Every now and then, I like to sit back, relax and ponder some serious philosophical questions such as, “What is the meaning of life?”, “Why do some people always have moist palms?” and most importantly, “When did people decide that it would be fun to whack two sticks together to the tunes of a band whose musical style seems to be ‘Bollywood hits as sung by a cat that is being skinned alive’?”
So clearly, I’m not a big fan of dandiya, or as Gujaratis like to call it, ‘mating season’. Think about it – just like birds and animals that surface once a year and strut around, showing off their colourful plumage to attract potential mates, Gujju males too emerge at night, decked up in attire that makes their usual Charagh Din shirts seem funereal in comparison. And then begins the dance, wherein they make the women go around in circles until the blood flow in their heads is all messed up, causing them to willingly hook up with guys called ‘Viral’, ‘Pinal’ and ‘Anal’. (I imagine that names like these would render kids celibate for life. You might as well call them ‘Pustule McFungus’ or worse, ‘Amar Singh’)
If you think I’m exaggerating about the mating season bit, then you underestimate the power of repressed hormones. A cursory glance at news reports will tell you that there is always a surge in the sale of emergency contraceptives during this period, so unless i-Pills are exceptionally tasty, you know what’s happening. And so do many paranoid parents, who resort to hiring detectives to trail their child. This makes me feel truly desi, because only in India would parents willingly hire strangers to stalk their kids.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against dandiya – I just find all festivals boring and/or annoying (unless we’re talking about beer festivals)
For example, Holi overstayed its welcome when I realised that I could use the holiday to sleep, instead of spending it trying to scrub half of China’s lead output off my skin. And since many of my friends agree, the only other option is to spend Holi smearing colour on the faces of neighbours I last spoke to in 2005 or so. In terms of social awkwardness, this would rank right up there with ordering Chinese food at a ‘Free Tibet’ meeting.
Now consider Diwali – a festival wherein we worship some of the biggest names in the pantheon i.e. Big Bazaar, Vijay Sales and Croma. No seriously, I hate the shopfest this season has turned into, as opposed to when I was younger and actually got to learn about my culture and my roots by blowing things up.
(I gave up on crackers altogether as a teenager. I’d like to say it was for environmental reasons but honestly, it just got boring. And now that I’m older and wiser, I use that time to focus on the things that really matter, like Scotch and gambling)
In fact, a lot of urban youngsters now pick their celebrations based on two factors: the amount of preparation required, and how blasted one can get. This explains the rise in popularity of foreign festivals such as St. Patrick’s, wherein all you need to is a functional liver and the desire to live with bad decisions.
You also have Indians celebrating Thanksgiving, thereby displaying an IQ lower than the stuffed turkey on their tables. And post-ZNMD, many people across India decided they wanted to celebrate La Tomatina. This sycophancy never works the other way around. I don’t mean to condone irrational abstinence, but you’d never see a bunch of Spaniards give up meat and alcohol for a month because the moon is in the wrong place.
These Scroogeisms aside, I do wish you all a Happy Navratri. I genuinely hope that you find peace and happiness but most of all, I hope you find a dandiya location that is far, far away from my house.
(P.S This is my HT column dated 2nd October, 2011)