Thursday, March 17, 2011

Holi -- be that as thy name -- go lightly on our clothes*

*Geddit -- my Christianity meets Audrey Hepburn headline puns? Ha, ok, go on.

So, I texted my old boss asking if his ex girlfriend's rumoured new boyfriend is gay. He replied: Maybe. Why? I said: Who cares. Just checking if you're back in town. Then he called. I was at a south Indian eatery with a friend.

Ha ha ha, he laughs. That's him alright. We had a 5 minute 27 second chat (the intrepid reporter in me checked call log) about how things are. Me to him: how was Mumbai Bombay? (Excellent! I'm going back), how was Goa? (Even better, went to Candolim again), how's the book doing? (Sold out at most places but restocked at very few, damn publishers), how're the women doing? (more gorgeous, in their plurality) and so on.

Him to me: Where are you? (Hauz Khas village), what are you doing? (drinking rasam), have you found a job (no, find me one), what are you doing? (I just told you), No, I mean for St Patrick's Day? (Since when do we do anything for St Patrick's day?!) and then woh sab chhodo -- forget all that -- what plans for Holi?

And that's where the spinning conversation top spins to a halt, or rather stays aspun in one place, er, spinning. Holi is like new years. Everyone must have a plan. Unless someone died in your family. In which case, indoors and mourning is the respected order of the day. My friend and former boss, freshly returned from Goan decadence, wants to go to a large yet exclusive gathering of rich people and hot chicks. The plan is being worked on.

I have mixed feelings about Holi. Nothing, no festival, nothing about Diwali even, beats the 9 a.m anticipation of a Holi morning. Digging out tattered full-sleeved cottons to wear, preparing ammo -- the water pistols, the packets of colour -- and rounding up the gang, doing a demonic jig to the beat of the dhol in the distance of the destructive morning it will be; all brings back memories of growing up surrounded by relatively simple, small town madness.

Tractor rides down tree-lined roads, trees that were painted rust and white to ward off termites in Army cantonments barb-wired from the rest of the world, bottles of sand piper beer and bhang ladoos, entire regiments and drums moving from one mess to another to wish equally drunken comrades, their wives and happy-to-squeal kids holi mubarak...

And then there were my Holi hangovers more recent.

Do I hate Holi? I definitely hate gujiya. But let's put it this way, before contact lenses, I loved holi. But then I couldn't see. Now that I'm a blind hag, I whine about people using too much permanent colour that gets into your eye and not enough of that herbal shit that can at least be washed off. I worry about looking like a troll and being attacked by them in hordes. Holi = best day to get touchy feeling, rubbing down the opposite sex with a bit of coloured grease lightening and pass it off as the spirit of things. There will be egg-throwers, balloon pelters, hormonal wolf packs singing comic versions of rang barse, dying for the girls to get soaked, splashed, stained and pink -- of course, I have mixed feelings!

Bata chappal is blue
Holi is pink
If you wear kurtis
Kurtis will surely shrink

If you're wearing white undies, it's even more pink. Fingernails are pink. Ears are pink. If you work in heathen offices, jungly co workers will rough house your white keyboards to make them pink. Stray dogs are yellow and pink. The bhang you drink in the lawns of affluent farmhouses amidst strangers with grinning rainbow faces who, as a way to initiate into party proceedings, toss terrified you in a frog-evacuated pond, with zero regard for your comfort level because presumable everyone is smashed and no one minds, is pink. The tint water balloons acquire is pink. The car seats on your way back home despite your plans of newspaper as protection, are pink. If you're foolish enough to not stash your phone away on Holi, your LED screen is now PINK. They may call it a festival of colours, but you never see green finger nails on the morning after. It's always... fill in the blanks... go on... starts with a P, ends with an ink.

So far, with three days to go, my plan is to sit in my ivory tower, with my clean hair, and my clean skin, and protect the honour of my white undies.**

**the writer is a fickle minded being, with an inexplicable love of jungly coworkers and heathen strangers and often friends, who have in the past dunked her, in her tattered cottons, into muddy waters that -- what do you know? -- were once pink. Seen as she has been splashing about doing this giggly wobbly chimp traipse, her word is anything but absolute. Her blog, only less so. Yet in her wishes to you, there is warmth, goodness, and at the thought of the first balloon strike, loudly she squeals to all the water-shy namby-pambies such as her 40 per cent alter self, happy, happy Holi!


The Unbearable Banishment said...

That sounds more violent than Times Square on New Year's Eve! I would participate. I would like to come out there, smoke a big fatty or eat a mushroom and walk around starring at the PINK.

