Last Friday the Bridge Year Serbia group celebrated Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. Or rather we ate and enjoyed the night that Asja and her host mom, Nada, prepared for us. Bindi and all. Asja began the evening with an explanation of the holiday and its history with Indian music circulating throughout the apartment. As a starter we munched on some Serbian kifla with cheese and ‘tiger tails’ (a sort of crunchy biscuit with the shape and design of a striped tail). Then came the main courses that Nada prepared, two main dishes and a dessert -- Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), mushroom in onion gravy and Kheer (rice pudding), and to make them Nada and Asja scourged markets in Serbia hunting for the proper ingredients. Though, unsurprisingly, a couple of spices were not available, all three were absolutely scrumptious and according to Asja quite traditional as well. The whole affair was about three hours with dancing, happy chatter, a lot of eating, and much laughter. Quite a swell evening.
In case I haven’t explained this before, my group here is very diverse. India, Hawaii, Colombia--though he’s lived in Connecticut for the past two years, New Jersey, and (the republic of) Texas. With this brings many firsts and new cultural experiences in Serbia, the most unlikely of places. Asja experienced her first Halloween, and Andres his third but since we led a Halloween night for children at the American Corner we went all out with our costumes it was the most elaborate Halloween any of us had in the past few years. And Asja and Andres will be celebrating their first Thanksgiving when we prepare it in a couple of weeks to list a few examples of multi-faceted cultural immersion. And we are all experiencing Serbian celebrations for the first time. Since Diwali was such a success, Asja promised the celebration of Holi next spring in Nis!