Thursday, September 26, 2013

Moon Festival Long Weekend

The Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival, is a harvest festival celebrated in China, Taiwan and Vietnam. Celebrated on a full-moon day, the worship of the moon deity Chang'e is an central to this festival! There are plenty of folk-stories about how Chang'e ascended to the moon - most of them revolve around Chang'e protecting local peasants from a cruel king, and then fleeing to the moon to save her own life! It is traditional for the Chinese people to eat moon cakes and lotus roots - symbolizing union and peace for the entire family! And even for those of us who don't actually celebrate this festival, the long weekend is a good time to relax with your family - a much needed break after a hectic back-to-school first month!

The full moon is also a perfect time to perform the Satyanarayan puja - finding resonance in the origins of the Moon festival, this puja too is performed for thanksgiving and prosperity. I always find peace of mind and tranquility after we perform this puja - and it has become a biannual tradition, no matter where we are living - even in China! Over the years, I have managed to collect most of the paraphernalia needed, and we have learnt to accept with good grace that there will always be that one thing that is not available! The puja may not be text-book perfect, but it is always heartfelt - and it is a good lesson in doing your best, no matter what!

The next day was the big Cross Country race at Dulwich - again an annual tradition, and the first of many sports events during the year. 1.7kms for the Under-9 girls - and while I was hoping for Manasi to do her best, I have to admit that I was exhausted just thinking about the girls running in the hot sun! Since most offices had the day off, there were a surprising number of dads in attendance -  the kids were really happy about that! Manasi came in 9th in about 50 kids, and since her goal had been to be in the top 10, there were smiles all around! Although, I'm sure it wasn't any fun to go back to class all sweaty and tired!

After the race, Ajey and I headed to the Wuxi Ikea, ostensibly to buy bedside tables for our guest bedroom. But it's Ikea - a treasure trove of absolute must-haves - and you can never walk out with just the one thing you actually need! Impulse buying is the name of the game, and the Ikea prices make it real easy to justify loading up the shopping cart! And just when I thought that I had enough stuff, walking to the checkout, I saw this incredible display of photo frames - wouldn't this be just perfect for all our pictures, from the different places that we have travelled to, all the wonders we have seen! Helpfully, the store had also posted an itemized list of all the frames needed - well, I'm definitely not strong enough to resist that kind of temptation! Back at home, elation soon gave way to frustration - selecting photos is not as easy as I had thought - but when I'm done, I'm going to have an awesome photo wall that will be worth all the trouble!

After 2 hectic days, we were all ready for a day to kick-back - only, I had bought tickets for the Dulwich Family Day long before all these other activities were planned - and we set off to the Fairmont Hotel in Kunshan - a little grumpy, some of us more than the others! As it often happens, we had a wonderful time - everyone agreed that it was a good thing to have come, and please, let's do this every year! The Fairmont is located beautifully, right on the Yangcheng lake - and it would be idyllic to go spend a weekend there. Apart from the usual resort type things like the pool and bike lanes, the Fairmont boasts of an organic vegetable farm, and the thing that will doubtlessly have me returning - a bee farm! We got back to Suzhou after lunch - Ajey wanted to take in the Suzhou car show. I opted for a nap instead - 3 busy days, and we were still not done!

Sunday was Shanghai day! We were all excited - Ajey's uncle and aunt were coming to stay with us for 3 weeks, and we had to pick them up at the airport! Also, the son of one of our closest friends has moved to Shanghai for a semester, and we were to have lunch with him! After unsuccessfully trying to track down a Lebanese restaurant in Puxi - we did find the mall, but all the shops had shut down - we had a lunch at a wonderful little Mexican place. J has grown from the little boy we knew in Grenoble into a fine young man - isn't this the transformation that we hope and wish for all our kids? - the memories made me a little misty-eyed! Made it to the airport on time - is there anything more exciting than receiving people at the airport? Scanning the ranks of weary travellers, eager for the first glimpse, that absurd burst of joy when you spot them, the rush to grab their luggage cart - absolutely wonderful! We're all looking forward to some memorable times with Anand Kaka and Kamala Kaku - and I'm hoping to post about all the adventures we have with them! Signing off!

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