Thursday, November 19, 2015

After a Week of Marches Demonstrating for Diversity and Peace, @MichiganTech University Celebrates a Perfect, Peaceful Diwali.

Tonight, a society of students at Michigan Tech are celebrating Diwali. Of all the holidays I discovered after leaving my parent's home, Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is closest to my heart. The celebration arrives a week late, Wednesday November the 11th the official date this year. The holiday depends upon a full moon and so floats from October to November and back again. The holiday celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, wisdom and knowledge over ignorance. Lord Rama himself returned the first Diwali from victory over darkness. And as Pavani or Anabuti added on different Diwalis, "And he brought his wife". One often sees IT consultants from India bringing wife and children on the road, leasing an apartment short term if necessary. Every night, dinner with family awaits. My holing up alone in a business hotel must look primitive by comparison.

I'm lucky if I have a dinner worth calling dinner by the time I arrive to my Extended Stay to fall asleep to a film on cable. Two consultants in Burbank California worked on my project at Sunkist Oranges and stayed in the same Extended Stay. I looked up a friend and she wanted to meet a few of my team mates while we caught up at her favorite restaurant in Downtown Burbank. Anabuti and Molly were really similar even though born on opposite sides of the earth, smart with that effortless smartness of the smartest. Which usually comes with an ability for real happiness, the case with Anabuti and Molly. So after dinner, Molly gave her a lift back to the Extended Stay, and Anabuti delighted Molly with a parade of Hindu treats made in an Extended Stay kitchen. In all the Extended Stays I had inhabited, I was ahead of my game if I had apples and bottled water in the fridge. Molly had a lovely evening and I shared a friend with a friend.

Diwali sometimes arrives around Halloween, and I remember walking the streets of St Joseph Michigan during a trick and treat, looking for a friend from my project at the local power plant. Jitender had said he might tour the street with his son and I had in my pocket a stuffed cartoon mouse to present him. Failing to see the two, I gave him the mouse at his desk the next morning.

During another holiday around Easter, Jitender came to my desk with sliced apples and grapes and set the dish before me, saying, "This is sweet fruit, fresh and pure". I was given pause when Pavani, a programmer on the project, repeated the ceremony the next day. A few weeks after, I said my good byes to this work team, smart and dedicated and hopelessly itinerant, and went on to a new assignment in Dallas Texas.

Tonight, I arrived at the Michigan Tech Union hoping to find an extra ticket for dinner. Happily for all and bittersweet for me, the dinner was sold out and eight men in new robes of many colors stood awaiting the will call ticket holders. I chatted with one just to confirm and smiled, taking my leave with, as I said, bittersweet feelings. How good it was to see people far from home, learning the newest technologies, gathered together for an observance that joins many religions? A team of men in new clothing worked together to set up the buffet for the banquet and I allowed my sense of aroma a banquet. Then I drove into Houghton to dine at a fish restaurant serving Great Lakes Whitefish.

Happy Diwali I wished my waiter as he arrived with ice water and a menu.

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