What Puts Happy In Diwali?

Diwali is here. I know this because “save the environment” talks are on an all-time high. Though not to mention everyone who says this owns at least three diesel fuming cars, and fourth is probably a Dhanteras gift. Touché.

Every time I breathe during Diwali, I know why Paranayam in this festive season is not the best idea! Smog also is the not the best idea if you want Laxmi to navigate till your house, you know! While I am at it, having an idea network definitely is the epitome of not-the-best-idea. In the meanwhile, people in Mumbai and likes consider this as fog, and enjoy it with pictures on Instagram – winters. <3. Touché.

happy-diwali-may-you-take-this-opportunity-to-unnecessarily-overuse-the-words-auspicious-prosperous-and-joyous-3b73cI think it’s just me, because everyone otherwise seems so happy! By everyone, I mean people starring in 27590 advertisements on every possible media platform, selling everything from a Beetle to a beetle. Though when Diwali falls on a month-end, it still is about one week away for it to become happy. Touché.

It’s not all bad though. Diwali is that once-a-year chance to catch up with neighbours and relatives, so that you can remind yourself why you only meet these people once a year. But I love some of these traditions, especially the fun ones wherein everyone gets together on festival to gamble! I mean why not? One of the drawbacks of meeting people is that they may ask you to tell which movie you’re watching, Shivaay or Aye Dil Hai Mushkil. While “Aye Dil Hai Mushkil” was really how KJo has been feeling for the past couple of weeks, I am not commenting on Shivaay, because – Haw!!! It’s a God’s name. If you are unable to decide your pick, then I suggest you flip a coin and gamble it away before it lands.

Well, if you are seriously thinking about avoiding watching ADHM because of Fawaad Khan, think twice! One, because he is so hot (blushes), and two, because you might as well support the “Say no to Chinese lanterns” campaign. While you are at it, don’t forget to not keep it only till the lanterns, and you will be surprised at the number of items that we use daily are actually from China. The real “agnipariksha” is always post Diwali festivities. Touché.

#Sandesh2soldiers is the flavour of the season. And it should be too. Never have so many, owed so much, to so few. But are we only paying lip service to them through #Sandesh2soldiers? Why is it that apart from battling Pakistani shelling and terrorists at the Line of Control, the army is also being forced to battle the bureaucracy in South Block in the “war for status”?

Well anyway, with all the “responsible” actions this Diwali, don’t forget to smile, enjoy and celebrate this festival! Its’ a festival of lights, crackers, dressing up and posting the false “this is INDIA from space” photo everywhere. Try not to spam other people’s WhatsApp with 1 km long messages. And girls, eat that chakli! After all, that’s what makes it a happy Diwali!

 

Dear Ganpati Bappa,

It is always great to have you! We were all prepared to welcome you with immense love in our heart, and even more traffic on our streets. I think you must have had a bumpy ride till the pandals/home – with an undercurrent of very melodic honking sound, I am assuming you would understand our yearlong plight. What? You don’t find honking melodious. You just don’t have an ear for it, I say!

We welcome you by reciting many shlokas and a couple of aartis’ which essentially mean that Ganesha is the lord who provides joy, takes away sadness, and removes all obstacles in life. I understand that some of us may not be trained singers, and thus, the offbeat singing can be a tad-bit problematic, but that’s our way of testing the relevance of “obstacle remover” God! Ha, take that!

Well well Bappa, I am not sure if I am looking at removing larger-than-life issues like solving the Kashmir problem, letting women decide what they should or should not wear, or increasing the collective IQ of the Indian bureaucracy. I mean these problems seem too big to be solved, even for the greatest Vignaharta of all times. But if you could help us fix the smaller day to day obstacles, like taking the clutter on the streets and the people who clutter with you, there will definitely be less clutter in our life then!

ganpathi-and-fuel-1Since a few of your idols have already been immersed, you would know that out water bodies are not really umm, safe, and can suck the life out of the dead as well. I mean for people who hop, skip and jump over with life as if it were potholes, we deserve a better death. But alas, as you can see, there is no sign of the promised Moksha for us!

We anymore do not invoke you for auspicious beginnings, but for completion of what has been started years ago. Nor for deliverance from the cycle of birth and rebirth; only from the unending cycle of laying and re-laying of pipes and pavements. I understand that amidst the Niagara of noise and preposterous display of devotion, it may be a little difficult for you to hear my prayers, but I promise you, next year I will make use of the recently launched very “innovative” air pods, to help you multitask while listening to my never-ending rant.

Anyway, how has your stay for the past one week been? Now that we are half way through the festivities, I am already getting withdrawal symptoms!  There won’t be any more ‘Selfie with Bappa’ contests on twitter, or sale on extra-large products to mark the festival of a God with extra-large heart on any of these merchandise websites. And obviously I being an extra-large girl with an extra-large heart but extra-small budget, am sad, for one!

But today when I look at you looking at me, we both creators of each other, I sense there is one thing we both can definitely be grateful for – Modak!

