Posted On Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 08:09:06 AM
I was up at half past six that morning so that I could take my dog Tara for a peaceful walk through KP and avoid getting turned into a walking rainbow. She was a bit confused and stretched and looked at me as if there was something utterly wrong.
A rattle of her chain had her up and about and we went out down the morning avenue of trees. Ah, it was pure pleasure, no traffic, no diesel fumes no hysterical bikers — just a cool calmness. It was almost as if we had been transported back in time to Pune’s earlier age which oldies still talk about so nostalgically with eyes going misty.
And then, the ambush. The first balloon bloated with coloured water came flying out, over a wall, straight at me, whizzing past my right ear. It exploded with a squelchy bang on a wall across the road.
‘Attacked,’ I snapped and Tara, sensing danger tugged on the leash and pulled me along. Then another missile lobbed over my head, and another and another until two hit me square on the chest. Red and blue water drenched my clothes but I soldiered on at a half trot. Tara’s ears were down and her tail was tucked between her legs. And of course she had me panting to keep pace with her swift trot.
By the time we had reached the main gate of our housing society complex, we resembled those colourful ice candies sold by those ‘ting ting wallas’ that we see on street corners. Blobs of crushed ice squeezed into balls on sticks and sprayed with multi coloured syrups.
After getting ourselves reasonably well cleaned up we retreated to our terrace from where we saw all mayhem break loose below. Everyone who had Holi fever was out splashing each other with colour — even those who were busy getting on with morning chores were also given a shot or two.
Ah, I said to myself, it’s Holi and the city is out there celebrating the colourful spirit of life. What’s a little colour between friends or acquaintances or strangers or even aliens? We’re like that only.
So by late afternoon when the action had died down and terra firma looked like a Dali creation, I set out into the world to take a look, close quarters, at the artistic masterpiece. A trail of red ran all the way down the corridor and the staircase and out into the car park. Someone had sprayed ‘Nooni Was Here’ on the driveway. And sure thing Nooni and his or her pals had even struck the Club House and Garden.
The lawn was strewn with used plastic packets of powder colour, the hedgerows sported burst balloons dangling like wilted flowers from the green sprigs. Yes, indeed, the battle of celebration was over and wreckage lay strewn for someone else to clear up.
‘Happy Holi,’ shouted our friendly neighbourhood busybody from her balcony. ‘What are you looking so cross for?’
‘I’m admiring the spirit with which everyone celebrates Holi.’
‘That’s nice, go ahead, I won’t disturb you.’
Very considerate, I said to myself, very very considerate. And then I decided to take a little stroll out of the gate to check on the new colourful graffiti that I suspected would be on our boundary wall. I was, of course, not disappointed. In the best tradition of popular art, the great canvas of the boundary wall displayed a baffling variety of creations. And whilst I stood there admiring them, a carload of beer-wacked Holi revellers drew up.
‘Happy Holi Uncleji,’ they squealed.
I smiled and waved…because I have learnt that to be a true blue Pune denizen you have to behave in a cultured manner. Smile when you are whacked in the face with coloured water during Holi, smile again when Diwali crackers go boom boom around you like landmines going off…smile your way through a wrecked terra firma when it’s all over. Because, as I said a while ago, we are like that only.