Target sells European memory cards for American cameras. Go figure. So apologies for lack of photos. The following are from last Thursday’s Holi celebration taken from roommates camera.
Our neighborhood is called Breach Candy. It is a pretty pretentious place to live, so needlesstosay, many don’t celebrate Holi. When we left our apartment, it was a ghost town aside from the puff of color coming off the street next to where the street children live.
Holi is mostly celebrated early in the morning. I thought we had missed it entirely, as it’s pretty common to come up to total stranger and either shoot them with a water gun full of colored water or put powder on them without their consent. For the first time there was no traffic, as the street stood quiet without the mass exodus walking straight out of the ocean toward the city centers.
On the way to the Grant Road Station, three women came up to me and began painting me, then asking for money. I was not fooled by this. You can’t fool me Aunties! We walked away and realized even the cows had been painted. From the station we continued on to Thane, which is about an hour away up north as far as you can go on the train, to our friend Shubhada’s society.
The easiest way to understand what a society entails is that it’s an apartment complex, but usually with a specific set of rules attached to it. Since my coworker was Brahmin everyone in the building was Brahmin as well. Also all vegetarian. This was great for Carole and I considering our first option was to go to Juhu— known for having over 100,000 people crammed into the beach while drunk men harass firangi, or foreigners.
The feeling when we got off the train was much different than Breach Candy. South Mumbai can be very reserved, and Thane was clearly the place to celebrate. Shubhada and her friends had us hop on their motor bikes, and I was immediately hit in the head with water balloon, screaming curse words at the top of my lungs. Unfortunately it translates into any language, and the kids throwing them were laughing uncontrollably.
We passed the remnants of the bonfire, or Holika Dahan which is lit on the eve of Holi to celebrate the festival.
Holi was a great break from the normal day to day of India, simply for the fact that people actually play and get to be like children. The youngest player in our group, the boy who is pictured with me, was a real troublemaker. I managed to steal his entire stash of color, dump him with several buckets of water, and get his gun. No one in our group accomplished this so I developed somewhat of a reputation based on my precision. Within a few hours, I think I managed to torture the kid after chasing him around to hug him with my immense love after our enemy lines had been blurred. He was not having it. Thus the gun.
Every color means something. White is rebirth and mourning. Blue is calm. Pink is femininity. Yellow is commerce. Orange is sacred. We got every color, except black, which is evil. Red is purity, as well as prosperity and fertility. Red has a special meaning in India although because of the relation to the revered goddess Durga. This works in my advantage most of the time, for obvious reasons.
We owe ultimate thanks to Shubhada and her family for opening their home, and sharing this time with us.