Sunday, November 11, 2007

Diwali in Karlsruhe

Today was different.

In a land 6,500 miles away from home, grey clouds and cold (really cold) weather, my heart was warmed.

It started with a call from a colleague of mine – “There seems to be an get-together of Indians in Karlsruhe to celebrate Diwali. Shall we go?’ Having nothing better to do, I said yes.

Later, another phone call from him – “6:19, there is a tram at the Marktplatz stop. Be there.”

I was there and got into the tram. There were a few Indian friends I knew and one or two I didn’t know. We all got down and went into a kind of Christian meeting place, which had been rented for the Diwali celebrations!!!

Oh my God!!! I never knew there were so many Indians in Karlsruhe!!! More surprising was that there were many families and not just students.

After paying a sort of entry ticket, we all sat down on long tables, where hot tea and biscuits were arranged. A cultural programme was arranged, which started off with a Carnatic vocal song invoking Lord Ganesha.

Then followed a series of bharathanatyam dances from kids – gorgeously dressed and performing really wonderfully.

It was good to be immersed, at least, for some time in the songs and forget our sorrow that we are not with our loved ones for Diwali.

However, there was a note of irritation for me. There were a large number of Germans also, who had probably come on the invitation of their Indian friends. They were the only ones who were really watching the performances and applauding. We Indians as usual were chatting and making friends!!!

Come on, respect the artist by at least remaining silent if you cannot appreciate the art!!!

We also had a Powerpoint (aaarghhhh) presentation on Diwali, which was the most untasteful point on the Agenda. Scenes/snaps from Bollywood movies, advertisements of sweets and some nameless documentary were stitched together in a silent presentation while the kids were changing for another performance. It was amusing in a way, though, as we all cracked jokes on it.

What was also funny was that a compere was explaining Diwali in English. I do not know to whose benefit, since I assume there were only Germans and Indians there. Well, if some Indians need to be explained...

This was finally over, followed by an extremely limited dinner (limited in the size of portions), in which we were too embarrassed to go for seconds (there was a huge line for firsts!). We said good bye to some of the new friends we had made and came back home. Overall, a very nice evening in an otherwise drab weekend.

Photos of this may be posted later.

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