Tag Archives: Birthday

“Hot, Fresh, Sweet”

This post is dedicated to our DEAR FRIEND D who said last night, “I know what C’s blog post will be about tomorrow…  I even know the title” and who was sad that a few posts ago I referred to him as “our neighbor D” and thus felt demoted in relationship status.

As many of you probably know, Hurricane Irene blew through New England on Sunday. It also happened to be my birthday. We spent much of the weekend sitting around the apartment with Mamu and Daddy talking about what a hurricane is, and how they are different/similar from/to other weather events. I think they were both a little nervous and a little excited—they were curious to see what a “hurricane” was like, but worried that something would maybe happen to them. Mamu would stand near the window watching the trees bend and say, “Hurricane is coming…”

We had some gusty winds, but never lost power (although it seems a lot of other people around us did), and didn’t have the same flooding problems as other places an hour or two drive north or west of us. By evening the weather calmed enough for us to even go out for a little birthday dinner and cake.

After Irene blew through the weather cooled off, so I thought I would experiment with some “American autumn” inspired food. Always on the lookout for foods that I love, that I could try and introduce to Mamu and Daddy, during our pre-Irene grocery shopping I snuck a bag of brussels sprouts and a butternut squash into our cart.

Attempt #1: On Saturday I decided to pair the sautéed (in olive oil, garlic, salt and fresh ground pepper) Brussels sprouts—or “baby banda” (cabbage) as I called them—with the vegetable curry that Mamu made. P and I were practically fighting over the sprouts… but I saw Daddy push a few around his plate, and eventually toss the two or three half pieces that he couldn’t manage to eat into the garbage before washing his plate. I guess the “baby bandas” were a “fail”–my guess is that they were still too “raw” (crunchy) for their taste, but overcooked brussel sprouts are really bad and bitter, so “what to do?

Attempt #2: Again Mamu had some taarkari left over from lunch, and made a pot of rice, but I decided to whip up a quick butternut squash bisque. I sliced up the butternut—

“Is it a pharsi? [pumpkin]” Daddy asked.

“It’s in the pharsi family, it’s a butternut squash” I explained.

When I sliced open the round bottom part of the butternut and scooped out the seeds with a spoon Daddy said, “It is a pharsi! Look at the seeds!”

“Yes,” I responded, “pharsi family different type.”

—then sautéed some sliced onions, garlic, salt and pepper, added the butternut, and then a few cups of water and some veggie bullion. I let it boil, covered, for about ten minutes until the butternut was soft, and then poured the whole soup into the blender and pureed. Lastly I heated the pureed soup with a bit of whole milk mixed in for creaminess, and then brought it to the dinner table in a serving bowl.

I turned back to the kitchen to grab bowls for everyone but before I returned to the table Mamu and Daddy had already ladled my “pharsi soup” on to their heaping piles of rice—“like daal!” Mamu exclaimed.

“Whatever gets you excited about it” I thought.

I returned the bowls to the kitchen, keeping one for D and myself, since we both elected to eat my soup like soup.

While we ate I asked Mamu if she liked the dish. She smacked her lips and declared, “I like… hot, fresh, sweet!”

D started giggling… “I know what C’s blog post will be about tomorrow” he said, “I even know what the title will be!”

Mamu, Daddy and P had a few more spoons of “pharsi soup—like daal” on their rice while I finished up my large bowl.

Finally an American culinary win!

I’ll take it, “like daal” or not!

ABD, Bday, and lots of Snow…

This was a big week for Americanepali—

Wednesday we had a snow day. As a college administrator in the northeast of the US, we don’t often get days off for bad weather, since we are supposed to embrace it (they say in New England—if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will change). However Wednesday’s storm dropped about 18 inches on us. I’d upload pictures of our car in the snow bank which was our parking lot, but you seriously can’t tell it’s a car. It just looked like a big white pile of snow with black windshield wipers sticking out! I celebrated by curling up on the couch under a warm blanket, cuppa tea in hand, reading a big thick book—at least until I had to shovel out the car.

