Riding a bike on Diwali night is like being in a video game. You’re riding on your bike on dark roads. There are psychedelic sounds and lights around you, changing with every turn on the road.
There are assholic children flinging crackers and you have to evade them. You have one life and limited health (with or without insurance).
Come Diwali, a certain type of moralistic messages creep up on your wall. Don’t pollute nature, think of the environment, etc etc. But what most people don’t realise is that it is really kids who do it. After a certain age, you outgrow it. You sit back and notice people, and write blogs about it.
I think it is a little hypocritical that after celebrating Diwali in the way we did, we suddenly turn all Baba Jogeshwar on kids and ask them to save the environment. I mean, how often have you seen 45 year old uncles jumping with joy after lighting a rocket?
Diwali brings out two broad categories of people. The DoIts (naughty children, annoying neighbours) and DontDoIts (generally elders, parents, and
vegetarians other people). It’s like a Good Thought vs Monkey Mind thing going on inside your head. “Arey, let’s put the rocket sideways and send it inside the house so that it catches fire and the people inside roast to death”. And then there are the rest of the people who say “Are you stupid or what? You want to go to jail? Here, light these sparklers. Carefully go to the side.” The entire night of Diwali is spent swinging between the two sides.
It’s not like people don’t listen to their monkey minds. The news on the day after Diwali is replete with such adventure seekers. Someone who ties a bijli chain to the tail of a dog, creating a permanent rift between man and his best friend. I remember reading the news a few years ago of a few kids who bought crackers and were so enthusiastic about bursting them that they lit them then and there, causing a huge fire and the entire market blowing up in a grand Diwali that even Narakasura would approve of. So there will always be those guys. What does one do? Try stopping the guy and explaining about ozone layer hole, and he’ll tie it to your backside.
And every Diwali has these characters who blast bombs according to their character. The Hydrogen Bomb, Atom Bomb (Ten points to World Peace), Lakshmi Bomb.
Historically, I have been partial to some crackers. Some are just polluting and annoying. Like those Snake Bombs that would just light up and ash would come out like a snake. I want to meet the guy who invented that thing. Asshole is responsible for half the global warming we face today.
I had a few favourites. I wasn’t too much into rockets. I think they’re for kids who still are fascinated by the idea of sending something colorful into the sky. If I had to rank the top 3 crackers, the list would go like,
1. Atom Bomb : The Atom bomb is the gateway bomb. Tiny thing that’s rolled in green wool, the Atom bomb determines how the rest of your Diwalis are going to go. Master it, and you move on to greater things in life (like aforementioned burning neighbours). Screw it, and you’ll spend the rest of your life making circles with sparklers, discussing the Shah Rukh Khan film that released on the day.
2. Onion Bomb : The Onion Bomb actually looked like a garlic. White, tied together with rope, the bomb did not need any lighting. All you had to do was throw it forcefully, and it would explode. If you were into cricket, you could draw stumps on a wall, and run up and bowl with the bomb. If you had a Paul Adams action, well, good luck.
I used to carry the Onion Bombs with me. Everytime I noticed a hidden threat to the world, I took aim…
3. Gun : I know most of you will snigger, but that’s OK. Democracy. Peace, brother.
The effect that a gun has on a kid is difficult to put into words. Of course, it seems disturbing that a kid would run around killing imaginary people for three days in a year. But back then, that was the reason I waited for Diwali. Of course, everybody gets together and bursts crackers in the night, but that is too regulated. The real freedom was in the afternoon. When the elders are busy and you can speak around with your gun. I filled my pockets with the bullets – a spiral of red bindis filled with barud, rolled into the cardboard boxes.
I walked up and down, always on alert. For that assassin who would sneak up on me, and try to kidnap my lover. But little did he know I was armed. I would pretend to be talking to her, and suddenly, I turn around and point the gun at him. Ha! Gotcha, you piece of shit. BANG! BANG!!
Among the bombs that you see today, there will be the people who are bursting crackers in a civil manner. The regular ShakeYourInsides Bomb goes off, and you learn to jump every now and then, when suddenly some guy will light up a FuckAll Bomb. Things are going smooth when suddenlyBAMBAMBOOMBOOMBADAAMBOOMDHADAAMBOOM!!!
But the guys who have the worst time are dogs.
It’s like the entire country going into war once the sun has set. Dogs scamper from here to there, running to avoid an Atom Bomb, when Ramu lights up a Chinese Bomb, he runs right, and Rakesh is waiting with Mega Bomb. It must like a bad acid trip.
You think the day after Diwali, the stray dogs sit together and bitch about us? One of them goes up to the other and says, “Man, did you see that shit? I was sitting and suddenly these guys start attacking me. And the whole town does it. The whole fucking town.” “Yeah, I know. It’s insane. The next time we see that guy, I’ll give you a shout…”
And that is why, dear friend, that dog barks when you cross the road at 11 in the night. India has the largest number of rabies cases in the world, most of them from stray dogs. We kind of ask for it.
Dog may have been man’s best friend, but even friends carry grudges with them!