Day 122: Journeys

Driving with the OldMan

The short vacation ended sooner than I anticipated and it was time to be back in the TrafficCity. Even before the blues of having to go back set in, the OldMan proposed his plan of coming along to attend some of colleague’s grand event. So, I had a driver.

I thought of a strange conversation I had many many years back, where I told Dodo that he was only my third favorite driver, after my dad, and Michael Schumacher. Driving back, I didn’t feel all that confident anymore? He drove at 140 and was of course completely in control. He braked on time and overtook like a pro. And yet, I wasn’t confident. After a while, I fake slept so that I wouldn’t have to imagine my death at every turn.

Was I relating his drinking habit to his waning driving skills? He himself did mention a reduction in reflexes. Was his age really catching up? Were my biases catching up with me?

As I sat opposite the OldMan at Nagarjuna, quietly observing him lost in thought while eating, I felt an eerie feeling of pity take over me. For the last few years, I have been slowing inching away from him, for reasons I’ve ranted out before. As my principles and ideologies solidified, I realized how opposite they were to his; that automatically made us on opposite camps. But sitting there at lunch, I felt a deep connect to his troubles.

I felt like the weakling in the family, always trying to compete and prove my worth. I felt like the failure son that could never be enough for a stickler father, and now the conservative brothers . I felt like the outcast that fell in love and wanted to marry before an older brother had. I felt the pain of the sole bread winner, lugging three women around, and fending for their every need. I felt the pressure of an underpaid job that kept me on the road for 20 days a month, and still did not give enough. I felt the pinch of the rising prices and the growing needs of the daughters. It hurt me when the teenage daughter rebelled and talked back. It stung when the adolescent called me the worst dad yet. I remembered how my inability to give them a more comfortable life caught on and was discussed much later. It pained me to think that my wife was more comfortable speaking about my troubles to someone else in the family, than to me. It hurt me to think that all three could lead a life on their own now, and didn’t really need me.

I felt the pain. Something inside me stirred a little too deep.

SilverGhoster’s birthday and beyond

SilverGhoster turned a year older and a dinner was due. It felt like a Boondock kinda evening, reveling in the classics of an era gone by. As I look back at the night, and the conversations from the dinner, there is an odd familiarity about it all. It felt like we had been this way for years, and this was just another dinner. We talked about cars, mothers, shitty curriculum, dowry system, growing up, growing old, friends, foes, food and whatnot. I realized that with Switch, H, and Dodo all gone, I missed this the most – the random musings under the sun. In fact, I lost Dodo on that front a long time back. I feel the conversations touch on some mundane topics these days, topics that don’t resonate beyond a basic courtesy level. This night, it felt right.

A little part of me wondered if this could lead to something more than just conversations. A major part of me smacked itself in the head, reminiscent of the heart breaks of the past, and the societal anguishes and the battles that lay ahead. Between us, we had the paradoxes, too alike and yet absolutely different from each other. He was the conformist while I had a rebel blood oozing out of every vein. He was the calculated, capitalist businessman, while I was the dreamer who wanted to move to an island and learn to swim. He wanted the machines and the money, and I’d give it all up for the peace of mind. We were poles apart.

Yet, the other Gemini twin smirked and reminded me of the poles that intertwined within me. If the opposites can co-exist within, why could they not thrive in two bodies outside? The rebel wanted to reach out and see if the connect existed, but the loner drew the shutters down and mourned.

Had my heart aged beyond repair so much that it did not want any more battles? Wouldn’t that leave me alone for the rest of my life; any relationship comes with its heart breaks? Was I ready to be my own support system when all was dark and bleak? Was I just imagining the demons in the shadows when at the end of the day the universe had it all sorted out? It always does sort things out on its own. Was the cosmos smiling animatedly as I shook his hand briefly, got out of the car and ran home, lest I do something stupid?

You don’t really have to be alone, S. What is life without a warm shoulder to lean on during the cold and dull nights? 

