Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Dassehra is here again! OH NO!
Dassehra. Navratri. Festival of Joy etc. Not for us though – that is, anyone living in the vicinity of the Mahalaxmi Temple in Bombay. All temples are probably downright bad at festival times. During Dassehra the roads outside our house are packed with throngs of devotees to the temple shuffling forward slowly with unimaginable patience in the blistering afternoon heat.
Saw them yesterday afternoon, on their way to receive blessings from the goddess of wealth. Mostly women. In shiny saris, red, parrot green, rainbow coloured silk. Old and young, purse in hand, or handbag slung over their shoulders, some with mobile phones glued to their ears, staring at other people in the queue, looking blank, talking to each other. The loudspeakers blared an utterly tuneless rendition of Om Jai Jagdish, at an unbearable volume. It was being sung so flat, and it was so LOUD it wasn’t funny. Like listening to the villain in the pink panther movies when he is outsmarted by Detective Clouseau and going “Aaaaargh” and scratching the blackboard with his fingernails.
In the grounds next to our building the fair is in progress and by this evening millions will have gathered there to enjoy the ferris wheels and merry go rounds and countless games and dubious looking snacks and kulfi being sold at the booths all over the place. Children sit on their father’s shoulders, lovers snuggle together in the boxes of the giant wheel, kids pop balloons with a toy gun in the hope of winning some tawdry prize or the other.
Have come to the conclusion that the only place Indian festivals look and feel good and evoke a sense of joy is in the photographs in National Geographic magazine. Most of the time they are a nuisance for anybody wanting to get on with their lives. Luckily the people who would call me unpatriotic, a wet blanket etc. and disagree with me violently are unlikely to be reading this blog. Ha ha. (If anyone disagrees just say so!)
Have had to suspend the meditation groups in the evening because the crowds will make it impossible for anyone to bring their cars into the compound. Mishi our cat in fact started off the noisy proceedings during yesterday’s session, groaning and wailing so disgustingly loud that we had to finally shut the door during the sharing, in order to be heard! It was downright embarrassing for me. I realised I had forgotten to feed her. I mean she wasn’t hungry, but on days when I don’t need her to make a drama I fill her up with beef so that she can’t do much more than waddle off to sleep in the guest room for several hours.