, and by that I mean, they like to drink!!! Indian Catholics are no different, especially in Goa where alcohol tax is almost none. Over the holidays, they pour whiskey like water–only Red Label or Chivas, of course–and then they drink it like water, too. Actually, they probably drink it more than water.
On Christmas eve, we spent the whole day cooking and decorating. . .even the Gremlins joined in on the fun. . .
We made roast vegetables, roast chicken, tandoori chicken kebabs, beef meatballs with mozzarella in tomato sauce, pea pulao, and my famous banana bread and chocolate chip cookies.
And then? We went to midnight mass! I’m not much of a Catholic, but I couldn’t resist the invitation in the name of Carpe Diem. When in Rome, right?! We went to one of the biggest, grand ol’ Portuguese churches and it was packed with people dressed in their season’s best. . .from glittering saris, to pink and yellow taffeta dresses, men in suits and vibrantly colored satin shirts, and even little girls wearing heels. It was so packed that the crowd spilled outside onto the sidewalk. We didn’t get there in time to grab a pew, so we spent the entire ceremony sitting by the curb trying not to fall asleep with the rest of the tardy folks. Songs in the local language, Konkani, wafted out of the church like comical out of tune ambiance, and I managed to get in a good giggle in between the seconds of my narcoleptic freedom attacks. I am still trying to figure out why in the HECK you would want to go to church that late in the night, especially after such a busy day working in the kitchen, but in the name of experience, I survived.
On Christmas day, Amit’s entire extended family, and some of our friends, came to our place to have a lunch feast. It was a success and everyone loved the food.
Later on Christmas night, we went to an 86th birthday party. The host greeted us, waving a huge bottle of Chivas in one hand, and poured glasses around the room. People sat around singing traditional cheesy Christmas songs, and I was surprised that most of them didn’t really know the words. I don’t know if it was all the years I watched “Rudolph” on TV or “Frosty the Snowman,” but most of the songs were like second nature to me. I mean, not that I sang any of them, of course. How VERY!!
After a couple pegs of Chivas, all the aunties and uncles got up and danced in the living room to silly songs one of the young cousins had on a play list. The list ranged from classics like “Stand by Me” to current pop songs I had never heard of. It was nothing short of hilarious and totally silly. Wait, what’s a peg? That’s what they all say here for a drink. Goans are too good at putting down the pegs. ‘Too good’ is a colloquialism that I hear all the time. Everything is too good when it’s something like awesome. The saying is also infectious. Be careful.
This blog is so funny, it’s too good! See?
Okay, that’s it. Hope you are all digesting your holiday indulgences and sharing warm moments with loved ones.