November 8, 2009

“Diwali” wasn’t in my vocabulary until Sree Sreenivasan and his wife Roopa invited me to their annual schmooze-fest. They’ve been hosting it for the past decade.

Where have I been? How come I never heard of Diwali before?

Good thing the Sreenivasan online party invite included “educational” links to info about the first White House Diwali party. It was organized recently by the actor Kal Penn, who now works for Pres. Obama. There were also references to funny scenes about the holiday which appeared in everybody’s favorite TV show, “The Office.”

This year, about 300 peeps rsvp’d but Sree thinks they had more guests than that during the 11 a.m.-to-7 p.m. gathering. I went for a few hours in the early afternoon because  — okay, true confessions — I couldn’t wait to try the food. As it turned out, visiting their sunny Upper West Side apartment was a treat in many ways.

The surprises began as soon as I set foot in their home. Literally. I had to take off my boots! Of course, growing up Asian, you learn never to wear shoes in the house. But this was a big party. It was pretty surprising to be at a gathering of this size and see everyone respecting the etiquette.

If I’d known we were going to follow tradition, I wouldn’t have worn goofy, white cotton socks. But going barefoot solved that problem. Very cozy. Which meant I felt perfectly relaxed as I happily foraged for food. By the way,  what a pleasant crowd. There were family friends, college folks, media people as well as movers and shakers. Plus, a bunch of little kids who were hanging with the 6-year-old Sreenivasan twins.

Everything was delish. The catering was by Biriyani House of Sunnyside, Queens. This restaurant has a good-value menu.  Click here for some details.

There were snack-y finger food platters everywhere — along with bottles of hand sanitizer. A practical, modern touch.

So this is Diwali. I had a great time. Thanks, Roopa and Sree!

CLICK on each photo to ZOOM in.

Your browser doesn’t support JavaScript or you have disabled JavaScript.