Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Orleans Week in New Delhi - "Laissez les bon temps rouler"


Linda and Georgia Parading

Many of you may have read my earlier blog entry about Holi Gras....our cultural blend of Holi and Mardi Gras ( the springtime ritual that my family and I grew up celebrating) celebrated in our hometown of New Orleans........that was Monday....

Fast forward to Saturday........(yesterday, as I am writing this on Sunday morning, inspired by two articles I just read; more on those later).

Linda, who never fails to keep our social calender filled with fun things to do, purchased tickets for, of all things, a Mardi Gras Party at the American Community Support Association (ACSA). Hmmmmmmm......earlier in the week when I heard about it I was skeptical.......All you can eat "cajun food"......in New Delhi?....All you can drink ....Rum Punch.....now we are talking.......live band.....I was game.

I must admit, I started our special Mardi Gras party early in the afternoon......in typical New Orleans tradition......well for those who are of legal drinking age....and in New Orleans.....those who fall close to the legal drinking age....and besides.........it is beginning to get hot in Delhi......so a few "cold one's" had a dual purpose.

I also rummaged through the "care package" sent from New Orleans last year.......popped in the Mardi Gras CD filled with the air with the familiar tunes we grew up hearing...."Mardi Gras Mambo"......"Iko Iko"....."Hey Pocky Away"....."They All Ask For You" (or in Nawlin's....."Dey Awl AXED fo You")....yes "dat is de way peoples talk in Nawlins". For all of my readers from India, while you may have 40+ languages in your country, New Orleans has a unique dialect and language all its own.....even though it's considered English!

Here I am trying to finish this blog entry with the tune and words for "Hey Pocky Away" running through my mind........


Confetti - Looking like Mardi Gras

Back to the care package.........oops, I had to announce to Linda that I had thrown almost all of the beads from our balcony at Holi Gras......we still had a few strands, but she was not happy......but we did have three cups from the Bacchus parade, about a dozen or so "Doubloons" and of course, our Mardi Gras Masks!

The tickets included beads and masks, but we had "special one's" to wear......and Linda packed up the remainder of the New Orleans Trinket's.....so we could share with our friends.

Georgia, our friend, picked us up promptly at 7:00pm......and off we went. On the way, we stopped at a light and were approached by a young girl selling balloons, and through the window I was communicating to her in my "Hindi Sign Language" that I wasn't interested in purchasing a balloon.....she was not taking no for an answer....so I held up my mask to my face.........and her face lit up like a spotlight.....she smiled and wanted to trade me a balloon for a mask......the timing wasn't right (pre-party for me which meant the mask was coming with me) and the stoplight changed from red to green......we were off to the party!


Masks and Smiles....

As promised, when we arrived, the organizers had a table full of masks and beads.....and although we had our own masks to wear, I kindly accepted theirs remembering my friend at the stoplight......so I encourage Linda to accept hers as well......and into the "goodie bag" they went.

Now the party....the party was held outside...on the baseball field at the American Embassy.......the evening was wonderful....not too hot....we were greeted by a brass band.....(nothing close to the Olympia Brass Band from New Orleans)....The Rum Punch was.....nothing to "write home about"...ha ha.......so I headed off in the direction of the cash bar, purchased my coupons so that I could quench my thirst with a Corona.

The Food........familiar names....."New Orleans Red Beans and Rice"......"Shrimp Jambalaya"....."Dirty Rice"......"Cajun Chicken Skewer's"......not familar flavours....they even had "New Orleans Bread Pudding" and "King Cake"......but......I'll try to remain positive.....and give the Chef's at ACSA a "nice try".......but honestly, I wasn't expecting it to taste like home, so my expectations were met.....but they were very low to begin with.


King Cake - Mardi Gras would not be complete without one!

Just one more note about the food.......the Chef's are Indian.....India is the "birthplace" of spicy food......which we thoroughly enjoy......so wouldn't you think that the food would have even a little "kick" to it.....let's just say that they could have added the adjective "Bland" at the beginning of each of the dishes.....it would have been a more accurate description of what was being served.

The live band......well let's just say that they made the food seem like we were eating at Commander's Palace, Brennan's, or Paul Prudhomme's "K Paul's" restaurant...all great places to eat in New Orleans.... They began with an Elvis song......off key......it was painful......it was downhill from there.....they managed to play a version of "The Saint's Go Marching In"....which I clapped too....Linda picked up a paper napkin and waved it in the air.....and mentioned to our table of friends that we should start a "Second Line".....from the blank looks on their faces you would have thought that Linda was speaking to them in Hindi......they had no idea what she was talking about.......I had a quick fleeting thought that I would get up and introduce everyone to the "art" of the Second Line....but, the efforts of the band with a song that usually brings "goose bumps" to me was so terrible......I probably would have looked like a version of the character that Steve Martin portrayed, trying to carry a tune in the movie "The Jerk". So I kept my seat.....turned to Linda and asked her if she wanted another Corona......she smiled and gave me the thumbs up!


At the table - notice the Corona's

The evening wasn't a total bust........we always manage to have a good time.....despite the low points.....it is always fun to get together with friends and meet new one's.....

On the way home.......I was able to put some smiles on some faces at the stoplight....one young man approached us selling flowers and he was the first recipient of one of the masks from the ACSA party......his face beamed after I put the mask on him....all of the people in cars surrounding us watched in amazement and they began smiling also......and then like magic, the first young girl who was earlier selling balloons appeared and she finally had her wish come true......"Laissez les bon temps rouler".....a saying from our childhood which is the credo/motto of living in New Orleans....."Let the Good Times Roll"


Mardi Gras Smile - This made my night complete!

Post Script.....Sunday morning.....I woke up to an email from our son Parker.....he sent me the link to an article that he had read about the one of the lucky Saint's fans who made a journey to the Superbowl to watch them win.....and then Linda reminded me of another such article written by a writer for the New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper, who typically covers the political scene......he made the incredible journey to Miami with my nephew Andy..... link below

http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2010/02/super_bowl_nosebleeds_ran_blac.html

This is how my New Orleans Weekend ended......"lagniappe"!...Look it up if you don't know what it means.

By the way, if anyone is interested in borrowing the Mardi Gras CD.....leave a comment! HEY HEY HEY HEY.....HEY POCKY AWAY!

3 comments:

DelhiBound said...

I KNOW that had to be painful for you two :) But you wore your smiles in addition to the masks!!

Love the stoplight gifting!

Lloyd said...

The best part about the party were the people at our table!

Very cool people!....and the good thing about the night is.....we could have you guys over for real cajun food.....and if it didn't turn out well.....it couldnt be worse than what we had that night!

See....there is a bright side to everything!

Ram said...

The Cajun food at new Orleans was surely the best we've had in the US and the music was just amazing too: on the streets and in the bars. No way of replicating that in little US in New Delhi. Maybe they should plan a Bhangra Night with Daler Mehndi. That would get the party going, Lloyd! :-)