Happy Holidays, Bappa!

Love thy neighbours. Send them home!

Oh, and please take Mr. Kher with you! Yes, I said it!

Just yesterday I saw a video that went viral on WhatsApp, in which a Member of Parliament was talking openly about sending the-religion-that-shouldn’t-be named to Pakistan. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been in our country for more than 2 minutes, since we know that hypocrisy is our favourite game, second only to telling people to lose weight na!

82795349Why can’t we let people be, irrespective of the fact that they worship Shiva, or Jesus, or Allah, or Tendulkar! What is weirder is – that they are praying! As they say, “If one person has an imaginary friend, we call him crazy. If a lot of people have the same imaginary friend, we call it religion.”

I’ve always been fascinated about various aspects of religion, such as its origin, evolution and the fact that your hands could get chopped off for writing about it. Having said that, it’s still nice to see how religion unifies society by providing nuts with an open-shitting contest.

(Relax. I’m talking about the nuts in someone else’s religion, not yours.)

That’s not to say that I am not religious! I fast regularly – mostly between bedtime and breakfast. I sacrifice my hair – generally on Saturday evening after a few shots of awesomeness- but I am sober ya! And I am perpetually wishing for someone to come from up there and do all that I am supposed to do – including picking up my lazy bum out of the cozy blanket in this perfectly air-conditioned room! I am born in a Hindu family, meaning I believe in comprehensive power of whatever BJP tells me to do!

The thing is, whoever invented religions did not think it would go this way! But I think, the efficiency decreased after one introduced marriages!

Calling India a secular nation is as much antithesis as calling a politician honest! I always thought of myself as a proud Indian, despite national embarrassments such as rape, violence and Rahul Gandhi! Don’t get me wrong. Violence is a great concept, if only we could have the freedom of expressing violence by shooting, say, umm..customer service!

I don’t mean to mock traditions! I mean they do help Ekta Kapoor mint money and put that oh-so-traditional Tilak on her forehead! If not for her, how would our children know that all mothers-in-law are horrible, and everyone who dies can come back to life – if only you wish (TRP) hard enough – and no that is not creejesus-dad-offensive-pagepy at all! But some traditions are – how do I say this nicely – downright stupid and irrelevant! And they work on the basis that women have an IQ of a carrot!

We really really need to start behaving as civil as animals, and let our “humanity” rest for a bit!

PS –I have timed this article such as to reduce the risk of being kicked by RSS – Romantic to Sanskaari Sangh – considering they must be busy arranging for their biggest moral policing event coming up next week! Wohoo to hatred on Valentine’s Day!

Karmic Cleansing Retreat

So, Nashik is all geared up for probably its biggest event – the one where you would wash off all your sins in the most unhygienic way possible! So much for cleansing your mind, only for being able to do exactly what you have been doing all your life, with revived gusto and a clean slate!

Nashik has gotten its 12-yearly makeover done, which probably – according to me – is the only good thing of this fanfare. With roads widened, temporary structures in place, portable loos adorning the city, river cleaned (erm?), ghat extended, we are all-set for this mega event – by booking ourselves on vacation and vacating the town for people with purpose. Just the kind of thing to do on an extended weekend, right?

Now that the dates are so close, people have started pouring in in the city – by which I mean all the photographers are already here to get a “feel” of the place. They are just trying to capture one image, without a person with DSLR in it. This Kumbh Mela will be witness to the first time ever air traffic issues during the “snan” – with all drones bumping into each other. It’s going to be a new learning experience for the officials, and next time they will have a special team and an ATC set-up right next to the ghat. After all, documentation of people taking selfies as a proof of their purity cannot be missed, you know!

Besides, this time it is going to mark a great example of technology-meets-devotion. Around 700 CCTV cameras will keep vigil to ensure better security. LED screen have been installed to keep giving live updates to people. Community radios have been set up in buses to disseminate information to pilgrims and travelers. Of course, not mentioning the coming of age Sadhus, who have renounced even their clothes, but an iPhone! iPhone 6 to be precise.

One of the exciting things in the last few weeks was to visit Sadhugram and see the structures come up. One drive through these temporary colonies is enough to know the stature of these godmen – from corrugated sheets to air-conditioned tensile structures, everything speaks of their respective grandeur. They have now started to be occupied with various people coming in from all over the country. Numerous events and sabhas have been organized, where people lose themselves in this high intoxicating energy. It is of course devotion at work. We all know that.

Another interesting thing will be to see a lot of tourists – oops, “travelers” – coming to Nashik, and combining their holy dip with a trip to the vineyards! And why not? What is important is to attain Nirvana, one way or the other!

Amidst all the religious pomp, people like me are content having a shower of Godavari in our humble abode. At least our body is washed, if not our sins. Perks of staying in Nashik, I say!

PS – Have fun in Goa, by the way!

(This is my column in Deshdoot Times, Nashik – 22 Aug, 2015)