Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bonne fête des mères!

Reminiscent of Cinco de Mayo festival.
Mum and I decided to spend this Mother's Day at the Festival of Nations in St. Paul. I won't deny that it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, but I still managed to come home with a bag of inexpensive goodies regardless. I was on a mission to find a roll of Tibetan prayer flags, and succeeded. I also fell in love with a gorgeous wire-wrapped ring, a woven key chain of sorts (I'm sure there is some significance to it, but I am no savant of Tibetan culture), some Nag Champa incense sticks (like I need any more), a couple of bracelets from Bolivia, and an utterly full stomach. I haven't eaten since lunchtime, and I'm still miserable.
Made entirely of thin wrapped wire.
I was completely enthralled with the Tibetan booth. All of the goods came from a store in Minneapolis called "The Heart of Tibet", and the woman running the stall was kind enough to give me a huge discount on the ring since it was the last day of the festival. The Japanese booth was less than impressive- food included. I saw nothing there that one couldn't have found in a kitschy gift shop in a suburban shopping center, and the only foods available at the stand were sushi (snooze), and fortune cookies. Perhaps next year I'll volunteer my time to the committee and add some real pseudo-asian influence. This sad display reminded me of a discussion I had heard on MPR regarding the separation from Japanese culture that many American-born Japanese experience. It saddened me, and made me feel like even more of a nerd knowing that I had a better understanding of Japanese culture than the Japanese teens that were running the booths. Ah, well!


Along with the various cultural foods and crafts, the festival had three stages on which various cultures would perform throughout the day. Call me ignorant, but I've always thought Indian music had a very eccentric beauty about it, and I often wish I could rock a sari like an Indian woman. I believe the woman in the video I shot is Nirmala Rajasekar, and the instrument she is playing is called a veena. She played it beautifully, and didn't miss a beat when they began to improv. As she explained, many of the songs they played were meant to be just that- improvisations. It was well worth it for the mere ten dollars we spent on the entrance fee, and the food was well-portioned, and inexpensive, so we had a chance to try everything our hearts desired (hence my being miserable). I spent under thirty dollars on trinkets, found exactly what I was after, and passed out on the ride home, so I would label this a successful venture.

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