Saturday, November 8, 2008

Yes We Did!

While it would've been amazing to be in the U.S. to watch the historic election, being in Hyderabad with a group of Americans was pretty spectacular too. There was a sense of pride in our American status that many of us hadn't felt in a very long time. As the Chair of the Hyderabad Chapter of Democrats Abroad, it was a proud morning for me on 2 counts. I was proud of my country for electing Barack Obama, and proud of myself for helping expats in Hyderabad do so! I organized 7 events leading up to the election including debate screenings and ballot collections and I fielded countless calls from nervous expats trying to figure out how to cast their ballots. Thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and the personal strength, charisma, intelligence, and eloquence of Barack Obama, I had tears of joy on the morning of November 5, 2008. (Yes, in India the election results weren't in until Wednesday morning. Here are some pictures of the 100+ American who gathered to watch the election results early on Monday morning:
We had significant press coverage of our event as the Indian news services wanted an American perspective of the momentous occasion:
Unfortunately, some members of the Indian press proved themselves to be less open-minded than the U.S. electorate. While taking a photo of the celebrations, a photographer asked an Indian-American woman in a saree to move out of the picture as he wanted "Americans only". I quickly corrected him and told him that if he wanted any pictures of our event he was not going to discriminate on racial grounds. If there's one thing this election taught us it's that Americans don't all look alike!
Congratulations Barack and congratulations America!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Diwali, the celebration of Ram's triumphant return to his kingdom, was on Tuesday. It is the closest thing that India has to Christmas as far as I can tell. People decorate for it, buy gifts, visit friends, and eat lots of sweets. Most businesses pretty much shut down for the week just like the week between Christmas and New Years in the U.S. However, one major difference is that for Diwali, people light fireworks. Fireworks are not regulated the way they are in the U.S. so anyone can buy any type of firework they want and set them off at home, which means the sky is filled with them and the air all across the city gets thick with smoke (even worse than the everyday smog)! Here are some photos I took of the fireworks:

The fireworks felt a bit more like this though since the explosions all around were disorienting and the fireworks were going off literally all around us (one even fell on the roof about 10 feet from us):
I make a nice daal for dinner and we lit lots of candles per tradition. Lamps were lit all over the kingdom to recognize Ram's return:Motichoor ke laddu is the traditional sweet that is eaten at Diwali. Since they happen to be little orange balls and Diwali happens to be near Halloween, I decided to decorate some as Jack-o-Lanterns. I'm starting to get lots of good ideas for Indian-American recipes, celebrations, etc.