Haa….diwali lurking around the corner…along with it comes the pleasant memoirs from the past.
Invariably diwali is THE occasion for TamBrahms one of the two days in a year we would compulsorily wear new clothes (other being birthday), gulp calories of sweets without any guilt and end the day with Ingie Lehiyam (Ginger Paste) which is supposed to be good for tummy after consumption of voluminous amounts of ghee.
Diwali also ushers in the crackers! Diwali and crackers for me are two sides of the same coin they never can be separated. Lets for god sake rubbish those intellects and media loonies who rake up debate of fire crackers and pollution; what the heck? In India does any one care about the rambunctious State Transport buses emanating black smog; does any one care dumping of drainage in rivers/lakes? So why this din….let us celebrate this one day in our lives every year without shame/prejudice.
Crackers always bring to my mind Chinnam Potti Kadai (a small dingy shop hardly 6ft * 6ft) near our home which is everything for us. For exams we go there to get Rotomac pens, when school opens we go there for buying notebooks, when vacation comes we go for buying rubber balls, after a tired day we go there for a cold juice, after a stroll in the nights we go there for a sweet maladu (a white Laddu) and list goes on……amazing shop considering its dimension. This is what I can definitely call the experience of shop, eat & celebrate….with a humane touch….what today’s malls misses…..
A week precursor to Diwali Chinnam Potti Kadai (Shop) will be transformed into a cracker go down. A customized order form is supplied to the clientele; which my father brings home a week ahead. Next two hours are spent by me and my sister debating what to buy and what not to buy and mostly my decisions have an upper hand ;-). Always after a lots of scampering and pruning we would settle for a list usually worth anywhere between 500 to 800 rupees. It was a huge amount in those days.
The final entrants in the list would be the most privileged crackers in town bursting which fills pride for the igniter. So invariably we never buy Mukku Vedi(small triangular shaped cracker) and Ana Vedi (cracker which looks like a Crayon) which we consider Bachcha stuff. The list includes (in increasing order of sound) Olla Padakam (cracker made of coconut leaves), Kuil Vedi (Koel brand cracker), Lakshmi Vedi (Cracker with goddess Lakshmi pix), Atom Bomb (the loudest) and the usual kiddie stuff sparkles, flower pots, ground wheels. For us the celebrations starts previous night of diwali at 9pm when the street falls silent we start bursting. Me and my sister will man the two corners of street and start lighting one by one…forewarning any passer by calling “Chetta Vedi Vedi….Chechi Vedi Vedi” (no puns intended 🙂). Its always a night of exhilaration and excitement and ends with lightning up the night sky with rockets. I must thank the Kings of Travancore who have build such a wonderful strong monumental wall in front of our house and this century old heritage wall is the placeholder for all our burning crackers and rockets.
Once we wind up the activities by 12am; the diwali morning is ushered in by more noise pollution thanks to Ramesh our beloved neighbour. He has this good habit of getting early in morning by 4-5am and start bursting crackers. I remember when Harish (another beloved neighbour) was there — we go on Diwali day to get more stock of crackers with our pocket money as we run out of stock of our quota which our parents have bought us….and mostly the diwali day ends with a good topping to by bursting a Mala Padakam (a chain of crackers usually 10,000 no.s). Diwali afternoon is spent by bursting the Bijli cracker (the cheapest crackers), which we get 100 for around 15/= bucks. So till evening its just idly sit and light and throw, light and throw, some bursts….some fizzles…but the excitement never wanes off us….
Amidst all this frenzy, joy and excitements…I remember this guy who just stuffs his ear with swabs of cotton and shuts himself in the bathroom the whole day. For him life is not something worth the risk of bursting a cracker 🙂
I guess this is getting long…..so where are we know? I’m sad I have lost all those great days; life has become more mundane now and I hope from next year I could light my son’s diwali with sweet moments like what I have experienced.
Happy Diwali to anyone who have reached here reading my travails on a Diwali day that year 🙂