Fine, that’s your leg, I know. But you get the point, right?” Scotch 

Day 113: I would never have forgiven myself 

When Scotch almost got me killed

Well, technically, it started with me almost killing Scotch today. I left some rat kill cakes, for the rats to eat, and I was confident that when I woke in the morning, they were intact. Our little rodent pals had found other sources of nutrition. Except, about an hour after checking, I see that both the cakes are missing, and Scotch is sitting in the area, smacking her lips.

I was convinced that she had eaten both and was going to turn all fizzy and die any minute. Worst of all the luck, all this happened between 4 and 6 AM and I had an exam at 9. Would I have to skip the exam entirely? Should I rush her to the hospital now? What if I came back from the exam and found her limp? Would I ever forgive myself for poisoning my own dog?

A quick chat with H helped reorient my thoughts. I immediately called Cessna emergency and we were on our way in 10 minutes. They checked her vitals, and deducted that she was normal, especially since it was about 4 to 5 hours since the suspected act. Her pupils were normal, no frothing or excessive salivation, and she was still alive. Phew!

They anyway gave her a charcoal cleanse and a vitamin K shot, to soak out any poison that might be in the stomach. And she would stay with them, in their day-boarding, while I wrote my exam. I don’t think I would have been able to sit through 3 hours of torture if I had not taken her to the vet.

Exams done, quick lunch with A and SilverGhoster done, and I was off to pick her up. That’s when I learnt about the unprofessional behavior of doctors and how much it affects a layperson. I picked up Scotch from her cage, and she tumbled out in a dizzy. Her hind legs shivered and shook as she stumbled a foot forward. I took her to the vet’s table and asked him if she had been sedated during her boarding. He nodded confidently – no, she wasn’t. And the next 4 hours were spent in my trying to quiz them and myself, on reasons why a normal dog, who had clearly not eaten rat poison, would act dazed and confused after spending 4 hours in a cage. She usually has separation anxiety and comes back from all boarding with a sore throat, from all the barking. But she was never this.

Every post on Facebook, from loving pet parents who’d lost their pet due to hospital negligence, shot in front of me. The guilt from the morning returned all over again. Scotch had gone into some strange depression after my rushing her to the vets early in the morning, feeding her charcoal and locking her up in the cage for 4 long hours. She must have been convinced that I was trying to kill her, and this was her showing signs of depression. I had broken my dog.

Or so I thought, until the vet called me at 9 PM and clarified his mistake. There had been 2 labs today with similar issues – rat poison. And they mixed up Scotch for the other. Yes, Scotch had been sedated because for the first hour that I was gone, she had barked her vocal chords off and unsettled most other boarders. They just had her name confused. A fancy establishment, earning millions of rupees every month from treating and working with pets and they haven’t found a better system to identify dogs.


First kisses

Conversations with SilverGhoster took an interesting turn and we got talking about first kisses. It reminded me of past conversations about the same. It reminded me of the past first kisses, and the emotions that come wrapped in with that simple act of a kiss.

The moments of furtive glances and stolen touches before the kiss. All the years of preparation and still being unprepared for what lies ahead. That nanosecond before your lips meet, where you question the next act that lies ahead. With that kiss, you’d be changed forever. In that nanosecond, you remember every opportunity for a kiss that you took before, and every opportunity that you’ve missed. You walk two steps away and yet two steps forward, as you feel an energy draw you on. Unimaginable.

And then, it repeats again with the next one.  It’s the first kiss all over again.

The feeling that binds it all

The factor that makes it truly special, the reason you couldn’t just pay a professional prostitute to give you your first kiss, is the feeling of belonging or oneness that comes with it. Ask any man that has lost his virginity to a paid masseuse, and he’ll tell you about the strange sense of regret that is typically associated with the act. Sex is no longer about love making, it’s purely an item to check off on life’s to-do list.

