Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An (almost) English Tea Party

As I'm sure most of you will have seen from Facebook, Monday was my birthday. As another reminder that I'm actually not that young (well, physically anyway – we all know I'll never get past the age of about 19 mentally) any more, I thought about how to celebrate this stunning milestone here in India.

One of the most important aspects of volunteering is a sharing of cultures. Not only do I get to experience living in rural India, but the people I work and live with get to hear about (and see) a lot of the aspects of life in England.

So with that in mind, what could be more appropriate than an English Tea Party for my birthday?!? I invited all of the office, my landlords and a few of my friends from Hazaribag promising a plethora of European food and party games. I had no idea if anyone would actually turn up, or whether they would enjoy any of the stuff I was making, but I figured at least I'd have something to do with my Sunday!

Flapjack-y goodness
So Saturday night, I got to work. First up was the flapjacks and the chocolate rice krispie cakes. (Disclaimer – Rice Krispies a la Mr Kellogg are not actually available, but puffed rice is sold everywhere as a savoury snack). I was initially hindered by a power cut (bet Delia never has to deal with these conditions, mum!) but was pretty happy with the results.

Don't tell Mr Kellogg.

Spanish omelette. Loved by Indians everywhere....
Sunday, I was up bright and early – I had a lot to do. First was boiling up the chickpeas for my homemade hummus. Although they love chickpeas here, pre-cooked ones haven't caught on! Then it was time for some steamed pudding, followed by a Spanish omelette.

Side note – Indians love spanish omelettes. I have no idea why, but from the first time I mentioned one, they've been obsessed with it in my office. I realise that neither hummus nor the omelette are English, but sod it. It's my party and I'll cook what I want to! (Or, more accurately, what I can with the ingredients available and a two hob stove.....)

Steamed Raisin Pudding. Oh yes!
I then had a last minute request for mashed potato from Dharamraj....it didn't matter that we really had nothing to eat it with. So alongside the hummus and various veg for dipping, sat a lovely dollop of “smashed potato”.

Finally, a huge plate of jam sandwiches (I think this fully restores the English-ness of the occasion to be honest...) and we were ready. Biscuits and crisps were added to the table, banana smoothie and fizzy drinks joined them.

Everyone loves musical sheets-of-paper-on-the-floor...
Then I got worried that no-one would turn up....I'd made a LOT of food!

Luckily lots of people did. We ate a lot of food, we listened to music (Western and Indian!), we witnessed the brutality of a father cheating his son in a game of Musical Chairs and we had some Indian dancing. The Moonwalk may have made an appearance....

We have a winner!

 Towards the end of the party, for reasons that were completely beyond me considering the amount of food I'd made, they decided we needed to have some Indian food as well and someone was dispatched to, well, er, dispatch, a chicken. At various points in the process I think everyone in the group got involved in cooking and made their own additions in terms of spices, salt and pepper (I admit to feeling proud that I had 90% of the ingredients they asked for!). So, my English Tea Party took a distinctly Indian turn towards the end of the evening!

Hamburger cocktail sticks and chicken curry. Obviously.

It was a great day, I had a lot of laughs, as I think the pics show. A few factoids for you all:
  • Musical Chairs winner – Babita
  • Favourite Dish – Spanish Omelette. If it had been a boxing match, this contest would have been stopped in the first round. There was none left within about 15mins!
  • Best dancer – Sanjit
  • Best present – the Hamburger-styled cocktail sticks

So, another birthday down. Next year is a biggie (30). I wonder where I'll be for that one..... ;-)

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