Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Kingdom...

... for every crappy evening after work to end like this one.

Innocuously enough, after a horrid and lonely day at work, I was on my way home. Last evening was the first day of immersion for Ganapati and the traffic is usually enough to curdle your marrow. I believe it was an act of God that after leaving work by 19:40, by about 20:35, I was almost home.

Along with the downwind of drying fish, only Ganapati immersions can make one almost regret living close to the sea. Would you believe that it took over 40 minutes to go about 1.5 kms? I would have walked home if there'd been enough room to get off the rickshaw. But as it happens, I'm damn glad I didn't because in my concentrated effort to get home, I'd have missed the show.

And would have had a poorer life for it, I assure you.

Now, if you've lived in India for even a nanosecond, you know that by no means of the imagination is the music played in an immersion procession lounge, house, hip-hop, Bollywood numbers (no people, it's not even that!), or "hard rock." So imagine my stunned amusement when I come across three different groups of people doing:
  1. A hip-hop groove - complete with the finger waving and dipping in the air.
  2. Pub/lounge bar/disco-type gyrations – a la Aishwarya Rai in Kajra Re to a nankhatai, Bollywood brass band sound!
  3. Head banging - nope, not making a mistake here. I've seen enough people head bang in my life to know what this dude was doing.
Now either Ganapati's gone hip or at 26, I'm just plain old!

Understand that I am not being bitchy or nasty about these people. I fully admire and understand the enthusiasm with which these people were participating in the festival. I probably would not be able to do the same. But the sheer incongruity of these dances with the music, the occasion, and the other celebrants was too much fun not to laugh my head off!

The head banger was the best - he was the crowd-watching finale. Initially, he was merely walking along with a procession till they were stopped in traffic. Amidst the dancing, he began a slow nod to the music. And as the music grew more frenzied, with growing fascination I watched him bend half-over and begin a full-blown head banging number! Rage against the Machine in concert with Ganesha - woohoo!

Every one in a five foot radius stopped dead to stare. I think that was what made him stop dead as well. Unfortunately, my rickshaw moved forward right then and I lost sight of my head banger friend. I kept looking back for him but I think he'd melted into the throng. More's the pity because I don't think I've laughed like that in a while. Long, liberating, and stomach-deep laughter - of the simpler pleasures of this flawed life.

Thank the Lord that "these are the days when anything goes." :-)


Geetanjali said...

LOL no babes you aint THAT old (yet)...give it another year or so, though! ;-)
More seriously, ganpati clebrations have changed so much recently - what with those atrociously gaudy theme-based pandals et al!
My favourite Ganpati memory is of watching the Bhagwan cutpece orange idol roll past our road, with a band comrpising of 5-7 men on the dhol and some 20 odd men on the lehjhim...man THAT rocked!! ;-) And that for you, is real reverence - to the gods of music!

Geetanjali said...

PS Welcome Back!

Parth said...

:-) where did you see this? Indeed, Ganapati seems to have changed a lot since the days I remember hanging around seven bungalows late into the night watching the idols go by.

aristera says said...

no no no. these SO ARENT the days when anything goes. and it is the spirit that count na? baba, if it works for someone, good for him/her. ganpati bappa moriya!!

aristera says said...

and gee- there is nothing wrong wid 'gaudy' theme based pandal. they are the public manifestation of current sensibilities.

Ash said...


lakesidey said...

Hey welcome back. I was beginning to give up on you all over again! :)

~P.S. Aristera....you sound like a Management grad :)..."public manifestation of current sensibilities", forsooth!!

Casablanca said...

Oh well... why are you working during Ganpati? I thought it is like a week long holiday in Bombay during Ganpati??

And I'm still laughing at Aristera's comment. Right out of his diploma course material eh? ;)

Extempore said...

@Geets: :D!! There were a number of the Bhagwan cutpiece processions as well - loads of the tapori numbers happening this year though! Thanks, chicklet (:P), for your patience!

@Parth: Well, the first bunch was near KD's (the supermarket?) and the 2nd and 3rd were outside Signature, near Nani-Nani park! :) Not too many late nights though. Everything's usually wrapped up by 10:30-11:00.

@Aristera: A post that's finally got your attention! :)). Of course, it's the spirit that counts but the incongruity is funny. More power to them because it works for them. And dearest, just because "current sensibilities" are gaudy doesn't make them right. :P

@Ash: :). How have you been, my dear?

@Lakesidey: You know how we are, old man, disappearing and re-appearing in the woodwork. :)

@Casa: That's a Bby I want to live in, sweets! No holiday, not even on the bada visarjan day when the traffic is insane. :(

Agreed,Aristera's line was simply awesome :D

Jo said...

LOL!! I agree with you man! I too left at around 9:30 that night. I think I'm hexed coz the auto always breaks down on the visarjan day. Like... what are the odds of an auto breaking down every year at the Bandra East highway?!!!
Then, I had to take a cab from Bandra East to West :-(

I was surprised to hear people praying to the tunes of " bheegie-bheegie raato mein " and "bahon main chale aaye"

Nice post :-)
But what happened to the Coorg chronicles?! :(

Nitin said...

Nice post.....

I have not seen mumbai's ganpati festivities, but the way you describe it, i bet you would be amused if you see the drunken gyrations during some festivals in some northern states, which is nothing like you see in movies.

{illyria} said...

uber-busy but just wanted to drop a line. :) xx.

~the girl FKA transience