Last night, the Kennedy Center hosted an evening that cannot be described as anything short of magical. It was the opening night reception for the center’s maximum India event that starts today.

Splashes of colored fabrics, corridors lined with rose petals and glowing lamps, exhibitions showcasing the diversity and the mystic that is India, made the center come alive.

I spotted the  ever elegant Indian Ambassador Mrs. Meera Shankar and several well-known names ( Terry Mcauliffe, Mark Warner (Senator, Virginia), Ed Henry, CNN) and I shook hands with Suketu Mehta (wooohooo).

Performances set the stage on fire as Indian dancers moved to the beat of Indian dhols (a type of drum) and then, ah, Ustad Zakir Hussain performed.

I sat in my seat- stunned and unable to even express my amazement. To be in a room filled with people who have accomplished so much and who make India shine, was truly an honor.

And then, as a food writer, for me the piece de resistance: the food. Chef Hemant Oberoi who heads the Taj group of hotels as their top chef, outdid himself. Dinner included traditional Indian tomato rasam, silky lamb kebabs, and a masala chai kulfi.

How good was the food?

Well, when the Chef came out on stage (with his team), I could have sworn he got the longest and loudest applause of all!

Someone once remarked that I had an unfair advantage as a writer: my Indian heritage. You are lucky, she said, to be born in a country that is so vast and so diverse and so rich in it’s spirit and soul that it offers up such a dizzying array of things to write about. I totally agree.

Here are my top four reasons for you to go and attend the events at the center:

4. Superb performers like Shabana Azmi are performing in plays.

3. Literary greats like Suketu Mehta are hosting panels.

2. The exhibitions and the free performances are alone worth a visit.

1. Chef Hemant Oberoi is hosting demonstrations of Indian food!

Click for details –

Several events are sold out, I know.. I tried to get tickets but there are still many that are available and free to attend. Also, if you want to try the food, the K.C. Cafe and the Rooftop Terrace restaurant are offering Chef Oberoi’s food throughout the festival.

Oh, and I have to mention one other thing.  I was busy admiring the jewelry display of gorgeous Indian jewels studded with diamonds and I noticed a tall, statuque woman admiring them with me. We started joking about which ones we would like and which ones were the most gorgeous. I turned to her to say something and was stunned. I was chatting with Queen Noor of Jordan.

What a night!

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  1. WOW!!! I woild have loved to be a part of this festival. I envy you :))

  2. This indeed sounds like a splendid night full of celebration and surprises . Glad to know you enjoyed a lot
    Super Yummy Recipes

  3. WOW .. i am a little J right now 😛 .. Zakir Hussain .. SIGH !!!

  4. WOW! You spoke to a queen! WOW! 🙂 I am jealous…big time !

  5. Monica – it sure sounds magical – all those achievers together must have been something. Add all the color and performances .. wow !

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