Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

I have always wished to be a global citizen. I like to visit places, know different cultures, try cuisines from different continents. So when a colleague of mine, JianRao Wang invited me to the Chinese New Year party, I was quite excited about it.

This year is the year of pig. And Chinese calendar is lunar, like in India. So the new year day will fall on different dates in the Gregorian or English calendar each year.

The weather was not very friendly and it was snowing while I was walking to our hosts' place. But the incentive of eating good food and learning new things overcame the brazen weather. I reached the place at about 4 PM. I was the last one to arrive. Other folks, including my colleagues Mausam and Bancha were already there. Everyone was busy making 'dumplings'. I also joined the gang and got a hands on experience in rolling the dough and making small circles of it. The important part was to make circular shape without letting the 'skin' stick to your roller pin. I learnt that you need to apply some flour to the 'skin' to avoid the sticking. After that, you put the dumpling mixture on the center of the circular 'skin'. It is quite interesting to use chopsticks to put the mixture on it and adjusting. JianRao and her husband Chao explained to me the process. Their friend Chen taught me how to close the dumpling in simple steps. He was a good tutor and soon I was making dumplings. Agreed, they were not state of the art. But hey, this was my first time and I think I made some good progress. Chen told me that you should close the dumplings so that water will not go inside when they are boiled.

Soon the food was ready and we were at the nicely arranged dinner table chatting with our new friends. Apart from dumplings we also had spring rolls, chicken, salad and fruits. The delicious food was accompanied by lively and jolly conversation. I also met other friends of our hosts, Ying, Xiaoning and Shaojie.

Chao works as a post doctorate scientist in University of Maryland in Chemical Engineering department. I also studied in University of Maryland. Chen used to work in Infosys in China. Yeah, it is the same dear old 'Infy' from Bangalore. Isn't this is a really small world?

Desserts followed dinner. I also tried to play a little bit of Chinese card game, Mahjong. I was not able to understand much. But JianRao and Chao were kind to explain how it is played. So after some observation I think that it is similar to the card game Rummy, but much more complex than that. Another thing, the pieces or tiles used in the game showed fine Chinese craftsmanship. I was very impressed by the detailed design of the game pieces.

Soon it was time to say good bye or "Zài jiàn" and take leave of our hosts. We wished everyone a very happy new year and left for our homes. The new year has started. May it bring everyone luck and happiness.


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