A lot of today’s generation seems to be stuck in this rut, the one where sex is no longer love-making; it’s a solution to a heartbreak, and is an international flight and some bahts away. There is a queer pressure to belong, a sense to ‘lose it’  because all your friends already have. I’m reminded of the conversation with the Danseuese aka Tooti, where she thought she didn’t have a boyfriend anymore because she didn’t put out yet. I hear silent sighs when I share the first time I made out. It feels like I was a few years too late compared to today’s youngsters.

And yet, I’m able to look back at my first with a sense of pleasure and wonder. It’s not like we’re getting awards for the best first sex. But, I can still look back at my first with a sense of wonder and awe. It still has a memory of amazement, a strange mutual exploration, that was still not pushed by peer pressure. And that’s honestly all that I’d like to send out there as a consolation message to the kids of today – hold off until it feels right, and it will totally be worth the wait.

Checking off checklists

Turns out the initial conversation with the SilverGhoster did get him thinking. As I was talking to him today, I realized that he had a newer, a more updated version of the checklist, and some of the major stereotypes were gone. It feels powerful, almost God-like, to know that someone’s interests and wants in life are shaped by discussions with you. But with that feeling comes great responsibility. By sharing your thoughts and views on varied social issues, you could be altering an impressionable mind, something that can go either ways.

A surprise that lay at the end of the conversation was the realization that I’d checked off a lot of the items on his list. Was I creating such an impression on the SilverGhoster that he was shaping his future aspirations based on me? What would happen when I start showing sides  of me that have scared men away in the past? The last few days have been good conversations. But doesn’t this new twist in the tale just remove a friend from the list entirely? Is this going to be another choice between a friend and something more than a friend?

Doesn’t the past trend say that the friend is the one lost in all such cases?

Woah! All that charcoal and sedative is making me feel funny in the head. And you’re up all night chatting up giving big lectures! Show me some love man!” Scotch

Day 73: When boredom strikes 

When boredom strikes, we snooze and snooze some more. Scotch is great company for that as you’d have already seen by now. Great inspiration. When I woke up at 6, and saw her sleeping cozy under the sheets and the rain pouring outside, I pulled the sheets up and went back to bed. I was reminded of my two-year itch with work; happened with every work assignment so far.

The first year is invariably the honeymoon. The negatives of the work and the people seem trivial compared to all the fun and excitement that the novelty brings in. There are late nights and early hours full of exciting and challenging work. The people seem wonderful and self-motivation is at its zenith. No work is beyond me and I’m ready to consume any new knowledge that comes my way.

The next six months are a slow and progressive slide down to misery. The 14 to 20 hour shifts leave me drained and I’m left questioning every decision you’ve taken that landed you this misery. The family has given up on me by now and plans, where I do not feature, pop up. And the people, they fall down from the high and holy towers you placed them, and show their true, dirty colors.

The final six months are a painful struggle, where my principles battle the realities of the job and each day is almost soul sucking. It’s these final six months that push me over the edge and I start questioning life’s entire journey. It’s this pattern that took me through 2 years each in Mumbai, New Haven, Richmond, Minneapolis, Bangalore and out to my current life. Year 1s dedication meant that even a wisdom tooth extraction couldn’t stop me from doing my 20 hour shift. But year 2s lack of motivation means a small sniffle and it’s sick day.

I’ve just gotten into my 2nd year, and the honeymoon is over. People are turning faces and their true colors are slowly emerging. The bureaucracy and the sluggishness of the chosen path is becoming more evident by the day. And I have the sniffle today.

Life is a struggle, S, and every step is an uphill climb. But you have to fight it through. And when you have family right behind you, catching you if you fall, then why worry?” Scotch 

Day 70: Growing up

I went to my ancestral home this weekend. My paternal grandfather built it as his generation progressed, moving the large family out of their rented home and into this single floor house, and eventually adding another floor too. I spent two years, kindergarten and grade 1, here and it has been a constant for all summers.

