Event: Annual Diwali Festival near South Street Seaport
Spirikal’s bottom line: Lackluster at best and the weather wasn’t the real problem
Review: I said I wouldn’t trash an event, so I will try to be as diplomatic as possible. But the truth is that I was disappointed with the event this year, which has become a shadow of its former glory. First, it wasn’t at the South Street Seaport, but next door on an adjacent street because of yet-another Smorgasburg invasion (aren’t there enough already?) occupying the port.
The entertainment featured almost a dozen coordinated-dance acts playing more of the same. At first it was great, but after the fifth dance act, it got old. There was almost no live music entertainment. Could they not have hired a bhangra band? That would have been cool.
The most ridiculous, however,was the expensive, skimpy portioned food. Living in Queens with the best Indian fare available only added to my disdain when I saw what was on offer here.
Plus you had to queue up for over a half an hour with people cutting in everywhere, just to get a limited variety of streetfood. India has so much to be proud, and this showed very little. There were the ubiquitous lamb/ chicken kebabs for $12 /$14, and charred roasted corn on the cob, which is a nightmare if you don’t have any floss handy.
There were Bombay classics like the famed pav bhajii and deep fried peppers. The sticky ladoos were good, but nothing really to write home about. I opted for a cup of masala chai, which was even watery. I felt a pang of homesickness for Maharaja Sweets in Jackson Heights. And why was there a McDonalds tent? This was supposed to be celebration of Indian streetfood!
The Indian clothing vendors sold almost tacky traditional garb. It surprised me that they didn’t sell more accessories like scarves and shawls, which would have been more so successful.
If you’re going to showcase all-things South Asian at an outdoor fair, then you need a wider variety of food and entertainment like the Taiwan Excellence and Best of France festivals had done. There were some interesting things to check out and some people got in the act, sporting highly ornamented Indian costumes, but whole event seemed much smaller than in previous years. After about two hours of strolling, it was time to go.