So we celebrated Holi yesterday. And how. The chaos had been unfurling since the past month as a gaggle of geese, aka the cultural committee of the society premises we live in which includes yours truly ran around like so many headless chickens trying to fit things into place, and pull contributions from all ends to fit into budgets which had suddenly gone into bingeing overdrive and were bulging obscenely from all ends.
But hectic running around with begging bowls and much intimidation of residents to cough up (reminding one scarily of the louts who inevitably make the rounds of societies in unsecurity guarded neighbourhoods demanding Vargani for every random festival) saw the coffers fill up to some extent. Therefore the event was on track. I pretended to ignore the new grey along the hairline, and kept my highlighting kit ready and waiting until post Holi.
I have not played Holi for years. The thought of being splashed with colour, drenched to the bone and being groped all over in a culturally sanctified groping festival was not something one was too keen about. Has something to do with one’s growing up years when overly avuncular types tried to get hands into places they shouldnt had a lot to do with my aversion to the festival. Add to it my natural fastidiousness and aversion to looking like the Bride of Frankenstein, and knowing that I have the kind of lung power that a bucket of water throws into borderline obscenity in public situation. Therefore, I had sat back and stayed safe all these years. Plus in the previous building one lived in, one was sufficiently friendless and considered sourfaced enough to ensure that one didnt get dragged out kicking and screaming bloody murder.
Things here, as you might have guessed, gentle reader are different. For one, one is not sourfaced any longer considering there are folks here with whom one can have a conversation with which doesnt revolve around the price of onions. Though that does creep in occasionally given the obscene prices said tuber shoots to on truck strike times. And secondly, one had been brave enough to volunteer to be on the cultural committee. A decision taken when one strangely enough was not fortified with alcohol, and yet made without due consideration of the impact on the acceleration of the greying quota of the few strands remaining on one’s head. And thereby making Schwarzkorf a happier company, with one more permanent client.
The plan was simple. Holi puja and burning the Holika the previous night. DJ Music and rain dance the next morning followed by lunch. Simple enough. But try getting many heads to organise that. Many headbanging sessions later, where friends became permanent enemies and dissonant points of views were exchanged in manners befitting the honourable members of parliament, chappal throwing and bench hurling aside.
The morning dawned bright and early. I awoke with the kind of sinking feeling in the stomach that one normally gets when one awoke before a board exam of sorts in one’s youth. You know, the feeling that something bad is scheduled for the day and you forgot to pen it into your list of things to do and cant quite recall.
The caterers, the DJ, the rain dance chappies were all lined up and waiting. One went down, fortified with a couple of Disprins in one’s pocket. Just in case. Things organised themselves seamlessly. One patted oneself on the back. The children were already running amok, unrecognisable under the layers of colour they had smudgeoned onto each other, and playing guns and robbers with gunlike pichkaris or backpack tank pichkaris that packed five liters of water ammunition for prolonged non refuelling. Of course, one was drenched in the supervision process itself.
The music started, the tankers rolled in and the crowds streamed down. Soon, the entire compound was a mass of unrecognisable people with faces that would give young children nightmares enough to warrant extended counselling and therapy through their adulthood. The men had a SUV boot full of the alcohol and bhang and continued ingestion ensured that spirits soared to the extent that hitherto calm, sober, well behaved and very very dapper investment bankers and the like were seen shedding themselves and any unfortunate in the vicinity of clothes and dancing with abandon. Thankfully, the men restricted this vastraharan dance to themselves and the women for once were the gleefull onlookers but without any eyecandy to warrant such display. Potbellied, middle aged Holi revellers donot make for much gleeful viewing.
The children ran around like eels chasing each other, dancing, getting drenched despite worried mothers yelling at their respective charges to get their butts back into dry clothes and take themselves home. And put to bed fortified with cough syrup.
A hearty lunch later, one returned home to see one’s head a brilliant shade of pink that resisted every effort at getting washed off with shampoos both gentle and strong. Any tips on how one could get highlights back to the colour the good hair colourist intended it to be. Or shall I pretend to be Dame Edna Everage until the said highlights grow out to cut offable levels?
Edited to add: Since many mails asking the gory details have kindly come in, I thought I needed to clarify. No groping happened. With none of the women. Yours truly has of course, expanded and aged to ungropable levels, so didnt even expect or think of being a grope victim this Holi. And yours truly hasnt been groped in a public situation. Having a husband who is reputed to talk with his fists first does have some advantages. A couple of folks who have had jaws dislocated some decades ago might testify to that.
And the rest of the young uns played amongst themselves. The men played their holi and the women played their own. And colour applied to the opposite sex only if spouse or child or family member by some unwritten tacit code. I wouldnt have gone down to play Holi had it not been understood that all the women were absolutely safe. Hell, I am a respectable matron now.