Fireworks and Pad Thai

Since Oishi likes to see fireworks, I researched 4th of July fireworks in the nearby towns and found Monroe to be a pragmatic choice; it was not too far from home and Oishi liked the activities – sand art, pony ride and petting zoo. Oishi was also excited about eating out, while I tried to hide my dearth of enthusiasm for eating french fries and hot dogs . I was not despondent but not elated either.

I parked my car in the event parking lot of Thompson Park and unexpectedly and excitedly found myself standing in a bus queue to be transported to the actual event site. It reminded me of my visit to Disney World, where tram cars took us from the parking lot to the park entrance. I thought, “This is a good start. But what about food? Maybe, just maybe, they will have some spicy Asian food…”

In the hot summer afternoon, when the mercury touched 90°F and above, we got down from the bus in front of a large picnic area with clean picnic tables spread out on luscious green grass underneath big trees. I told Oishi, “This looks shady and cool. We will eat here.” We spotted a lake little far away and an artificial beach in front of the lake where a DJ and a group of people, adults included, were entertaining a crowd of people on a gallery around the beach, while a lake breeze tried its best to keep everyone cool. Oishi said, “Mama, this is awesome!”

Being food lovers, we turned our attention towards the food stalls. Oishi’s choice was limited because she became a vegetarian more than a year ago. We saw funnel cakes and french fries, even spicy french fries, and decided to go for the spicy french fries. No sooner had we started walking towards the spicy french fries stall than Oishi looked at me with enlarged eyes and said, “Oh my god, mama, they have Thai food here!” We dashed to the stall, only to find that there were no vegetarian options. Crestfallen, we began leaving the stall, when the chef, who was cooking a few feet away, approached us and offered to make vegetable Pad-Thai for Oishi. Pad Thai is Thai flat rice noodles made with egg, vegetables, peanuts, and soy sauce. It is scrumptious. We were ecstatic and thankful toward the chef. I ordered chicken Pad Thai and Oishi ordered the vegetarian version of the same. To top it off, I found out that the chef teaches Thai cooking class in Spotswood, NJ. I took her card and decided to take her class in the fall.

There was no petting zoo or pony ride due to the heat, but there was sand art. Oishi filled a little monkey with layers of hot pink, red, dark blue, orange,  pink, aqua, yellow and purple sand.

After all of that, it was finally time for what we came for. We sat in the gallery and watched the burst of colors illuminate the night sky, while songs like ‘God Bless America’ played in the background.

After the fireworks, when I just started to reminisce about the wonderful day, Oishi asked “Mama, can we have a funnel cake now?” So we bought a cake to share at home before we called it a night.


Sharmistha’s Book

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Sharmistha Das

Sharmistha Das, an Indian immigrant engineer and entrepreneur, is the author of "From Hindustan Cables Limited - Journey of a Small-Town Indian Immigrant Woman". Every South Asian woman who has immigrated to America will identify with the adventurous journey of Sharmistha Das. Born in a small rural company town of Hindustan Cables Limited in Bengal, India, Sharmistha grew up with her brother, mother and father in a simple home without running water or furniture, but with a great amount of love. Supported by her parents, she left her hometown for Kolkata and became the first female engineer from her community. After her marriage, she moved to Bangkok, Thailand and finally to America, the land of opportunity and heartache. While working and bringing up her daughter, she got her Masters in Business Administration and started her own business. Unthinkable for a girl from Hindustan Cables, she got divorced in 2012 and adapted to a new life as a single woman and as a single mother. Sharmistha’s story will inspire any women to dare to live her dreams.

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