Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays of the year and we are happy and thankful to be back home to celebrate it with family.  Mona and I have enjoyed putting out a spread for this holiday and this year it was no different.  In fact it was bigger and better than before. 

We had nearly forty people (families are big where we come from!) over for a traditional Thanksgiving feast.  The menu was massive and included the usual special sides such as mashed potatoes (cooked in butter milk this year), chipotle sweet potato casserole (a new twist on a traditional dish), the green bean bake (Mona's specialty that is always a hit), cranberry sauce (a must-have at the table but nobody really likes it) and a green salad with an Asian flavor (Seema's culinary contribution to the dinner).  The centerpiece of course was the 18-pound turkey - dry brined for 3 days and cooked with a mixture of herb butter and cayenne pepper!  Mona made her classic stuffing to go with turkey.  And then there was the gravy to accompany the turkey and of course a generous serving of a variety of bread rolls.  Dinner also included ham (a traditional American favorite), Armenian chicken (from our favorite take-out - Zankou) and Tamales.  Yes, it is an American holiday but these dishes are essential to reflect our multi-cultural identity!  No Thanksgiving is complete without a pumpkin pie and we had three (enough to feed eighty, I think) along with ice cream.

It was lots of work before and after the party but all of it was well worth it.  Ayaana was a huge help and served as the sous chef for Mona and me.  We even put the reluctant Aanish to work (taking out trash and other stuff requiring manual labor).  

The party was a hit and will go down as another one to remember and hopefully beat next year.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy Los Angeles

No, no, the title here does not refer to our return to LA.  I am talking about the very interesting Occupy Wall Street movement that is going on at the moment all over the United States.  It is a movement that started in mid-September in New York and has rapidly spread all across the country.  These protests are against high unemployment and corporate greed especially within the financial sector.  The movement has no leader and has not outlined a specific agenda as yet but it is continuing to grow as we speak.  Neither bad weather or strict law enforcement has slowed the spread.

Last week, I experienced the spread of this movement to Los Angeles.  A group of Occupy protesters gathered outside the Bank of America building in downtown Los Angeles (just a couple of blocks from my office).  Morning traffic was completely disrupted as the group marched through downtown.  

Occupy Wall Street highlights the frustrations that Americans are feeling in the aftermath of the biggest financial crisis that the country has faced since the Great Depression.  Joblessness is still hovering around 10% and there is no sign of a strong recovery.  Corporations meanwhile are continuing to post profits and the administration has not prosecuted any Wall Street executives as a result of the financial meltdown.  All of this reminds me of the Anna Hazare movement that we experienced in India just a few months ago.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Migration blues

It's been a crazy couple of months!  I thought that the move to Los Angeles would be a fairly simple and easy one.  Coming back to the house after nearly five years involved a lot of work and change.  First, there were a series of repairs (leaking faucets, broken blinds, car repairs etc.) that had to be undertaken.  Second, there was a lot of stuff in the house that had become old and had to be discarded (old couches, cookware, appliances).  Third, we had to make room for our stuff that was being shipped back from India (weeks of reorganizing closets, emptying boxes, discarding more stuff).  Fourth, a lot of technology had to be retired and replaced (imagine a desktop with no wireless access or a fax machine!).  And finally, there was the massive clean-up required to get the house back in shape.

It was a lot of back breaking work - moving heavy furniture, lifting boxes, driving large loads of recycling material to the recycling center etc. etc.  It was also a lot of administrative work getting the utilities back on, starting services such as water, cable, internet etc.  In the midst of all of this, Aanish moved to his dorm and started college, Ayaana started a new school and a host of activities and I started my new job at Impremedia.

But at the end of all of this, it feels that all the effort was well worth it and more.  The house looks beautiful.  Our new routines have been established.  We have reconnected with friends and family.  It is great to be back home.

I was planning to wrap up this blog after we moved here since our Bangalore journey has ended.  But moving back here has been interesting and full of experiences that might be worth writing about.  So I decided to continue writing for a bit longer (until the reverse culture-shock wears off).  I have also enabled access to this blog via mobile for those of you are not tethered to a desktop or laptop but can't get enough of my jottings.  Also decided to rename it (since we are no longer in Bangalore) and give it a newer look.

So stay tuned!