Thursday, September 08, 2005
And when the rivers are in spate, I wait to celebrate
It's fun seeing the natives getting restless during festivities. Especially in a new place. No matter where you are, you’ll witness some control-freakism that bubbles up when people put up twinkly lights.
One of my friends, T, had spent some time in Bangladesh while her husband was posted there. They stayed in a quiet locality with manicured lawns and mellow streetlights. It was an area where diplomats recharged their dulcet voices and their children learnt the piano. Actually, so did my friend; though she was an engineer’s wife and as diplomatic as a paternal aunt. Diplomacy, to my friend, was just another book that Henry Kissinger wrote. She used that book to prop up the short leg of her piano, by the way.
Anyway, T was telling me about this incident that occurred one time during Eid. A group of people had come over to her building and were decorating the trees. There was no problem while putting up the streamers and flowers, but when it was time to put up the navy blue and silver lights, things got difficult. One of the older guys from the group came ahead and yanked the bundle of lights from a younger man. There was scuffling outside and my pal went to see what was happening. The junior guy gave in and the older fellow happily decorated the foliage.
She called the junior guy over and asked him why he’d let go that easily. The guy replied that the other man was part of a Moon Spotting Society that was pretty popular during Ramzaan and Eid. So, clearly, he was the right person to put up the lights. T, on the other hand, lost interest in the piano she was attempting to play.
‘Imagine, Mukta, a moon spotting society?! I wonder what the qualifications are to get in there?’
Yes, Mukta imagines.
My first Ganpati in Pune and I slept through most of the day. Since another flatmate was expected, and my roomie was going house-hunting, I was sprawled on the cane sofa (and then the cane chairs, and the cane divan) waiting for them. Finally, after all had arrived like cows coming home, I stepped out. (Me – the aberrant bovine.)
I’m currently shacking up in a huge society, that’s ironically called the ‘Secret Heart Township.’ What’s even more amusing is that this ‘secret township’ is a major landmark in that area. There’s a small club house in the colony that had a Ganesh murthi, so I went to pay my respects and collect a fistful of modaks.
There were several teenagers tangled in cords and wires and ribbons looking clueless. They were supposed to have decorated the room for a fancy dress competition involving the under-5 age group (Do they need to start impersonating others THAT young?). But these puberty people had got embroiled in some discussion about Salaam Namaste. Therefore, empty walls; no decorations. This made one uncle in a checked shirt very angry. He shouted at them in Marathi. I can barely understand the language, but I think he called them Communist louts. (I may be wrong about the ‘communist’ part.)
He came over to me and asked me if I was new. I thought of telling him that I was actually 26 years old, but decided to save the smart lip for office.
‘Yes, uncle’, I replied.
‘Where are you from?’
‘Oh! That’s not very far. My son-in-law is from Mumbai.’ And then his face took on a scowl last seen on Tom’s face at spotting Jerry. Uncle’s son-in-law must be a Communist lout.
He asked me if I liked the Ganpati idol they had brought in. It was very pretty, actually.
‘Very nice, uncle. I like the color. A very lovely pink.’
‘Yes, yes. You know, I have seen Ganpatis change in Pune. Now, you hardly get such pink Ganpatis.’ , Uncle reminisced as two tangled teenagers hummed, ‘my dil goes hmmm…’
‘Really? What other kinds do they have?’ , I was getting very curious about the Ganpati evolution.
‘See, these pink Ganpatis are the kind of Ganpatis that people like us get. But there are these whitish Ganpatis. They go to Koregaon park.’
‘Why?’ The idea of having a different colored idol for each zip code was rather glitzy.
‘There’s an Osho commune there. So, there are all these foreigners. These white Ganpatis are for them.’
Now, as far as theories go, this was really unique. I can imagine a self-appointed aesthete, diluting flesh pink to alabaster for the sake of foreigners. But then, this was somebody’s observation. Somebody who cared enough to sit me down and share an opinion.
That uncle put up the lights.