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Dressing up for Thanksgiving

Indians with their penchant for asserting their conviviality form an integral part, writes Meeta Chaitanya.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2005 17:10 IST

This is a busy time for Atlanta. For once annually, during Thanksgiving peoplehere stay busy vacationing. Shopping, gallivanting, enjoying luxurious recreational activities and mingling with family and friends is the order of the day.

Atlanta's significance as a pulsating holiday hub finds continued affirmation in its international gateway, the Hartsfield Jackson Airport, which is perhaps the busiest during this time with people from all across the nation and beyond making trips in and out of here to be with their loved ones. A visit to the airport alone can be seen as a replication of the festive microcosm that the city is during this period.

Indians, with their unusual penchant for asserting their own conviviality form a voracious, enthusiastic part of this merriment and the festival celebrating the spirit of togetherness and the succor in home and hearth is being planned well in advance in many pleasing ways.

Since thanksgiving emphasises the warmth of the family unit, it is universally a time for traditional home-cooked meals replete with singular 'family' recipes and rituals. As it is, in the somewhat traditionally oriented south, family get-togethers, especially around holidays remain quite popular.

Atlanta's savory list of restaurants too has something special planned for the day. A sumptuous menu smacking of southern cooking is an eye opener for those of us who assumed hitherto that fried chicken, mashed potatoes and turkey tales spell fine dining during holidays.

The city's downtown is more than a focal point of all the holiday activities. Given the tremendous scope for gaiety here, organisers have designed a campaign around hotel promotions during this time. The buzz generated by the "Let's Do the Holidays Downtown" promotion is all over the place.

Many of Downtown Atlanta's finest hotels have been chosen for this holiday gala. Interested patrons who make reservations in any of these hotels are to be lavished with staggering festivities including the chance to enjoy art and aesthetics, fine dining, movies and theater and other holiday activities.

Indian Americans here find themselves willingly and intricately involved in the celebrations, either because they have friends who throw their houses open for thanksgiving festivities or, because they have themselves imbibed and accepted this festival, adding to it flourishes uniquely their own.

This year's thanksgiving is especially welcome because children here are keenly awaiting the opening of the Georgia Aquarium, a huge facility in downtown Atlanta housing over 1,00,000 animals. The aquarium that lies adjacent to the ever popular Centennial Olympic Park is constructed in the shape of a ship and houses a gallery of treasures inside. Whetting the great appetite of kids and kids-at-heart, the Aquarium is likely to remain open from November 23rd through 27th between 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.

In addition to numerous avenues for living it up in style, it is heartening to see that Atlanta's community knows how to give back to the society. The Hosea Feed the Hungry initiative, for instance, which plans to become a fully operational organization by 2006, will reportedly be serving a thanksgiving dinner for the community at Turner Field.

This is one of the many community activities that are being organised here. Individual apartment administrations and community organisations are among the many enterprises arranging holiday activities for residents. In its own way, endeavors such as these focus beyond personal and filial triumphs to the notion of the community, the society, mankind in general being one fine, big family celebrating happiness over fine, big meals.

Participating in these are resident Indians who rarely deter at the opportunity for expansion of their consciousness and the enrichment of their Diaspora experience.

So, if they're not holidaying with their families during thanksgiving, they are opening their doors to experimentation with cuisine, leisure trips and of course, making full use of the 'grand sales' across all malls. Any way they do it, they are a bustling, happy part of the cosmopolitan and multi-generic spirit of the city and of the season.

First Published: Nov 15, 2005 16:29 IST