My Very Green Christmas

My past two Christmases were spent in my concrete house in the middle of a freezing desert, surrounded by Muslims who forbade any celebrations (including birthdays) except those ordained by Allah: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
So this Christmas, I decided to treat myself. I wasn't going to be alone, I wasn't going to be freezing, and I wasn't going to be not feasting.
The day before Christmas, I left the wonderful beaches of Gokarna for Madikeri, a city in the Kodagu region of Karnataka. I splurged on a reservation in a retreat nestled in the middle of a rainforest for 1 night - $30 for a soft bed (with a real mattress!), 3 meals, tea breaks, trekking, 25 acres of spice and coffee plants, fellow Americans, and warm weather. It was fantastic. I stayed in a tent that was larger than a lot of the beach huts that I'd slept in for the past week, and my bed was so comfortable - Christmas day was the first morning in 2 months that I woke up without a sore neck or muscles (you really get what you pay for at most of these guesthouses).
One of the other guests was from Palo Alto, and she generously handed out a box of Trader Joe's chocolate-covered ginger snaps at the breakfast table. I couldn't stop my drooling. I chose the prime seat in the dining area - right in front of that tin box of wonderful sweets. The food was amazing at the lodge - all the veggies and spices were organically grown on the farm, and even the pomegranates were served already shelled and picked. What bliss!
And their coffee was fantastic. Mind you, I'm not a coffee addict. At all. I only drink it when it's free. Well, after 2 years of drinking Nescafe in Jordan, this freshly roasted and ground coffee was one of the best Xmas presents I could've received. I drank about 4 cups within a half-hour...and suffered the consequences for the next 3 hours, going to the bathroom about 6 times.
Xmas morning, all the guests set off on a trek together. It was relatively easy, but refreshing to hike through the rainforest and feel like you were breathing in oxygen that was healthy (unlike Calcutta's). We sang Xmas carols that didn't fit with the summer atmosphere, and we sounded horrible, but it was festive and cheerful and the mood was contagious. I kept making up lyrics because it'd been so long since I'd heard the words to "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Silent Night," but the others' voices overpowered my humming, drowning out my "da-da-deeeeeee-dahhhhhhhh"s.
But my real Christmas present is coming in 2 short weeks: Jan 7, I fly out of India (damn 6-month visa) and into DC...where my twin and mom will be waiting for me! I've already requested a first meal of dim sum and I can't wait to walk into a grocery store and buy Haagen Dazs and Dreyer's ice cream cartons. I'll be showered with love and "It's been sooooo long" from my mom, followed by eye-rolling from my sister. I'm fully preparing to be spoiled by wonderful seafood on the East Coast, a plush hotel room compliments of my mom's work (she'll be in DC for a conference), and a moment as American as it gets: a ticket for Obama's inauguration on Jan 20.

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