Saturday, July 5, 2008

#4th of July: Convention!

The Fourth of July in America means a lot of things: hot dogs, barbecues, fireworks and, if you're Indian, Convention.

An Indian convention is like any other convention. They are held in Marriott Hotels; they require registration; the primary mode of currency is the "meal ticket;" there is a gift tote, and there are an overabundance of "Hello My Name is..." name tags.

Indian families usually kick start their holiday weekend by loading up the Windstar with coolers of parathas, DDLJ DVDs, issues of Newsweek Magazine, throw blankets for the back seat and bottles of water. When Dad hits the highway and creeps up to that cruising speed of 55 the family settles in for a 13 hour drive to Houston, Toronto, Orlando, San Mateo, Denver, or wherever else the Bengali, Telugu, Assamese or Sikh societies of North America have decided to convene to celebrate the 4th.

For kids, Convention is an opportunity to reconnect with family friends whom you only see once a year, the friends you don't refer to as a "friend" when talking with your white friends at school but as your "cousin." Every year, in the lobby of a hotel, you, Deb, Niloy, Neel, Neal, Sunil, Anil, Bablu, Aabir, Sid, Benita, Indu, Sanjay and Sanjeev greet each other enthusiastically before spending the next 3 days lounging on the lobby furniture, playing tag in the parking lot, obnoxiously rough housing in the pool, slamming doors, screaming in the hallway, and allowing the absence of structured activity for kids to entice you to make up games utilizing an empty conference room, a circle of chairs and ubiquitous pitchers of water.

At some point the older kids will excuse themselves from the festivities, spike up their hair, dress up in a button down, straighten their locks and pregame in 3A before following someone whose friend lives in the area to the bars and clubs of the host city. Everyone else will be left to play TV-G versions of Never Have I Ever since Nerissa won't tell her 9 year old brother to go to bed.

For adults, Convention is an annual exercise in learning how out of touch their notions of India become with every passing year. As newer immigrants arrive, the average age of the Convention seems to get younger, contributing to a heavy sense of mortality and irrelevance among the generation that founded the Marathi Association of North America in a 4H Club basement in St. Lois in 1985 after taking advantage of the opportunities created in America by the 1977 immigration reforms. These generational gaps, however, will soon disappear as all adults will come together through that most established ritual of Indian Convention - in-fighting.

Fights at the Convention will range in topics from the choice of the Guest Artist to the absence of Indian food during the first night's buffet. What began as a bitter email chain in February regarding the selection of which city should host the annual event will, by the end of the July 4th weekend, devolve into a screaming match about the "future of the community," and the establishment of rival factions that will secede from the Convention and in the future hold their own counter Conventions in protest to the choices made by the host committee.

As the weekend wraps up flights are caught, rental cars are returned and cell phone chargers are left behind in empty rooms. Sincere goodbyes waft around during the final complimentary continental breakfast as emails are exchanged and unrealized weekend romances leave a sour taste in your stomach along with the previous night's unwise mixture of raita and Johnny Walker Black. As you hug your new friends and bask in the comfort of extended family you realize you maybe kind of sort of love these people and will undoubtedly keep in touch over IM and email. You won't. But there's always next year.


Anonymous said...

Wow, you've truly captured convention season in all its glory. See you at TANA!

ZenDenizen said...

Although I never had the misfortune of attending one of these things, this sounds just pitch perfect...

Miss Anthrope said...

Good GOD, you are so on point it is scary...

That said, NABC was a freaking blast!

Anonymous said...

I missed 2008 in Atlanta but man, that made me feel like i was there....nice one!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Wow I didn't realize July 4th was the designated weekend for ALL Indians...I thought it was just our tribe.

adham said...

افضل شركة تنظيف خزانات ومنازل وشقق بالمدينة المنورة شركة غسيل خزانات ومكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة ونقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة مؤسسة صفوة المدينة
شركة غسيل خزانات بالمدينة المنورة

adham said...

الشرق الاوسط من اهم شركات نقل العفش بالدمام متحصصه فى نقل عفش واثاث بالدمام ونقل العفش بالخبر كما انها توفر شركة نقل عفش بالجبيل والخبر وشركة نقل عفش بالقطيف والاحساء وجميع خدمات نقل العفش والاثاث بالمنطقة الشرقية بارخص اسعار نقل عفش بالدمام وتقدم ايضا شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام والخبر
شركة الشرق الاوسط
شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر
شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
شركة نقل عفش بالقطيف
شركة نقل اثاث بالاحساء
شركة نقل عفش الجبيل
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
شركات النقل البري بالدمام
شركات نقل العفش بالدمام
ارقام شركات نقل العفش بالدمام
ارخص شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر

adham said...

كما انها متخصصه فى النظافة وتنظيف المنازل ونظافة بالدمام والشقق والبيوت والفلل والكنب بالدمام
شركة غسيل كنب بالدمام
شركة تنظيف كنب بالدمام
شركة غسيل خزانات بالدمام
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
شركة نظافه عامه بالدمام
شركة تنظيف منازل بالدمام
شركة تسليك مجارى بالدمام
شركة غسيل فلل بالدمام
غسيل عمائر بالدمام
شركة نظافة بالدمام
شركة تنظيف موكيت بالدمام
شركة تنظيف سجاد بالدمام
شركة غسيل مكيفات بالدمام