Holi in Salt Lake is a very serious affair. It involves lots of decisions. Do you stare vacantly (it needs some practice beforehand, otherwise you find yourself memorising design details on that blue sari hanging on the roof across the street) or do you twiddle your thumbs? Do you sit on the balcony and watch children scream and shriek and do dermatologically horrible things to each other or do you go down to the streets and try to get into the game till somebody calls you aunty? When that happens, not if but when, do you come back and cry or do you pretend that you never heard that and douse the said child with as much bnadure rong as you can get away with and box its ears when nobody’s looking?
Well, decide on your plan of action now while you still have time, you normal young employed adult who lives in Salt Lake. Chances are, like an overwhelming majority of us, you live in a block full of old parents, little children and hassled married couples. And have no friends. Well not literally, you may be a well-loved, yaaron ka yaar type, but your friends probably are celebrating the festival with thandai and mood-altering substances (what? Gujiyas alter my mood – they make me very kind, mild and sweet) in Mumbai, Delhi or in any other corner of the country. Or, if you are a little older, they are taking care of the baby and hoping that their older kid doesn’t get wet or live the rest of their lives with green ears or — if they are on foreign shores — are practising math problems in complete oblivion of Holi.
And come on, admit it, you never ever meet anybody in Salt Lake. Remember all those Hollywood chick flicks and Star World sit-coms where they show people bumping into each other at the neighbourhood coffee shop or bookstore or even super market? Time to let you in on a secret. As far as we are concerned, those are beautiful works of fiction. Living in Salt Lake, you will never make a bunch of new beer-drinking buddies or even meet a curly-haired, twinkle-eyed member of the opposite sex you can discuss the meaning of life with. And in the five days left to Holi, you are not going to get a miracle.
As for playing Holi with your neighbours, the less said about that the better. Not because they’re not neighbourly. But because most of them are above 70. And you really don’t want wet colour to bring on the pneumatic attack. Nor do you want the abir to trigger off the asthma. When that happens you will be the one trying to coax a chemist shop to hand out the drugs. Or worse, you’d be driving them to the nearest hospital. And some crazy kid will inevitably throw a water balloon through your window, or make sure that a splash of hideous magenta colour lands on the side of your car door and stays there for the next three hundred years.
There may be some of the floating junta of paying guests and short-term tenants who work in the IT sector. But most of them will either have gone home and the rest, usually from south, will be wild-eyed and flailing with terror at this unholy scene they can’t comprehend. Holi does not exist down south, you see. Come Ganesh Chaturthi they could teach you a thing or two about celebrating, but don’t count on them for this one.
Go play with the children? Not an option. If you can stand being called “aunty” or “uncle” three times in five seconds, you certainly won’t be able to stand it when they do a finger painting all over you with metallic colour (never mind the meeting you have to attend the next day). And on top of that, they go crying to their mothers when you squirt them with a little friendly green water. Steer clear of them.
Televison? Get clued in. It’s the Murphy’s Law. The one day when you have some time at hand they will show the most hideous programmes ever devised by humankind. Usually on the lines of how to get your kitchen walls squeaky clean with half a lemon, a toothpick and three packs of paper clips. Go figure. You can’t get a drink anywhere outside of your own home; most eateries will not deliver or at best give you warmed up leftovers from three days ago; you can’t go to the mall before the Holi fanatics are too tired and leave for siesta.
So decide my friends on what to do. Put the spring back in spring cleaning? Sleep through the day? Stock up on DVDs from Bonanza the night before? Cook up a gourmet meal? Throw a party for fellow solos (count me in, I can walk long distances)? Remember twiddling your thumbs is a perfectly reasonable option too.
Is your experience similar to or different from Anindita Mitra’s? Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org