and love and all that colour!!!
24.03.2016 - 24.03.2016
We are up early, dressed in our oldest underwear, and mostly white clothes! I'm armed with my coloured flours. We eat breakfast, all chattering excitedly, not only about last night, but about today! Today is Holi- the festival of love, celebrated by wiping people's cheeks or neck with coloured flours, whilst bidding them a Happy Holi.
We head out for our walk to the square. Almost immediately we encounter a street vendor, selling flour. The girls load up with various colours. Lorraine, I have discovered is an Eagles supporter, I've already told her she will receive my purple flour, she then retorts silently and buys blue and yellow. I know where this is heading! Jan has the most beautiful pure white hair, and is armed with a hat, as she did not fancy heading home with clown coloured hair. We are all primed and excited.
Not too far along we encounter our first Happy Holis, as taxi drivers wish us Happy Holi, and bless us with stripes of colour on our cheeks and necks. It is customary to wish each other a happy Holi by swiping each cheek, or each side of the neck. We then encounter a group of children, and then we notice they we armed with water pistols. They look us in the eyes, we stare back, slightly shaking our heads with a no........the colours mixed with water are a lot harder to remove. Then, all of a sudden a water bomb explodes right on the road before us, and as we glance upward we see the children hanging out the windows, like gentle assassins, armed with water cannons and water and colour filled balloons! We start running and laughing.......they got some, missed a few. Clearly today is going to be fun! We encounter a lot of locals as we walk, most do not speak any English, especially the older generations, but they all understand and reply with Happy Holi's. Such joy. Such love. I love the unspoken language we all speak and understand clearly. That is definitely something I am taking home from this trip, the gentle eyes, warm greetings from total strangers. We arrive at the square and the fire from the bonfire is still smouldering. Not helpful to Judy and Jans' asthma.
It starts ever so gently. Groups of men, with drums and small trumpet like instruments play gleefully, and as the music goes on, they gain momentum, drumming faster, louder, singing with more gusto. It is only after we dance, and smile that they then put out their hands. They want money. Although we all took a small amount of money with us, we shake our heads saying we have none. We had already paid for another drumming band. The square steadily fills with tourists, of all nationalities, locals and bands. It is great fun. Chaotic, the chalk doses get bigger and bigger, more colours, layering on top of the previous layer and colour. The people start throwing huge handfuls of colour, on your hair, it runs down our tops, it becomes more and more chaotic. The crowd dances to the drums, chanting, and a cloud of flour fills the air. And then we are right in the middle of a cloud of flour. We did it. We finally did it. With mouths full of flour, colour and dust, we spit. We all did the thing we doubted we would ever do. But it was the only way to clean our mouths out, and our throats. Well, this is India, 'anything is possible'.
The local custom is for them to drink and eat items made with bhang- marijuana. Even the women have it, although I'm sure most don't.
the crowds surge, more people arrive, fresh faced, but not for long. My cheeks ache from smiling and laughing. Little children, beautiful children smear us, we smear them. Ever so gently. Their parents silently thank us for being gentle.
We leave around 12 when the crowds are starting to disperse, slightly. It is tradition to then go clean up and spend the afternoon and evening with family. We are quite exhausted. We arrive at the hotel to be told they are having a small Holi celebration around the pool. There are free drinks and nibbles. The couple who own the hotel (and live there) are lovely people, and the wife smears us with more colour. Before long, the beer is flowing, the colours are again being thrown and the water guns have appeared. A band arrives- one we had earlier seen at the square, and before long we re singing, dancing, smeared with layer upon layer of colour. It starts to get quite hot, and as we dance, the colour starts running with sweat. Now, did i mention before it is harder to remove when mixed with water? Hmmm........
Slowly people start emerging from their rooms clean again, but with colour stains in hair, faces, arms and it seems purple and blue are the hardest to remove.
we rest in the afternoon, happy to have made lots of new friends from all over the world, who are also staying in our hotel. We are off for our last dinner together tonight.
We head to Jawat Niwas Palace, a gorgeous building, paint white, and with a 4th floor rooftop restaurant overlooking the lake, the Lake Palace and the lights. It is breathtaking. We enjoy dinner and cocktails. Of course cocktails are worth it here, as you don't get ice, so it is all drink!!
we leave the hotel, and start walking. And then he appears. Again, walking beside me. Goldie, the dog from last night. Easily identified by an ear that sits back. We are nowhere near our hotel. There are hundred of stray dogs roaming the streets. Again, it is not before long before he chases other dogs away and clears our path. We are all totally in agreeance that Goldie is our protector. We jump in a tuktuk to make it back to the hotel. Goldie stays behind. Even that night, we all heard barking, and wonder if Goldie was sitting outside the hotel gate, waiting patiently for us.
we are exhausted, landslip arrives easily!