Good morning, Bangalore!
What I absolutely adore about a diverse country like ours is the mind boggling list of holidays. We celebrate everything! The solstices, the lunar calendar, the solar calendar, the air, the rain, martyrs’ birthdays, death days and any other day we can conveniently turn into a holiday are an excuse to celebrate. We enthusiastically fly kites, wave palms, use banana, sugarcane, nuts, pulses, oils, colours …whew!
The one thing in common with all these multi-cultural celebrations is food! We are a nation obsessed with cooking, feeding and feasting and I love that! My family is multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-talented, in that order. Since we don’t belong to any particular sect or creed (we are but mere Indians), we find ourselves in a very lucky position. Right from Sankranti, Easter, Papeti to Durga Puja, Diwali and Christmas, we are in a celebratory frame of mind. We have stomachs of steel (even Superman envies us!) and the mithai, the fish and the turkey are digested and enjoyed equally. Bring it on baby…‘Dil mange more’!
Being an army brat and growing up when Bangalore was far more genteel, my memory is flooded with the sights and smells of home-made samosas and roshogullas (yes! That is the way it is pronounced) emitting from the Durga Puja pandals. People wore vibrant clothing usually bought just before Pujo and the excited chatter of doe-eyed ladies with vermillion on their head filled the air with a feeling of bonhomie and happiness. There was a feeling of inclusiveness and familiarity where neighborhoods gathered to celebrate without the divisions of caste and creed. In fact, the longest queues used to be at Haji uncle’s fish and biryani stall. As kids, we used to invite ourselves to his house for Eid and Uncle Brian and Judy Tellis met with the same fate on Christmas day!
This year, I tentatively visited the puja pandals at the urging of my good (non-Bong) friends and I was overcome with…fear! The crowds and the cacophony overwhelmed me, as I was pushed, joggled and stepped upon. I tried to maintain a pious face as Pepsi and sticky roshogulla juice was spilled on my clothes and when the music started (I was standing close to the massive speakers), I all but jumped out of my skin! I was caught in a time warp…I was blissfully unaware that the festivities were taken over by sponsors, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Troy was lost… The Trojan horse had entered the city!
Mercifully, I spent the rest of my holidays in the relative safety of family and friends. I saw a spectacular production of my late friend Girish Karnad’s play, Crossing to Talikota directed by the inimitable Arjun Sajnani. The acting and the production values were just perfect. Sometimes I forget that in the deepest recesses of my soul I am an artiste first. Being in the auditorium that I have performed in for over 20 years overwhelmed me, as did the respect and affection shown to me by fellow artistes and mentors as well as the staff. Because I belong to the fraternity, I was able to go backstage and wish the actors, (break a leg in theatre parlance). Beautiful…just beautiful!
My dear friend Manjul Gupta threw a Dasara bash with her gaggle of close friends and her famous home-cooked meal. It was a fun-filled afternoon with foot massages and good cheer. Friends laughed and ate with abandon…just the way a holiday should be celebrated.
Sometimes we lose focus on what we should take time off to celebrate. We forget that festivals are meant to celebrate life, family and friends and this is a time for giving and receiving. And most importantly, (with apologies to Michael Jackson) it doesn’t matter if one is black, white, green or polka dotted…we are all created equally obnoxious, endearing, lovable and talented.Till next week, keep dancing, singing and smiling…
Rubi Chakravartiwriter, actor and funny girl