Christmas Surprise

When I arrived here in Balakot from Muzaffarabad a few days ago, I was told that the Pakistani army was throwing a Christmas party for the relief workers in the area. This came as a pleasant surprise since I was not only going to miss Christmas at home with family but also Christmas in the UN camp in Muzaffarabad which was going to be quite the dinner. This was also quite surprising because Muslims do not celebrate Christmas.

Last night was the big party and I was asked to read the Christmas story which was followed by a prayer. What fun.

We presented a gift of sweets to the army camp and nice gloves to the commanding officers. There was a Christmas tree, cake and dinner.
Officers and I by tree
The Colonel, me, and one of the Majors in front of the Christmas tree.

There were a lot of relief workers there along with the military officers. As usual, there were a lot of soldiers looking in over the canvas dividers. There was probably about 100 in attendance and we sat under a large tent shelter that had two very large pit fires burning in it.
People under the tent
People under the tent enjoying the festivities.

Initially we had the reading of the Christmas story followed by prayer. After that presents were presented and fruit cake served. After some socializing and the appearance of Santa Claus (one of the Red Cross people had a hat and all the hair) some chicken soup (not too unlike egg drop soup) was served in little disposable cups. Finally, after a little more socializing (I spent a good portion of the time talking with the Colonel), we moved to dinner which was on long tables. Plates and silverware were stacked in small piles all along the tables. People crowded around the table to get plates and then we proceeded to serve food from the many assorted dishes. There were breads, many kinds of curries and rices, and an equal number of sauces. Most of the dishes were spicy. I loved it! A Curry Christmas Dinner!
Eating around the table
The crowd and food have dispersed from the table.

Have a great day!