This was the third year I celebrated Christmas in Chennai and it’s definitely getting more Christmasy with each year. I know a lot of people still see India as a far off land where everyone is very spiritual and yoga is done by everyone (it isn’t) but there is also a sizable Christian population here thanks to the legacy of the evangelical Europeans of yesteryear and more recently the relentless activities of churches in America spreading the faith via a charitable proxy.
What I mean to say is that this year has been by far the most Christmasy and without the consumerism too. I’ve been to several carol concerts in the last few weeks, listened to carols I’ve never heard before and traditional carols performed in a way you’ve never thought possible. There have been more renditions of Mary had a Boy Child than I can remember and I’ll not forget when an old expat lady broke down in tears during a group singing of Silent Night where all the lights were dimmed and people were given candles.
It’s A Silent Night In Chennai
There have been plenty of Christmas dinners too, with one of the most enjoyable group dinners that I’ve had for a long time along with possibly the noisiest dinner ever at an American style diner (yeah, really! Run by expats) as Christmas songs were sung by a live band.
Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time!
I’m not sure if where I used to live was a particularly Hindu area (although thinking about it and the trouble I had with the local temple I’m sure that was the case) but my new apartment seems to be smack bang in the middle of Christian city and people have decorated their homes, lights have been hung up outside and there’s even a small nativity display. I’ve noticed that more shops and malls than ever have been putting up Christmas lights to rival the best of what Oxford Circus can manage.
The Nativity Set Up On My Street
I think, as is increasingly the case in England and the rest of the Western world, the religious side of Christmas is not focused on here, but people of all faiths are able to appreciate the spirit of Christmas; the peace, the love, the family and the joy of the occasion. I’m quite happy that the festival is being wrestled back from the church and put back in to the hands of the people.
Now, some people call me a boring old fart, others say that I’m too predictable, but the fact remains that when us men find something that we like it takes an Earthquake sized event to make us change. A man can order a pizza or an Indian dish without looking at the menu because he knows what he had last time is good enough for him today. He goes to the hairdressers and he doesn’t even need to talk to the barber because he’s been going there for the last 20 years and gets the same haircut each time.
Get Your Turkey Here – Roasted And Cut For You
The point I’m trying to make here is, just because I go to the same restaurant each year for Christmas lunch doesn’t make me boring, it just makes me a man. It’s a fantastic place to have Christmas dinner, there’s live music in the background and every kind of Christmas dish you can imagine – and you can eat as much of it as you want. Delicious!
Bet You Don’t Get Desserts Like This At The Family Christmas Dinner!
In the evening, thanks to the joys of modern technology I was able to have Christmas dinner with my parents back in England and share in the fun and laughter, obviously it’s not quite the same but I think it blew my Nan away when she saw my ugly mug pop up on the laptop screen!
This year I even managed to send Christmas gifts to my family back home. Well, I say I, my girlfriend (seriously, us men would be back in the caves if it wasn’t for them. “It’s a perfectly good cave, club and loincloth, why do I need to change it?”) was the one who organized the shopping trip, picked up the items to send, bought Christmas cards for everyone, bought the wrapping paper, organized a time to get them wrapped, undid my attempts at wrapping, boxed it all up, went to the post office, redid the wrapping in accordance with India Post rules (there are always rules) and sent them off. But it was basically me, right?
Christmas In Chennai: Not All That Bad Really!
Apparently the arrival of the gifts caught everyone off guard in England as it had been unanimously agreed several weeks before hand that I was way too rubbish to send gifts so they didn’t need to send anything to me. Instead of presents though, I asked people to buy meaningful gifts, so we’re now the proud owner of a goat. We’ve called her Billy.
That was my Christmas 2011, I hope everyone reading this blog had a wonderful Christmas too.
Great blog Peter! We enjoyed sharing the dinner time banter with you and letting you see the traditional setting light to the Christmas pudding ceremony. Presents were all great the origami ribbons caused hours of amusement! Glad you felt Christmassy in the middle of Chennai though. I still think it’s about time you had a British Christmas next year, bet they don’t have brussel sprouts and the Queens speech out there!
Maybe, we’ll see, Mum! Kinda getting used to the Christmases out here though, maybe you should come here one Christmas!
Love the view of Christmas from Foreign! I had my own Christmas in Foreign this year (although it’s a different part of Foreign to you – I’ve blogged about it too). It’s good to see different traditions, or the same traditions taking on different aspects with different people.