Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Holi-est of days

Just as Melbourne has a public holiday for a horse race, India has a public holiday so people can throw coloured powder at each other and men can get drunk.

That day was today, Holi. Or Holi-day for punny headline writers.

Excitement has been building for days. Kids have been stalking the corridors of the apartment building, armed with sophisticated water rifles to douche passersby. (Not us though, they're still a bit hesitant to hassle the firangis.) Last night bonfires were lit across the city, cutting off roads and masking the stench of chemicals at illegal-drainoff hour.

According to my source of information of many things Indian (Jason sometimes tells me I should hand in my club membership; I tell him it's hard to return a skin pigment), bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape made by a staunch devotee to Lord Vishnu, who escaped from a fire without any injuries, thanks to his unshakeable devotion.

So today, being a public holiday, the streets were quiet and devoid of traffic, shops were closed. But I woke up at 9am to the sound of thumping electro-Bollywood from the gated community next door which was already in partay mode.

Jason and I headed down to Bandra Bandstand, but it was fairly empty, so we caught a rickshaw to Juhu Beach.

There, numbers swelled over the course of the afternoon. It's hard to estimate but there would have been at least 2,000 people on the beach. It was like Bondi Beach at Christmas but without the drunken Irish and their beer can castles.

I have a brilliant photo I wanted to post, of a guy who dug himself a little loungechair in the sand and was languidly lying there watching the colour and movement in the water. When I transferred it to iPhoto, however, I realised a kid running past him is completely stark naked. And that's not a good look for a public blog, however innocent.

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