I drove into the lane that the house lies on and I was shocked at how everything else seemed to have grown up, while the house stayed the same. I remember climbing up the tall gates as a child and being scared of hitting down hard if I fell. Now, if I put my hands up, I hit the ceiling to the entrance. I remember the little water tank in the back of the house and how we’d use it as our personal bath tub. I could wet a hand completely now before it begins to overflow. Even the terrace and it’s little benches all seemed to have shrunk.

Life was much better before, us tiny selves and everything around us too big to grasp.

You used to slide down this railing as a child? I’m scared to go down these stairs, and you used to slide down? Crazy, S” Scotch 

Day 60: 2 months of Journaling

It’s Day 60. Except for a few days where I had to hold off the blogging for another day, because of work, stress or lack of motivation, I’ve written (or ranted) consistently for the last 2 months. I is definitely been fun. I think I see enough value in this little project to keep going.

They say old habits die hard and there are a number of these ‘old habits’ from my past life that have followed me into this new one. They’ve been mostly received with appreciation, and some amount of awe, and I think I’m not letting go of those in the near future.

So, I decided to run one of those process – oriented tools on my blog. I went ahead and did a Start-Stop-Continue analysis on the journal.


  • Writing on a daily basis
  • Including more research-based data (yes, even day to day observations can be backed by research)
  • Observing and reporting on the little things that matter


  • Putting off for tomorrow what can be done today
  • Making every post sound like a rant
  • Chasing Scotch around with a phone camera


  • Chasing Scotch around with a phone camera
  • Using Scotch as the anti-ego to all posts
  • Having fun while blogging.

What surprised me the most about the blog is the readership, something that I did not anticipate when I started off. Some of you have been regulars, following me, reading every post and sharing your thoughts and opinions on what I write about. You’re my new best friends. Hang around and I promise to give you that fast pass into my thoughts. Some of you have popped in once in a while, caught up on things that matter to you and me both, and left your love behind. Do keep coming back.

A strange aspect of my Indian upbringing, something that I wrote about as early as Day 2, is the importance I seem to associate, albeit unknowingly,  to competition. I see this part of my psyche act up when I look into the Insights section and see a spike in the visitors. I am slowly getting out of the mindset that a quantitative assessment or a number can help judge the value associated with an act. I am trying to slowly look away from the Insights feed, and qualify my experience through the few that do go on this journey with me and the kind of relationships we build over time.

So, here’s to 60 days of journaling, and at least 60 more to come.

Yes, Fun! Journaling! Exciting! Whatever! Can you get those kids off the water tank, Please? Irresponsible parenting, I say. I’m going to bark my tail off until they get down from there.” Scotch


The best snow angel, ever.


Heyy! Wassup?

Yo! Wanted to say a final GoodBye. Just in case you know. *smile*

What’s wrong? Final already?

Well! I am breaking up with my ex today, all over again. Over dinner. So if something does happen to me and I don’t see the tomorrow to come, might as well let you know, you’ve been great.

Shut up! You are kidding, right? You din’t tell me he was homicidal.

I don’t know…Chalo, Gotta run. Bye.

She sat up, the prediction was spot on, again. It was going to be the first snow of the season. The incessant rain over the last month, hadn’t helped the mood either. But she had dreaded the snow for a good while now. No, she din’t hate the snow, it was quite the contrary in fact. It made her senses reel and feel fresh; alive. It was the perfect way to prettify the world, consummate and lasting. But all the snow around reminded her of the past; nostalgic and painful memories were rekindled. And thoughts are creatures that one has little control over. Yes! It was going to be a tough winter.

