November 11, 2015 § 2 Comments
I owe to my closest friend here in Singapore the privilege of knowing a great set of women. They’ve been nothing but wonderful, warm, helpful people in my life here and I truly never did anything to deserve their kindness. That’s why I felt really grateful and excited for their invitation to their important celebration of Deepavali/Diwali. :) I started the day by doing the assignment Swati left me in my room – which was to light up pretty & petite (sounds like you, Crabby) candles she got me from Little India. As I only had a lighter and the wick was short in height, I couldn’t get past lighting one candle without burning my thumb. I then had the stupid idea of twisting a piece of paper and lighting that instead so I could reach the wicks easier, and in no time soot and smoke was rising from my little Diwali celebration by the window. I rushed to light all four and ran to the sink to extinguish the unflattering evidence of my intellect and sighed thankfully that the alarm didn’t go off. After taking a picture and sending it to my gracious hosts, I blew off the flames to save the little pots, as well as the chance of setting anything else on fire.
Diwali, to Hindus, is I believe Christmas/Easter to Catholics. It is a celebration of lights, a day representing the triumph of good over evil or light over darkness. In fact according to them, Diwali has a lot of different historical references depending on which region it is celebrated. For fast inculcation, there is always Wikipedia, so I’ll write instead about what I learned from my friends. I found out that the celebration today is for South Indians, but North Indians celebrate their Diwali the day after. Everybody is supposed to dress in their best, and for us ladies this means having to wear sarees! This was probably what I anticipated most about that day apart from the food, as Swati has always been on my case to wear a saree – finally fulfilled that, Crabby! It was my first time to wear a saree and Divya N. lent me hers while Lakshmi helped me put it on (in fact she helped everyone and herself included; she’s a saree expert tyvm). The dress was really beautiful but as Divya N. was clearly several sizes smaller than me, I had to keep my breath in until the entire thing was over. Divya R. volunteered to put on eyeliner on me and since I don’t dare put that on myself most days, I happily agreed. She was after all the head artist of the rangoli (something like sand art) they made for today. I always feel weird when I see myself with eyeliner though. The fact that it appears to make everyone else prettier but me puzzles me. I think it makes me look older.
Divya’s welcome rangoli by their door
helping out in making a peacock rangoli
first time wearing a saree
The celebration starts with a prayer, which was led by my good friend, Swati. Forgive me for not being able to explain this part properly as it was largely done in Hindi. After the prayers was my favorite part – the singing. Listening to all of them sing was quite mesmerizing. I’m not saying this as a form of flattery, but while I’ve never taken a keen liking on Hindi songs previously, watching people I am friends with and who I converse with in English sing in a uniquely different way and language was something quite tantalizing. I told me Indian men probably fall in love with them even more once they sing – all of them had wonderful voices.
Lakshmi, Divya R. and Swati singing
the sultry photographer, Jyothsna
with Divya N. who is rocking a Halle Berry look with her new haircut
After the prayers, Guang Rong and I who were the only non-indian attendees of the event, were served with really delicious indian dishes prepared by Swati. I had jeera rice (pulao with cumin seeds), raita (grated cucumber in curd), and paneer (cottage cheese curry) and I loved every single dish. I can’t even pick a favorite because they were all equally good. I had 2 servings of everything whereas Guang Rong didn’t even finish his first plate. I’m sure Swati is quite pleased with my loyal friendship. :D They also made date milkshake which tasted…interestingly like dates.
the delicious dishes prepared by master chef Swati with the help of Lakshmi and the two Divyas
The night was capped off with lots of picture taking along with laughter and conversation. It was truly a warm experience for me being welcomed into a new culture with such inclusion. And just like other holidays, after this carefree night, it’s back to the daily grind of labbing for all of us. What I really appreciate in being with these girls is that while I am well aware that every single one of them are far from having it easy in their daily lives, you will rarely feel that when they talk to you. In addition, as I imagined Diwali was an important celebration for them, I could only guess how much homesick they were. Christmas in Singapore – I can’t even. They are simply brimming with kindness, generosity, genteelness and most importantly awesomeness at feigning appreciation of my humor (lol). But sincerely now, thank you again Swati, Divya, Divya, Lakshmi & Jyothsna for hosting me in your thanksgiving festival. :)
Divya R. feeding me, as always :D – my PCR teacher, Swati’s “mommy” here & many more
with my amazing Crabby Pattie
Jyothsna, my brownie homie! how can beauty, wisdom and humor be all squeezed in into this girl?
Divya N., when I say she’s like Halle Berry, I don’t just mean the looks but also the attitude – smart, sweetness and spunk. Lakshmi, we would all not be wearing the saree properly without her. I only got to know her recently but she is a sweet, hardworking mom who is also doing her PhD – talk about awesome.
wearing Inay’s gold bangle from India :’)
Please indulge us on the self-portraits, because on most days we look like this.
Wine and brownie night with Swati and the two Divyas to wash the blues away. This was a day after my birthday this year.
“Don’t hold together what must fall apart. The familiar life crumbles so the new life can begin.” – Bryant McGill