Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Whirlwind Days


The past month was a whirlwind. Not only did I make my first domestic trip alone here - but it was also my first "official visit". Furthermore, I hosted my first "formal daawat" here.

Definition of formal dawat: One in which nobody uses disposable crockery, but the finest china/pyrex crockery is used and arranged on the table and fancy food is spread out along with delicate dessert items.

You wouldn't believe the contrast between the two activities - dawat + poster ... and the amount of HEADACHE associated with both! More so for the former rather than the latter.

So the unfortunate business that happened was that the dates clashed. I was wishing and hoping that the poster would be called off, since it was to be presented at a grant meeting in DC, and after emailing my professor, I was all hail and hearty, preparing for the formal dawat. So a dinner set was borrowed from a dear friend here, recipes were carefully selected, groceries were brought and lengthy preparations were made.

A close friend remarked, "Kia Obama araha hay?" {Is Obama coming to your party?) :D

Anyway, the big day arrived. And the party was to be held at lunch time at 2.15 pm. Now, the catch here is that our oven doesn't really work - and it had just started working (somehow) a few days back. I had been using my neighbor's oven for the whole cooking business because I hadn't trusted my oven yet, but had been relying heavily on my semi-working oven to heat the food items before the guests' arrival.

At 2.00 pm, the food had not been heated - the people were arriving at 2.15pm. Panicking heavily, I kept checking the rice in the oven anxiously, which was heating up from the top and all middle rice were cold as... okay I'm not saying it.

Sigh. It was a disaster. I somehow fitted a dish in the microwave, and heated one pyrex dish of rice in micro. The dish of baked chicken went straight in a pot (destroying my topping of coriander and what not) to be heated on stove. It was a whirl of frantic activity and prayers, and finally the stuff got heated (except the naans) and the guests arrived. One look at my face told them everything. One kind lady accompanied me to the kitchen and instructed me how to heat the naan really fast. Lol.

Finally, the lunch was served, and Alhamdulillah, everybody loved it :). So Allah ka shukkar, the extreme hard work paid off, in the form of one uncle remarking, "This is really speciality food. I wish I hadn't had breakfast" ... :D

Acha, so they left after a nice conversation lunch and chai. And I heaved a sigh of exhausted relief. But not for long.

The next day, I discovered that my email to professor (long time back) requesting my pull out from the poster session had never been read. So I had to do all arrangements for departure in 2 days. The second day from then was the departure day.

Horrified, and forgetting each and every dawat detail, I set to work. There were forms to be filled, poster to be corrected and layout had to be finalized, tons of emails to be sent, registration to be done, imagine. ALL two days before the event in DC.

And all of this combined with the fact that my prof was so so so not happy with me dumping all of this on him at "the last moment". Deeeep sigh. [all fellowship happiness also evaporated by this point btw]. 

So I had to depart at night 8 pm. On the morning 12 noon, I was hurriedly printing poster and cutting it to be the right size. Hastily, I packed my bags and left for the airport. Upon reaching the airport, I was informed, "Ma'am, your ticket has been booked, but not been confirmed."

Basically, that means that the ticket has not been paid by the travel agent/whoever is booking it for you. Now, I was flabbergasted. In this confusion, 8.30 arrived and the flight left. Now, I was left with two options. Seek out any other flight to DC or wait till next morning. 

On a whim, went to AirTran counter and asked them whether they had any seats on their last flight to DC. They had one. :) That got booked and I left at 10.30 pm that night. It was unbelievable that 2 days ago, I had been happily thinking that I will relax after dawat, but nope. We don't have any control over what's to happen the next day. 

Anyway, the flight landed safely (I admit I'm a very nervous flier - especially when flights go over water while landing so you basically see all water and suddenly a runway appears!!). And at 1 am that night, I reached the hotel in DC and attended the conference next day. 

Poster sessions went great. It was my first experience :) so obviously, I'm not annoyed by the experience. I really liked it. This PhD is growing on me. 

So long.

Check out the dawat stuff. Chocolate yoghurt cake (which people thought was brought from store), semolina pudding (which people thought was kheer), and layered rice. Huge thanks to Fauzia kitchen fun :) :)

1 comment:

Sangeetha said...

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