In the previous post (2 Day Road Trip From Omaha To New Jersey), I revealed how we surprised my sister on her birthday. What follows is how we spent our time together.
Her birthday was on Sunday and that was a big relief, since we didn’t wanted the continuous alerts and pings from office. We decided to celebrate her birthday at home only, so planned to go outside for buying snacks and cake. She just loves Mango cake, so we googled it in all nearby bakeries but unfortunately availability was none. At last we decided to go to Whole Foods, as they have good reputation for cakes. Harmit inquired about fruit cakes – next best option, over the phone with them and they confirmed the availability.
Whole Food store was in Edgewater, just in-front of Hudson river. There was a long queue outside the store due to COVID limitations, allowing 2-3 customers at a time. It took nearly 15 mins to enter the store and 30 mins in shopping. Store was very crowded to be safe. Anyways we chose strawberry fruit cake and other snack items and returned back to our car. After loading the grocery in the trunk, we decided to take a stroll across the river. It was a nice riverwalk with New York skyline clearly visible and there was decent amount of crowd basking and enjoying the weather . We took some pictures and walked for 20-25 minutes, which was really fun, it’s always feel nice to be in nature rather than being inside walls.
One of my sister’s friend asked to come with her family, so we decided to wait for them for the birthday celebration. Once they came, cake cutting was done and pictures were taken. We had snacks and lots of talk about almost everything. It was cool to spend time with friends and family after such a long time.
Rest of our days were passed mostly in Netflix and Amazon Prime. We watched many underrated Indian movies (regional too) along with regular crime shows like Crime Petrol (Indian crime show) and Criminals Minds (available on Netflix). I completed 2 books – “War of the worlds by H.G. Wells” and “Blockade Billy by Stephan King” in the spare time. Green tea, chai, coffee and lots of talks were part of our most regular activities.
My sister’s birthday often clashes with big Hindu festival – Diwali and unfortunately Harmit and I never celebrated any Diwali together in our home at Omaha. Last year she was in India and in first year of our marriage, we were in NJ, just like this year. Diwali is like Christmas for Hindus, it’s a 5 day festival of lights, happiness and prosperity. We decided to celebrate the Diwali night and leave for Omaha next day, but later plan changed due to Bhai Dooj (5th day of Diwali), a day marked for siblings love and affection. We decided to stay for one more week.
Day before Diwali, we purchased some fancy “Diyas” from Indian store. On the day of Choti-Diwali (2nd day of festival), we lit 5 Diyas and placed them in main parts of the house – Balcony, Living room, Worship room, Kitchen and Bathroom to remove the darkness with light.
Next day on Badi Diwali (3rd day of festival), we illuminated every place with diyas and candles and wore Indian traditional outfits. Harmit prepared some snacks and sweet items for the occasion and I prepared some food items (poori, halwa) as per our family tradition, according to which males of the family have to cook food as offering to Lord Hanuman. So I did some heavy lifting too.
We all were preparing food since afternoon, so were very hungry. After the worship and illumination, we didn’t wait for the photo session and just grabbed our plates. Food tasted out of the world, may be due to hunger. Once done, we took lots of pictures and watched movie. That was a perfect Diwali in COVID for us, being together.
5th day of the festival marks Bhai-dooj. After bath, we performed the necessary ritual and had sweets. Rest of the days passed very quickly, we used to sleep very late till 2-3 in night and wake up late. What else you need these days, to have family together and lots of talks.
We didn’t booked Hotel in advance, so I booked it just 3-4 days before our intended departure through Expedia. We decided to take stopover in Indiana again, this time too around 12 hours journey on 1st day and approx 6 hours on next day,
We asked my sister to come with us to Omaha. Since everyone is doing WFH these days, so there is no location constraint. But she was quiet reluctant, but promised to plan soon. We pressurized her a lot, but all in vain. Anyways, we will keep reminding her of this promise 🙂
If she is reading this, this is another reminder for her 😛
So this was our short trip to NJ which turned out to be better than expected. These days, its kind of blessing to see your closed ones who are impacted by COVID restrictions.
Happy Reading ! Keep Traveling !!!