And what's with St. Patrick's Day? Are you kidding me? I'm naive enough to be surprised that you even heard of it. Is there a large Irish contingency there? The world has shrunk.

Nimpipi said...

UB: Haha! There's no walking around staring at the PINK, I assure you! First, you be smeared PINK, then you be smoking fatties! We'll make a good participator out of you, yet, just you see.

Beer + women clad skimpily in green = St Patrick's day. That's all I know. But given the thousands of expats (just in Delhi), we've developed a knack of claiming and celebrating festivals from all over. For example, no one did Halloween here even till five years ago. Now, in certain circles, with all those masks beng sold and week-long theme parties, it's a big deal -- even if not for the majority of us desis. No large Irish contingent though. Handful, sure, must be. I'll check.

idle mind said...

hi, just came across your blog via some other blogs... and stayed on to read. and read. and then some more.
you write wonderfully well. making even regular stuff sound worth reading about [oops, are we allowed to end a sentence with a preposition?!]

that's it. just wanted to compliment you on your writing. have a good life. :)

Sourav said...

How can anybody hate Ghujiya! The Chucky Woodchuk really chucks! ;)

Anonymous said...

the asterisked footnote of the title is the best of all the asterisked footnotes of all the titles I've ever read!

Happy Holi!
May the colors be kind...

Nimpipi said...

Idle mind: Hey there! Good of you to leave a note, and flattering note it is, too! :)

Have a good life sounds a bit final, don't you think? You're welcome to come back. I'd like that. Leave a link even!

I'm sure it's perfectly cool to end a sentence whichever way you like or if you like, to still go on;)

Sourav: Hi there to you too! The chucky woodchuk also abhors gajjak, imarti, petha and a few coconut ones.

I am though partial to: ras malai, gajar halwa, besan ke ladoo. Gujiya - god no, please, never.. the stickiness, the sweetness, the neither here nor there except pointless calorie ness... euch!

SP: How lovely that was, thank you! Yes, may the colours be kind. Could smell the madness in the air today. Play safe, I say and don't forget the vaseline! =)

The.Mystic said...

Happy Holi! How can u hate gujiya?It's so yymmy! and yes everything turns pink, I think that is the only color that never comes off easily!

Nitika said...

Hello girlie. Happy Holi! :)
And I was surprised to read the geru choona on the trees in cantonments were to keep the termites off! I thought it was just to keep the jawans busy. You know, kuch bhi karwa lo. Must. Ask Daddy.

Anyway, on an aside, have you read this?

and then this



Nimpipi said...

Myst: Happy holi!

N: That was lovely! I'm going to read both again and paste on FB for all my favourite boys to read, thank you! :)

And at least I think the geru is for termites, as much for bhaiya timepass:))

Anonymous said...

Happy Holi!
you write bloody well. I eagerly wait for your new posts, would love to see you write something about clothes/shoes/ fashion.I have this image of you as a prim n propah woman wearing only black and brown in my head.. dont ask me why.

Nimpipi said...

Anon : Every time I think to myself, ok no more allowing anonymous comments, I get greedy and think, oh what the heck, comment is comment. Occasionally I get one like yours and feel totally chuffed. On these occasions, I do wish I didn't have to be so impersonal and call you 'anon', but you started it!

Prim and propah? Black and brown? Okay, dispelling tactics commence: today I wore a bright pink sari, hunched it up and ran up some three very tall sets of stairs. Picture of grace? Not quite. Still, I love that you think I can do clothes and shoes. Have given it top billing in my mental suggestion box! :)

Happy happy holi, anon!:)

Harleen Singh Arneja said...

"The bhang you drink in the lawns of affluent farmhouses amidst strangers with grinning rainbow faces who, as a way to initiate into party proceedings, toss terrified you in a frog-evacuated pond, with zero regard for your comfort level because presumable everyone is smashed and no one minds, is pink."

This is my favorite line. You really seem to lathe the color pink! Or is the hatred solely reserved for Holi? ;)

Though your description of Holi is entirely different from mine, I loved every bit of it.
I think you might feel differently once you are deprived of it like I am. At our university, we are given a tiny little pool and talcum powder to play Holi with.
And there is no bhang!
I would switch with you in a second!

I'm getting addicted to your blog! :)

Nimpipi said...

Harleen: Helloo, no, I don't hate pink at all! :D I just like the choice of not having pink... know what I mean? Once a friend told me pink does nothing for my personality and that kind of stuck, but I overcame. Talcum powder and no bhang sounds tragic. I'm hoping you overcame, too.

P.S: love that addiction!

idle mind said...

what do you know, i did come back! and happy to leave you a link to visit my blog WITH...