Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Mistletoe Market

Jingle bells,jingle bells,jingle all the way!
We are going for the Mistletoe Market today,heh!

This was the refrain on our lips as we headed towards the children's school early last Saturday morning.The write up from the school had promised lots of funfilled Thanksgiving and pre Christmas shopping and had boasted that there would be around sixty five stalls!As this was the first time we would be experiencing something like this,I ensured that my purse was full and I was determined to keep an eye out for good bargains!
As we turned into the school lane,we were surprised to see a long queue stretching out as far as the eye could see.Now this, in itself, is an unusual sight in Kenya where we rarely encounter queues of any type, barring the times we are stuck in a jam on Nairobi roads.But,having finally managed to find parking for the car,we joined the tail end of the line of people waiting to get into the school compound.We felt absolutely at home standing there because,after all,we come from India,the country with a population problem.In fact,I was even in a queque outside the labour room in the very exclusive(and expensive) nursing home in Pune where my children were born!And I am not joking!
We flashed our free tickets,(guests had to pay),had our wrists stamped and we were in!The first thing we spotted was a stall selling books and my daughter and I made a beeline for it while my husband and son wandered on.I managed to lay my hands on quite a few books by a number of  famous(now out of print authors) at delightful prices and I was over the moon!
We moved on and came to the African handicrafts stall where my son was thrilled to find a beaded wrist band in the colours of the India national flag,with even a blue  beaded dot to represent the Ashoka Chakra.He patriotically snapped it on and then proceeded to show it to every single teacher of his that we subsequently met!Saare jahaan se accha......
I was astonished to see young teenage girls selling neatly packed Barbie dolls,stuffed toys and exquisite dolls house furniture all of which was obviously not new.Then it dawned on me that these young American girls had found a good way to do away with toys they no longer needed and earn some spending money at the same time!Most surprising of all was the lack of parental interference!A lesson for us Indian parents!The tiny furniture was so well made that despite my aversion for used things, I was tempted to buy it!Then I remembered that my own daughter had outgrown her dolls and  they were now neatly lined up on a shelf in her pretty pink room back home!Yes,we Indians do tend to hoard stuff!Another lesson?!
I participated in a silent auction where themed baskets were being auctioned.I bid for a basket chok full of Indian savouries like Chakli,farsaan,tiny,crisp samosas,banana chips and spicy chevda.It was aptly named 'Snack Attack'!I won that basket at  a price lower than its value and it was a steal!I lost out on the tea basket,the other one that I had bid for!I had thought 'chai and chakli', what more does one need,but it was not to be!The other baskets had chocolates,junk food,cofffee with coffee mugs and even an innovative Fourth of July(American Independance Day)picnic basket.
We took a walk around all the other stalls.They were selling clothes,more books,bone china crockery,someone was selling her old sarees and there were many food stalls.My daughter tried her hand at marble art and painted a pottery vase.I bought some gifts to take back home and some lovely knitted caps,one of which was for a four month old orphan baby that my son's teacher fosters on week ends(that is another story).She was so happy when I gave it to her.The others were for my mother's cause in India through which she and a friend of hers ensure that tribal babies in a certain part of Maharashtra have sufficient clothes the minute they are born!
My daughter bought a bright red T shirt to support the school's Christmas cause.It said 'I made a difference'!They are collecting money to gift cows to a school in a slum so that the children have milk to drink plus they can sell the surplus to support themselves.Some of the money will also go towards growing vegetable gardens with the same aim in mind-to make these less fortunate children self sufficient and simultaneously ensure that they have enough to eat.
We headed home,our pockets lighter,but our hearts happier!
After all,Christmas is the season of giving and not just shopping!Joy in giving!


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