The chill sinfully kicked her out of her world of thoughts. She adjusted herself atop the little wall, tried better at staying warm and went back to her thoughts. The events of the evening had not turned out the exact way she had pictured it. But then, they weren’t what she would have called miserably bad either. They had sat in a little table, the mad rush of the restaurant beating around in all directions. As inappropriate as the location may be, she spilled her worst nightmares. They had grown apart over time anyway, things hadn’t been the same. The energy for those midnight phone calls and five hour long conversations had seeped out of their lives. The distance between them hadn’t been all that favorable either. Since their lives had picked different wave lengths to beat on, might as well let go of the little strings. She felt the words tumble out of her lips awkwardly; all the rehearsing lay wasted. She’d looked up, in anticipation. Of what? She wasn’t really sure.

Tucked in doors, she watched the first flakes of snow drift down, prop a leaf near by and wait for its companions. A few more followed and before she could tell, they were everywhere. The barren tree had new friends now, the prodigal leaves can wait till spring to return. Man made machines lay helpless, for once powerless, against nature’s ways. Ones smitten by the distinguished bug walked out, hand in hand, breathing winds of love from across the worlds. Children, with their unending chirpy ways and padded layers to the foot, welcomed the snow with tongues out in the snow and angels in the making. The sight of foot prints in the fresh snow is poetic in a strange sense; our fleeting five seconds of leaving a mark on this wide planet. Yielding to the wily temptation, she pulls over a jacket and jumps into those boots. She quietly walks to the front door and opens it; a strong gush catches her off guard and forces out a tear.

She nimbly wiped off the tear before the neighbors in the little shack caught up. She felt a wave of fatigue catch over, and swarm her from all directions. Numb to the last nerve. She’d expectantly looked up, armed and yet unprepared for the counter attack from the person across the table. There had been melancholy in his voice, anger in his tone, hatred in his breath. A melange of emotions were thrown at her and she seemed to have lost track of the best way to react in such an inopportune moment. She’d fought back, argued, pleaded and tried her best hand at logical reasonings. She’d let out a huge sigh and looked up at the skies; why hadn’t anybody invented a sober way to break up as yet. It was going to be a long night after all.

She looked up at the skies and watched tiny flakes fly toward her, gently flowing with the breeze and finally settling on the most wayward strand of her hair. It felt as new and fresh as her first snowfall ever. She had run out frantically, ignoring the pros in the yard. She’d convinced friends into building their first snowman ever. She remembered the taste of fresh snow on her tongue, the way it quickly melted and left behind a chill. She put her tongue out again; Yes, the same taste all over again.

A couple of hours and many more drinks later, he seemed to have resigned to what lay ahead. He slumped gingerly on his chair, as words slurred out of his mouth. He promised to talk hours long, about their love affair, to his wife that dint exist yet; swore that he’d name his first born girl after her. He claimed that he’d never stop loving her ever, would only retire to the life his parents dreamed for him. She sensed a fabricated effort in the entire conversation. Bade quick, subdued goodbyes; promised to keep in touch for ever and left speedily. Not once did she look back, not once did she regret what she’d just done.

She looked back and not once lamented about all the places she’d been to. Every by-lane, ally and highway had given her something new to learn from, something memorable to take back. She’d had her share of burns, hits and bruises, but she’d fought them back with a strong mind. She knew that she had the best bunch of rocks to support her, fasten her to the roots, whenever she’d slipped. She remembered people with worse states of mind than hers. She was very lucky indeed.

A smile began to surface, as the realization dawned. She’d cleared her vision, rid of any noise, comforted her wound, was ready to move on.

She thumped down on the snow and wielded her numb hands and legs in new found revelry. Her snow angel was going to be the best one of the season.

Reliving Diwalis of the past.

*aakhon mein teri…ajab si ajab si adaye hain…* tune plays on…

on for another thirty seconds…Bad mistake. You should hang up now…

there: err…helloo…?

here: God..? Hii… Did I wake you up..? So sorry…

there: No. That’s..ahmm..OK…what’s up..?

here: Iniya deepawali nalvaazthukkal..(Happy Diwali!)

there: Oh..OK OK…Thank you…arr…what time is it.?

here: Ahmm..Around 4 30 AM? Am soo sorry, I had to wake you up. I thought you guys would be up and running.

there: Nah!! It’s not even 5 30 yet. Wait. Let me wake Goddess up.

here: Oh no no… I will call you guys back when it’s time.

there: OK. Take care. Good night.

here: Bye.

