Holi Redux

I keep thinking about our experience of Holi yesterday. It’s a Hindu holiday, and of course, my parents are Tamil Catholics, mostly a legacy of Portuguese colonialism. Portuguese presence in the island lasted from 1505 to 1658, and their arrival was largely accidental; they were looking for control of commerce, not territories to conquer.

“On 15 November 1505 a Portuguese fleet commanded by Lourenço de Almeida, having been driven by a storm to the shores of Sri Lanka, landed in Colombo. With the permission of the king of Kotte, Dharma Parakramabahu IX, Almeida erected a trade station and a small chapel in Colombo. The chapel was dedicated to St Lawrence. Franciscan Friar Vicente, the chaplain of the fleet, celebrated Mass. This is the first record of a Catholic Mass on Sri Lankan soil. Over the next few centuries, Portuguese, Dutch, and Irish missionaries spread the religion in Sri Lanka, most notably on the western and northwestern coast, where in some places Catholics are half the population.” (Wikipedia)

So I’m not sure how many generations back exactly my ancestors converted — my impression is that many of those who did, converted not because of a sincerely held belief, but because converting offered access to good schooling for your children, good jobs under colonial government. Of course, over a few generations, that religious belief became sincere; Sri Lankan Tamil Catholics are as devout as any Catholics today.

But for me, an agnostic who left the church when I was twelve, I feel a little sadness about it all. Not that I’d likely be a devout Hindu either, if the Portuguese had never come to Sri Lanka. Plus, I actually don’t think Holi is widely celebrated among Sri Lankan Hindus. I know it’s not a national holiday in Sri Lanka (I was reading that it’s a Buddhist holy day, so perhaps that’s why…?) It’s all a little confusing to me.

But seeing the joy in everyone’s faces yesterday, at my first Holi, my children’s first Holi, it’s hard not to feel that something was stolen from us. Traditions interrupted, cut short. Unintended consequences.

Game Day

I am moving VERY slowly today. But I’ll get there. Plan for the day:
– slowly putter about doing dishes and straightening up post-party
– when Kavi wakes up, have her try on soccer uniforms, pick one, and send number to co-coach for roster
– find some white t-shirts for me and the kids and head over to the park for a Holi party from 11 – 2 — I’ve never been to one before, and am looking forward!
– get Kavi cleaned up and changed and over Irving school turf for her first soccer game from 2:15 – 3:45
– come home and clean some more 🙂

Sri Lankan New Year — thanks to Elliott Mason for taking these photos! I was a little busy. 🙂 Splendid time, I think a bigger party than we’ve hosted here before (about 80 people overall?), and you will be glad to know that I didn’t run out of food. Whew!

And I did take a few photos. Thanks to Kat for taking my recipe and just making the ribbon sandwiches when I ran out of time — it doesn’t feel like a proper Sri Lankan party to me without them. 🙂 And thanks to everyone who came out, especially my campaign volunteers (as this was also the official end-of-campaign thank-you dinner). Couldn’t have done it without you!!!

Kavya says, “Happy New Year!”


Done with the cooking for the day; now a little prep for tomorrow’s class on Le Guin, and then to bed. I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked this many different dishes in a single day before. Fun to do once in a while for Sri Lankan New Year, but I don’t think I’d survive in a restaurant kitchen cooking eight (or more) hours a day, day after day! Once a year is good enough for me. 🙂 Made today:
* cashew curry
* mushrooms
* chili eggs
* lentils
* kale salad
* asparagus poriyal
* coconut sambol
* eggplant sambol
* green mango sambol
* devilled shrimp
* mango fluff


If you holler up the stairs on your way to coach your daughter’s soccer team, “Honey, can you chop some onions while we’re out?” and he says, “How many?” and you say, “One bag to start — more later,” and he doesn’t run away into the night….that one’s a keeper.


If we assume one curry (plus rice) feeds 4-6 people, and 75 people are expected for dinner, and each curry requires 3 onions (minimum) and there are 6-9 onions in a bag, how many bags of onions does one need to chop in order to not stress out about not having enough food?



It’s totally unreasonable to make three extra curries and freeze them ‘just in case.’ It is. Be quiet, brain.


I was supposed to be less busy after the election, right? she said. Looking at my schedule for today:
7 – 7:30: get kids fed, dressed, off to school
7:30 – 8:30: grade and prep quizzes
8:30 – 1:30: teach, meet with student over lunch, teach
1:30 – 2:30: catch tail end of monthly garden club meeting, talk with Cheryl Munoz of Sugar Beet about various Oak Park food gardening initiatives for kids and otherwise
2:30 – 5:15: do 1 hour coach training videos, write up two characters due to George for Wild Cards, write up first draft of artspace proposal, call L!ve re: open mic scheduling, feed kids something
5:15 – 6:45: help coach Kavi’s soccer team
7 – 10: cook beef and chicken and salmon curries for Friday’s Sri Lankan New Year dinner (this will be done while watching tv, so should actually be reasonably fun and relaxing) — the vegetarian ones I’ll make Thurs or Fri.
I mean, there’s a lot of nice stuff in there, but it is also a full day!


One of my favorite parts of the house is the wrap-around front porch, and it honestly makes me a little giddy when it gets warm enough to actually start working out there. (New rug from Target; I really like it.) It’s borderline today, but a few days ago it was splendidly warm, and even yesterday, I read out there for a bit with a blanket. Fresh air and sunshine make me feel more alive; maybe I’m really a plant.

Sri Lankan New Year Approaching

I need to put together a shopping list for Friday’s Sri Lankan New Year party. Feeling a little paralyzed by choice — I want to make ALL THE THINGS. I think it’s been too long since I’ve had enough free time to cook properly. And also, since I’ve been working on the cookbook revision for the past year, I now have a really thick stack of great recipes.

If you’re coming Friday and if there’s some particular Sri Lankan dish of mine you want, now would be a great time to say so!