Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

The weekend culture

This weekend I am at The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur. The only-of-its-kind majestic property of The Oberoi Group, set amid beautiful lakes and verdant greens, that has its own magic aura.
Udaipur, the desert state's city of lakes, is often the first choice for holding big fat Indian weddings. On the last three occasions I was here to attend such weddings. The view of the Picchola Lake from my hotel room is so spectacular that I can stare out of the windows for hours and lose sense of time.
This reminded me of my previous weekend in New York when I looked out of the window from the 34th floor of Millennium Hotel across the Hudson river. Indian weekends are very different from the weekends in the United States. In the US weekend time means total closure of shops and establishments.
I could not spot a single boat in the east of the Hudson river and very little traffic on the 1st Avenue.
Once the office hours end on Fridays, many couples, who work in different cities from Monday to Friday, get together on Friday evening and often take a break to be away from home, especially on Saturday and Sundays. Come Monday and they are all back to the grind. The concept is all about `hard work and great fun'. In fact, weekend clears away the rush of the whole week.
I think we Indians too know and a lot about how to plan our Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. But talking about Monday to Friday, very few Indians care much for these days. when they have to work. The fact that we should earn our weekend through hard work is not a part of our popular work culture.
Here in the US the Sundays are very special and marked by less interactions on phone. Many prominent restaurants in and around Manhattan remain closed on Sundays. The daily needs shops and establishments catering to laundry service, repairs, grocery, in contrast to India, remain closed on Sundays.
As I had nothing much to do I decided to call up a friend who has been living in Queens, New York, for over a decade now. I went out on a drive with him to New Jersey, Long Island, New York and some other places. Aware of my food habits and interests, he said “Lets go to Lexington, between 26 to 29 Street to have dosa.”
I was slightly taken aback as usually our trips usually ended at Jackson Heights. When I went there I was surprised to see the way the whole of Lexington Avenue area, between 26th to 29th Street, had changed.
It was like a mini India. There were rows of Indian outlets with Bangladeshi and Pakistani shops. Lexington Saree Palace, shops selling Indian food and grocery items and numerous Indian restaurants like Curry in Hurry, Chote Nawab, Handi, Tava, Dhaba, Copper Chimney, Food of India, Kaustyans, Bhatti, Bhojan, Madras Mahal and Pongal – where we had dosa.
Apart from these, there were pan shops, Lahore chicken shops etc. The place had undergone a total change since my last visit. It was a pleasant surprise to find that these Indian shops had come up in the posh Lexington Avenue, in New York City. The name of a small handicraft shop Little India – adjacent to the Park South Hotel said it all. Later, I heard that this place which was earlier known as Murray Hill is now known as Curry Hill due to the numerous Indian food joints and outlets.
The Indian diaspora has really done well across the world. The US currently has a black President, and given the rate at which the number of people from the Indian sub-continent are increasing in this part of the United States, the US may soon have a brown one?
ess bee

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