Another year. Another Holi. Another riot of colours. While the city prepares to get down and dirty with its ribaldry, here’s Team Café, recounting some of their favourite Holi memories.
As a child, Holi was ‘my favouritest’ festival. Preparations in my home started a week in advance with thandai. Almonds, saunf, black pepper, watermelon seeds and rose petals were dried and ground to make a fragrant paste which at times was mixed with ground bhang leaves. One Holi, my dad got some bhang all the way from Benaras because you got the best there.
Excited, my uncles, aunts and to my horror, even my mom decided to try some of it. We had a grand Holi party with huge drums filled with colours, metallic silver paint smeared on faces and water everywhere.
But the real fun started when my uncle went missing. Two search parties were sent out for him all the way from Panchsheel Park to Paharganj (around 17 kms) in Delhi. Later, he was found in one of the rooms, blissfully sleeping under a bed. My eldest aunt couldn’t stop laughing. My mom clung on to my dad for two hours saying, “The house is on fire.” While I laugh at it in hindsight, as a seven year old, I was terrified.
It’s only Holi
I grew up in Ajmer, Rajasthan. Holi there is wild, complete with folk music and gujjiyas. When I was in the third grade, we cousins and friends were getting ready with balloons and pichkaris. Just when we were set to step out, our neighbour’s son, Danny, jumped in front of me and splashed me with colour. In no time, my eyes started to itch.. it was enough to make me cry. I hit him, but he just laughed loudly. I rushed back and pleaded with my dad to reprimand Danny. But they wouldn’t listen. “It’s Holi.. just go out and play,” they said.
I was in no mood, and wanted revenge. So I summoned my friends (all eight of us) and we fired pichkaris together at
Danny for as long as we could. He went back home crying.
Later, his mom told mine that I was a real gangster. That angered my parents. Now, it was my turn to tell mom, “It’s just Holi.”
Oh, rang rasiya!
As a child, I enjoyed smearing everyone’s faces with gulaal. Mine wouldn’t be spared either. It looked like a bad water colour painting, and worse, the colours wouldn’t get off for days.
School was a nightmare to attend. The nails would take two weeks to look naturally pink again. I practically had stopped playing Holi because I had developed a skin and eye allergy when I was a 10 year old.
A year ago, I had my second Holi celebration in office. The photo department boys were in action. No, they were not clicking pictures.. they were chasing us girls and smearing our faces with gulaal.
Some of us even tried to hide in the washrooms but the boys were in the mood for rang leela. I could still laugh at what happened because I wasn’t being chased.
Suddenly, God knows what ran into a male colleague’s head in my team. He was, by the way, someone I didn’t speak with much. He found gulaal lying on one of the tables and chased me all aroaund, almost arm-twisted me, to smear my face with rang. And he succeeded. How I hated that but well, like they say bura na maano Holi hai!
Dad’s like that
I don’t play Holi any more. Fourteen years ago, I’d have been shocked at myself, considering it was my favourite festival. I felt sorry for my parents for whom it meant a customary gulal ka tikka. One Holi, the colony’s youngsters arrived at our doorstep and asked for the parents. Mum flatly refused.. dad seemed a little unsure. That did him in.
They dragged him out. I remember worrying whether he would embarrass me by not knowing how to play. I escaped with my gang of school buddies and returned home a couple of hours later. He hadn’t returned. An hour of scrubbing later, when I looked like myself again, dad sauntered in casually.
As if it was normal, he entered the house wearing a shirt shot with colour and hair streaked yellow and purple. He even asked us to click a photograph. He’d had a blast doing the whole pichkaari-gulal routine and earned the tag of ‘coolest dad’. He never had to play again.
Playing Holi is something I have done rarely as it always coincides with the Catholic mourning period of Lent. But during school and college days, I could easily evade my parents and succumb once in a while. I will never forget one particular Holi.
School was closed and I was sleeping. At around 9 am, I got a call from my friend, Wilfred, to step outside. I did, still in my pyjamas. The next moment, I was wet wet wet. Jobby had emptied an entire bucket of water on me. Wilfred too joined in.
After that, I was literally dragged to their building which was half an hour away. On reaching, about 10 guys lifted me and dumped me in a water tank full of colour. I couldn’t swim and struggled to stay afloat.
Next destination was a nearby college where friends had gathered. We hung out till the evening. By then I was unrecognisable, still in my night clothes. I can never forget this Holi especially because the scolding at home lasted more than a week.