Monday, November 05, 2007

Crackers at Dawn

What is it about festivals that turns normal, sane people into hyperkinetic shopaholics/partyhoppers/pyromaniacs?

No, really. If people aren't making lists a mile long with interesting items such as 1) buy crackers; 2) soak diyas; 3) grind arisimaavu for kolam; 4) harass tailor for backless choli; and 5) put reminder for D's card party 9pm, they're doing all of the above. It's very very distressing.

The time I had a dim idea that I hated Diwali was when I was in college and we didn't have long enough vacations to make a long journey home. So I stayed back in the hostel with about ten other people for Diwali, and choked and hacked and coughed the night away, as Delhi went berserk (this was in the days before people became all eco-friendly about crackers). Our hostel being a few feet below road level, and the season generally being cold-ish, all the area's smoke used to pour into the narrow, ill-lit corridors of our hostel. By ten, our eyes were red and if we were foolish enough to wander the corridors, we looked like lost ghosts and felt like shit.

In later years, all the sustained and concentrated air pollution of the season gave me breathing problems that disappeared only when I left Delhi. For the first time in five years, this year I'm having trouble with my breathing at this time of the year. That's because Hyderabad is always ahead with the conspicuous consumption and invariably out of the loop when it comes to issues of pollution or the environment. Though the guys who sell crackers are not allowed to put up their stalls until two days before Diwali, the air's been rent with loud blasts for several days already. For the first time, this morning, I'm going to succumb and get on an inhaler.

I hate Diwali (along with New Year's Eve, Pongal, Holi, blah, blah, blah).

And that reminds me of another grouse: will someone - Veena or BM or some other Tam - please tell me which bright person first thought it would be a good idea to wake up at 4am, wake up the neighbourhood with a ladi, put oil and bathe with shikakai and all, get tricked out in new clothes, burst more crackers, eat leghiyam and bakshanam and call relatives all over the country all before sunrise?

Oh god. I hate all festivals.

km: I promise to catch my breath - really catch it properly - and do the K Post. Later today. Stay tuned.


Falstaff said...

I have to admit that what I chiefly object to is the sound more than the smoke. Part of it is that I'm just old enough to remember a time when Diwali was still a festival of lights, rather than a festival of noise. But mostly it's just that I do not respond well to sounds that are a) loud b) unexpected. You can imagine what living through Diwali in Delhi was like. Frankly, the only good thing about Diwali, as far as I can tell, is that it's not Holi.

Space Bar said...

Frankly, the only good thing about Diwali, as far as I can tell, is that it's not Holi.

Falstaff: :D and small comfort there is in that! I could go on about what makes Diwali bad in Delhi - the one-upmanship, the visiting, the gifts, the parties, the smoke, noise, streets before-during-after. *shudder*.

Lights I like.

Jabberwock said...

Out letterbox was blown up sometime last night. Happens every year around this time. The wreckage looks very aesthetic but that's the only good part.

Space Bar said...

Jai: I admire your stoic outlook. Letterbox bombs are one of the bright ideas kids get around Diwali that guarantee heart attacks. They also think it's fun to set off crackers very close to car tyres. You might want to rethink your parking arrangements.

blackmamba said...

spacebar, there is also this important ritual where one mails out some hundred odd greeting cards - that are printed in tamil -
"puthandu nalvalthukal" and "Iniya Pongal Nalvazhthukkal", with cows and sunrise and pongal pots.

This is a way to make sure everyone has your most recent phone number and address. So they can all call you at 4am (before everyone else) and wish you a happy pongal. :P

And in chennai there is the whole tyre burning thing. before pongal ( bhogi) and during diwali. just to reduce visibility from 10 feet to 3 feet.

And 4am - brahma muhurtham or usha kaalam. When the only explanation for something insane is - it says so in the vedas. One must immediately start burrowing, deep, really deep and hide.

Space Bar said...

BM: Oh god, ya! I remember now...Every time one well-established tradition falls by the wayside I cheer. Burning tyres...yikes. So happy I live where I do.

Jabberwock said...

Oh I had an anaar-under-my-car incident a couple of years ago. Need to blog about all this.