Aakash and I had a very wonderful Christmas season filled with wonderful family, friends, and food. Teresa, Aakash's mom, arrived in Kolkata on Dec. 21st, just in time to see my new choirs perform at the Christmas Fete. I'm so proud of all the hard work the students did, memorizing over ten songs in less than four weeks. The teachers and parents seemed to love the performances, especially the songs with motions, of course. Instead of one big concert, the two choirs alternated singing every half hour, so they could also enjoy the festivities. But the school's founder, Auntie Maushi, wanted us to sing for longer, so we repeated favorites and prolonged the music. (The senior choir sang Joy to the World at five times- even twice in the same set.) There is no doubt it was a success. The students were very gracious and gave me an absolutely exquisite handmade card. I'm looking forward to working with them again.
Christmas/Aakash's birthday was wonderful. We had a party on Christmas Eve and a lot of friends were able to come, including Aakash's teacher and his sister. We had loads of sweets and food, and even though I asked Aakash to buy his birthday cake himself, he seemed surprised when we brought it out with candles. Cole made it for the whole party and we ended the night singing carols with the few lingering guests. We woke up leisurely on Aakash's birthday and after skyping with Meera for a long time, opened up stockings and presents. The afternoon was spent in perfect Aakash fashion, ie watching hours and hours of Star Trek. I'd say it was a very successful holiday in all.
We arrived in Kolkata on the first and despite illness on virtually everyone's part, had a lovely time. My mom and I went shopping for a few days (hooray!) and she even found a few Indian tops for herself! She also came with me to a tabla lesson. One evening, Mom was kind enough to let me invite some friends over and accompany us while we sang Christmas carols (despite it being January 8th.) She also made her famous hot fudge recipe for us, which was delicious! Mom (and Dad) also accompanied me to work one day. The day was filled with nothing going according to schedule, which gave them a good idea of what teaching in India is like. But they were able to see my teach two classes, see the massive amount of children I teach in a tiny, tiny room, and witness how wonderful some of my students can be.
On Mom and Dad's last day, we went to Nizam's, a restaurant in New Market, which apparently Dad had been telling Mom about since the day they met. It's a kabob/roll restaurant and it was absolutely incredible. We went with a friend of mine and Dad ordered a mutton curry that we all agreed had the best gravy we had ever tasted.
I hope you are all doing well, and I give you kudos if you were able to make it to the end of this extremely long email. Know that you are in my thoughts often and I wish you all a happy, healthy, and wonderful 2014!