color — the prose version
Celebrations of any kind in a typical Mumbai housing complex begin at 09:00 usually. The first song that blares out signifies the day/festival being celebrated.
“Rang Barse” from Silsila was the song that kicked off proceedings for many years until it gt displaced by “Holi khele Raghuveer”, then came “Balam Pochkari”; this year it was “Besharam Rang” all guns blazing — the massive speakers pulsating to that one beat all DJs somehow manages to fit into every song. Not that the songs of yesteryears are not played — just the sequence changes. Last in, first out is the order.
Holi celebrations follow a new template now; there is a DJ, a “rain dance” section, food stalls serving fancy tidbits and the color is only organic. I guess you end up meeting many people you have not met before, however the color on their faces makes it impossible to recognise anyone the day after. So you are back to peering into phone and waiting for the lift ride to end. Maybe thats just me :)
Its frenzied now, people go about throwing color and water at each other as if we are all in one of those paint gun war zones. DJs are particularly unimaginative, as are the caterers. Actually its just us, willing to live life in a zone defined by boundaries of comfort, everything outsourced and set.
Around noon is when people go home sated and spent, the exertions too much and a strange quiet descends in the garden below. Everyone packs up; the silent speakers and the hearing impaired DJ into a small truck; the caterer waits for the cleaning staff to clear up — they are the last to be served and the rain makers sheath their sprinklers. These days TATA Ace seems to be the vehicle of choice for all.
And that’s it a day ends, we have all done Holi and the cultural committee starts planning the next assault on senses day. life goes on.
Colors on the ground are swept into drains where they mix up with those shed by the people at home, showering and furiously scrubbing off what is now dirt. From each house and each colony, the drains are vibrant for a day as they all head west and empty themselves into a ocean who has seen it all. The ocean must be tired now; its propensity to consume not even marginal now.
Growing up, Holi was of a different template. We would begin early, whistles from the compound — a battle cry to get ready. People just came down with whatever they could, someone would get some food, order soft drinks, someone would get color, we would make a quick trip to few buildings further and get a dholak (if we had managed to return it from the preceeding festival), thats all it took. Songs from different generations would be sung with great care — maybe out of tune but evryone would really try to keep up.
And then there were folks who would not come down — so — we would go up to everyone’s apartment and drag them out. I suspect some folks enjoyed that attention but some genuinely needed a push in this case a pull to have fun.
Revelry over, it was time for the men folk to head to Juhu for a quick swim and tipple — not always in that order. The society would be quiet in the afternoon, you could hear the wind rustling among the color laden gulmohars — that quiet. Day would end with cricket — enthusiastic participation by one and all. Underarm box cricket — Mumbaikars would know this variation — we had a French cricket version as well — more on that later.
It was definitely a calmer time,
when the colors shone without fear of getting appropriated and reason for division
our hands were conscious of people around us and mindful of the space they had to contribute towards
a more spontaneous time
everyone knew each other not just in the society but across the neighborhood
songs had lesser hooks, were not some assembly line productions and had words which made sense
music rang true under the canopy of leaves and flowers
and yeah — we had gulmohurs in our compound
gulmohurs which had seen off yet another winter (non mumbaikars will snicker at this point, i know and will ignore in the bura na maano holi hai spirit) and getting ready for its best friend, the monsoon.
Its been a few months now since i have seen a blue sky and longer since i saw the sea. grey seems to be the order of this season; grey, greyer and greyest. 50 shades without the kinkiness — just a plain simple smog.
I must take Zizou to Juhu this weekend and say hello to the sea. One thing I have realised — always make time for friends.
this one for good friend, Zubair N. thanks mate