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Trumpet Lead

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It’s my fifth Diwali in Dubai, and I’ve learned that there’s Diwali and there’s NRI Diwali

My Dubai, Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

India, especially New Delhi, where I hail from, wears a lovely hue this time of the year. The busy capital city decides to slow down. It wipes the sweat of its forehead just like the people who inhabit it. It dresses up to welcome winter. Dubai too enters a similar phase at almost the same time. Festive and pleasant vibes fill up the air. It’s Diwali; the message is loud and clear, in both the lands. Yet, the NRI (Non-Resident Indian) Diwali leaves one wondering what’s missing? Something is, though it may be tough to pinpoint.

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If there is a clan that can poetically describe a curry, it is a Bengali. Every Bengali is a food critic.

Trumpet Lead

I eat. Therefore I Am.

A Bengali is born to eat. Literally. Bengalis eat everything. The clan saw no innovation in having three different verbs that did the same thing: eating, drinking or smoking. So, they decided to stick to one. In Bangla (the language) you ‘eat’ everything from fish to water to their favourite brand of smokes. The idea is not to labour on ‘how’ it is being consumed but ‘what’ is being consumed. Simplicity redefined.

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When cleaning the fans becomes a son’s duty!

Trumpet Lead

Being the only son in the family is enough reason to have to clean all the fans in the house, time and again, especially when Diwali’s round the corner. There are other duties that sons don’t really mind, like fetching stuff from the market, but they’re always going to be less willing to do anything that involves standing on rickety chairs and cleaning unstable machinery.

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The kaamwaali bai & the pankha!

Trumpet Lead

The blissful, lazy Sunday sleep had just been disturbed. I was feeling distinctly warm. The room was quiet and I instantly knew that the fan had been switched off. The soft, comforting whirring of the fan had stopped and with my eyes still closed, the hearing sense took over. Diagonally across my bed to the left, I could hear the slow jingling of the maid’s bangles as she swept the floor. A decision had to be made: should I just keep my eyes closed and fall asleep again? Or should I open my eyes and investigate? Sensing that she just switched off the fan to sweep the floor, I decided to keep my eyes closed and wait it out; there still was a chance of falling asleep again.

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Ever been to a government office in India?

Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

Especially those in dusty, not pretty, one in a few thousand towns across the nation? Where living is a simple business, governing is almost nonexistent. Intricacies of administration are less and extended conversations on daily predictable mishaps are more the norm. “Why is the chai less sweet today?” “There was more cow dung to avoid on the road today, too much of a nuisance, I tell you!’’

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Happy Diwali: Just one little candle

Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

It is better to light just one little candle than to stumble in the dark! Better far that you light just one little candle…all you need is a tiny spark…these words from the prayer we sang at Notre Dame Academy got ingrained in my consciousness and to this day, I wish I could light someone’s life in whatever little manner I could. It is for this reason that I love the festival of lights, Diwali. As a child, I remember how just days before Diwali, we went around our society collecting bricks, which we used to build small gharkulias or tiny homes made of bricks and clay that we painted with bright colours and finished them off by placing pots of sugar candy and puffed rice inside them as part of the tradition. I am talking of the days when I lived in a place called Ranchi now in Jharkhand, in India. I am not too sure if such a tradition was practiced in other parts of India too. We would begin our Diwali puja from this tiny home and believe me the pleasure of seeing it in its full glory with rangoli, lights, decorations, et al. on the D-Day gave us a sense of pride and happiness.

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Dusshera, Ramleela aur Ravana!

Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

A bird’s view of India highlights two important elements of our country, colours and festivals. Yes, we’re a nation that takes pride in its ‘festive’ colours and colourful ‘festivals’. And what makes our country’s fabric so interesting and diverse is its history of more than 5,000 years. Each part and fable of our country offers a reason to celebrate, and one such lovely reason is Dusshera. As a child, I recall how school books introduced us to the festival and the teachings from it, the victory of good over evil, but I think I understood the meaning behind the festival only when I watched the Ramleela and the Ravana’s effigy being burnt in the open grounds! Yes, the drama, colours and fireworks made the lessons far more interesting than the words in the books.

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Durga Puja playground!

Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

I’m talking about another time. A time of bulky transistors and Eastman coloured mornings. When I’d be woken up by my grandfather, as he gently dragged me out of a flimsy mosquito net, our footsteps often colliding as I then sat perched atop his lap, staring out into a mist smudged October morning. Madhu dada, our Oriya driver’s son would soon turn up the volume as Shanti mashi, my toothless nanny brought Dada (I called my grandfather that) a steaming hot cup of Darjeeling tea, as we all sat in a curious semi-circle, listening to Mahishasuramardini – a two-hour telecast rendered in the overpowering voice of the late Birendra Krishna Bhadra – the saga of Ma Durga’s agomoni (arrival) on the auspicious day of Mahalaya that marked the start of Devi Paksha – the most sacred time in the festive almanac.

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Navratri, worshipping the goddess

Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

The sounds of Jai Mata Di purifying the air, beautiful idols of Goddess Durga in every nook and corner of our streets, invitations from neighbours to attend the colourful and pious Mata Ki Chowki, lovely sounds of the playing of dandiya sticks, swirls and whirls of stunning ghaghras, aroma of the singhara barfi and aloo halwa…just these words are enough to paint the picture of our country during the festival of Navratri in North India. Yes, soon it will be that time of th year when one and all will forget their differences and get together for a dandiya or garba session. Join me as I re-visit and wait for the immensely powerful and positive vibrations of Navratri to fill up our lives.

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