Thanksgiving this year was quite the experience! For some absurd reason, three of my friends and I volunteered to make dinner for 35 people – 21 in our group, plus some Indian friends and a few teachers/admin from our school. We made a ridiculously extensive list of what we needed (and never thought we would be able to find in Bangalore) and set out on a scavenger hunt for the most obscure ingredients. USAC provided the major components (potatoes, veggies, pumpkins, etc.) and promised us 2 turkeys as well as reimbursing us for the obscure food, like cranberry sauce and stuffing ingredients. Impressively, one of the grocery stores here stocked American food just in time and we were able to find every classic American Thanksgiving ingredients we dreamed of.
The day of Thanksgiving, we arrived at the kitchen on campus (which the hospitality/tourism students use for learning how to cook) at 11am to find that, as occasionally (read: always) happens here in India, everything was late, we were still missing half the items we needed…and there was no turkey. Two thirty finally came around and the turkeys arrived, India style: freshly killed FROM THE CAMPUS AVIARY, but frozen solid from being in the freezer all night, with heads and feet still attached and their feathers only half plucked. Let’s just say it was a unique experience thawing, beheading and defooting them. One of our friends took the feet and legs off, all the while pretending to be a dinosaur, while I disgustingly plucked the remaining feathers out, a process I can only describe as vomit-inducing. We popped them in the oven and prayed they would thaw in an hour or two (they didn’t).
We proceeded to make everything from scratch: stuffing, green bean casserole, 5 pumpkin pies, 3 apple pies, chicken gravy, vegetarian gravy, scalloped potatoes, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad, rolls and the two turkeys. It felt impossible, a ridiculous mission that would turn into a disaster. Towards the end we were definitely all starting to freak out a little. A few of our Indian friends showed up though and helped out, pulling everything together at the last minute.
After sitting down to a glorious Thanksgiving dinner, eating our little American hearts out and lazing around, drunk on good food (and cheap Indian wine), our program director, Jacob, interrupted our lull, telling us he had a surprise for us downstairs. Obediently but reluctantly, we followed him downstairs onto the cricket field on campus.
It turns out that Jacob got the 4th of July mixed up with Thanksgiving and had his entire mini van packed with fireworks! Apparently, we have a new Thanksgiving tradition! Terrifyingly, we set off dozens of them mere feet away, played with sparklers and had a grand ole time.