*hang up*

I downed another cup of  white chocolate to nullify the 4C around me.

The preparations usually began weeks before the actual date of Diwali, multi fold in the true sense. The ladies in the house spent the week churning out the best sweets and savories, that could be made at home. The last little clause is to rule out the intriguing rossogolla, you see? Ingredients are consolidated from the markets specializing in each, jaggery from that dingy hidden joint, milk and sugar in kilos, vegetables and fruits from the mandi, as an arrangement for the big feast on the pooja day.

Meanwhile, the men handled the logistics behind all these activities; driving the ladies to the market and coordinating the house cleaning. The most crucial part, which they took ample help from the youngsters in the house for, was purchasing the firecrackers. They visited the temporary shacks put up in open grounds turned to shopping malls, shouted and yelled over the crowd to be heard and bought home the best in class, state of the art fireworks. 10,000 wala crackers, the multi-colored ‘1000 gems in the sky’, fancy rockets and ‘butterflies’ were bought in time, before the rest of the town lay their hands on them. The assortment of bombs and sparklers were the common ones across every Diwali. They were what kept the kids engaged through the day, when the elders had their post lunch conversations.

Schools realized that Diwali was the biggest festival of the year, the perfect time for some family bonding. Holidays were ample and all cousins flew in from different parts of the country, to set up fort in the ancestral home. We had spent most of our toddler and growing up years in that house; so nooks and knacks for mischief abounded. Most of the noise and the ruckus was accepted and ignored during the festive season. It was once in a year after all.

There was a preparation for this visit as well, something that began weeks before the actual departure; there by months before the actual date of the festival. A list of every known cousin, uncle and aunt was consolidated and gifts were bought for each. There were strict and yet hidden guidelines around the act of buying. You always had to make sure that everybody got something, everybody got something equivalent and no gift to one could offend another by virtue of quality, quantity or value. How the mothers managed it is still a surprise to me, but there were very few squabbles at the end of it.

Added to these gifts were the new crackers local to the place of origin, something that put fireworks set x different from the set y that was already present at the destination. Again, the logic of repetition here beats me, but there was no reason for us kids to complain. More the merrier.

New clothes were a must, a good omen of sorts. If you wore a new dress on this auspicious day, you were supposed to be blessed with new ones through the rest of the year, I guess. Then again, who’s complaining? There were usually more than one sets bought, one to be worn early in the morning, immediately after the bath. It was usually something intricate, heavy and closely treading on the gaudy territory. Then there was the play dress, ones convenient for all the running around you had to do with the fireworks. A little less complicated, these were worn more often in the rest of the year than the first one, and are the ones that could be compromised in case of a cracker-accident. There was usually an evening wear too, you couldn’t visit all the aunts and uncles in the same dress you wore for lunch, could you? If I remember right, all this complicated buying was only for the girls and ladies in the family. The boys chose to buy different kinds of t-shirts, while the men simply changed from veshtis (the dhoti) to trousers.

The main pooja room was cleaned and every moorthi sparkled from the fresh bath and dressing. The day before Diwali, the men in the family would visit the dedicated flower market, to pick up the best flowers in town. Multi colored garlands and loose flowers were bought back, to be put up on every available picture of any available God in the house. Some were saved carefully in the fridge, to be reluctantly clipped into the hair of the girls, only to eventually end up with their mothers.

