This American Mess


“Our parents felt a need to both preserve our culture, but also make us see how we fit in,” said her daughter, Dr. Vidya Ramanathan.

That family dinner in 1980 gradually mushroomed into a Thanksgiving blowout held at Chinmaya Mission Ann Arbor, a local chapter of an international Hindu organization. But, amid the pandemic, this event, which draws more than 1,000 people, would be considered a potential super-spreader event.

Michigan recently ordered new restrictions to curb the steep surge of Covid-19 cases. Dr. Ramanathan, 44, a practicing pediatric emergency room physician, said her mother had already planned to host the festivities on Zoom. “As a health care worker, I have a real front seat to the suffering,” Dr. Ramanathan said.

The usual activities are still scheduled, virtually: dosa making, Shanti Mantras recitations and competitive rounds of Antakshari, the song game. Last week, Ms. Kumar led a two-day Diwali celebration attended by more than 500 families, all online.

“They were telling my mom, ‘Auntie, it was like you were doing the celebration in our own home,’” Dr. Ramanathan said. — PATRICE PECK

Jeramy Neugin, 44, is a magician in Lost City, a community of around 800 people in Cherokee County.

Until recently, he and his father, Bobby Neugin, 69, performed together under the name Lost City Magic. Their show involved retelling Cherokee myths, including “bringing a swarm of live wasps from a handful of dirt, pulling live snakes from drawings, using a preserved finger of a Bigfoot to bend coins and trapping demons in Dreamcatchers,” the younger Mr. Neugin wrote in a Twitter direct message. (Lost City does not have phone reception.) The elder Mr. Neugin retired from performing after suffering from a stroke but he still helps his son, who recently moved in to help care for him, develop routines.



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