A Year In New York

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Day 171: A Joo-ish Christmas

December 17th · 1 Comment

The tree has been standing unadorned in my living room for the last two weeks, and when my partner Joo visits me she looks at it suspiciously. It makes her sneeze. Joo is a Hindu, half-allergic to Christmas and fully allergic to pollen.

“OK, OK, OK, I’ll help you decorate it,” she said yesterday, sniffling, “and when we’re done we’ll address the invitations to my family.”

Which seems only fair, apportioning half the night to the Christian rites she’s resisted and the other half to the Hindu one that I’d avoided: the Pathrikai (wedding invitations)

Because, dear readers, it’s time to tell you about an exciting event on the horizon: Next month Joo and I will fly to Chennai, India, to sit cross-legged in front of a fire and perform ancient Hindu marital rituals. 

Once we got rolling the decorating was loads of fun, as most things are when Joo is involved. We accompanied Julie Andrews singing ‘Joy to the World” on my boom box. She festooned the boughs with ribbons as I hung the ornaments: crocheted snowflakes and bells sent by Joo’s mother in Seattle and another batch from my parents in San Francisco. My mom took care to send the doll of an Indian maiden that has been on the family tree forever, as well as the sequined gold elephant. At the New Year’s commencement, my Manhattan apartment will become the house of Ganesh, the elephant god, the Lord of Beginnings.

We finished the tree in no time – too little time – and then we turned our attention to the stack of letters destined for the United States contingent of Joo’s family.

She addressed the envelopes in her flowing hand and I affixed the postage. This took some time; there were 42 recipients, and that’s just her parents’ generation. And many times that number of relatives still reside in India!

I will be joined on the wedding trip by my parents, aunt and uncle, who together make up major branches of my family tree. We are a tiny fir and Joo’s clan is a giant, spreading Banyan.

I picked up the sheaf of envelopes for the trip to the mailbox and they seemed far heavier than their stamped weight.

Forty-two families, I thought, and hundreds more back in India. Next year, will the scent of apple cider be replaced by cardamom? Will the hum of a harmonium replace Julie Andrews?

I walked out onto First Avenue, where the traffic blared and rumbled by. I looked up at the skyscrapers of New York, our city of new beginnings. I dropped the letters in the mailbox and closed it with a clank.

Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something down the street standing among the taxis. Call me crazy, but it might have been an elephant.

Tags: Deep Thoughts · Personalities

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Bev // Dec 21, 2008 at 4:35 am

    I’ll leave the crazy callin’ for when you actually get IN the elephant driven taxi, but then again, it might be safer than some. Was the elephant sequined, is the question? Maybe it was all just the wedding envelope glue fumes. We all know what happened to George Costanza’s fiance. If you die, can I have your apt.?!!!!!

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