Friday, September 29, 2006

Sightings at the Chatushringi Mela

Colourful lights flicker with in variating time modules
Merry-had-a-little-lamb plays as the giant-wheel revolves faster and faster
A boy with curly hair and spectacles wears a huge backpack; a camera slung around his neck is waiting to be raised for a shot
Colourful combs sprewn around on a plastic sheet
Ceramic kulhads piled one on top of the other - there are flowers, geometric shapes, spots and stripes on them
A teenager checking out the junk jewellery
A bunch of foreigners with pants folded up to the knee and finely embroidered pouches in their hands wade through the slush
Osho chappals, high heeled shoes with sequence work, kolhapuris.
Women bargaining
Zaree-bordered sarees - red, yellow, green coupled with silves anklets that show on the dark skin and gold that dots the several piercings in the ears
A baby wailing
A flute playing
Mogra thread into gajras with in-between strips of red flowers sprinkled with gold and silver conferetti
Drums that remind me of the monkey man in Delhi, only now the drum is made of fluoroscent tin
Odd sweets (spicy?) snacks heaped in a thela
A girl turning away in embarassment as the golguppa is too big for a single bite

The Chatushringi Mela is a an annual fair during Navratri in Pune. Until last year the stalls of food and games used to line the road, which then used to be specially shut, to be made into a walking plaza during the late evenings. This year they promised us that the road would remain operational through the festival and the number of hawkers would be reduced. Well that just gave a me a chance to pass through all the hustle bustle, that makes a common man's life exciting, each day while returning from office.
Traditions are natural to India. They bring life to the small lanes, empty courtyards and lonely lives. May they remain rooted for long.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dear Ganapati

But this Ganesh fesitval remains a fond memory, because Ganesha visited me everyday in different forms.. sometimes in the form of love, sometimes through success, a lot of times through my favourite modak and at all of the other times, through the music of the dhol.

Amidst the hustle-bustle of Laxmi Road, there were patches of dry roads. Not a soul there, just the dim tubelights of the paani-puri wallas flickering in the corners. In the background the dhol-taasha beat into the air, creating that hypnotising rhythm which just takes you along with it to the banks of the river where the Ganesh idol is dipped into the water, bidding him farewell.
The mandal showed the story of Bhasmasura, people watched silently and cheered as the show ended and the plastic dolls on the stage did a small jig (manoramak nritya). That was where the sound concentrated, that was where the people collected... all of the rest was was dark and silent. This was the first time I ever walked the streets of the city, well past midnight. I didn't know that even Laxmi Road, the soul of the city could be deserted, where closed shutters of the shops stared you in the face and the dirt strewn near the drains wasn't shuffled from end to end.

Every now and then, when we turned into a tiny gulli where the shadows of bright lights danced at the corner, a large crowd of young and old welcomed us. Some danced, some foot-tapped, some just stood around watching the show. The sound echoed a million times before the silence actually hit you in the patch between one Ganesh mandal and another.

A friend of mine who lives in Sadashiv Peth said sleep is never deep during the festival. The paani-puri walla mentioned that their business sees its peak right until early hours of dawn. It's amazing to see how Ganesha comes into everyone's life in his own way during this festival. Some he lures with his modaks, others he becomes a favourite with because of his lavish adorn and then there are those set of people who simply adore him because of the wonderful melody of his praises that fill the air during those eleven days.

This is to them and to our favourite Ganu...Ganapati bappa morya, pudhachya varshi lavkar ya