Thursday—P passed his dissertation proposal defense, which means he is officially “ABD” or “all but dissertation.” One of these days he might just be finished with school altogether :) Joking aside, I’m very proud of him. He’ll make a great “Dr. P” someday.

Friday was P’s “Nepali birthday.” We never quite know when it is ( it generally sneaks up and surprises us), but P’s mom will call and wish him a happy birthday on this day and generally go to a temple in Kathmandu to do a special birthday puja.

Saturday—was P’s 30th birthday! (Oops, I “out-ed” the old man). He didn’t want anything major, just some friends over for dinner. So we had the usual gang– R, S, D, S-di, M-dai, BG, N, our Irish friend, P’s brother and my sister. We were missing AS and N though– our former roommates who have left the cold of New England for greener pastures in Washington DC.

Monday was a holiday… and today work closed early due to more inclement weather. Although I would have loved another full “snow day,”  I’ll take getting out 3 hours early!

Dates and Times

Today is P’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY P!

Well… at least in America. His parents called a few weeks back to let him know it was his birthday in Nepal, but P always forgets that date. It amuses me when those calls come, they always seems so random, “hello son, happy birthday. It’s your birthday today, don’t you remember?”

P has two birthdays because the Nepali calendar is different than the American one. Actually technically I believe there are two calendars in Nepal… the “official” calendar based on the Bikram Samwat and also the calendar often used by Newars (for festivals, etc) called the Nepal Sambat. Both calendars are based on a lunar calendar and so the months and festivals shift from year to year (one reason P never remembers his Nepali birthday and why we generally have to look online to see when specific festivals are celebrated).

Today is also Maghe Sankranti, a festival that marks (supposedly) the coldest day of the year, and the emergence of the calendar into the progressively warmer months of the year (Spring! Summer!). It also marks the end of the Nepali month of “Poush” an “ill-omened month” when “all religious ceremonies are forbidden” (funny… Christmas falls right in the middle of this!) and the beginning of the Nepali month “Magh.” For the first time since moving to New England Maghe Sankranti is on a Friday night, so we plan to celebrate (S-di and M-dai are having a dinner at their place). I’ll have to let you know how it goes, since I’ve never done this one before.

So back to the birthday stuff…

P’s birthday is today, but we celebrated it last night. We generally celebrate P and AS’s birthdays together since they are relatively close. N and I originally planned to take P and AS on a “romantic double dinner date” but true to form, things don’t always go to plan around here. It is really hard to celebrate without the whole neighborhood.

So our group of 4 for dinner turned into a group of 9… okay, I can deal with that.

Then it turned into a group of 12…

then a group of 14…

then a group of 16…

Finally I thought… guys! Come on! It’s a lot to plan if there are so many people! We have to coordinate rides (most people don’t have cars), and the restaurant we had picked at the beginning was in a city half an hour away. How are we going to do this? Then, P and AS found out about the dinner, but N and I kept the dinner location, and guest list a secret, so we were trying to coordinate getting everyone to the restaurant, on time, and before we got there, so it could be a surprise.

As we were driving, I was thinking of all the people scrambling around the neighborhood trying to get there before us. Sometimes I just can’t help my pesky American habit of feeling obligated to being on time for things, but I imagined all these guests and their propensity for “Nepali Time”… and I imagined them getting to the restaurant at all sorts of crazy times. To make matters worse, by the time we left, I was still under the impression that some people hadn’t figured out rides because more people were added to the guest list after I had arranged the car situation (yeah… don’t I sound annal retentive? Arranging lists of who was driving with who…).

All this stuff was going through my head while I stalled for time (meanwhile, feeling guilty that I told the restaurant 7 and was purposefully arriving late).

What I really should have done was just rely on a lesson I’ve learned time and time again. Chill out, things will be fine. If it doesn’t work according to plan, no problem. Let’s have fun. Hakuna Matata dude.

We walked into the restaurant… a Japanese hibachi grill… and… everyone was there! Some people took cars, some people took trains, everyone got there early! It worked beautifully. AS and P were really surprised, and a great evening was had by all.

Birthday Success… hurray!! :)