All the new dresses bought were stacked in front of the Gods, to be blessed by the pooja before being worn. Each pair of cloth had to be religiously adorned with a pinch of sandal, highlighted by an equal sized pinch of vermillion. I still remember those dresses from where the mark would not wash off, even months after Diwali. Dresses bought for the occasion had to stand out, dint they? The stack of dresses would then be flanked by vessels and containers with all the sweets prepared. I love Diwali for being the only festival where you could eat the prasadam before the actual pooja. Waiting for the neyvedyam in the end was always a test of the power of devotion over sheer hunger.

Once everything was in place for the Diwali day, we all went to bed (pretty late in itself), with a mental note to wake up as early as 4 in the morning. The aim was to be the first family in the neighborhood to burst the crackers. The loudest and longest running fireworks would be saved for this early morning ritual. The sound of the lone cracker in the wee hours of the morning still rings in my head. Technically, this early morning affair of fireworks was supposed to signify the victory of light over all the dark around the world. I understand it now, who really cared about trivial technicalities then!

We would wake up groggy eyed and run to the pooja room, where a quick set of matras would be chanted, arati sung and a handful of oil emptied on our heads. Seeta kalyanammm..vaibogame…Castor oil (equally viscous as its automotive counterpart), heated with some black pepper, was specially prepared for this early morning ritual and we had our hair oiled in order of our seniority. The production line process consisted of us getting our hair oiled by Super Goddess, waiting for ten minutes to let any good of it soak in and then running to have our bath, where a bucket of hot water and freshly ground shampoo powder (of sorts) waited.

Once done, we went back to the pooja room, collected our new dress, gathered any little bit of blessing and good will. Once ready, we would be made to eat a spoonful of ‘the medicine‘; a home made remedy to counter any ill effects that the over eating of sweets, over a very short span (a day, literally), would cause. It had multiple herbs and spices in it, went down with a burn in your throat and you knew you had grown up when you began to savor its taste. It was a huge parameter of comparison between different households and aunts discussed the secrets of the extra zing in theirs over others’.

Under strict adult supervision, the comparatively older kids would step out and light the dawn breaker cracker, while the smaller ones would stand around, ears and eyes shut hard. With the incense stick still in hand and hand covering both ears tightly, the first round of fireworks would signal dawn, a new diwali dawn. Sounds from fireworks from nearby streets would slowly get louder and the day would be on full swing.

Lunch was an intricate affair, a typical feast served on banana leaves and comprising of multiple courses over rice. The ladies usually served in the first round, while the men and the children ate. It would then be the turn for the older girls in the family to serve the women and clean up, a tough act after the sumptuous meal that one had just consumed. Post lunch, the kids would go back to fight their battle against the world, armed with crackers appropriately named atom bombs and hydrogen bombs. The bijilis were the little temptresses, urging us to tread on the forbidden path. Meanwhile, the elders would settle on the house floors, reminiscing weddings and past love affairs. It was their chance to be young again, to relive the days where electricity and an uninterrupted supply of water was a luxury.

Evenings were usually spent visiting families of friends and exchanging sweets. There would be subsequent rounds of fireworks when there. The fireworks in the night were the more elite and elegant ones. The whole family would gather in the terrace, children excited about the new choices of crackers. The women, still light from their conversations, would slowly trickle in, in time for the stage to be set. That’s when the rockets and fancy air-launching fireworks would be set off, one by one, giving each enough time to bask in the colors up above us.

This is also when youngsters, bored with all the crackers, would prod their mothers to the sparklers and ‘snakes’, too static and dull for the young minds. There would be memories caught on tape and film, framed for years to come. There would be singing and games to liven the evening, only to be followed by a comprehensive dinner. Based on the number of people and the space available, it would span across different rounds, but not once lacking in options of dishes.

Late in the night, gifts would be opened and their details revealed, goodbyes and pleasantries exchanged and we’d head back home. I don’t really remember any part of post-Diwali. I guess we would have woken up the next day, with a hangover from the saccharine overdose. A day or two later, gone back to our individual towns and flaunted the diwali exploits in school. I don’t know.

A Happy Deepavali to all of you and your near and dear ones.