The Safest Holi Ever
“One! Two! …” the children waited in anticipation, the excitement sizzling on the beach where we stood, brightly coloured powder held in cupped hands. “Three!” The final number was called, and the mayhem began. Colours flew threw the air or were gently touched to cheeks. Little legs went scurrying about weaving in and out and around, landing colourful blows to arms and necks and the occasional two-cheek smack. Faces were instantly and beautifully adorned.
When the idea occurred to me to book a trip to India back in January, I realised that I might be in the country during Holi. Ever since, I had become fixated on experiencing the festival for myself. I was happy to find out that the school celebrates Holi separately from the masses, in a safe and (as much as possible) controlled environment. The children are given powder and strict direction regarding who they can and cannot touch with the colour. They are told to wait to start together and are always instructed to be gentle, but let’s be real. These are kids, and things always get a little excited and out of hand. I had been disappointed that I was so strongly advised (and actually, pretty much forbidden) to go out during the actual celebration, but then I learned why. It is already dangerous given the volumes of people participating and the fact that many of them end up drinking an intoxicant which I understand is often mixed with opium. A celebration that is meant to be a sharing of blessings has become a chance for groping, and apparently there are some people out there who are reluctant to give up their chance to grope a foreigner. If I had a male presence here with me, I might brave the streets, but then I heard more stories about people idiotically mixing the colour with things like acid and car fluids. Tania, who runs the school, has actually been splashed with acid.
Having had my Holi with the kids (and spending a good chunk of time trying to scrub the colour from my skin), I think I am satisfied. Walking back to the school after we celebrated and ran around like buffoons, I couldn’t help but smile. I had two girls holding each of my hands, and we were covered in pink and green and peach and blue. What’s not to smile about?
Just a sidenote… the internet has been patchy here (and still is, so it will be amazing if I actually manage to publish anything tonight), and this is why my posting has been sparse. I have no shortage of stories or photos, that’s for sure! The spotty internet is also why I haven’t been able to keep up on all my favourite blogs, so don’t be offended, my friends, if I haven’t been around in a while. I’ve hardly had a chance to come online, pay a bill, send my boyfriend an email and post a photo to Instagram (and even the latter is a stretch!). Please be patient with me while I work with what I’ve got.
I’ve also got a pretty heavy post coming up… India is the kind of place that is meant to overwhelm, and while I was simultaneously experiencing Delhi belly and an emotional meltdown earlier this week, I kept hearing in my head, “But this is what you wanted,” and it still is what I want. I did not want anything glamourous or pretty coming here. I was worried that India might even feel over-travelled and artificial, but this hasn’t been the case, so everything has been hitting me – I just may or may not be processing everything as it comes to my senses. Just yesterday, I was writing in my journal about the Delhi belly since my will to live returned. Hours later over chai at Tania’s, my roommate recounted how we’d seen a dead guy being hauled away on our way to school. When we came back, I cracked open my journal and wrote, “Oh yeah, ps – I saw a dead guy today…” and went on to describe his rigor mortis, his arm and head sticking out of the tarp and his eyes wide open. How do you forget to write in your journal about seeing a dead guy? Well I did, and I guess that’s just India. It took my boyfriend commenting that this was disturbing for me to realise that it probably is.
Thank you for being kind to me and reading about my time in India. I would love it if you took the time to head to facebook and show me a little love by clicking like. Don’t forget the twitter and Instagram love too.