Monday, March 05, 2007


After waiting in breathless anticipation, my first Holi finally arrived. Holi is the festival of colors, which marks the end of the winter and the beginning of spring. The celebration is basically about coloring your friends and family and any strangers that happen to cross your path. The colors come in powder form, which are the most common or spray. Also mixing the powder in water to throw on people or to pour onto some unknowing passerby or friend you can trick out onto the street is also common, It used to be that the powders used had medicinal purposes, so that as they were thrown and smeared, they would be inhaled and absorbed into the skin, providing protection against the colds and viruses that tend to make their rounds during this time of year. Well, technology has stepped in and now ther are all sorts of colors, some of which can be downright dangerous and I heard stories of people losing their sight or getting very ill, so it becomes important to play colors only with people you know that you can trust have bought the natural colors that will not cause any reaction from the skin or any health issues…

I felt like a little child and just the thought of coloring the world was enough to keep me awake the entire night before the big event. I spent Saturday shopping for a white kurta. I saw several, but they all had smudges or looked a bit dusty and I wasn’t settling for anything less than sparkly white, something I could completely obliterate. My plan was to have a shirt worthy of framing by the time it was all said and done.

I was invited to a Holi party in North Delhi and my driver came and got me and then it was off to Vasant Kunj to pick up Sharad before heading north. I got outside the car, gleaming white kurta shining under the Indian sun… With my white skin, blond hair and white kurta, I may as well have had a bull’s eye on my body. I got out of the car in front of Sharad’s flat and suddenly a cold shock hit my back. It was a child on the 2nd floor spraying a stream of blue colored water all over me. Suddenly the very colorful men down the street spotted me and made a mad dash, colors in hand and arms waving madly. It was a flurry of pink, green, blue, yellow and white and suddenly I was appropriately decorated.

No time to waste, we hopped into the car and headed north. The normally crowded and congested streets of Delhi were empty and instead of sitting in traffic jams, we were racing down the boulevards passing party after party, the city a blur of color as we whizzed past.

We got Anuj’s place for our Holi party but not before stopping for directions which resulted in more color and hugs and warm greetings… It all began very calm and respectful, smearing a bit of color on everyone’s face and head while spreading wishes for a happy Holi. The out came the spray foam, then the hose, then the cups of water and from there it was just one big mess. On the terrace across the way people were dancing up a storm with colored powder filling the air and buckets of water being tossed here and there. Before long, we were wet and stained and dancing in the streets (that seems to be happening to me a lot lately… it’s all very Martha and the Vandellas.)

After a few hours of making a mess for someone else to clean, we decided to head back to my place and have an impromptu get together… I was excited to host my very first gathering here in my humble yet highly blooming garden. Unfortunately, there was nobody to join us and so it was Sharad and I in our war paint, playing carram and having a few beers before calling it a night.

2 days later and I am still stained pink, have rivers of color running through my hair and try as I might, it is just not coming out… Everytime I get in the shower, everything goes pink, but no matter how much seems to go down the drain, I don’t see any difference on my body.

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