Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year from India!

You've heard the old adage, 'When in Rome,' right? Take that, alter it a little, and you've got my New Year's Eve! To be honest, Chris and I intended to spend a relatively quiet night in for NYE, since neither of us are big on parties and whatnot, and besides, who do we know here well enough to get invited to a party? Our night's plan consisted of going to the roof of our building and watching the fireworks nearby, boy did that change!

 We live near the beach here in Chennai, and made our regular weekend trip to the grocery store and to our weekend haunt, Murugan's Idli Shop (best ever) for dinner around 7 or 8. Even at that point, things were already pretty crowded, the streets were blocked off, and vendors were preparing their wares for the busy night ahead. We gave in, we knew that we only live once, and how often can you celebrate NYE in INDIA?! We quickly walked home, took care of some stuff around the house, bid Homer (our dog) adieu, and hit the road, beach bound! We were met with (literally) THOUSANDS of people. THOUSANDS. I'm pretty sure that every one of them shook our hands, or at the very least, tried.

Speaking of hand-shaking, I felt like a politician!  I've never shaken so many hands in my life! Chris and I decided that to some, it was a dare, meaning that one or two would come over to us from a group, shake our hands, and wish us a 'Happy New Year!' The one or two brave souls would then return victorious to a loud cheer, an ear-splitting horn blow, and dancing from their group of friends. I was blessed, hugged, welcomed to India, photographed, and of course, wished a 'Happy New Year!' It was like we were Justin Bieber, and this beach in India was chock-full of pre-pubescent girls (not literally, obviously, the people were wonderful!)

We settled in for a bit, soaking in the celebration; the deafening paper horn blasts, the exploding fireworks (some just feet from us!), the people, and the view. Waves of people were flowing, dancing, and singing on their way to the beach. Indians really know how to cut loose and have fun. They're like no other people I've seen. We grabbed a couple Kulfis, which are frozen, sweetened milk popsicles with chopped pistachios, almonds, and cashews in them. They're amazing...and MESSY! With the climate being so warm, they melt almost instantly, leaving you with sticky hands and a smile. (that sounds dirty)

Fast-forward about 30 minutes to the fireworks display. Holy crap. It was like a Grand Finale for over 10 minutes. It was still going when we started walking back (a few fireworks went off a little too close for comfort). A display like that would have cost $50K in the states (at least), to put it in perspective. Awesomeness. The best part of the fireworks? They weren't done by the city or anything like that, they were shot off the roof of some guy's house!

To sum it all up, it was a great, albeit overwhelming experience, and I'm glad we did it. Where will we be celebrating New Year's 2013 (providing the world doesn't end, of course)? On our roof, checkin' out the view of Chennai... :)