Holiday Delights: Goan Party Landmines

I’m finally home for Christmas! Somewhere between trying to get adjusted to a whole different other planet at home, jet lag, really really bad dial-up interet and listening to Appu-style Indian accents EVERYWHERE, I realised that it wasn’t as hard finding humor at home as I thought it would be. I think even God has been having a bit of a laugh. Last time I was home, it was freezing. It was, dare I say, colder than Canada in December. I learnt my lesson.

This Christmas, I packed nothing but hoodies, sweaters, tights, construction-man winter socks and jackets. This year the winter temperatures in Kuwait averaged to about 23 C. For all my American readers who need to get with the rest of the world, thats 73.4 degrees F. I was sweating it out at Christmas mass. You know what this means? This means I have no clothes. On the flip side, the weather is heck of a lot better than where you are 😛
Its all good, my mother says. Now you have the perfect excuse to go shopping. She’s a woman of great wisdom.

Anyway, today I went for my first dreaded Goan Christmas party. Or Christmas “Tree” as it was fondly called by the Goans when I was a kid. The experience was all too familiar and predictable. For those of you lucky ones who are from Goa, this will be midly amusing. For those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to have to experience Goan Christmas parties yourselves, you are in luck as I decided to take notes.

At Goan parties:
10. The moment you step inside you hear the comment “Look at you all slim and trim. All these young girls are all on diets these days. Karen, are you dieting? How do you keep yourself so slim?”
This question is a given and is usually asked by the rather rotund women standing by the dessert table stuffing their face with lard-laden Goan sweets.
Good Answer: “No aunty.” (every Susan, Sally, Sandra and her sister is your aunty), “I’m not on a diet.” And then you proceed into throwing out all your Kine facts from your 4 years at York about how exercise could cure cancer.
Bad Answer: “Of course I’m on a diet. I keep myself slim by only eating soda crackers and ants. Now excuse me while I go and throw up the tea I drank this morning lest that 0.0000000002 calorie goes straight to my hips.”

9. You are asked, “So how is school? Are you studying hard? Or hardly studying?”
This question doesn’t have a fart of a chance to be funny and usually is asked by the fat tipsy man who’s halfway through his glass of feni (Goan booze) followed by a volcanic laugh which sounds like he has lung cancer.
Good Answer: “I don’t study. I work.”
Bad Answer: “I don’t study. I skip class and waste daddy’s money on alcohol, drugs and boys. Wanna see my trampy tattoo?”

8. If you tell people you have a full time job, then that is usually followed by the next inevitable question “Oh what do you work as?”
Karen: “I work at a physiotherapy clinic as a Kinesiologist”
Since most people at this party don’t know what the HELL is a Kinesiologist or much less know how to even pronounce the damn word, I end up being called ‘the girl who went to Canada and became a physiotherapist. In situations like this, you play it up and make up bullshit about how you save the day by dealing with torn ligaments and broken fingers.

7. Somewhere in the middle of the party, the host will come out to announce that we will be playing our first “party game”. Apparently, party games aren’t the dying Goan tradition I thought they were. In normal Goan parties, party games are passing the parcel, musical chairs/arms, four corners/bombing the city, and everyone’s favourite “pin the tail on the donkey”. Party game of choice at Christmas time? Pin a pimple on Santa’s nose. Yes, we’re just that original.

6. If you have spent a considerable time abroad, you will get that up-down ‘look at that slut’ look followed by the question, “Look at you! Looking all high tech and American”
Good Answer: “I came from Canada, bitch”
Bad Answer: “I came from Canada, bitch.”

5. You are always asked how many boyfriends you have.
Good Answer: I have one boyfriend. He became an engineer after he quit medical school. He cooks and quilts in his spare time and when he’s not helping old ladies cross the street and rescuing kittens from trees, he’ giving me a foot rub and vacuuming…at the same time.
Bad Answer: Sorry I don’t do boys. But I have a girlfriend and she’s dying to meet you. Would you like to know what we do on weekends?

4. When they know you have a job, the obvious comment/question is “You have a job in health care. You must be just making money left right and centre.”
Good Answer: *smile and save the annoyance for the treadmill*
Bad Answer: Yes of course I make money. I shake my tree of money that my boss planted at the clinic for me and blow my nose in dollar bills all day. It’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it.

3. There is always one aunty who will look at you with disgust and say “Oh you came from Canada? I wouldn’t want to send my daughter there because she’ll get spoilt by white people”
Good Answer: Laugh this one off. Sometimes its just refreshing to be in any environment thats ignorant and far from politically correct.
Bad Answer: Yes of course, you don’t want to be one of those foolish narrow-minded parents like mine who sent off their daughter to Canada so that she causes a scandal and spoils the family name by talking to the white girl sitting next to her in church.

2. You are ALWAYS asked to get the hell out of the way so that some drunk Goan uncles can take pictures of the food. What scared me though was that this time, I was one of them. This just proves that you can take the goan-ness out of the Canadian…but it comes right back eventually.

1. And the number 1 way to know you’re at a Goan Christmas party is when it takes so long for your parents to say goodbye and leave without getting sidetracked into another conversation that you actually have time to sit and write this entire list down on paper.

Fortunatley for me, whatever happens at the Christmas party is usually discussed and gossiped about at length on the ride home with the family. And that by far is my favourite part and makes the whole evening worth it. I missed that.
I hope your Christmas parties are going just as swimmingly as mine :D.

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