Devika's Birthday

Trip Start Dec 08, 2008
Trip End Dec 24, 2008

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Today was Devika's 21st birthday. Her parents organized a pretty big party for her up on the roof. I actually didn't even know there was a roof to this house. I mean, I knew there was a roof and all, but I didn't know there was a nice seating area up there with a view of the city all around it.

Rebecca and I actually woke up pretty late. Probably the latest that we've slept in the whole trip. Too many days of 5am train rides or 3am trips to the airport. We got in kinda late last night, and we didn't have anything planned for today other than attending Devika's party. So we woke up late, went upstairs for a quick breakfast that turned into something quite a bit larger than we really needed. And just kinda killed time before the party.

I went up a little early and kinda watched the caterer's setting everything up. I took a couple of pictures then I spotted one of those large raptor birds that I mentioned on one of our first days here. Then I looked around the 360 degree view I had of the city and I realized that these birds were everywhere! Not hundreds of them, but defenitely dozens within sight. There were also large flocks of pidgeons flying around, a handful of crows and then a couple of smaller sparrow-sized birds. I don't really know my birds, and I don't really consider myself a bird watcher. But there is something about the birds in India that I really like. I don't recall going to any parks in the Eugene... even in the summer time, when there is such a cachophony of birds flying around and making noise and crawling all over everything. And in the cities... it's really wierd now that I think about it. Why are there so many birds here within Delhi city limits? I've never seen that many birds flying over Eugene... or Portland... or Seattle... or any american city I've been in. In the movies you always see big flocks of pidgeons in central park in New York... or London. But the flocks of pidgeons I've seen here in Delhi, or in Jaipur, make even that largest New York flock look small. And raptors? forget about it... if you see a raptor in an american city, it's a big deal. But Delhi probably has hundred and hundreds of these large raptorous birds that are as of yet unidentified.

And what's so cool about it is how alive it makes everything feel. If you can get up on top of the roof of some tall building in Portland or Seattle and look out, there is this kinda quiet serene feeling because you're up above the chaos of the traffic and pedestrians and hub-bub of city life. That feeling has it's own value, but if you really look out, I don't recall really seeing an airspace over the city that is teeming with life. You might see a bird here or there, and maybe a flock flying through. But here in Delhi you'd be hard pressed to look any direction without seeing half a dozen birds flying around. It's really pretty cool.

Anyway, I watched the birds for awhile and tried to offer to assist, but the caterers are pros, and I'm no match for that. So I pretty much just stood around and watched. Eventually people started to congregate up there and lots of guests started appearing. Rebecca and I really didn't know anybody there except for Karan and Sonika who we stayed with last week. But we met lots of new people and got asked our story of how we came to be there lots of times, and kept telling and retelling it. But that's ok, it's how parties work when you're a bit of a stranger to everybody there.

Eventually it was announced that the food was being served, it was a pretty nice buffet line that actually used live coals in the bottom of the buffet racks. That was the first time I've seen it done that way, and it definitely feels like everything is being kept very hot. They also had a live tandoor oven there, and I got to watch the guy run it for for awhile. Slapping dough between his hands a bunch of times and then slapping it to the inside wall of the tandoor. After he'd get dough stuck to the inside walls all the way around, he'd use this poker-hook thing and a long scaper to peel them off and toss them on a plate. He was pumping them out fast, and I though to how slowly it takes us to produce the naan bread at our Bollywood parties and I decided I should really look into getting a tandoor.

At some point I asked somebody about it, I think it was Bindu, and she told me that tandoor ovens were dirt cheap here. Like 500 rupees. What??!! That's like $10 USD! So I expressed a lot of excitement at the idea and said "where can I get one?" She told me she would talk to the head caterer guy, who is Devika's uncle and ask him about it.

The food was pretty good, and we ate a good fill. I spent a lot of time chatting with one of Devika's friends (or cousins?) who was going to school somewhere in southern england. So she had an accent unlike anybody else there, and she was also quite a wit. She kept making these funny observations and comments like some kind of britishh stand-up comedian. Actually, now that I think about it, she was kinda like a less intense version of Eddy Izzard. But she'd just gotten there after god know how many hours of flying, and they'd lost her luggage, so she was hammered by jet lag and wearing her mother's clothing to get by, so you could imagine just how cranky a person could be in such a situation, but she had quite a good humor about it. So I was pretty impressed by that.

Eventually people started filing out and the wind picked up a little and started getting a bit of a chill on the roof. So we all filed back downstairs and kinda chilled for the rest of the day.

Happy Birthday Devika!
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