Saturday, November 04, 2006

Watching The Chronicles of Narnia on Christmas Day

Christmas Day 2005 dawned grey and drizzly in Virginia. All hopes for a white Christmas melted away in the unseasonably warm temperatures. As is the case every year, the question of what we would do the rest of the day was hanging in the air. Most of our Christian friends were busy with church and family and Christmas lunches and dinners. Most of our friends who were in the same boat as us (i.e., were not busy with Christmas) had gone away to visit family during the holidays or lived in Maryland and we did not feel like driving all the way up and around the beltway to meet them.

During past Christmases, we had ended up going to the temple and to the free performances on the Millenium stage at the Kennedy Center before going out to dinner at any restaurant that was open (usually an Indian restaurant).

This time around we were at home in Virginia for three weeks on a "home" visit from Bangalore where we currently live. It was good to be back again, back among shops (Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market), restaurants (Big Bowl, Panera Bread, Chipotle, Romano's), streets and landmarks that were sorely missed for over a year. How good it felt to drive around in the car (without the need for a driver) and tune on the radio to listen to NPR or Eliot in the Morning on DC 101 (someone said he was gone, hope it's not true!).

Best of all, it was good to be home, be able to bake in my oven (my son was probably happier about that), to be able to cook the dishes I couldn't in India without going into a whole lot of trouble (penne pasta with that chicken sausage from Trader Joe's) and to just sit on the sofa wrapped in a fleece blanket and watch the snow flurries settle on the deck and the tall trees in the backyard.

We'd been home about a week and a half by then and had just begun to get over the jet lag, a particularly ferocious one this time around which had us crashing by five in the evening and waking up every morning at two am. Although the weather was inhospitable, we did not particularly feel like staying cooped up indoors. So after breakfast, we hatched a plan to watch a movie. We had wanted to see Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe even since we got there and we decided to try our luck. Were movie theatres open on Christmas Day? We could not remember, but we were going to find out.

In our absence from Virginia, a brand new theater had opened up about ten minutes away from our house. We decided to head out there. By this time, it was pouring. We piled into the car and drove to the movie theater. Aside from church parking lots, all the roads leading up to the theater were deserted as was the theater itself. It was around 11:30 am by this time and we resigned ourselves to not being able to watch a movie that day.

Just then, a car pulled up behind us, a man got out of the car, pulled his jacket up over his head and ran towards the ticket counter. A young girl in the movie theater uniform came out of the building and got into the ticket kiosk. Hurray! There's going to be a movie after all! So I went in as well and found out that Narnia was playing at 1:30 pm.

The good news was that there was a movie; the bad news, we had two hours to kill. We decided to make a quick trip to Washington, DC. There was no traffic to speak of, so it would take us hardly 15 minutes to reach downtown. We hand't gone into the city at all since we arrived and it would be good to see all the monuments, museums and yes, even the federal buildings.

After a whirlwind tour of DC and a viewing of all the watery, hazy monuments that flowed down our windows onto little rivultes on the streets, we headed right back. Lunch had to be taken care of. We headed to a Thai restaurant, the only one that was open in the mall across from the multiplex. The only other guests in the restaurant were a family of four, decked in all their Christmas finery. They must have just finished Christmas church services.

Lunch was the usual green curry/yellow curry items with a dish of Phad Thai thrown in. It was delicious. We had a view of the ticket counter from the restaurant and we could see a crowd building. It was time to go.

Once inside the movie theater, we headed for the last row of seats and pretty soon there were enough movie goers for families to have to split up and sit rows away from each other. Right next to us was a Middle-eastern family and most of the other audience members looked like they did not have anywhere else to go on Christmas Day either.

As the movie progressed the irony of this situation was not lost upon us. Here we were, in this temple of entertainment, gathered together to watch a tale of the triumph of good over evil, of sacrifice, forgiveness and of the savior rising from the dead.


Anonymous said...

That was some post...when I started reading, I thought I would not manage more than a few lines, But I read the whole thing...IT rings a bell with me...

Sujatha Bagal said...

Thanks CB. :)