Saturday, August 26, 2006

ganapati bappa morya

thats the chant you'd be hearing a lot of if you happened to be in the streets of bombay for the next 10 days. its the annual deity immersion festival that passes for the local version of the rio carnival.
for the duration of the festival the unemployed find useful work as general noise makers. not a job description that requires much of skilled labour.
the bedeceked stages, motifs, themes and grand statues that are put up are rumoured to be financed by some shady underworld criminal or the other. i suppose it makes immense sense to a fugitive from justice and society. you're suddenly a sponsor with a divine celebrity endorsement. if you can't buy your way out of eternal damnation with this, then what gives?
the culmination of the festival is a practice that will find favour with atheists too. theres some irony and a sense of divine justice in the custom of celebrating a god for 10 days every year at the end of which you drag him to the sea, singing and dancing every step of the way, walk him into the water and then watch him drown.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

independence weekend

15th august is when this country takes a day off to celebrate the fact that 59 years ago we replaced the british bureaucrats and civil servants with indians. well, it gives me a day off and thats always welcome.
i took monday off too and had an extended weekend break. four of us had decided to do a rustic trip and so we went to a village and stayed in a hut for 2 days.
the trip began with a train journey to karjat junction, famous for its wada-pav, 2 hours away from bombay. then a half hour rickshaw ride and we were at the village. the rickshaw driver introduced us to a chap who agreed to let us rent one of his huts, just mud walls and thatch roofs, for a couple of days.
it was as rustic an experience as most of us city-slickers are wont to get in a lifetime. but for a village the place was quite up-market. they had satellite television and regular electricity. water though had to be carried in buckets and brought in to the house manually. and the toilets were in an outhouse, which proved to be quite daunting in the dark.
we indulged in some trekking but mostly we just lazed, ate authentic maharashtrian food and watched a couple of b-grade hindi movies. finally, in true city-slicker style we cut the rustic vacation short so that we could get back to the city with a day left in the holiday.