A peaceful Sunday. Woke up to a lot of noise from the Ganesha festival celebrations outside. Peculiarly, people in my street have installed an idol of Ganesh during the ten-day festival of Vijaya Dashami that culminates in Dasara. it’s a fabulous carnival back home. I haven’t missed it in 23 years and am going this year too with Manju. Back to the point, it is customary for people to install idols of the beloved God, pray to it for a set number of days and immerse it afterwards. It is also customary to play music, usually devotional songs. Music, mind you, not the blaring noise that is playing outside even as I type this. The loud speaker has been put right on top of my house and it has been driving me nuts the past couple of days. Now I am firmly against the public nuisance such loud “noise” leads to, festival, community activity or not, but I cannot really be a spoilsport and ask them to lower the volume, even if I had to miss my Sunday afternoon siesta today. Must say though that these are more cultural than religious, brings a neighbourhood together in an increasingly busy world. Also is a good excuse to eye that cute dude two doors away and catch the pretty girl next door’s eye. Festivals, weddings, the best place to flirt and fall in love. (This alone will make a separate post some day.)
Anyways, where was I? Ah, yes, I woke up to the noise, read the newspaper, had breakfast, cleaned the house a bit, relaxed, surfed the net, cooked, talked on the phone. Then watched an old Pooja Bhatt starrer called “Tamanna” about a girl rescued from the trash bin by a eunuch who brings her up and who then fights with the father who abandoned her for justice. A socially themed film that I initially though was provocative but turned out rather drab towards the end, couldn’t really feel for the girl there at all.
I finished the movie and the noise outside was just getting louder. Some good Kannada songs were playing but it was being repeated so often that I was just about ready to scream. Just had to get out. Decided to do something I used to do a long time ago. Took a book, P Sainath’s ‘Everybody Loves a Good Drought’ (had started on it a long time ago, found something else along halfway through the book, moved on to another and picked it up again today. Fantastic book, highly recommended reading for everyone.), put on some music on my phone and went to Café Coffee Day. Talked to ma for a really long time, had hot and cold coffee, read the book. Listened to a new play list on the phone, one that has ‘O Mere Sanam’ from the classic ‘Sangam’, (rediscovered it recently, much to my delight) Dido’s ‘Here With Me’, R Kelly’s ‘I believe I can fly’, Sheryl Crow’s ‘I Shall Believe’ and other old favourites of mine.
I was walking back later, happily listening to good music, cut off from the din of Bangalore’s roads. Along the way, it was a familiar scene. I passed by a slum where a dark-skinned child was playing by itself, a mother was feeding her baby while another was looking on as a kid was trying to stand up and walk. I passed by a dark street and saw the face of an old woman bending down to look into a vessel, her face lit only by the shadows from the fire that was cooking her evening meal. I passed by a couple on a Sunday evening walk. I passed by children, boys on their bikes, older men washing their cars, a girl look up shyly at her boyfriend, a group of women fussing over a little boy. I passed by a group that was taking an idol of Lord Ganesha for immersion,led on by a band of drums that made me instantly begin to tap my fingers against the book I was holding and mentally do a little jig (I love the sound of drums, awakens a feeling of primitiveness in me). I passed by a garment shop and slowed down to look at the salwar suits on mannequins, some good, some gaudy. I passed by old women with wire baskets filled with flowers on their way to the temple, old men out on a walk with their grandchildren holding on to their little fingers.
I passed by life as it was happening, at that very moment, on streets across Bangalore, across other cities, across probably the country. Shut out from the honking of the buses and the high-pitched conversations of the people on the street, I suddenly realized that people are not really that very different from one another in this country. They might wear different colour of skins, speak different tongues but in the lives they lead, in the way they spend just another evening, in their hopes and dreams, there isn’t much difference. Probably this is what it means to be united in diversity.
A very well spent Sunday indeed.