I first heard about Thanksgiving eight years back. Of course, I was familiar with the literal word, but never gave it much thought. What I knew of Thanksgiving till then was in bits of conversation and stories. And, till recently I presumed Thanksgiving was a religious festival!

The first thanksgiving I truly enjoyed was in the year 2000. The senior most member in my friends’ circle took it upon himself to celebrate Thanksgiving and roast a turkey. Four families met in Hamilton on a cold rainy night. After we hung our coats, we paraded into the kitchen and found our host staring at this big bird on the kitchen island counter.

I should have bought an axe to hack this thing, were the first words he uttered. We burst out laughing and started clicking pictures of the bird, the host, and both of them together. That day he looked like an unlikely chef; this big man with a brand new apron around him standing and threatening an equally big bird with a huge carving knife and what looked like a smaller pitchfork.

Like a ninja warrior he swooped down on the bird with an “eeeeaaaaagh!” The theatrics stopped as soon as the knife broke the skin of the bird. Then, to soothing Mozart in the background, he gently started carving up our dinner into thin slabs. Although an engineer by profession, he wielded the knife like a scalpel. A trait no doubt passed from his father, a surgeon.

It took him half an hour to strip the turkey to the bone. And it took us more than an hour to do justice that evening.

Over the years my friend fine-tuned his turkey carving skills. Now he can slice a live turkey without the bird knowing it. And I have begun to learn more and more about the harvest festival to the point that I have started drawing parallels, or rather I should say contrasts, to the harvest festival we celebrate in India.

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